Saturday, April 23, 2005

Serge Gainsbourg V's Nick Cave

Serge Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg “looked like a louche turtle cross-bred with a dissipated, chain-smoking wolf, (who) was also a singer, songwriter, actor, painter, cutting-edge composer, Eurovision Song Contest winner, novelist, screenwriter, film director, provocateur, sentimentalist, populist, intellectual and the single most important person in the history of French pop music”. So wrote Sylvie Simmons in her January 2001 “Cult Heroes” article in Mojo magazine.

Serge’s musical style covered jazz, pop, reggae, funk, rock, he wrote pop ditties (often for the numerous lovely and invariably young ladies in his life) and concept albums. His often humorous lyrics would at one time appear simple and childish and at other times dark and cynical.

Although Serge Gainsbourg is a musical and cultural hero in France whose prodigious output spanned from the 1950’s through to the 1990’s and despite his influence on countless contemporary artists, he is still virtually unknown outside of his own country.

The only exception to this would be Serge’s world-wide hit “Je t'aime... moi non plus”, a song which he wrote for and originally recorded in an intimate two hour recording session during a short lived fling with Brigitte Bardot in 1967, much to her husband’s fury who demanded that the song be pulled from her TV show. Serge, who at 40 was becoming known as one of France’s hottest songwriters and seducteurs, then went on to re-record “Je t'aime... moi non plus” in 1969 with 20 year old English actress Jane Birkin, who would soon become his wife. Six million copies of the single sold worldwide.

On one of our trips to Paris my wife and I visited Serge’s grave at Montparnasse Cemetery where we left our Metro tickets amongst the collection of other tickets, flowers, poems, notes, Gitanes cigarettes and Pastis bottles. For more information, music and video on Serge Gainsbourg, make sure you see Cookie's entertaining site Bedazzled.

Nick Cave has also had an eclectic and illustrious career as a singer, songwriter, actor, cutting-edge composer, novelist, poet, artist, screenwriter, intellectual and he is one of the most important artists in the history of post-punk Australian rock and pop music”.

From his early days in the mid to late 1970’s in Melbourne, Australia leading The Boys Next Door, through to seminal band The Birthday Party and the move to Europe. And the now 21 year old, constantly changing uber-group/solo project that is Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.

Nick Cave has written countless classic tracks and also covered countless tracks including his 1986 release "Kicking Against The Pricks" which was an album full of covers.

This duet with former lover Anita Lane comes from “Pink Elephants”, one of two albums of English-translated cover versions of the songs of Serge Gainsbourg performed by Mick Harvey.

Serge Gainsbourg - Je t'aime... moi non plus

Nick Cave - I Love You ... Nor Do I


Blogger countrygrrl said...

gr8t to hear je t'aime again. i had an old battered copy when i was 15 and used to blast it down the stairs onto my poor parents ears...i guess i was trying to shock them..this a few months before marc bolsn burst onto our tv screens so i guess it would have happened anyway!! love your choice of tracks by the way.

Wed May 04, 08:41:00 pm  
Blogger MAB said...

hey countrygrrl, thanks for your nice comments. i'm glad you've been able to hear this great Serge track again - there is an excellent compilation called "comic strip" which contains many of his pop songs and it is well worth checking out

Wed May 04, 10:14:00 pm  

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