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April 2: Serge Gainsbourg

April 2, 2013

jeanloup-sieff-jane-birkin-and-serge-gainsbourg-paris-1970pstSerge Gainsbourg (Lucien Ginsburg), a singer, songwriter, and actor/director with an international following, was born to Ukrainian refugee Jews in Paris on this date in 1928. His family survived the Nazi occupation of France in Limoges, an unoccupied city (administered by the Vichy government). Gainsbourg made his mark as a bad-boy/dirty old man songwriter in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, working in many musical genres. His songs were often filled with sexual innuendo, and were recorded by, among others, Brigitte Bardot, Petula Clark, Catherine Deneuve, Marianne Faithful, and his long-time lover, Jane Birkin, with whom he had a daughter, actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. The 1975 album, Rock Around the Bunker, focused on the Nazism of Gainsbourg’s childhood. He also wrote soundtracks for forty films and directed four. His reputation became exalted in France as well as the English-speaking world after his death in 1991. To see him singing his song about Brigitte Bardot, click below.

“He was our Baudelaire, our Apollinaire . . . He elevated the song to the level of art.” —President François Mitterand

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