Sunday Music – You Never Can Tell (C’est La Vie)

Posted on Sun 08/31/2014 by


Today’s music video is You Never Can Tell, sung here in this clip by the legendary Chuck Berry. The song also had two alternate titles, C’est La Vie and Teenage Wedding.

Link to Video at You Tube

This video was posted to You Tube by MinorThreat81

How good is this?

This has to be one of the happiest songs ever written.ChuckBerryYouNeverCanTell

I’ve been writing these last few weeks about how every person has a time in their life when they first came to an appreciation of music, usually about the time they start at High School, at the age of 13 or so, and from that point forward the music most current at that time becomes the music of their generation, the music they grew up with. There are some songs from earlier times that they think of fondly, but mostly it’s the music of the era when they first began to notice it.

For me that time was in 1963/64. At that time, particularly here in Australia, those huge new bands from England were breaking out, big time, and it was almost bewildering, the number of new songs that you would hear on the radio each week. No sooner would you have one ‘favourite’ song than it would be the one of the many of the latest releases, and with so many new bands, and singers, both male and female, the list of songs became huge. The only thing we did have access to was radio, and here in Australia, it was only AM radio, as FM was still more than ten years away.

New Australian artists, bands, and solo singers were also appearing in their numbers as well, so those radio stations had no end to the music they would play. Because there were so many, it was indeed quite rare, if at all you heard a song from an American band or singer. So, while there was good music in the USA at that time, it was barely heard on radio here in Australia, well at least by those of us who were young teenagers at the time, and clamouring for more and more of this wonderful new music coming out of England.

So, even though this song I have featured today comes from that time, I never even heard it at all.

That would only happen years later, in 1971 when I first heard this song. I was with the Royal Australian Air Force at that time, and I was stationed at a Base which was 500 miles away from my family home. Every second weekend, I would get in my little Corolla and drive those 500 miles home for the weekend, a 9 hour drive. What added some extra incentive was that I had a girlfriend who lived near my home, so that was the added spur for me to take that time for the long drive home on Friday, and then back to Base on Sunday evening.

One time, late on a Friday night, past Midnight, I was out on the Highway, cruising along and just listening to the radio. Cars didn’t have CD players in those days, well, no one had even heard of a CD player as it was still almost 15 to 20 years until they were even invented, let alone put into cars. There were very few cars which even had Cassette players, or Cartridge players, so all we had was indeed the radio, and with no FM, all we did have was AM radio. The AM signal is variable, to say the best of it, and even with a relatively high power transmitter, reception was scratchy at best, and between Sydney and Brisbane, radio stations even then were pretty much few and far between. There I was, tooling along at 60MPH on the open highway, past midnight with the radio tuned into one of the few stations I could pick up.

They were taking a program on relay from a major Capital city station, and it was the history of rock. This history was in fact even quite recent, only going back less than ten years, to the time I started to appreciate music. Most of those big bands from England that were so popular at the time had influences from other musicians, and in fact, quite a number of them were influenced by the early rock and rollers, and foremost among them was Chuck Berry. So, the radio program was playing some of Chuck’s greatest songs.

It was all there was to listen to, so I just listened and drove.

Then the announcer introduced the song I have featured today, You Never Can Tell. I was immediately taken aback. Here was a song from my time, 1964, and I had never heard it before, and what’s more, I just loved it. Not only that, but the very next song they played was Promised Land, again from the same time, only this one from a year later, early in 1965. Luckily, this was a history type program, so instead of the usual five songs in a row that the stations played, the announcer spoke a little between each song, detailing something about each of them. I missed the intro to the first one but now listening intently, I did listen. While You Never Can Tell was released as a Single in 1964, this next song, Promised Land was the Single released from the album From St. Louis To Liverpool. For the remainder of that weekend I was humming along in my mind both songs, as, only hearing them once, there was no way I could remember the words.

While now aware of both songs, I forgot about them for a while. My record collection was still in its infancy, and while I had a few albums, the serious part of my collection did not start until a year or so later in 1972. The man who owned the record shop I started to visit often could locate records quite easily for me, and they were mostly early albums from Neil Young, both as a solo artist, and with the bands he was in prior to that solo career.Chuck_Berry_-_St._Louis_To_Liverpool

Late in 1972, I heard Promised Land again, playing on the radio at work, and I immediately decided to get that album the both songs were on, and luckily the name of the album was an easy one to remember, From St. Louis To Liverpool. Because the album was now 7 years old, it wasn’t in the shop, but I knew my man had a ‘magic’ book with every listed album, so he looked for it, found it, and then proceeded to try and locate a copy for me. It took a while, but he did find that album for me, and it then joined my now burgeoning collection of Vinyl.

I just love both of these songs, because they are just so happy, the both of them. He wrote both songs while serving a short prison term for a violation of the Mann Act, for taking a young girl across State Lines. You Never can Tell was his first Single released after he got out of jail. The second of them, Promised Land details a road trip from Norfolk in Virginia, across the United States to Los Angeles, the promised land of California. The song is an upbeat version of the old American folk song, The Wabash Cannonball, also a song about a long rail trip, and for the lyrics, Chuck plotted the route from an Atlas he borrowed from the prison library.

My Mother once told me that as you go through life, there will be a lot of favourite songs, and for most of them, as soon as you hear them, you will be taken back to the time and place when that song became part of your life. She’s perfectly right. Every time I hear either of these two songs, I am immediately taken back to that lonely stretch of Interstate Highway, late into the night, and as foreboding as that may sound, I always smile, because both songs are just so happy, so uplifting.

Chuck Berry is a legend, when that word is so loosely bandied around these days. He is a REAL legend, and these two songs show just why.

Here’s that second song, Promised Land. Listen closely to the words, and note how Chuck improvises following a minor problem with the microphone stand.

Link to Video at You Tube

This video was posted to You Tube by Jack Rabbit

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