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Serge Gainsbourg Biography
Once upon a time, a young boy paced up and down the streets of Paris, proudly showing off the villainous yellow star pinned to his jacket.
When he crosses paths with the pro-nazi French militia, the kid of Russian-Jewish parents with a cheeky glint in his eye, sets to singing the « Marseillaise » alongside them… even though he doesn‘t know the words.
Then something stops young Lucien short – a propaganda poster flouting an anti-Jewish caricature. An ugly face that is just a little too close to his own. A face pinned up to be seen and scoffed at.
He’d like to flee or rub out that face but the opposite happens. The caricature suddenly comes to life, descends from the wall and starts to follow the boy. From that point on, the ugly face will never leave him. It will be his shadow, his curse, his inspiration, his only companion, to such an extent, that years after, they will become one and the same.
He doesn’t know it yet, but this little boy will one day be known as Serge Gainsbourg.
This tale recounts a heroic life. It’s about a young boy who crosses occupied Paris spouting words like he was putting flowers in a gun barrel. Forty years later, he sets alight a concert in Strasbourg singing a Jamaican reggae version of the Marseillaise in front of a bunch military hotheads who don’t like the idea. Gainsbourg has capped off his legendary status by vanquishing France with his subversive wit.
It’s a tale of conquests. An eternal lover with an awkward face, Gainsbourg lures the mythic Brigitte Bardot and her Afghan into his bed. He seduces Jane Birkin while swimming in his French-flag underpants and convinces Juliette Greco to improvise a barefooted waltz in the wee hours of the morning. These goddesses will all, without exception, sing the poetic insanities he writes for them.
It’s a tale of duels. The most deadly of which pits Gainsbourg against his double – Ugly Face - a bony, feline man/marionette who jealously watches over his love affairs and reminds him of his humiliations when happiness comes knocking. Ugly Face is a cunning jester, there to help and hinder the creative process, haunting the poet/singer’s nights and never leaving him a minute’s peace.
It’s a tale in which Gainsbourg converts from starving painter to genius of the French pop song. His music grabs the narrative reins, transforming a plump wife into a «Hippopodame» and an adulterous and torrid evening into a worldwide hit «Je t’aime, moi non plus».
And so to tell the story of this master of provocation, this manipulator of words and women, of this shy but avid adventurer, let’s swap straight talk for wild rhymes and prepare to dive into the Paris of the swinging sixties to take part in a story as audacious as the risks that made little Lucien… Serge Gainsbourg.