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‘Cannabis’: Take a big hit of Slim Twig’s Serge Gainsbourg cover for 420 Day

I’ve been fairly unabashed in my praise of Toronto-born rocker Slim Twig. Two of my very most favorite albums of the the past two years are his creative handiworks, A Hound At The Hem and its worthy follow-up Thank You For Stickin’ With Twig, both out in America on DFA Records. And so without any further preamble—you can read my past ruminations on Slim Twig here and here—it’s my great pleasure today, here on the sacred herbal holiday of 420 Day to debut this video for Mr. Twig’s slinky, smoky cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s ode to “Cannabis.”

Slim Twig goes casual at the bowling alley

Cannabis” comes from the soundtrack to a 1970 French film of the same name which actually stars Gainsbourg as well, portraying a hitman for the mafia who falls in love with Jane Birkin, the daughter of an ambassador. The original number was performed and written by Gainsbourg and orchestrated by his future Melody Nelson collaborator Jean-Claude Vannier. Cannabis, which was amusingly retitled French Intrigue for the puritanical US market, was uploaded in its entirety to YouTube. It’s in French, with no English subtitles, but you still get to see Serge as a gun-toting, rabbit-fur coat-wearing badass causing mayhem, smoking a lot of cigarettes and je t’aiming Jane Birkin as often as possible.

DFA have set up a special Weedtransfer site for legally purchasing “Cannabis” in digital or physical formats.

“In a scene like this, you get a contact-high!”


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Stained glass windows of Aleister Crowley, Serge Gainsbourg, Johnny Cash, JG Ballard & many more

In 2010 and 2011 the English artist Neal Fox executed an utterly gorgeous series of stained-glass windows in imitation of the iconography of saints found in cathedrals all over Europe. The series included Johnny Cash, J.G. Ballard, Hunter S. Thompson, Albert Hofmann, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Serge Gainsbourg, Aleister Crowley, William S. Burroughs, Billie Holiday, and Francis Bacon.

Now, it’s perfectly possible that you will see these images and think, “Wow, those paintings in the stained-glass style are awesome.” So it’s important to emphasize that these are not paintings, Fox actually created the stained-glass windows themselves—in fact, he worked with traditional methods “at the renowned Franz Mayer of Munich manufacturer” in order to produce a dozen windows, each using leaded stained glass in a steel frame and standing 2.5 meters tall.

Put them all together in a room, as the Daniel Blau gallery in London did in 2011, and you have “an alternative church of alternative saints.” Here is what that room looked like:

The Daniel Blau show was called “Beware of the God.” Alongside the well-known provocateurs and trouble-makers like Crowley and Hawkins is a figure that might challenge even the most astute student of antiheroes, a man named John Watson. Far from the complacent invention of Arthur Conan Doyle, this John Watson is the artist’s grandfather, described by his loving grandson as a “hell raiser” and “a World War II bomber pilot, chat show host, writer and publisher, who in his post war years sought solace in Soho’s bohemian watering holes.”

Quoting the Daniel Blau exhibition notes:

As traditional church windows show the iconography of saints, through representations of events in their lives, instruments of martyrdom and iconic motifs, Fox plays with the symbolism of each character’s cult of personality; Albert Hoffman takes a psychedelic bicycle ride above the LSD molecule, J G Ballard dissects the world, surrounded by 20th Century imagery and the eroticism of the car crash, and Johnny Cash holds his inner demon in chains after a religious experience in Nickerjack cave.

You can order prints of some of these images for £150 each (about $214).


Many more after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Watch the insane 1970 satire ‘Mister Freedom,’ featuring Serge Gainsbourg

Mister Freedom on the cover of Evergreen Review #77
Meet Mr. Freedom, a shit-kicking superhero employed by America’s largest corporation, Freedom, Inc. He hates blacks, Jews, Communists, foreigners, women, JFK, and everyone else who has been compromised by the dangerous ideology of antifreedomism. Carried through the world on a tide of blood, the hero of William Klein’s French satire beats the snot out of anyone who would thwart his right to take pleasure in indiscriminate violence. Does that sound like American foreign policy to you? Plus ça change…

You’ll recognize Donald Pleasance as Dr. Freedom, Delphine Seyrig as Marie-Madeleine, and Yves Montand as Mr. Freedom’s opposite number in France, Capitaine Formidable. Of course, my favorite member of the cast is Serge Gainsbourg, who appears in several scenes—most of them in the movie’s last third—as Mr. Drugstore, a French partisan of the cause of freedom. Gainsbourg also composed the soundtrack with the help of his arranger Michel Colombier.

