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Gainsbourg 2008 - Cité de la Musique Paris

PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:26 pm
by Hugh Weldon
Hearing about this quite by chance on a French radio station the other week I thought I'd try and fit this exhibition in to my day in Paris. It's definitely worth a look, and I don't think I've ever seen a similar thing in this country. But I don't think the English music scene has ever really produced a similar figure to Gainsbourg. It's as if someone whose career started off like Frankie Vaughan ended up flirting with punk and recording an album with Sly and Robbie, which is what Gainsbourg did.

I still don't get quite why his reputation is so high in France. Maybe it's not so much to do with the quality of the music as his status as a cultural figure, épateur des bourgeois and his tolerated dirty old man-ism. And one thing this exhibition showed was he was partly quite a self conscious Parisian intellectual, widely read and self-aware. Lots of videos, pictures, manuscripts, books from his library. And a second room with computers loaded with audio visual stuff, and a great display of 7" single/EP covers from throughout his career.

I came away not maybe liking him more, as a person or musician, but certainly much better informed. One of those things you'd feel you'd like to go back for for a second look when it's quieter.