Mae West once said, “a man can be short and dumpy and getting bald but if he has fire, women will like him.” Serge Gainsbourg was neither bald nor short or dumpy, but it’s a phrase that might explain his dalliance with Bardot and his marriage to Jane Birkin. To say he had fire is probably an understatement, he was more an inferno. Gainsbourg, smoked, drank, swore like a trooper and had the style of a modern-day louche dandy.
Serge Gainsbourg with Jane Birkin
Gainsbourg in suit
Gainsbourg owns the suit in the picture above. Even when he wears a suit jacket with Jeans, he just owns it. Think of all the middle aged men who trot off to their work mufti days wearing their suit jackets with jeans. The difference between Gainsbourg is that where they have spreadsheets, he’s got the fire, and the fire always wins out.
The most important thing though is Serge Gainsbourg, amongst everything else he was or became, was first, a great musician and songwriter. Flirting with different styles of music, he produced a number of great albums throughout his career and is rightly considered a great of the 20th century.
Recommended listening: Initials B.B., Histoire de Melody Nelson, Rock around the Bunker