Serge Gainsbourg, Delphine Seyrig and John Abbey in a still from Mister Freedom
Grove Press—the legendary American publisher of Samuel Beckett, William S. Burroughs, Henry Miller and Jean Genet—released the movie in the U.S., hoping to break into the movie business thereby. Richard Seaver, Grove’s editor in chief, devoted a page of his memoir The Tender Hour of Twilight to Mister Freedom:

The April 1970 issue of Evergreen Review had on its cover a fully clothed, futuristic male, looking for all the world like an astronaut-hockey player, complete with shoulder pads, a helmet, a Rangers jersey, gloves, and a hip-holster pistol. In his arms—one hockey glove grasping the midriff, the other the wrist—Mr. Freedom (for that’s who our hero was) held a scantily clad, sequin-spangled red-white-and-blue redhead, whose open mouth could just as easily be construed as a cry for help as a moan of ecstasy. Let the beholder decide.

The magazine cover, intriguing in itself to most, was also a prime example of Grove’s new internal synergy (a word we actually used in our discussions of Grove’s future, God help us all!). Not only did it supply grist for the Evergreen Review mill, it also served as the poster for the U.S. release of the Grove film, Mr. Freedom, a not-too-subtle satire on America as it moved out of the turbulent 1960s. A scathing attack on American foreign policy, especially its “vulgar and grotesque” involvement in Vietnam and the Strangelove notion that democracy had to be brought to the rest of the world, even at the cost of destroying it, the French-made film was written and directed by the ex-patriot (sic) William Klein. It starred John Abbey as Mr. Freedom; Delphine Seyrig (who had been propelled to cinematic stardom as the Garboesque lead in Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad) as Marie-Madeleine, organizer of the Whores-for-Freedom network; Donald Pleasence (whose voice and accent bore an uncanny resemblance to Lyndon Johnson’s) as Dr. Freedom, the mad mastermind behind the movement to save the world from anti-freedom infiltration; and Philippe Noiret as Moujik Man, Russia’s answer to Mr. Freedom.

On the surface it was a perfect vehicle for the Grove Movie Machine: irreverent, sexy, outrageous, politically pointed, a no-holds-barred attack on the establishment. Unfortunately, its script, dialogue, and direction, alas, were sufficiently amateurish to give film critics a golden opportunity to lambaste it.

I’m not sure “amateurish” is the right word. As befits a playful, cartoonish satire, the movie’s politics are a bit crude here and there, and maybe the dubbing is shit in places, but Mister Freedom is expertly made, by my lights. It’s a feast for the eyes and a gas to watch.

Thanks to Sam McPheeters and Tara Tavi for jumping me into the freedom gang.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Charlotte For Ever: Serge Gainsbourg laid bare
10:15 am


Serge Gainsbourg
Charlotte Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg wrote it, directed it, stars in it and cast his daughter, Charlotte, as his movie daughter in Charlotte For Ever. It’s a family affair that crosses into an uncomfortable realm of implied incest that Serge often exploited/explored in his art. The PC police may get their knickers in a twist but fuck ‘em. One of the functions of art, and a healthy one at that, is confronting taboos and shedding light on how humans behave in the dark places. Gainsbourg’s lack of artifice and Cassavetes-like blurring of the line between drama and reality makes Charlotte For Ever almost unbearably intimate. Gainsbourg took chances in unloading a shitload of his id into his creations and the pleasure principle was the carburetor that fueled his engine. His cri de coeur is often muddled by the blurting of his cock.

Gainsbourg wasn’t the only modern French director to explore incest. Louis Malle, Bertrand Blier, Christophe Honore and Leos Carax have all gone there. In Malles’ Murmur Of The Heart a mother introduces her son to sex and somehow it seems almost wholesome. Maybe it’s a French thing?

Charlotte For Ever was released in 1986. French audiences were repelled and it promptly disappeared. The story of a suicidal alcoholic writer desperately looking for a link to redemption through his beautiful young daughter was too dark, too disturbingly erotic, for even the arthouse crowd. Or maybe it’s just too damned pretentious. I’m divided. As a fan of both Serge and Charlotte, I admire the chances taken and the commitment made to a project that required profound sensitivity and trust. How much is autobiographical I don’t know. But like the films of Cassavetes it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the fact that there are artists who see film not merely as a storytelling medium, but as a kind of scalpel that can peel back the hidden parts of what makes us human. And that can be painful… and exhilarating.

