Today, let’s talk about a very controversial but nonetheless beautiful album, created by the French genius Serge Gainsbourg.

“L’histoire de Melody Nelson” – the story of Melody Nelson –is a beautiful, bold, album. It was covered by numerous artists, including Placebo who did a terrific job. It’s one of our all-time favorite records.

Who is Serge Gainsbourg?

Serge Gainsbourg is the French maestro of cool. A guy with a voice that could make even the Eiffel Tower swoon. We regularly go to Paris and pass by his house, which has become a museum and a street art masterpiece:

Born Lucien Ginsburg on April 2, 1928, in Paris, Gainsbourg had a brilliant yet tumultuous career. He left an indelible mark on the French music scene. Known for his distinctive voice, he had an eclectic musical style. He was mostly known for his provocative, often controversial lyrics. For example, Gainsbourg achieved international fame with songs like “Je t’aime… moi non plus” and “Bonnie and Clyde.”

From tunes that raised eyebrows to super chic style, Gainsbour made sultry an art form. He wasn’t just a musician; he was a French vibe.

How was “Histoire of Melody Nelson” made?

Gainsbourg was inspired by Nabokov’s Lolita when he created the character of Melody Nelson to unveil the French bourgeoisie’s hypocrisy. In the seventies, this album was so scandalous no one would buy it. Today, the outrageous aura is intact, but Gainsbourg’s musical genius still makes it an incredible meteoric work: sublime harmonies, gorgeous mixing, funk bass, and poisonous violins. 

Girl holding Gainsbourg Melody Nelson blue vinyl signed by Jane Birkin
Our beautiful “Histoire de Melody Nelson” colored vinyl, signed by Jane Birkin herself

To portray Melody, Jane Birkin, Serge’s muse, was cast. She was twenty-five at the time and though her participation on the tracks only lies in stating Melody Nelson’s name and a few equivocal laughs, her presence haunts the entire album. And left a permanent mark in the collective subconscious.

If you haven’t listened to it yet, discover this seventies gem. That’s an order.

What are your favorite songs by Serge Gainsbourg? Our list is endless, but we do have a crush on The Ballad of Melody Nelson, Bloody Jack, Ford Mustang, Initiales BB, La Javanaise, and La Chanson de Prévert…

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