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The legacy of Serge Gainsbourg

Gainsbourg was a controversial figure who left a permanent mark on French society. Some of his media outbursts and provocations have not aged well but his musical legacy lives to this day and the versatility of his career is a testament to his talent.

To mark the 30th anniversary of his death, we have selected a few albums on Culturetheque by French artists who have been influenced by his music. We also commemorate his multifaceted art by looking at his contribution to cinema and literature through archive footage. In a BBC podcast, his long-time muse and lover Jane Birkin tells us about the man behind the myth by describing the first time they met in Paris in the swinging '60s. And if that doesn't quench your thirst, you can spend 'a day with Serge Gainsbourg' thanks to a 4-part series broadcasted on France Culture.



INA – Ah vous écrivez!

Bernard Pivot interviews Serge Gainsbourg about his first book published by Gallimard, 'Evguenie Sokolov', which he describes as a pamphlet about modern painting.

Watch the archive from INA

Arte | Blow up – Serge Gainsbourg par Thierry Jousse

Thierry Jousse talks about Serge Gainsbourg and his unique relationship with cinema.


BBC radio 3 | Private Passions – When Jane Birkin met Serge Gainsbourg

Jane Birkin came to fame in the swinging 60s, thanks to her wild beauty and daring appearances in avant-garde films such as 'Blow-up', and thanks also to her tempestuous relationship with Serge Gainsbourg. In 1969 their song 'Je t'aime' was banned by the BBC and the rest is history; it became the biggest-selling foreign language record ever. Since then, Jane Birkin has appeared in more than fifty films, been awarded the OBE for services to Anglo-French relations and released thirteen albums.

France Culture – Une journée avec Serge Gainsbourg

Noël Simsolo released in 1982 a series of 4 episodes with musician and writer Serge Gainsbourg whom he interviewed at his home. The discussion, illustrated with numerous extracts from his songs, focuses on these, but also on his voice, his lyrics, his personality, his encounters, his dislikes but above all his tastes, from Charles Trenet, to Boris Vian to Fréhel, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Django Reinhardt, Brigitte Bardot, Art Tatum, Vladimir Nabokov, Brel, Aznavour and many more.

France Culture – Un questionnaire de Proust avec Serge Gainsbourg

The 80s made Serge Gainsbourg an icon, a myth… Nocturnal drifts… failed love… obscenities, burnt tickets, TV show scandals… but still, words and melodies flowed : 'No comment', 'Sorry Angel', 'Lemon Incest'… In 1984, Marc Legras and Jacques Erwan asked him to answer the famous Proust questionnaire.

To the question "what quality do you prefer in a woman?" Gainsbourg replies: May she have a lot of indulgence towards me, towards my weaknesses and my strengths. Here. And that’s it!

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