Serge Gainsbourg was born Lucien Ginsburg in Paris in 1928. After he began writing songs and performing in clubs he changed his name to Serge Gainsbourg. Jane Birkin who was his lover and mother of his daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg says he changed his name because he wanted something more punchy and artistic and ‘Lucien’ reminded him of a gentleman’s hairdresser. He was a fascinating character – a rogue and a poet, a louche, chain smoking alcoholic and artist.
One of his most enduring records is “Bonnie and Clyde”. Written by Serge Gainsbourg and performed by Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot whom he first met on the set of a movie in 1959. Later, they carried on a clandestine affair while she was married to playboy Gunther Sachs, and recorded the steamy duet, written by Gainsbourg, “Je T’Aime … Moi Non Plus.” The record was not released until 1986 as Bardot begged him not to as her husband was furious about the affair. Gainsbourg later recorded it with Jane Birkin and the rest is history – one of the most famous records of all time, banned by the Vatican, and whose sound is unforgettable.
“Bonnie and Clyde” is based on an English language poem written by Bonnie Parker herself a few weeks before she and Clyde Barrow were shot, entitled “The Trail’s End“. The song tells the story of the outlaw couple, their thoughts and feelings. It was released on two albums in 1968: Gainsbourg’s album “Initials B.B.“, and Gainsbourg and Bardot’s album “Bonnie and Clyde“. It has achieved quite legendary status being covered by many famous singers the world over and is featured in the burlesque show scene of the 2007 film Rush Hour 3 and in the 2002 film Laurel Canyon starring Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale.
Serge Gainsbourg died of a heart attack on March 2 1991. In the streets outside his home distraught fans gathered to pay homage to France’s favourite song writer. The funeral was attended by many celebrities – Catherine Deneuve read a eulogy as did President Mitterand, who called him “our Baudelaire“. Brigitte Bardot sent a message “I love him as a man but even more as a musician…”
Bonnie and Clyde – the video starring Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot
English language Lyrics to “Bonnie & Clyde”Did you read the story of Jesse James? About how he lived and how he died? You liked it huh? You want some more Well then listen to the story of Bonnie and Clyde Okay, so Clyde has a girlfriend She’s beautiful and her name’s Bonnie Together they’re the Barrow gang Their names – Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow Bonnie and Clyde Bonnie and Clyde When I came to know Clyde long ago He was a loyal, honest, upright guy I really think it’s society Which has spoilt me forever Bonnie and Clyde Bonnie and Clyde Oh what they wrote about her and I They say we’re cold-blooded killers It ain’t much fun but we got no choice But shut them up when they start shouting Bonnie and Clyde Bonnie and Clyde Every time a policeman gets killed Every time a garage or a bank gets robbed The police has no doubt about it It was done by Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker Bonnie and Clyde Bonnie and Clyde Now whenever we try and settle down When we go live in a furnished apartment Three days later it goes tac tac tac Tommy guns get back on us Bonnie and Clyde Bonnie and Clyde Sooner or later we’ll fall together I don’t care; I’m scared for Bonnie What does it matter if they freaking kill me I, Bonnie, am scared for Clyde Barrow Bonnie and Clyde Bonnie and Clyde Anyhow they couldn’t get out of trouble The only way out was death But more than one followed them to Hell When Barrow and Bonnie Parker died Bonnie and Clyde