Serge Gainsbourg in 1981
2 April 1928
|Died||2 March 1991
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Spouse(s)||Elisabeth "Lize" Levitsky (m. 1951; div. 1957)
(m. 1964; div. 1966)
|Partner(s)||Brigitte Bardot (1967)
Jane Birkin (1968-1980)
Caroline Paulus (1980-1991)
|Children||4, including Charlotte Gainsbourg|
|Website||Official website from Universalmusic|
|Associated acts||Charlotte Gainsbourg|
Serge Gainsbourg (born Lucien Ginsburg; French pronunciation: [sɛʁʒ ɡɛ̃sbuʁ]; 2 April 1928 – 2 March 1991) was a French singer, songwriter, pianist, film composer, poet, painter, screenwriter, writer, actor, and director. Regarded as one of the most important figures in French popular music, he was renowned for his often provocative and scandalous releases, as well as his diverse artistic output, which embodied genres ranging from jazz, mambo, world, chanson, pop and yé-yé, to rock and roll, progressive rock, reggae, electronic, disco, new wave, and funk. Gainsbourg's varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorize although his legacy has been firmly established and he is often regarded as one of the world's most influential popular musicians.
His lyrical work incorporated a vast amount of clever word play to hoodwink the listener, often for humorous, provocative, satirical or subversive reasons. Common types of word play in his songs include mondegreen, onomatopoeia, rhyme, spoonerism, dysphemism, paraprosdokian and pun. Through the course of his career, Gainsbourg wrote over 550 songs, which have been covered more than a thousand times by a wide range of artists. Since his death, Gainsbourg's music has reached legendary stature in France. He has also gained a cult following in the English-speaking world, with numerous artists influenced by his arrangements.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Death and legacy
- 3 Film biopic
- 4 Exhibitions
- 5 Selected covers and tributes
- 6 Discography
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Born in Paris, France, Gainsbourg was the son of Jewish Ukrainian migrants, Joseph Ginsburg (28 December 1898, in Kharkov, now Ukraine then Russian Empire – 22 April 1971) and Olga (née Bessman; 1894 – 16 March 1985), who fled to Paris after the 1917 Russian Revolution. Joseph Ginsburg was a classically trained musician whose profession was playing the piano in cabarets and casinos; he taught his children, Gainsbourg and his twin sister Liliane to play the piano.
Gainsbourg's childhood was profoundly affected by the occupation of France by Germany in World War II. The identifying yellow star Jews were required to wear became a symbol and haunted Gainsbourg and which in later years he was able to transmute into creative inspiration. During the occupation, the Jewish Ginsburg family was able to make their way from Paris to Limoges, traveling under false papers. Limoges was in the Zone libre under the administration of the collaborationist Vichy government and still a perilous refuge for Jews. After the war, Gainsbourg obtained work teaching music and drawing in a school outside of Paris, in Mesnil-Le-Roi. The school was set up under the auspices of local rabbis, for the orphaned children of murdered deportees. Here Gainsbourg heard the accounts of Nazi persecution and genocide, stories that resonated for Gainsbourg far into the future. Before he was 30 years old, Gainsbourg was a disillusioned painter but earned his living as a piano player in bars.
Gainsbourg changed his first name to Serge, feeling that this was representative of his Russian background and because, as Jane Birkin relates: "Lucien reminded him of a hairdresser's assistant." He chose Gainsbourg as his last name, in homage to the English painter Thomas Gainsborough, whom he admired.
He married Elisabeth "Lize" Levitsky on 3 November 1951 and divorced in 1957. He married a second time on 7 January 1964, to Françoise-Antoinette "Béatrice" Pancrazzi (b. 28 July 1931), with whom he had two children: a daughter named Natacha (b. 8 August 1964) and a son, Paul (born in spring 1968). He divorced Béatrice in February 1966.
In late 1967 he had a short but ardent love affair with Brigitte Bardot, to whom he dedicated the song and album Initials BB.
In mid-1968 Gainsbourg fell in love with the younger English singer and actress Jane Birkin, whom he met during the shooting of the film Slogan. Their relationship lasted over a decade. In 1971 they had a daughter, the actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg. Although many sources state that they were married, according to their daughter Charlotte this was not the case. Birkin left Gainsbourg in 1980.
Birkin remembers the beginning of her affair with Gainsbourg: he first took her to a nightclub, then to a transvestite club and afterwards to the Hilton hotel where he passed out in a drunken stupor. Birkin left Gainsbourg when pregnant with her third daughter Lou by the film director Jacques Doillon.
Around 1957 he backed the Parisian "Cabaret Milord l'Arsouille" star, singer Michèle Arnaud.
She discovered a shy songwriter, who considered his compositions too modern and provocative for mainstream chanson. Arnaud offered to sing and even record such songs, and propelled his early career.