As for those of you who might worry for the young Charlotte Gainsbourg, I wouldn’t. She seems to have survived her father’s inspired madness with her head firmly intact. In fact, she’s continued in the Gainsbourgian tradition of dropping turds in the punchbowl with the films she’s done with Lars Von Trier and her uncle Andrew Birkin. La pomme doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Three hours of Serge Gainsbourg singing, drinking and telling Whitney Houston he wants to fuck her
02:30 pm

Pop Culture

Serge Gainsbourg
Whitney Houston

Serge Gainsbourg died on this date 24 years ago. Which is a good enough reason, not that one is required, to share this close to three-hour video compilation of Gainsbourg performing his songs between the years of 1973 and 1991.

The compilation includes songs sung with Jane Birkin, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve. Plus footage from the infamous night a thoroughly drunk Gainsbourg appeared with Whitney Houston on French TV talk show Champs-Elysées and said, in his best slurred English, that he wanted to “fook her.” This was the occasion on which the French public at large was first introduced to Whitney Houston. Gainsbourg made it particularly memorable.

There are segments in French. If you don’t speak the language be patient, they’re brief.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Serge Gainsbourg’s reggae version of ‘La Marseillaise’ that earned him death threats
11:19 am


Serge Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg offended many of his patriotic countrymen in 1979 when he rewrote the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” as a reggae number, “Aux armes et caetera.” The song was the title track from his 13th album, recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, giving him the distinction of being only the second (to Mick Jagger, who dueted with Peter Tosh) major white European performer to record there. Serge did not anticipate the shitstorm that followed the TV premiere of his song, including death threats from nationalists and threats from soldiers to kick his ass if he performed the song in public. The French embassy’s website still has a reference to this controversy:

The French national anthem has had a turbulent past. Every now and then, there is an outcry to have it banned, or at least updated; it has been a long time since the Revolution was endangered by bordering European monarchs. Some people are offended during national ceremonies, when they hear such vengeful verses as “these ferocious soldiers who slaughter our sons and wives” or demanding “that impure blood flow in our fields.” But the majority of French people do not wish to change so much as a comma in their national anthem. Didn’t the members of the Resistance in WWII sing it as a final and supreme challenge to Nazi-occupying forces as they fell beneath the bullets of the firing squad?

The extent of the attachment of the French to their national anthem was revealed in the 1970s, when President Giscard d’Estaing attempted to impose “his” Marseillaise by having it played to a slower tempo in order to give it greater solemnity. The President’s initiative raised a storm of protest and Hector Berlioz’s orchestration was maintained. Late controversial singer and composer Serge Gainsbourg tried to rewrite the Marseillaise his own way in 1979 by having the national anthem played by a reggae band. The reception was less than stellar: A group of legionnaires threatened to give him a hard time if he performed his new version in public. Gainsbourg did sing the Marseillaise, but a cappella. One cannot tamper with that which is sacred!


A little gallows humor on the cover of Hara Kiri magazine
When a group of paratroopers caused a 1980 concert in Strasbourg (where “La Marseillaise” was written) to be shut down, Gainsbourg defiantly sang an a capella traditional version instead of “Aux armes et caetera” and was joined by the paratroopers! A year later in a defiant but classy move he bought an original manuscript of the anthem’s lyrics by Rouget de Lisle at an auction in France. Gainsbourg then proved to the public that his version—and the controversial “et caetera” of the title—was in fact, more faithful to the original than any other version: de Lisle, in fact, did not write out repeated verses by hand, but merely wrote “et caetera, et caetera, et caetera”!

Serge Gainsbourg, “Aux armes et caetera”:

Serge Gainsbourg sings the original “La Marseillaise” to calm everyone down, and at 2:09 the auction for the lyrics’ manuscript begins:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Serge Gainsbourg, France Gall and the most ridiculously phallic music video of 1966
05:06 pm


Serge Gainsbourg
France Gall

“Les Sucettes” (“The Lollipops”) was written for the virginal blonde 18-year-old France Gall by that arch-lecher himself, Serge Gainsbourg, who wanted to market her as the ultimate French “Lolita” pop star. The song’s lyrics depict a young girl, Annie, who likes aniseed-flavored lollipops. Here’s a translation of a verse so you get the gist:

When the barley sugar
Flavored with anise
Sinks in Annie’s throat,
She is in heaven.

