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Actually, sometimes you can tell
February 10, 2008 1:47 PM   Subscribe

This week I've been perseverating on Chuck Berry's great 1964 song "You Never Can Tell", so now you get to too! Unless you're over 50, you probably know it from the Thurman/Travolta dance in Pulp Fiction, but here are some other versions worthy of your attention:

More or less in chronological order:And for comparison purposes, Nick Lowe's admitted homage, "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)".
posted by ubiquity (14 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm rather partial to Chuck Berry's "Havana Moon," whose pidgin lyrics were aped by Richard Berry for "Louie, Louie."
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:18 PM on February 10, 2008


Apparently Chuck Berry plays a St. Louis restaurant once a month. Has anyone been?
posted by grouse at 3:48 PM on February 10, 2008


Both I Knew the Bride & You Never Can Tell are absolute classics.

Fact.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:51 PM on February 10, 2008


I've seen Berry at Blueberry Hill in STL. It is actually what I did the night of my 21st birthday (BH is 21+). The man is ancient, but he can still rock. His finger agility is ridiculous. The man has a 7 or 8 fret reach... no mere mortal can play the guitar like he does. He can still sing pretty well too. He still invites all the ladies in the crowd to come up for the final song, which is kinda old-man-creepy.

But if you're in the area, I'd recommend going to see the great-grandfather of rock and roll while you still can. He won't live forever... he's one of the last of a dying breed.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:57 PM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've seen Berry at Blueberry Hill in STL. It is actually what I did the night of my 21st birthday (BH is 21+). The man is ancient, but he can still rock. His finger agility is ridiculous. The man has a 7 or 8 fret reach... no mere mortal can play the guitar like he does. He can still sing pretty well too. He still invites all the ladies in the crowd to come up for the final song, which is kinda old-man-creepy.

But if you're in the area, I'd recommend going to see the great-grandfather of rock and roll while you still can. He won't live forever... he's one of the last of a dying breed.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:57 PM on February 10, 2008


I love all the versions. I also dig John Prine's version on his album Common Sense.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:59 PM on February 10, 2008


I saw Berry at Casino Magic Biloxi probably 7 or 8 years ago, and jeffamaphone is right. He has incredible energy and stage presence. Unlike some performers of that era he's not just riding nostalgia; he can still perform, and hold his own against people a third of his age while doing it.
posted by localroger at 4:07 PM on February 10, 2008


O, and Dave Edmunds' [composer of IKTB] Rockpile played the standard version - seen here miming it on a tinny [German?] TV show.

Play it fast & play it loud!
posted by dash_slot- at 4:27 PM on February 10, 2008


Cool post, that last link of Berry playing in 2007 was especially interesting--Chuck seems to have developed a much more sophisticated harmonic sensibility since he wrote the song, and I'm not sure it fits into the vehicle that song provides. But it sure was interesting to hear a bit of how his playing has evolved (his age didn't seem to be a factor in that clip).

(For sure he needs to tune his guitar more often. Not to speak ill of a legend, but damn that was cringe-inducing in spots.)
posted by LooseFilter at 5:36 PM on February 10, 2008


Bob Seger's version, which got some radio airplay several years ago mistitled as "C'est la vie".
posted by evilcolonel at 7:18 PM on February 10, 2008


which is kinda old-man-creepy

You have no idea.
posted by pmurray63 at 7:59 PM on February 10, 2008


Best use of the word "perseverating" in 2008.
posted by Miko at 8:54 PM on February 10, 2008


I enjoyed every version. I tired to pick a favorite, but couldn't do it. Good songs stand the test of time.
posted by wv kay in ga at 9:40 PM on February 10, 2008


Chuck seems to have developed a much more sophisticated harmonic sensibility since he wrote the song

He's notorious for making shit up as he goes along. If you watch Hail Hail Rock and Roll, you'll see interviews with band members saying things like "yeah, we rehearsed it all day yesterday in G but during the show he decided randomly to play it in B." When you've been doing it that long, I guess you gotta do things like that to keep it interesting.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:23 AM on February 11, 2008


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