Later Gainsbourg began to move beyond this and experiment with a succession of musical styles: modern jazz early on, yé-yé and brit-pop in the 1960s, funk, rock and reggae in the 1970s and electronica in the 1980s.
Many of his songs contained themes with a bizarre, morbid or sexual twist in them. An early success, "Le Poinçonneur des Lilas", describes the day in the life of a Paris Métro ticket man, whose job is to stamp holes in passengers' tickets. Gainsbourg describes this chore as so monotonous, that the man eventually thinks of putting a hole into his own head and being buried in another.
By the time the yéyés arrived in France, Gainsbourg was 32 years old and was not feeling very comfortable: he spent much time with Jacques Brel or Juliette Greco but the public and critics rejected him, mocking his prominent ears and nose. During this period, Gainsbourg began working with Greco, a collaboration that lasted throughout the 'Left Bank' period culminating in the song La Javanaise in the fall of 1962.
He performed a few duets in 1964 with the artist Philippe Clay, with whom he shared some resemblance. Around this time, Gainsbourg met Elek Bacsik and Michel Gaudry and asked them to make a record with him. This would become Confidentiel, which exuded a modern jazz aesthetic that pleased Gainsbourg, despite knowing that such a sound would not allow him access to success. The album sold only 1,500 copies. The decision was taken right upon leaving the studio: "I'll get into hack work and buy myself a Rolls". Still, his next album, Gainsbourg Percussions, inspired by the rhythms and melodies of Miriam Makeba and Babatunde Olatunji, was a world away from the yéyé wave, on the scene which was to become a key to the Gainsbourg fortune.
More success began to arrive when, in 1965, his song Poupée de cire, poupée de son was the Luxembourg entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. Performed by French teen and charming singer France Gall, it won first prize. The song was recorded in English as "A Lonely Singing Doll" by British teen idol Twinkle.
His next song for Gall, Les Sucettes (Lollipops), caused a scandal in France: Gainsbourg had written the song with double-meanings and strong sexual innuendo of which the singer was apparently unaware when she recorded it. Whereas Gall thought that the song was about a girl enjoying lollipops, it was actually about oral sex. The controversy arising from the song, although a big hit for Gall, threw her career off-track in France for several years.
Gainsbourg arranged other Gall songs and LPs that were characteristic of the late 1960s psychedelic styles, among them Gall's 1968 album. Another one of Serge's songs Boum Bada Boum, was entered by Monaco in the 1967 contest, sung by Minouche Barelli; it came fifth. He also wrote hit songs for other artists, such as Comment Te Dire Adieu for Françoise Hardy, Anna Karina (Sous le soleil exactement, Ne dis rien) and his lifelong friend and muse-égérie, Michèle Arnaud (Les Papillons Noirs).
In 1967 Serge Gainsbourg appeared as a dancer along with Jean Yanne and Sacha Distel in the Sacha Show with Marie Laforet singing 'Ivan, Boris & Moi'.
His relationship with Brigitte Bardot led to a series of prominent pop duets, such as Ford Mustang and Bonnie and Clyde.
In 1969, he released Je t'aime... moi non plus, which featured explicit lyrics and simulated sounds of female orgasm. The song appeared that year on an LP, Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg. Originally recorded with Brigitte Bardot, it was released with his future girlfriend Birkin when Bardot backed out. While Gainsbourg declared it the "ultimate love song", it was considered too "hot"; the song was censored or banned from public broadcast in numerous countries and in France even the toned-down version was suppressed. The Vatican made a public statement citing the song as offensive. Despite (or perhaps because of) the controversy, it sold well and charted within the top ten in many European countries.
Histoire de Melody Nelson was released in 1971. This concept album, produced and arranged by Jean-Claude Vannier, tells the story of a Lolita-esque affair, with Gainsbourg as the narrator. It features prominent string arrangements and even a massed choir at its tragic climax. The album has proven influential with artists such as Air, David Holmes, Jarvis Cocker, Beck and Dan the Automator.
In 1975, he released the album Rock Around the Bunker, an album written entirely on the subject of National Socialism. Gainsbourg used black comedy, as he and his family had suffered during World War II, being forced to wear the yellow star as the mark of a Jew. Rock Around the Bunker belonged to the mid-1970s "retro" trend.
The next year saw the release of another major work, L'Homme à tête de chou (Cabbage-Head Man), featuring the new character Marilou and sumptuous orchestral themes. Cabbage-Head Man is one of his nicknames, as it refers to his ears. Musically, L'homme à tête de chou turned out to be Gainsbourg's last LP, in the English rock style he had favoured since the late 1960s. He would go on to produce two reggae albums recorded in Jamaica (1979 and 1981) and two electronic funk albums recorded in New York (1984 and 1987).
