Wednesday, May 24, 2006

On Covering Gainsbourg:
Part II (or III)

After writing about the Cat Power/Karen Elson take on "Je t' non plus" a few weeks ago, I finally got the opportunity to listen to the entire Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited release. Consequently, I wanted to share this passage from Verve's press notes:

Anyone who thinks these interpretations are sacrilege should know that Gainsbourg was overjoyed when his work was readapted, especially by those brave enough to get inside his head, dismantling his work for material to build something else. As he put it, "songs are a minor art form, not for worshipping, but rather for twisting our way."

For the record, I don't think these English-language covers are sacrilegious. However, I do think Gainsbourg's compositions sound best and make the most sense when performed in French. Therefore, I find it ironic that one of the most successful interpretations is Carla Bruni's "Those Little Things" ("Ces petits riens"). Most of the other artists are British (Tricky), American (Michael Stipe), Canadian (Feist), or Scottish (Franz Ferdinand). Bruni, who is of Italian descent, is from France and sings with a French accent. It's not the same as singing in the original language, but every bit helps. (Gallic Gainsbourg muses Françoise Hardy and Dani also contribute en Ingles.)

On that note, I should mention that Bruni was able to make a successful transition from modelling to singing with her bestselling debut, Quelqu'un M'a Dit. Previously I wrote that Elson has a formidable challenge ahead of her in trying to attempt the same segue when so many models before her, like Naomi Campbell and Rosie Vela, have failed. I had forgotten about Bruni.

Lastly, for those who can't get enough of the former model--once best known for her affairs with Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton--she has three tracks featured in the split screen romantic dramedy Conversations With Other Women, which is playing at this year's Seattle International Film Festival. The film stars a Brit (Helena Bonham Carter) and an American (Aaron Eckhart) and takes place entirely in a Manhattan hotel, so I'm not sure how French chanson ended up on the soundtrack, but it worked for me.

Note: This is actually part four in a series. Images from the AMG,, and SIFF. Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited will be released on 6/20/06, while Bruni's brilliant sister, Valérie Bruni Tedeschi (5x2), can next be seen in François Ozon's Time to Leave.

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