WTM #1088: Cool Serge of Energy Between Your Thighs

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies


22 March 2010 // 16.30-18.30

“Ugliness is in a way superior to beauty because it lasts.”
• Serge Gainsbourg

“For me provocation is oxygen.”
• Serge Gainsbourg

NY USA > Snooze vs Serge Gainsbourg [I ♥ Serge / Mercury]
Melody Nelson > Serge Gainsbourg vs Molecule
Ballad de Melody Nelson > Serge Gainsbourg [Histoire de Melody Nelson / Philips]
Ballad of Melody Nelson > Fred Frith [Great Jewish Music: Serge Gainsbourg / Tzadik]
Ballad de Melody Nelson > Howie B. [I ♥ Serge / Mercury]
En Melody > Serge Gainsbourg  [Les Annees Psycheldeiques: 1966-1971 / LSD]
Le Poinconneur des Lilas > Tom Barman & Guy Van Nueten [Gainsnord / Essential Dance]
Le Poinconneur des Lilas [live] > Serge Gainsbourg [Le Poinconneur des Lilas /MCPS]
Le Poinconneur des Lilas > The Rakes [Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited / Universal]
Le Poinconneur des Lilas  > Serge Gainsbourg [Le Poinconneur des Lilas /MCPS]
Intoxicated Man > West Hell Five [Gainsnord / Essential Dance]
Intoxicated Man > Medeski, Martin & Wood [Great Jewish Music: Serge Gainsbourg / Tzadik]
Comic Strip > Shelly Hirsch [Great Jewish Music: Serge Gainsbourg / Tzadik]
I Call It Art [Le Chanson de Slogan] > The Kills [Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited / Universal]
Un Vilon un Jambon > Serge Gainsbourg [Serge Gainsbourg vol. 3 / Universal]
Javanaise Remake > Serge Gainsbourg [Aux Armes et caetera / Mercury]
La Javanaise > Serge Gainsbourg [De Gainsbourg a Gainsbarre / Philips]
Javanaise Dub > Serge Gainsbourg [Aux Armes et caetera / Mercury]
La Javanaise > Madeleine Peyroux
La Javanaise > Juliette Gréco
Les Amours Perdues > Juliette Greco
Les Sucettes > France Gall & Serge Gainsbourg
Aux Armes et caetera > Serge Gainsbourg [Aux Armes et caetera / Mercury]
Les Locataires > Serge Gainsbourg [Aux Armes et caetera / Mercury]
Requiem Pour Un Con > The Orb [I ♥ Serge / Mercury]
Requiem Pour Anna > Portishead [Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited / Universal]
Requiem for a Jerk > Faultine, Brian Molko & Françoise Hardy [Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited / Universal]
I Want to Feel Crazy > Serge Gainsbourg & Jean Claud Vannier  [Cannabis / Universal]
Les Sambassadeurs > Serge Gainsbourg [Percussions / Philips]
Dub Homo > Serge Gainsbourg [Mauvaises Nouvelles des Etoiles / Mercury]
Au Revoir Emmanuelle > Tricky [Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited / Universal]
Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son (1965) > France Gall
Qui Est In Qui Est Out > The Spinshots [Gainsnord / Essential Dance]
All the Things you Are > Serge Gainsbourg
Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus > Electronic Concept Orchestra
Sex Machine > Serge Gainsbourg vs La Horde
Prompted by seeing the film Gainsbourg: Vie Heroique to do my umpteenth show on Serge. Ever since I was introduced to him, well not him, but his music, in 1986 by my blond fashion designer girl friend [wife] and her brother I have never stopped being fascinated by hi, his music, his breadth of art, character, zeitgeist sponge and one of the detestable charmers, shy and yet undeniably thrusting self into public eye. Serge lived for our dreams and died for our sins. Not really, but it sounds good. She used to sing Serge in the shower and play the reggae numbers while she was sewing and designing. She also to sing the most operatic of Nina Hagen’s songs but that’s another cup of noise.
Serge lived an enviable life, seemingly effortlessly almost as if destiny were touting him as the next big thing… He was involved with some of the most desirable ladies of the time: Greco, Birkin, Bardot, and Deneuve. He was involved in some of the most delicious scandals that could never have been planned as effectively involving sex, personal scandal, political offense, anti-Semitism, swearing, public loutishness and more… He wrote songs that seemed simple but dealt with complex and contrary emotions. He unconsciously tapped into something basic, something grounded in the universal human soul. His songs, despite his self-doubt began to be covered, demanded, paid for, purchased, loved, hummed on the street and he became an everyman type of guy, beautifully ugly, cocksure but always filled with self-doubt and trepidation, clear thinking, poetically direct and yet elusive and allusive, playful and relaxed, tense and forever unsatisfied. A Jew who was not particularly Jewish, he seemed to simultaneously tap into agnostic iconoclasm and a romantic belief in something beyond. Hopeful and hopeless, surly and sensitive, self-destructive and yet he managed to become immortal. He took himself seriously, knew he was special and yet took the piss out of himself as icon, consistently was his own strongest critic.
The film captures the dichotomy, the bifurcated image of Serge, remaining in the spirit of Serge by mixing fact and fantasy, realizing that facts are never set in stone but float around just like fantasies. The film captured his fragility and immortality, his keen sense of humor that sustained him and the cynicism that did him in as he like so many dark artists was disappointed in humankind, its character and he as a member of this despicable club.
The interesting thing is that the more he has until about 10 years ago been ignored by Anglo culture the more potent and broadly appealing and more profound he seems and the more his work is daily being covered by artists. It is also interesting to see his influences from Baudelaire to Prevert to Greco and to see how fluidly he began to influence subsequent generations having himself absorbed so many styles such as reggae, jazz, rock, samba, and even hiphop to make of each of these styles his own. More versatile musically, more supple and often more inventive and more able to absorb the zeitgeist in all of its eerie contrariness, he still resembles Dylan in a number of ways: both Jews who were able to broaden their personas and palettes to become widely acclaimed as poets who spoke of things in a poetic universal language that could be both understood by the common man and yet poked around inside of by critics, myth seekers, poetic souls.
I wrote an article about Serge in 1996, “Serge Gainsbourg: The Obscurity of Fame”; it may have been one of the first in English, and I take some credit as one of the first DJs in the US to regularly feature Serge on my radio show Wreck This Mess starting in 1986. You can see some of that here at my site. “Obscurity” became the introduction to his short novel Evgenie Sokolov, a satire about an artist who makes works out of flatulence. I also reviewed the biography of Serge View From The Exterior: Serge Gainsbourg by Alan Clayson, Sanctuary Publishing Limited, a hack job written by a guy who complained a lot about not “getting” Serge throughout the book.

Photos of Wreck/Serge by Black Sifichi

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