Serge Gainsbourg – Histoire de Melody Nelson

01 February, 2012

By C. Mike


Do you consider yourself a great lover? If not, then buy this record. If you think you are, then this is the point you will start realizing the ultimate potential of lovemaking's craft. The point when Serge met Melody. The night when Serge, while riding his Silver Ghost Rolls Royce accidentally hit the bicycle of a teenage nymphet called Melody. She had red hair, he was slick and rough, and the rest was history. The history of Melody Nelson.


The actual story is pretty trifling - man meets girl, man seduces girl, girl dies in freak plane crash. It comprises the basic theme of this conceptual record but it evokes a million different feelings to the actual listener. The most common is arousal. But then come love, fear of losing, calmness, beauty, power, weirdness and much, much more.


This album is tremendous both lyricaly and melodiously. It has often been considered by a plethora of critics as one of the best albums of all-time. Ever.


This is partly thanks to its universal appeal. Not au fait with the intricacies of the French language? Nevermind, no need to be. You'll be moved when Serge spills his shady gibberish talk on opener "Melody". And, when Jane Birkin chants her name on"Ballade de Melody Nelson",well, your heart will melt like ice cream resting on volcanic rock.


The treats are flying high from then on. "Valse de Melody"uses the genius heavy strings of Jean Claude Vannier, main arranger of composition on this and Serge is now living the love of his lifetime. On "L'Hotel Peculier"he depicts the sleazy opulence of the rented rooms where he and Melody make love - his voice radiating waves of lust and zeal, as the bass follows his master's commands delivering a heavy dark pulsating rhythm.


But this is not an album of songs. On the contrary, it's a non-stop listen; a story of hit-and-miss passionate sexual pleasures leading to a dramatic end, like all things in life.


Gainsbourg delivers a "classic", and he knows it. That's why, later on, he named his publishing company "Melody Nelson", in ode of his fictional muse. He knew that he couldn't surpass the record's majestic uniqueness, that's why he followed it with totally different musical wonderings and musical themes on his later 70's albums.


While I was in Berlin this New Years Eve, I spotted the new version of the album in picture disc vinyl. The price was around 25 euros. I noticed that the record was too short in length. I told this to the guy at the counter, complaining it was too expensive for just 28 minutes. The reply sums it all up:

"Yes, but it's the best 28 minutes you'll ever listen to in your entire life".




Primary Genre: French Pop 

Subgenre: Protopunk 

Release Date: March 1971 

Label: Philips 

Influences:  Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Jacques Brel

Like This And You'll Probably Also Like: Jarvis Cocker, Air, Sebastian Tellier, Jean Claude Vannier

Album Highlights: All of them  










"Amazing stuff, it really is as Mike says, you don't just listen to the individual tracks but rather you experience the whole. Give it a go and let it envelope your senses, 9/10 "





Contributor mini-profile

C. Mike

C. Mike

12 Fluffy Reviews
"It's not that I'm afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens"
Mini bio
Member of the White Room film production team where he works as a director, editor and head chef. His team's clients include the famous and very talented musicians of the Greek music industry. He was also an amazing basketball player, but, nowadays, something's wrong with his shot balance , resulting in very poor performances. Nevertheless, he still believes in a resurection. 
Mike is a vinyl collector, with a pretty pretty good stock. He thinks music is his passion. But is he music's passion???

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