Lyrics · Trivia · Word of the week

Word of the week: Cadillac

Here’s something we learnt earlier today. Which automobile company took its name from the Frenchman who founded the city of Detroit, Michigan? Was it Chrysler, Chevrolet or Cadillac? The answer appears at the end of the following paragraph.

Channel 4 have revived their old primetime quiz show “The Million Pound Drop”, but it now has a tea-time slot and the amount that can be won has been reduced. This is reflected in its new title, “The 100k Drop”. It’s still a lot more cash than can be won on most other quiz formats, though the return of “Who wants to be a millionaire?” on Saturday night has rather changed things. The original series of “Million Pound Drop” passed us by, but we have caught up with a few old episodes on Challenge and we recorded today’s opening episode of the new format. It’s hosted by Davina McCall again (I’m very happy about that) and two contestants today lost all of their remaining money on the question that I asked in the opening paragraph (not so happy about that). As we have learnt recently, the format requires contestants to answer questions by placing sums of money (from an opening amount of 100k) on multiple-choice answers. In the opening rounds there are four possible answers, then it goes down to three, and in the final round there is a choice of two. One of the answers must be left free. You can hedge, up to a point, by placing money on multiple answers, but you have to leave one of them free. Any money placed on incorrect answers is lost. That’s what happened with the automobile question earlier today. The contestants divided their remaining money between Chevrolet (sounds French) and Chrysler (which doesn’t sound quite so French) but the correct answer is Cadillac. The founder of Detroit was Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, usually referred to as Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, a French explorer and adventurer according to this Wikipedia page.

After the show I realized how little I know about American cars, about the manufacturers, models and history. I don’t know much about European cars either, but am a lot more familiar with them than with US motors. I gather that Cadillacs are pretty fancy, but don’t know whether they equate with Rolls Royce, Jaguar or BMW, or if comparisons are invalid. I have also heard mention of Cadillacs in a couple of songs recently. On Saturday afternoon, driving to Croydon to play some pinball, I heard Natalie Cole’s “Pink Cadillac” for the first time in many years, during the second hour of “Pick of the Pops”. I can’t remember a single line from the song. The chart being played was from 1988 and also included Harry Enfield’s “Loadsamoney”. It’s  another song that I hadn’t heard for many years, but I can recall how his car is described, in these lines: “Doing up the house is me bread and butter / Me bird’s Page 3 and me car’s a nutter”. If you want to relive the UK chart from exactly 30 years ago, and hear both songs, follow this link, available for the next 27 days.

A Blondie “Greatest Hits” compilation has been my CD of choice in the car in recent weeks. We played it on the way back from Croydon on Saturday, and it includes the 1981 US #1 “Rapture”, which also mentions Cadillacs: “You eat Cadillacs, Lincolns too / Mercury’s and Subaru’s”. Hot Chocolate and The Clash both referenced Cadillacs in recordings from the 1970s: “Heaven’s in the back seat of my Cadillac” (a 1976 single for the former) and “Brand New Cadillac” (a cover version on the latter’s 1979 album “London Calling”). Next time I hear either of them I can reflect on who Monsieur Cadillac was: the Frenchman who founded Detroit City.



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