Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melody Nelson (33 1/3 Series) by Darran Anderson

By Darran Anderson

Outdoors his local France, the view of Serge Gainsbourg was of a one-hit ask yourself lothario. This has been slowly changed by means of an expertise of ways proficient and cutting edge a songwriter he used to be. Gainsbourg used to be an eclectic, protean determine; a Dadaist, poète maudit, Pop-Artist, libertine and anti-hero. An icon and iconoclast.
His masterpiece is arguably Histoire de Melody Nelson, an album suite combining a lot of his signature subject matters; intercourse, taboo, provocation, humour, exoticism and finally tragedy. Composed and organized with the nice Jean-Claude Vannier, its rating of lush cinematic strings and proto-hip hop beats, mixed with Serge's spoken-word poetry, has develop into remarkably influential throughout an enormous musical spectrum; inspiring soundtracks, indie teams and digital artists. in recent times, the album's attractiveness has grown from cult prestige to that of a latest vintage with the likes of Beck, Portishead, Mike Patton, Air and Pulp paying tribute.
How did the son of Jewish Russian immigrants, hounded through the Nazi profession, upward push to such notoriety and acclaim, being celebrated by way of President François Mitterand as "our Baudelaire, our Apollinaire"? How did the early chanson singer evolve right into a musical visionary incorporating samples, breakbeats and dub into his tune, many years sooner than the curve? And what are the roots and legacy of an idea album a couple of Rolls Royce, a red-haired Lolita muse, otherworldly mansions, aircraft crashes and load Cults?

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Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melody Nelson (33 1/3 Series)

Open air his local France, the view of Serge Gainsbourg was of a one-hit ask yourself lothario. This has been slowly changed by way of an knowledge of the way proficient and cutting edge a songwriter he used to be. Gainsbourg was once an eclectic, protean determine; a Dadaist, poète maudit, Pop-Artist, libertine and anti-hero.

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By the time they came to record it, they had the combined trust and nerve to embark on an album with no choruses or hooks. ’ The only point of contention between Vannier and Gainsbourg during the sessions for Melody Nelson would come with perfecting the overarching mood of the album as a whole. Gainsbourg had written the song ‘Melody lit Babar’ with its lolloping bass and triumphal trumpet fanfares and trills. It had been inspired by a talking elephant Babar toy, owned by Jane’s daughter Kate. It would be controversial in highlighting how much of a child Melody was, but more pressing for Gainsbourg was that its inclusion seemed to knock the album out of sync.

Unwisely, Serge had gained the attention of the police in what was essentially a police state. After much diplomatic wrangling, he was allowed to stay in the country for a fortnight to finish the film before being unceremoniously exiled. Remarkably, it was not the first time that this had happened. Whilst filming Estouffade à la Caraïbe in Colombia in 1967, he had lit his cigarette and absent-mindedly thrown the smouldering match over his shoulder. It proceeded to burn the beach-hut restaurant he had been sitting in to the ground.

The traditional narratives held little currency with the songwriter. He was in the business of subversion. He would build what looked like a love song, what sounded like a love song but what was actually a steel trap or an incendiary device. He was in the business of telling uncomfortable devastating truths. And he did so with devilish élan. Love is an irresistible folly that will lead to misery and disaster. Even at its sweetest, it was often a struggle of dominance and coercion, rife with ulterior motives and self-interest.

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