Dave the recycler

Let me introduce you to Dave. Dave was born Wouter Otto Levenbach in the Netherlands, but has remained relatively unknown in his home country despite having a few chart hits in France. One of his first big hits in the 70s was Vavina, which you may recognise this clip to the left.


For those of you who don’t recall the song, including my French friend who until last week thought it was a Dave original, it’s actually a Frenchified (yes, I made that word up) version of “Runaway” by Del Shannon, recorded in the 60s (also to the left).

Okay, the 70s seemed to be the peak decade for musicians to switch song languages, with The Four Seasons’ “December 1963 (Oh What a Night)” being covered by Claude François as “Cette Année-Là” (“That Year Then”), while his song “Comme d’Habitude” is more famously known as the the translated-into-English “My Way”, sung, but not written, by Frank Sinatra, and good old Johnny Hallyday covered all sorts of songs including “Long Tall Sally” as “Oh! Sally” with French lyrics. The list goes on. Again, I promise to write about Claude François one day: his story is a good one.

So back to Dave. Good on him for taking a hit song from the US and turning his translation into a hit in France. But you may ask why on earth I’m bringing this up now. This is why:

Dave has done a cover of his cover. He’s really taking recycling to new levels. Apparently, it’s a surefire hit, with French TV and radio stations picking it up, and Dave starring as a panelist on France’s talent show “La France a un Incroyable Talent” (“France has an Incredible Talent”). So as we say in Australia, “good onya, Dave”: you’ve done well. And you haven’t aged badly either.


I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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4 comments on “Dave the recycler
  1. Ron Rundle says:

    Yeah, up ya go, Dave.
    I have to admit that a lot of French “pop” music has left me cold. But this is quite good. Perhaps because of the “Runaway” similarity(!) it is easy to relate to. You go, Dave. And some of those fancy moves! Phew! He can shake it like a twenty year old.

  2. Steph says:

    Like Ron, I’m not mad keen on French pop. I have been getting CDs out from the library, choosing French groups at random, in an effort to discover good ones, but so far it hasn’t worked out! My kids groan in horror whenever I put the CDs on in the car, and they’re teenagers who should like this stuff! However, I’m fond of ageing rockers so I’ll give Dave a listen.

  3. Wendy says:

    Yeah, those acrobatics are my favourite part of the clip! As for French pop music, it is a bit lacklustre. If you’re keen, try Christophe Mae (although he sounds like he needs a good cough), Mickael Miro, Inna Modja, Coeur de Pirate, good old Vanessa Paradis, M. Pokora, Zaz and Merwan Rim (a bit of a swooner). For dancier stuff, try David Guetta (with extremely sexist lyrics – in English), Justice and Bob Sinclair. STAY AWAY from Keen’V and Collectif Métissé – they’re terrible!

  4. Tonton says:

    Oh boy, Dave (*). Chilhood summers. I had had my mother to buy me the same necklace as him. 🙂
    Nice new clip, too. Thanks!

    (*) pronounced Dève, of course.

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by wendyhollands.com, my other site.

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