Table of contents:
- How Lucien Ginsburg became Serge Gainsbourg
- Jane Birkin and the heyday of a career
- Cigarettes, booze, women and a lot of music
Shocking in itself is a short-lived thing, and Serge Gainsbourg is loved in France even now, twenty-eight years after his death. They love, perhaps, no less than when he burned a five-hundred-franc bill in front of the camera, starred in a provocative video with his daughter Charlotte, lived "in an equilateral triangle" between cigarettes, drinks and an endless line of women.
How Lucien Ginsburg became Serge GainsbourgThe life of Serge Gainsbourg cannot be viewed in isolation from his work - art, which was for him a way of existence, determined his entire biography - or, on the contrary, the main events in the fate of Gainsbourg pushed him to this escapism, to salvation in art. In fact, even a dry retelling of the life of Gainsbourg makes it possible to assert that he had something to hide from and be saved from.
Lucien Ginzburg's parents - and that was the name of the cult French musician at the birth - emigrated from Feodosia after the October Revolution. Father, Joseph Ginzburg, graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory, was a pianist and composer, mother, Olga Besman, also had a direct relationship to the world of music - she was a singer. Lucien and his twin sister Lillian were born on April 2, 1928 in Paris. In the family, in addition to Lulu and Lily - as the twins were called - their sister Jacqueline grew up. Music filled Lucien every day "from zero to twenty", childhood passed in constant contact with classical art - painting, literature, music. My father used to play for the soul - Chopin, Stravinsky, Ravel. In the family, the children received a musical education; Lulu and Lily also sang in the choir.
Gainsbourg was eleven when World War II broke out and the lives of all members of this Jewish family were in jeopardy. My father lost the opportunity to play the piano. Everyone - including children - were required to wear yellow stars on their clothes - this is etched into the memory of the younger Ginzburgs forever. In 1941, the whole family left for the town of Courgenard in western France. Then, in 1944, using forged documents, the Ginzburgs arrived in Limoges. Their life then passed in constant fear - the Nazis organized raids in order to find the Jews who were hiding. After the liberation of Paris, the family returned to their home.
After the end of the war, Gainsbourg entered the Academy of Montmartre to study painting. This art form then passionately captured him, and Salvador Dali became the main idol among artists for many years. Later, Gainsbourg would decorate his apartment in imitation of the great surrealist. At the Academy, he met his first wife, also from Russian émigrés, Elizaveta Levitskaya, whose marriage lasted from 1951 to 1957.
In 1948, Gainsbourg went to serve in the army - there he learned to play the guitar, where he began to smoke and drink. After service, he made a living teaching drawing and singing, and played in a cabaret. Under the influence of Boris Vian, the author of "Foam of the Days" and an idol, and then a friend of the musician, he began to write poetry to his songs.
In the late fifties, the first album was released, at the same time the musician changed his name. Serge - paying tribute to the composer Sergei Rachmaninov, Gainsbourg - with a slightly changed spelling of his real name (from Ginsburg to Gainsbourg). The name Lucien, by his own admission, was more suitable for "some hairdresser", however, the family continued to call him Lulu, as before.
Jane Birkin and the heyday of a career
In addition to music, which over time, Gainsbourg subjugated his life, abandoning painting and destroying most of his works, he was engaged in writing scripts and participated in the filming of films. Success did not come to him soon - only from the mid-sixties the name of Serge Gainsbourg became popular. At that time, he wrote compositions for popular French singers and film stars, and one of them, France Gall, won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1965, performing the song Poupée de cire, poupée de son, created for her by Gainsbourg.
And the popularity of the musician and composer began to grow. His extraordinary appearance - far from being handsome in the classical sense of the word - only gave Gainsbourg an additional charm. He himself believed that ugliness, unlike beauty, "stands the test of time." A series of ties with women was diluted - or supplemented - by a short marriage with Françoise-Antoinette Pancrazzi, in which two children were born - Natasha and Paul. Gainsbourg will no longer be officially married.
In 1967 he wrote the famous song “I love you … I don’t you either” - and recorded it as a duet with Brigitte Bardot, with whom Serge had an affair at that time. However, later the actress banned the release of this record - because of excessive, in her opinion, frankness. The composition was published by the already new passion of Gainsbourg - Jane Birkin, whom the musician met during the filming of the film "Slogan". Birkin and Gainsbourg will become the most fashionable couple for the next twelve years - as long as their love relationship will last, as for creative ones - they will end only with the death of Serge.
The first joint work of the couple received scandalous notoriety - it was even banned by the Vatican. But Gainsbourg's work was somehow permeated with scandal - a cynic who loved shocking, touched on the most slippery and subtle topics in his songs, could ridicule Nazism or perform the Marseillaise in reggae style, but, nevertheless, enjoyed the constant love of the public. The best in the work of Gainsbourg is considered his conceptual album "The Man with the Head of Cabbage", the hero of this album kills his beloved woman and ends up in a hospital for the mentally ill.
In 1986, he recorded an album with his daughter Charlotte - Charlotte for Ever, which contributed to the scandalous reputation of Gainsbourg - due to some ambiguity in the lyrics and clips shot from the songs. Constantly experimenting with different musical styles, in the eighties he began not to sing, but to read the text to the music. The musician's "trick" was the so-called "French" - mixing of two languages when performing a song.
Cigarettes, booze, women and a lot of music
Throughout his life, Gainsbourg drank and smoked a lot - "melancholy and drunkenness" were his constant companions. Women caused him suffering - for this he feared and hated them. True, this did not prevent him from making constant connections with female representatives - both love and friendship ties. For some singers, such as Vanessa Paradis, working with Gainsbourg was a major career turn. Until his death, he continued to compose songs for French performers.
Serge's last passion was a young model named Bambu - her real name was Caroline von Paulus, the grandniece of a general who capitulated at Stalingrad. Gainsbourg died at the age of 62 from his fifth heart attack. His departure became a common grief for France, and his grave in the Montparnasse cemetery is still one of the most visited.
He attacked life, feeling defenseless in front of her - relatives spoke about Serzh. He did not know how to be an adult - or did not want to be one. Nevertheless, in Charlotte Gainsbourg's stories about her father, he appears to be completely different from what it was customary to paint his image: he was distinguished by his ability to behave, even aristocratic, demanded the same from his children (her daughter lived with Jane Birkin from her first marriage, Kate Barry).Outrageousness began in front of the public - like a mask that Gainsbourg put on and which brought both success and protection from something inexorable and dangerous.
Gainsbourg was famous for his epicurean attitude to life: he wore the best suits and shoes, expensive Swiss watches. He used his Rolls-Royce car to comfortably smoke a cigarette in the garage - due to his addiction to alcohol, Gainsbourg considered himself not entitled to drive.
No matter how peculiar the personality of Serge Gainsbourg, now, decades after the completion of his life and career, it can be argued that the main reason for the musician's popularity is not his scandalous image, but the fact that he created good, high-quality music - and this is exactly what goes on the test of time.
About Gainsbourg's main muse: Jane Birkin.
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