Monday, February 01, 2010

Johnny Yen's One Hit Wonders: "C'est La Vie," by Robbie Nevil

It's funny how a song that you might not necessarily listen to becomes a beloved song because it brings you back to a time in your life.

When I was 25 and just out of college, I started hanging at a place called Gaspar's, on Southport and Belmont Avenue, in Chicago. The place had two parts, a bar and a small concert area. It was down the street from where a legendary Chicago punk bar, Tut's, had been, and in fact they also had many, many great shows there. A lot of punk legends played there and many others-- it was where "They Might Be Giants" played whenever they were in Chicago back then.

The front of the house was a wonderful place too. It was where I inevitably brought old friends to have a drink, and the occasional date. There was an old bar (which is still there in its current incarnation, Schuba's) and a great jukebox: Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay," Richie Valens' "La Bamba," and many other oldies, and some great newer songs. One of my favorite memories of Gaspar's was of an old girlfriend, who was Latina, translating the lyrics to La Bamba for me back in pre Spanish-speaking days.

One of the songs on the jukebox I grew to love was Robbie Nevil's "C'est La Vie." I ended up buying the 45 of it, which is still somewhere in my basement with the rest of my old 45's. I remember being surprised, when I bought it, that he was white. Given that he's written mostly for R and B artists, I guess I shouldn't have been.

Los Angeles native Robbie Nevil was at first known as a songwriter for the likes of the Pointer Sisters, Debarge and Earth, Wind and Fire. In 1986, he hit a home run on his first at-bat, as "C'est La Vie," a song from his self-titled first album went up to #2 on the charts.

He released a few more records, but sales were successively less with each album. He returned to writing songs for others, and has done quite well, authoring songs for Babyface, Jessica Simpson and Destiny's Child. He has done work for Disney on High School Musical and Hannah Montana.

Here's a link to the video:

1 comment:

Churlita said...

Wow. That guy was White? Who knew?