Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melody Nelson

Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melody Nelson

by Darran Anderson
     
 

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Outside his native France, the view of Serge Gainsbourg was once of a one-hit wonder lothario. This has been slowly replaced by an awareness of how talented and innovative a songwriter he was. Gainsbourg was an eclectic, protean figure; a Dadaist, poète maudit, Pop-Artist, libertine and anti-hero. An icon and iconoclast.

His masterpiece is

Overview

Outside his native France, the view of Serge Gainsbourg was once of a one-hit wonder lothario. This has been slowly replaced by an awareness of how talented and innovative a songwriter he was. Gainsbourg was an eclectic, protean figure; a Dadaist, poète maudit, Pop-Artist, libertine and anti-hero. An icon and iconoclast.

His masterpiece is arguably Histoire de Melody Nelson, an album suite combining many of his signature themes; sex, taboo, provocation, humour, exoticism and ultimately tragedy. Composed and arranged with the great Jean-Claude Vannier, its score of lush cinematic strings and proto-hip hop beats, combined with Serge's spoken-word poetry, has become remarkably influential across a vast musical spectrum; inspiring soundtracks, indie groups and electronic artists. In recent years, the album's reputation has grown from cult status to that of a modern classic with the likes of Beck, Portishead, Mike Patton, Air and Pulp paying tribute.

How did the son of Jewish Russian immigrants, hounded during the Nazi Occupation, rise to such notoriety and acclaim, being celebrated by President François Mitterand as "our Baudelaire, our Apollinaire"? How did the early chanson singer evolve into a musical visionary incorporating samples, breakbeats and dub into his music, decades ahead of the curve? And what are the roots and legacy of a concept album about a Rolls Royce, a red-haired Lolita muse, otherworldly mansions, plane crashes and Cargo Cults?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This book is intended to be a biography of an album, but due to Darran Anderson's thorough research and skilled prose storytelling, Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melody Nelson morphs into a brilliant (if often dark) illustration of Serge Gainsbourg himself, even more than that of the title character, Melody Nelson. That said, when one knows this much more about the album, the artist and his muse, much like the narrator himself, one will find it almost impossible to avoid falling in love with Melody.” —J.C. Macek III, PopMatters
PopMatters J.C. Macek III

This book is intended to be a biography of an album, but due to Darran Anderson's thorough research and skilled prose storytelling, Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melody Nelson morphs into a brilliant (if often dark) illustration of Serge Gainsbourg himself, even more than that of the title character, Melody Nelson. That said, when one knows this much more about the album, the artist and his muse, much like the narrator himself, one will find it almost impossible to avoid falling in love with Melody.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781623562168
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
10/24/2013
Series:
33 1/3 Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
160
File size:
377 KB

Meet the Author

Darran Anderson is an Irish writer. He is a co-editor of 3:AM Magazine.
Darran Anderson is an Irish writer. He is a co-editor of 3:AM Magazine and formerly Dogmatika. He is the author of the poetry collections Tesla's Ghost (Blackheath Books), The Fool and The Magnetic Mountain as well as the forthcoming critical study of Jack Kerouac for Reaktion Books. A selection of his writing can be read at http://www.darrananderson.com.

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