In Jamaica in 1979, he recorded "Aux Armes et cætera", a reggae version of the French national anthem "La Marseillaise", with Robbie Shakespeare, Sly Dunbar and Rita Marley. Following harsh and anti-semitic criticism in right-wing newspaper Le Figaro by Charles de Gaulle biographer Michel Droit, his song earned him death threats from right-wing veteran soldiers of the Algerian War of Independence, who were opposed to their national anthem being arranged in reggae style. In 1979, a show had to be cancelled, because an angry mob of French Army parachutists came to demonstrate in the audience. Alone onstage, Gainsbourg rose his fist and answered "The true meaning of our national anthem is revolutionary" and sung it with the audience. The soldiers joined them, a scene enjoyed by millions as French TV news broadcast it, creating more publicity. Shortly afterward, Gainsbourg bought the original manuscript of "La Marseillaise". He replied to his critics that his version was, in fact, closer to the original as the manuscript clearly shows the words "Aux armes et cætera..." for the chorus. This fine album, described by legendary drummer Sly Dunbar as "Perhaps the best record he ever played on" was his biggest commercial success, including major hits Lola Rastaquouère, Aux Armes Et Cætera and a French version of Sam Theard's jazz classic You Rascal You entitled Vieille Canaille. Rita Marley and the I-Three would record another controversial reggae album with him in 1981, Mauvaises nouvelles des étoiles. Bob Marley was furious, when he discovered that Gainsbourg made his wife Rita sing erotic lyrics. Posthumous new mixes, including dub versions by Soljie Hamilton and versions of both albums by Jamaican artists were released as double "Dub Style" albums in 2003, to critical praise in France as well as abroad and to international commercial success. Although belatedly, Aux Armes Et Cætera – Dub Style and Mauvaises Nouvelles Des Étoiles – Dub Style further posthumously established Gainsbourg as an influential icon in European pop music.
After a turbulent 13-year relationship, Jane Birkin left Gainsbourg. In the 1980s, near the end of his life, Gainsbourg became a regular figure on French TV. His appearances seemed devoted to his controversial sense of humour and provocation. In March 1984, he burned three-quarters of a 500 French franc bill on television to protest against taxes raising up to 75% of income.
He would show up drunk and unshaven on stage: in April 1986, on Michel Drucker's live Saturday evening television show Champs-Élysées, with the American singer Whitney Houston, he objected to Drucker's translating his comments to Whitney Houston and in English stated: "I said, I want to fuck her" - Drucker insisted this meant "He says you are great..." The same year, in another talk show interview, he appeared alongside Catherine Ringer, a well known singer who had appeared in pornographic films. Gainsbourg spat out at her, "You're nothing but a filthy whore, a filthy, fucking whore".
His songs became increasingly eccentric during this period, ranging from the anti-drug Aux Enfants de la Chance, to the highly controversial duet with his daughter Charlotte named Lemon Incest. This translates as "Inceste de citron", a wordplay on "un zeste de citron" (a lemon zest). The title demonstrates Gainsbourg's love for puns – another example of which is Beau oui comme Bowie, a song he gave to Isabelle Adjani.
By December 1988, while a judge at a film festival in Val d'Isère, he was extremely intoxicated at a local theatre where he was to do a presentation. While on stage he began to tell an obscene story about Brigitte Bardot and a champagne bottle, only to stagger offstage and collapse in a nearby seat. Subsequent years saw his health deteriorate. He had to undergo liver surgery but denied any connection to cancer or cirrhosis. His appearances and releases became sparser as he had to rest and recover in Vezelay. During these final years, he released Love on the Beat, a controversial electronic album with mostly sexual themes in the lyrics and his last studio album, You're Under Arrest, presented more synth-driven songs.
Gainsbourg appeared in nearly 50 film and television roles. In 1960, he co-starred with Rhonda Fleming in the Italian film La rivolta degli schiavi (The Revolt of the Slaves) as Corvino, the Roman Emperor Massimiano's evil henchman. In 1968 he wrote music for and appeared as himself in Le Pacha directed by Georges Lautner. In 1969, he appeared in William Klein's pop art satire Mr. Freedom, and in the same year he starred with Jane Birkin in Les Chemins de Katmandou (The Pleasure Pit). They acted together again in Cannabis the following year, and again in Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye in 1973, and he also made a brief appearance with Birkin in Herbert Vesely's 1980 film, Egon Schiele – Exzess und Bestrafung. He co-starred alongside Birkin in the French film Slogan for which he wrote the title song "La Chanson de Slogan". Also with Birkin, he acted in the French-Yugoslav film Devetnaest djevojaka i jedan mornar (19 girls and one sailor) where he played a role of a partisan.
Throughout his career, Gainsbourg wrote the soundtracks for nearly 60 films and television programs. In 1996, he received a posthumous César Award for Best Music Written for a Film for Élisa, along with Zbigniew Preisner and Michel Colombier.
