To pay homage to the life and legacy of Serge Gainsbourg, Maria’s Package Goods & Caveau Maudit (French for “wretched little dive”) is hosting “Histoire de Melody Gainsbourg” on Wednesday, March 2 (7pm – 2am), the 20th year anniversary of his death. Hosted by DJ Clochard (aka DJ Vagrant) “Histoire” aims to celebrate in an appropriately hedonistic manner Gainsbourg’s oevre and lifestyle, each inseparable from one another.
With his unorthodox behaviour as enfant terrible (quite hard to accomplish in middle-age; yet he did) Gainsbourg often tweaked convention and poked fun at societal norms. On television protesting heavy taxation he set fire to a 500 Franc note and in 1986 while performing on Michel Procker’s popular live Saturday evening show made lewd and innapropriate remarks to visiting American singer Whitney Houston exclaiming “I want to fuck her”. One must remember that those were pre-Bobby Brown days.
His shocking sexually risque lyrics for songs for France Gall (“Les Sucettes”), both Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot (“Je t’aime moi non plus”) and the highly controversional duet with his young daughter Charlotte (“Lemon Incest”) often overshadowed his creative output and musical depth. Yet, Gainsbourg’s scandalous boorish behavior, drug use and publc drunkeness often hid and protected his shyness, sensitivity and generosity (he was well loved by the local Parisian cabbies for leaving large tips while taking him back home after another night of debauchery). Comparing himself to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he adopted the moniker “Gainsbarre”, his alter-ego that was both uncontrollable yet somehow utterly captivating.
Gainsbourg’s genius incorporated styles ranging from jazz, African, ballads, pop, reggae, psychedelic, disco, bossa nova, rock and calypso while continually re-inventing himself over the decades. His songs, like those of his musical predecessors Edith Piaf and Aristide Bruant are filled with themes ranging from despair, isolation, suicide, lust, boredom , abandonment, jealosy and even sometimes hope. Noted British biographer Alan Clayson wonderfully captured Gainsbourg’s strange mystique in his book “A View From The Exterior” by stating, “He was an appalling fellow, really, but I liked him.”
“Histoire” will cover the life, legacy and creative output of Gainsbourg’s tumultous career, from his earliest recordings in 1959, his winning of the Eurovision Song Contast in 1965, his collaborations with Brigitte Bardot, Dalida, France Gall and his muse Jane Birkin, his 1971 concept album “Historie de Melody Nelson”, his 1975 noir album “Rock Around the Bunker”, his reggae-inspired album “Aux Armes Et Cetera” (1979) with Rita Marley and Sly & Robbie to the electro-groove of 1987′s “You’re Under Arrest.”
“Historie” will also showcase the numerous interpertations of Gainsbourg’s corpus including works by Juliette Greco, Catherine Sauvage, Petula Clark, Regine, Francoise Hardy, Mick Harvey and MC Solaar. The evening begins at 7pm with a special 2 hour video presentation of rare Gainsbourg live French television preformances and Scopitone videos. Marials expert mixologists will concoct some unique French-inspired cocktails for a bit of “La Vie Boheme” using pastis, lilette, champagne and bourbon (a favorite of Serge).