Salem State University | Language Resource Center | French Lyrics

Serge Gainsbourg

From: France

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"Serge Gainsbourg was the dirty mouth of French pop. He was a singer, producer and writer of songs like "Le poinçonneur des lilas" (1958), "Poupée de cire, poupée de son" (1965, by France Gall), "Harley Davidson" (1968, by Brigitte Bardot), the all-time favorite "Je t'aime... Moi non plus" (1969, with Jane Birkin), "Dieu fumeur de havanes" (1980, with Catherine Deneuve), "Love on the beat" (1984) and "Lemon Incest" (1984, with Charlotte Gainsbourg). He was also a film director and wrote the soundtracks for more than 40 movies." From a very informative Gainsbourg site

"Gainsbourg was born Lucien Ginzburg in 1928 to Russian immigrants in Paris. His father Frenchified their Jewish name and Lucien became Serge Gainsbourg. His father played piano in Pigalle night clubs and Gainsbourg grew up with him playing Bach, Chopin, Stravinski, and Gershwin at home. Gainsbourg took up piano at a young age. And his father, bubbling with enthusiasm, insisted that young Serge accompany him at the piano in Deauville's casinos and grand hotels. He was all of 8 and painfully shy. Excited by his son's interest in the arts, he enrolled Serge in art school near Montmartre, where Gainsbourg found himself roaming the exotic and tacky streets; dreaming and peeking into the clubs and bordellos. During World War II his family, as Jews, were forced to wear the yellow star. In 1941, his father arranged for falsified papers which allowed them to escape to Limoges. Gainsbourg was marked not only by the yellow star and the horrors of Nazism, but by the ease with which neighbors became cowards -- and collaborators. This would affect him for the rest of his life. After the war, Gainsbourg, now 19, continued his ramblings through seedy Pigalle. He grew increasingly disillusioned, gloomy, aimless -- a true cafe existentialist. He landed numerous deadend jobs in the area, including hand-coloring cinema publicity photos, played classical music at snooty balls but also played jazz in various smoky Pigalle dives." From liner notes taken from another site

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Last updated: July 13, 2000