Histoire de Melody Nelson – Serge Gainsbourg

Histoire de Melody NelsonI don’t really feel qualified to review this, but I think everyone should listen to this album at least once. Mostly just because it’s by Monsieur Gainsbourg, and apparently he’s important. After doing Jazz and Pop music, he released his first rock album, Histoire de Melody Nelson, in 1971. It’s a concept album (though what album wasn’t in 1971?) about a girl named Melody Nelson. I don’t think it gets much deeper than that.

Despite its Frenchiness, Histoire is a beautifully orchestrated work, bookended with two, seven-plus minute builders. Some of the middle tracks, like Valse de Melody (“Waltz of Melody”), may be more difficult to grasp because they just sound like they are from another time and place, a place that doesn’t relate to music now very well (though, like I said, very well executed).

If you don’t speak French I wouldn’t worry too much about understanding lyrics. I took 3 years of French and the only bits I picked out were tu t’appelle comment? (what is your name?) and “merde!” (shit!). Generally, I figure that understanding the lyrics would only exaggerate the fact that the album is French and almost 40 years old (I am not sure which is the bigger detractor). With songs like “En Melody”, or “In Melody” in English, the squealing and giggling effectively speak for themselves.

Also, his daughter Charlotte, who released an album this year, was in a movie last year with Willem Dafoe. It’s called Antichrist and it looks really fucked up (so I want to see it).

~ by kayj4 on February 24, 2010.

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