THE WORD “viva” crops up commonly enough in song lyrics: Coldplay’s Chris Martin sang “Viva la Vida”, the Spice Girls exclaimed “Viva Forever” and Elvis Presley warbled both “Viva el vino, viva el dinero y viva el amor” and of course “Viva Las Vegas!”
But there is a song that makes a full reference to the original Vauxhall Viva, that popular if occasionally rust-prone model of the 1960s and 1970s.
The Viva went through three generations: the HA (1963-6), the HB (1966-70) and the HC (1970-79) and around 1.5m Vivas were sold during its lifetime, making it a fairly common sight on British roads a few decades ago. One belonged to the next-door neighbour of a well-known singer, in fact, if the lyrics of one of his songs are to be believed.
Can you name that musician (pictured above, which should make things somewhat easier)? Scroll down for the answer.
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The 1978 song The Beat by Elvis Costello features the line: “I’ve been a bad boy with the standard leader. My neighbor’s revving up his Vauxhall Viva.”
The song is typically cryptic and angst-ridden. Quite what the Viva reference means is anyone’s guess; we spent quite a while looking for answers before deciding that it’s probably simply in there because it half-rhymes with “leader”.