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Monday 17 July 2023

Monday's Long Song

Jane Birkin died yesterday aged 76. She was a genuine counter culture superstar, an actress and singer and the voice of Je t'aime... Moi Non Plus, a 1969 show stopper of a single recorded with Serge Gainsbourg. In 1971 Serge recorded Historie De Melody Nelson, a thirty minute concept album about an affair between a middle aged man and a teenage girl (something that would be received very differently if released in 2023). The album is a tour de force musically. Jane takes centre stage on the cover and is present on vocals. The lush, orchestral sounds are coupled with grimy funk bass and superb sounding early '70s guitars, spoken word vocals and choral backing vox. There are few other albums from that time or since that sound much like it. This is Cargo Culte, the seven and a half minute finale, a sublime piece of groove and feel, the guitar as good as any electric guitar anyone else put down on tape.

Cargo Culte

Jane appears on this song, the much shorter Ballade De Melody Nelson, a duet with acoustic guitar and strings. 

Ballade De Melody Nelson

In 1997 David Holmes sampled the tile track Melody for Don't Die Just Yet. When it was released as single it came with some tasty remixes- this one by Mogwai for instance.

Don't Die Just Yet (Mogwai Mix)

In 1985 Jane covered Kate Bush's Mother Stands For Comfort, a song originally from Kate's Hounds Of Love

Mother Stands For Comfort

As well as continuing to make music and films, Jane was a French national and resident of Paris long after her relationship with Gainsbourg ended. She was an activist and campaigner for Amnesty International, migrant support groups and Aids charities. There isn't a bad photograph of her. RIP Jane Birkin. 


C said...

Lovely tribute. She was so much more than just 'Je T'aime...'. So true what you say about never a bad photo of her - I'm quite mesmerised by every one.

Anonymous said...

late to this. Thanks for posting Birkin's version of 'Mother stands for Comfort'. Never heard before. Respectfully, Kate Bush has always been too musical theatre for my taste. Birkin's version adds a zen calm to this moving song. Jane B. RIP.

Anonymous said...

Jane B. RIP.

Swiss Adam said...

I know what you mean about Kate Bush.