Histoire de Melody Nelson, a 27 minute rock opera released on vinyl in 1971, is generally considered to be Serge Gainsbourg’s magnum opus, albeit one that is somewhat smaller in scale than most operatic masterpieces. It tells the tale of a wealthy middle-aged man who crosses paths with a younger woman, practically killing her when his car collides with her as she is bicycling, and his subsequent erotic obsession for the girl. At the time of its release, the music, lyrics and production of Histoire de Melody Nelson were considered innovative, adventurous and provocative and still to this day continue to enthrall listeners and influence countless musicians.
Dangerous Minds’ Richard Metzger has previously written about Histoire de Melody Nelson in his typically tantalizing fashion and you can read it here.
Melody, a film based on Histoire de Melody Nelson made for French TV, was directed by Jean Christophe Averty with Gainsbourg and his lover Jane Birkin in the lead roles. Averty’s visual style was acutely attuned to Gainsbourg’s surreal sensibilities and the fusion of film to music and lyrics works wonderfully.
Here is Melody in its entirety: