You Never Can Tell

Album: St. Louis to Liverpool (1964)
Charted: 23 14
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  • Lyrics
  • This song tells the story of a teenage couple getting married and staying together. Many of Berry's songs are written from the perspective of young people, but this one even takes a dig at the older generation: "'C'est la vie,' say the old folks," Berry sings. ("C'est la vie'" is French for "That's life").
  • Most songs that describe a young couple in love on their way to adulthood don't end well, as disaffection or tragedy strikes. This song is unusual in that the couple does just fine, settling in with a nice record collection and some Roebuck furniture. As they settle into married life, their love stays strong. It's not the storyline you'd expect, but you never can tell.
  • This was one of the new batch of hits Berry produced after being released from prison in 1963 after serving 20 months for "transporting an underage female across state lines for immoral purposes." Berry had met a 14-year-old girl in Mexico who he brought back to St. Louis to work in his nightclub.
  • There is very little guitar on this track, which is driven by piano and saxophone.
  • When Berry sings, "The Coolerator was crammed with TV dinners and ginger ale," he's referring to a brand of refrigerator called a Coolerator that was popular in the 1950s.
  • In 1977, Emmylou Harris had a Top 10 Country hit with her version, which she renamed "(You Never Can Tell) C'est La Vie."
  • This was featured in the 1994 film Pulp Fiction. It was used in the scene where Uma Thurman and John Travolta dance to it in the twist contest at Jack Rabbit Slim's.
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Comments: 12

  • Janet Aldrich from Estlake, OhioTo Darrell: If they're really Cajun, they'd have their bar in Slidell or Lafayette or Breaux Bridge!
  • Janet Aldrich from Estlake, OhioMy favorite version of this (no offense to Mr. Berry) is Aaron Neville's "C'est la vie". Love that Cajun kids get a look in on popular music.
  • Jim from CanadaFor a really interesting description of a Coolerator, follow this link:
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaLoved the piano on this song, it is why I like it soo much.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 1st 1970, "You Never Can Tell" by Chuck Berry entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #83; and on August 30th, 1964 it peaked at #14 (for 1 week) and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    It also reached #14 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    The week it entered the Top 100 his preceding release, "No Particular Place To Go", was still on the chart, at position #48,and three weeks earlier on July 5th, 1970 it had peaked at #10 (for 1 week).
  • Scott from Boston, MaBob Seger recorded a cover of this song under the title "C'est La Vie" on his Greatest Hits album released in 1994.
  • Bianca Sanchez from Alburquerque, NmFirst Chuck Berry song I ever heard. Best song ever. My faveorite Chuck Berry song
  • Fran from Stockton, CaThis song is just one of the small handful of Cajun-style songs that has ever been played on pop music stations. Chuck Berry must have grown-up listening to Cajun music and playing it before rock-n-roll. Whenever I hear this song, I picture myself on a merry-go-round that's going a little to fast--you gotta hang on tight. I also hear the Benny Hill chase music theme whenever it's playing.
  • Billy J from San Antonio, TxLoggins&Messina covered this song as well as Emmylou Harris (Live At The Ryman).Both are great.Loggins&Messina was done the 70's and Emmylou Harris was done in the 80's
  • Bob from Chicago, IlIt's not likely he invented the word "coolerator". Coolerator company was making ice boxes in Duluth Minn. since 1904, later electric refrigerators, freezers and kitchen ranges. They were all over the rural USA. A country boy would have seen them and known the name.
  • Darrell from Eugene, United StatesAs of 2006, I can picture, in the back of my mind, Pierre and the Mademoiselle running a Cajun bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans with zydeco bands every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night and an all-you-can-eat seafood bar.
  • Michela from Brescia, Italychuck berry is image of occidentals young in seventies he is fugleman of those year, he is the best than doors!
    bye the italian seventeen
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