Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son was the winning entry in the 1965 Eurovision song contest sung by France Gall. The song was filled with Gainsbourg’s trademark double entendres and clever word-play and arrangements. Ironically, Gainsbourg is somewhat hitting the comeback trail, brought to life as a puppet in the revue “Cabaret Gainsbourg” which is touring Quebec. In real life the decadent celebrity would not be caught performing in the land of New France whom Voltaire allegedly called “several acres of snow”; hard to imagine Gainsbourg plying the north shore of the St. Lawrence in January or any season.
Who knew smoking could be so hip? Every cultural movement, and moment seems to require its “enfant terrible”, the bad boy, even a fad as seemingly innocuous and transparent as the semi-current lounge revival. Where groups like Pink Martini represent its wholesome side, Serge Gainsbourg is the alter ego. The crooner/rocker/composer equivalent to Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles D’Avignon”; the expert of the male “gaze”, lust, desire and psychological precarity.
As with all reproductions, the music has to be a character in its own right and Gainsbourg’s risqué lyrics are brought to life within the revue very well. The show proves that his music is still relevant today and the soulful jazz funk that populates the eighteen selections is timeless. Gainsbourg is not for everyone. People who are wishing to learn about this man in great detail will be disappointed. Its a lounge revue that doesn’t concern itself with the finer points of the arrangements but instead takes the viewer on a journey filled with colours and imagination. Proof once again that European art of this nature is holds an edge of when it comes to a French tradition rooted in Baudelaire, Franz Feneon, Alfred Jarry, mixed with Gainsbourg’s eastern European origins. An inimitable style and vigour.
Its been twenty years since his passing, but as French icon is still in the public eye; though an aquired taste for the American palette. Americans may have seen it, been there, done it with the Sinatra, Sammy Davis and Dean Martin, but Gainsbourg remained a unique showman and composer while sharing a similar aesthetic to the Rat Pack and others: Cigarette smoke and bourbon vapours, sex, Gitane cigarette and a hybrid form of Rock a la Francaise that seemed to reflect as much about France as it did Gainsbourg. Stuck in an identity trap, he wallowed there chewing on his tail, but making decent music.
Ironically, the poet, whom so many bedded women claimed were used as a puppet… And the puppet, our accomplice, makes contortions, makes somersaults, dances and seduces you. The puppets create controversy and poetry like Gainsbourg who, throughout his entire life, did not cease to manipulate his image, to which he confined himself.