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April 21, 2010 / Nick

Joe Le Taxi – Vanessa Paradis


In 1987, 14 year old chanteuse Vanessa Paradis emerged from wherever it is juvenile talent comes from to release the internationally successful Joe Le Taxi.

My knowledge of the French language is patchy and I have thus only ever managed to pick up vague snatches of the song’s meaning. The song is about a taxi driver named Joe (not a taxi named Joe, which incidentally would be a great concept for a children’s TV show). There’s another bit where she says ‘vas-y Joe’, which means ‘go Joe’. The rest of the lyrics are a mystery to me though. You are very unlikely to ever hear anybody sing this song out loud because most attempts would be reminiscent of the ‘Joey Speaks French’ episode of Friends. Regardless, the song is good but the it’s the video that is really something.

In the promo, Mademoiselle Paradis spends the entire 3:43 duration of the song doing the same dance move. Unrelentingly. It happens to be a fantastic dance move. Every now and then just for variation, the footage is reversed and Vanessa looks almost like she’s dancing on the other side of the taxi but with her hair parted to the other side. Sophisticated video editing right there.

"I don't know if I want this"

There’s a moment at EXACTLY 3 minutes 5 seconds in where she almost does a look that says ‘I’m getting a bit fed up of this. Not just the dancing but the whole damn industry thing’.

I’m not entirely sure about Joe either. He’s a taxi driver, but why doesn’t he seem very keen to pick up any passengers? Why does it look like he’s suffering through a mental breakdown? Why is he driving a New York style yellow taxi around what are clearly the streets of Paris? I’m sure all these questions are answered in all the lyrics that I don’t understand.

Maybe the song is the tale of a recently bereaved Parisian taxi driver circuiting the streets of the city in a stolen movie prop car with the intention of finding the monsters who killed his loved one(s).
Maybe I should get a French dictionary.
Maybe I should have listened in class.
These are ALL valid assumptions.

The video just seems cheap and the Joe segments are not nearly exciting enough. I’d like to see a remade version of this video where Joe drives at high speeds in a souped-up Peugeot 406 minicab in pursuit of German bank…What?…TAXI?…Okay, apparently that’s already been done in some French film.

Rating: Catchy song plus dodgy video somehow equals something quite likeable.
7/10

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  1. translator / Apr 22 2010 9:08 am

    Joe the taxi (cab driver)
    He doesn’t go everywhere
    He doesn’t work on soda
    His yellow sax (saxophone is a metaphor for his yellow cab)
    Knows all of the streets by heart
    All of the little bars
    All of the dark corners
    And the Seine
    And its bridges that shine
    In his car
    Joe’s music
    It’s the “rumba”
    From old “rock” to “mambo”
    Joe the taxi
    It’s his life
    The rum with “mambo”
    Traffic jam
    He’s like that
    Joe – Joe – Joe
    In his car
    Joe’s music resonates
    It’s the “rumba”
    From old “rock” to phony “mambo”
    Go Joe
    Go Joe
    Speed along
    In the night towards the Amazon
    Joe the taxi
    And Xavier Cugat (famous musician apparently?)
    Joe the taxi
    And Yma Sumac (musician again?)
    Joe – Joe – Joe
    Joe the taxi
    It’s his life
    The rum with “mambo”
    Traffic jam
    Joe the taxi
    And the Mariachis
    Joe the Taxi
    And the “cha-cha-chi”
    Go Joe
    Speed along
    In the night towards the Amazon

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