Tennessee Ernie Ford & Serge Gainsbourg 1965: Protestant Work Ethic v.Pursuit of Pleasure

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My aficionado friend Robert Rogeness of Wine Expo–he’s the go-to-guy for all things wine, Brazilian, and New Orleans— sent me this video of Tennessee Ernie Ford doing his hit song “16 Tons”.  He sent it to me because we’d been talking about Brazilian group Funk Como le Gusta version of the mid-60s classic.  I liked the video but immediately thought of a Serge Gainsbourg video of the same year of his great tropically-vibed song “Couleur Café”.   It’s homespun Americana vs. Parisian hipster, circa 1965.    I will leave it to the audience to decide which song and video they prefer.  As for me, the laid-back Serge with the tropical vibe, with the classic hourglass coffee maker and the beautiful dancer wins my vote.  Tennessee Ernie Ford is hopelessly square when put up against our ever-cool Serge.  It also is a nice contrast between the anglo-saxon work ethic and the more relaxed latin culture of France and its emphasis on the pursuit of pleasure.

Tennessee Ernie Ford:

Serge Gainsbourg’s supercool  video of the same year (ignore the Wrangler ad, couldn’t remove it sorry)


Couleur Café by cvera
BTW, Gilles Verlant has just published a great biography of the iconic French writer and singer…..and it’s a good translation by Paul Knobloch….