Annie’s aniseed. Think about that for a minute…

Christ, he’s good…

But here’s the thing: France Gall apparently had no idea that she was singing a song about oral sex and swallowing… seed.

When she performed the number on the television program seen in the clip below, she did so oblivious to what every other person present was thinking! It wasn’t until she was on tour in Tokyo that someone let the cat out of the bag. Gall was infuriated and greatly embarrassed by what she’d unwittingly taken part in. She felt betrayed by the adults around her and mocked like a naïve fool. She refused to leave her home for weeks afterwards and ultimately entirely stopped singing Gainsbourg’s songs that had made her so famous. For years afterwards her career suffered from her association with this scandal, even if “Les Sucettes” had been a big hit.

It’s interesting to note that Walt Disney himself wanted France Gall for a musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, but the project was shelved with Uncle Walt’s death in 1966. Bernardo Bertolucci reportedly wanted her for the leading female role in his X-rated Last Tango in Paris opposite Marlon Brando. Can you imagine? No offense to the late Maria Schneider, but it’s too damned bad that didn’t happen!


Regarding “Les Sucettes” with a rare public comment from France Gall about the scandal it caused.

“Teenie Weenie Boppie,” about LSD and Mick Jagger on Dim Dam Dom.

More France Gall on Mod Cinema’s two DVD France Gall collection

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Erotissimo’: Sexy French pop art cinema (with suitably sleazy Serge Gainsbourg cameo), 1968

The 1968 French sexual revolution comedy Erotissimo is one of those ultra stylish Sixties films that art director types go totally nuts over. With good reason.

Starring Annie Giradot as a married woman confused by the rapid change in sexual mores around her. Erotissimo takes place precisely at the point in the 1960s where SEX became an inescapably “in your face” component of modern life, advertising and urban dwelling. As such, it is a perfect time capsule of the end of one era and the beginning of another. Giradot’s heroine struggles to understand the matters I presume would have been vexing a fair amount of the film’s audience during that time period as well.

But plot aside, the film’s reputation these days is due to its unique—and very Sixties—art direction: Gerard Pires’ Erotissimo looks like almost no other film I can think of. Nearly every frame is a masterpiece of visual composition, in the vein of William Klein’s Who Are You, Polly Magoo? The groovedelic soundtrack is the aural equivalent of a white molded plastic chair…

Mod Cinema sells a DVD of Erotissimo with English subtitles, making it possible for those of us who paid no attention in French class to enjoy this treat.

A married woman in her 30’s (Annie Girardot) tries to spice up her sex life with her distracted husband Philippe (Jean Yanne) under the deluge of sexy Swedish movies, sexy advertising on the streets, sexy intimate clothing in ladies’ shops, and even talks about sex and marital infidelity with her mother and female friends. Philippe, a general manager of a dynamic company specializing in baby products becomes preoccupied with an upcoming tax audit. Even the presence of a beautiful fashion model who lives with Annie’s brother fails to divert his attention. This amazing and colorful work of 60’s pop art features an original psychedelic soundtrack by French composer William Sheller & singer-songwriter Michel Polnareff, and don’t miss the cameo by monsieur Serge Gainsbourg!

Gainsbourg’s cameo is appropriately sleazy: He plays a guy who hits on Annie as she is leaving a Swedish “art film.”

Below, the NSFW Erotissimo trailer:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Marianne Faithfull sings Gainsbourg in 1967’s ‘Anna’

Marianne Faithfull sings “Hier ou Demian” (“Yesterday or Tomorrow”) in a scene from the incredible 1967 French TV movie musical, Anna. Directed by Pierre Koralnik, and with songs written by Serge Gainsbourg (who also appears in the film). Anna starred Godard muse Anna Karina. The film is practically a musical pop art paean to her beauty. Suits me just fine.



A gorgeous young Faithfull, who never looked better (and that’s saying a lot), singing a Gainsbourg-penned tune. What more could you ask for? The entire film? Well you’re in luck, because you can purchase a copy of Anna (with English subtitles) from Mod Cinema.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Serge Gainsbourg’s science-fiction cartoon ‘Marie Mathématique’

Incroyable! Hosting the legendary French pop show Dim Dam Dom in 1965, Sandie Shaw introduces the first installment of “Marie Mathématique,” an animated short made by “Barbarella” creator Jean-Claude Forest. Serge Gainsbourg wrote the music and sang André Ruellan’s lyrics.

On Halloween, several dozens of Gainsbourg-related items—including nail clippers and cigarette butts—will be auctioned off in Paris.

