In mid-1968, Serge Gainsbourg fell in love with the much younger English singer and actress Jane Birkin, whom he met during the shooting of the film Slogan...Check This Out!
Birkin remembers the beginning of her affair with Gainsbourg: he first took her to a nightclub, then to a transvestite club and afterwards to the Hilton hotel, where he passed out in a drunken stupor.
Birkin emerged in the Swinging London scene of the 1960s, appearing shortly in the 1966 film Blowup, and as the fantasy-like model in the psychedelic Wonderwall from 1968.
That same year, she auditioned in France for the lead female role in Slogan. Though she did not speak French, she won the role. She co-starred with, and duetted with Serge Gainsbourg on the film's theme song, "La chanson de slogan"—the first of many collaborations between the two.
In 1969, she and Gainsbourg released the duet "Je t'aime... moi non plus" ("I love you... nor do I"). Gainsbourg originally wrote the song for Brigitte Bardot.
Je T'aime, Moi Non Plus.
The song caused a scandal for its sexual explicitness, and was banned by radio stations in Italy, Spain, and the UK. The song's fame is partly a result of its salacious lyrics, sung in French by both Gainsbourg and Birkin to a background of increasing sexual moans and groans from Birkin and culminating in her simulated orgasm at the song's conclusion.
Je t'aime made UK chart history in that on 4 October 1969 and the following week on the 11th. Je t'aime was at two different chart positions even though it is the same song, the same artists, and the same recorded version. The only difference was that they were on different record labels. It was originally released on the Fontana label, but due to its controversy, Fontana withdrew the record which was then released on the Major Minor label. Because there were Fontana singles still in the shops along with the Major Minor release, on 4 October 1969 the Major Minor release was at number 3 and the Fontana single at number 16. Also at that time it was the biggest ever selling single for a completely foreign language record.
La Décadanse. 1971
Histoire de Melody Nelson was released in 1971. This concept album, produced and arranged by Jean-Claude Vannier, tells the story of a Lolita-esque affair, with Gainsbourg as the narrator. It features prominent string arrangements and even a massed choir at its tragic climax.
Ballade de Melody Nelson.
In 1971 Birkin & Gainsbourg had a daughter, the actress and singer Charlotte.
In 1980, after a turbulent 13-year-long relationship, Jane Birkin left Gainsbourg.
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