In total, there were six installments of “Marie Mathématique,” the rest follow after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘La Horse’: Incredible Serge Gainsbourg instrumental rarity
03:31 pm


Serge Gainsbourg
Jean-Claude Vannier

There’s never a time when I’m not in the mood for some Serge Gainsbourg. Histoire De Melody Nelson is always in my speed rack next to the stereo. I’ve listened to it 10x more than any Rolling Stones album. Whenever I can’t decide what I want to listen to, I listen to that album or Forever Changes or Sly Stone or Neil Young. I’ll never get sick of it, but my wife probably is…

Of course, Histoire De Melody Nelson is famously known for being a collaboration between Gainsbourg and Jean-Claude Vannier, the great composer-arranger who is often referred to as ‘the David Axelrod of France.’ When Universal Music Group put out the expanded Histoire De Melody Nelson (I really highly recommend it, especially if you’ve got a 5.1 surround hook-up, it’s absolutely insane to hear that instrumentation all around you) the idea of hearing some outtakes from this classic had me salivating, but the other day I stumbled across something at the NowAgain records blog (it’s been posted there since 2008) that’s even better:

I’ll never forget the phone call from The Heliocentrics’ Malcolm Catto when he asked me if I’d ever heard of this promo-only 7-inch “La Horse.” Of course I hadn’t, and he went on to describe in vivid detail this track, composed by Serge and his long time arranging partner Jean-Claude Vannier that stood not only as one of Serge’s best instrumental releases, but also his rarest. The record was released by Serge’s publishing company, Hortensia, around the time of the release of the film, as a promotional-only item to be given to theater goers.

A few years and missteps later (including one in a Parisian flea market, when the Euro was worth about a dollar, when the going rate for the record was about 900 E), I finally scored a copy from a collector based in, of all places, Oxnard. This one hasn’t left my box in years, and I DJ it out constantly. The banjo break is a bit hokey, but whatever – the film [a Jean] Gabin feature, took place in the countryside, so I guess Serge was just shouting out the hicks. Who cares? It follows one incredible drum break, doesn’t it?

Oh, one last thing: that cover is a “paste on…”

The banjo break is awe-inspiring!

Oh and “La Horse” = heroin.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Histoire de Melody Nelson: Serge Gainsbourg’s psychedelic orchestral rock opera

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Serge Gainsbourg as Salvador Dali
10:51 am


Salvador Dali
Serge Gainsbourg


Both above photo and the below video are via the Melody Nelson 33 1/3 Twitter feed. Darran Anderson’s Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson, an upcoming entrant in the famed 33 1/3 book series will be published later this year, is available for pre-order now. If you are a Gainsbourg fan, you might want to follow this feed, as I expect they’ll be posting a real bounty of Serge-related multimedia.

Below, an insanely cool short sequence edited from the French movie La Pacha (1968). Gainsbourg is seen here singing “Requiem pour un con” (“Requiem for a Twat”)

Listen to the organs
They play for you
That tune is terrible
I hope you like
It’s quite beautiful, isn’t it?
It’s the requiem for a twat

I composed it specially for you
In your sordid memory
It’s a pretty theme
You don’t find
The ressemblance to yourself?
Poor twat

I’ve never seen this clip before. It made me tres happy.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Brûler baby brûler!: Serge Gainsbourg setting money on fire on French TV
01:22 pm


Serge Gainsbourg

It’s 1977 and Serge Gainsbourg is sick of being overtaxed by the government, taxed not for the poor but for nuclear energy. In protest, the singer sets 500 francs on fire during an interview on French TV. Shrugging off the fact that what he’s doing is illegal, the defiantly mellow Gainsbourg reminds viewers that “it’s my money.” Or at least what’s left of it after the ash has fallen away… which is his point.


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Boy Serge: Gainsbourg does his best Boy George impression
12:19 pm

Pop Culture

Serge Gainsbourg
Boy George

Boy Serge.

Serge Gainsbourg impersonates Boy George and gives French comedian/singer Patrick Sébastien a big smooch on the lips.

Gainsbourg may be the only person on the planet who can dress up like Boy George and not lose my respect.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
15-year-old Jodie Foster sings a Serge Gainsbourg tune
01:57 pm

Pop Culture

Serge Gainsbourg
Jodie Foster

A 15-year-old Jodie Foster sings Serge Gainsbourg’s “Comic Strip” with Claude Francois on French TV in 1977.

Foster speaks French impeccably and pulls this off beautifully.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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