Gainsbourg wrote a novel entitled Evguénie Sokolov.
Death and legacy
Gainsbourg died on 2 March 1991 of a heart attack, a month shy of his 63rd birthday. He was buried in the Jewish section of the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. French President François Mitterrand said of him, "He was our Baudelaire, our Apollinaire... He elevated the song to the level of art." His home at the well-known address 5 bis Rue de Verneuil is still covered in graffiti and poems.
Since his death, Gainsbourg's music has reached legendary stature in France. He has also gained a following in the English-speaking world, with numerous artists influenced by his arrangements. One of the most frequent interpreters of Gainsbourg's songs was British singer Petula Clark whose success in France was propelled by her recordings of his tunes. In 2003, she wrote and recorded La Chanson de Gainsbourg as a tribute to the composer of some of her biggest hits. The majority of Gainsbourg's lyrics are collected in the volume Dernières nouvelles des étoiles.
The Parisian house that Gainsbourg lived in from 1969 until 1991, at 5 bis Rue de Verneuil, remains a celebrated shrine, with his ashtrays and collections of various items, such as police badges and bullets, intact. The outside of the house is covered in graffiti dedicated to Gainsbourg as well as with photographs of significant figures in his life including Bardot and Birkin.
Comics artist Joann Sfar wrote and directed a feature film titled Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque), which was released in France in 2010. Gainsbourg is portrayed by Eric Elmosnino and Kacey Mottet Klein. The film won three César Awards, including Best Actor for Elmosnino, and nominated for an additional eight.
Selected covers and tributes
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- In 1964, Gainsbourg himself did covers of Babatunde Olatunji's drum-heavy tunes "Kiyakiya (Why Do You Run Away?)", "Akiwowo (Chant to the Trainman)" and "Jin-go-lo-ba" which are featured on Olatunji's acclaimed Drums of Passion LP (1959). They appeared, with new French lyrics but otherwise identical in rhythm, melody and overall sound, as "Joanna", "New York – U.S.A." and "Marabout", respectively, on the "Gainsbourg Percussions" album – without any credit given to Olatunji.
- One of the celebrating events of the Year of France in Brazil was a concert in September 2009 called "Gainsbourg Imperial", an event celebrating the music of Serge Gainsbourg. It was performed by Brazilian Samba Big Band Orquestra Imperial, having French maestro Jean-Claude Vannier, English singer Jane Birkin and Brazilian musician and singer Caetano Veloso as special guests.
- Steve Wynn (formerly of The Dream Syndicate) recorded "Bonnie and Clyde" as a duet with Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde on his 1992 solo album, Dazzling Display.
- Belinda Carlisle covered "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Contact" on her 2007 French language album Voila.
- Giddle & Boyd (Giddle Partridge and Boyd Rice) covered "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Contact" on their 2008 EP Going Steady with Peggy Moffitt.
- Australian rock musician Mick Harvey released two CDs of Gainsbourg's songs translated into English. Of particular note is "To All the Lucky Kids (Aux Enfants De La Chance)" on Pink Elephants.
- Gainsbourg's song "Bonnie and Clyde" is featured in the burlesque show scene of Rush Hour 3 and in the romantic film Laurel Canyon starring Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale.
- American indie rock band Luna included a cover of "Bonnie and Clyde" as a hidden track on their 1995 album Penthouse, and their 2001 Luna Live album features a live performance of the song.
- American artist Angel Corpus Christi merged "Je t'aime ... moi non plus" with Lou Reed's "I Wanna Boogie With You" and recorded it as a duet with Dean Wareham.
- Swedish band Sambassadeur covers "La Chanson de Prevert" in French on their self-titled debut album.
- Okkervil River covers "Je suis venu te dire que je m'en vais" in English ("I Came Here to Say I'm Going Away").
- Arcade Fire covered "Poupée de cire, poupée de Son" and also released it as a split 7" single with LCD Soundsystem.
- Beirut often covers "La Javanaise" in their live sets and it is included in the live album Live at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (2009).
- Australian pop singer-songwriter Kylie Minogue extensively sampled his duet with Brigitte Bardot "Bonnie and Clyde" on the song "Sensitized" off her 2007 album X. In 2003, she sampled "Je t'aime... moi non plus" in a modified version of her song "Breathe" (which originally did not contain any samples) for a special one-off live performance at the Hammersmith Apollo in promotion of her album Body Language.
- French rapper MC Solaar sampled "Bonnie and Clyde" in his song "Nouveau Western" on his 1994 album Prose Combat. Renegade Soundwave released "Renegade Soundwave" with the same sample at the same time.
- Irish musician David Holmes covered "Cargo Culte" in his song "Don't Die Just Yet" on his 1997 album Let's Get Killed.
- American emcee Princess Superstar sampled the melody of the songs "Melody" and "Cargo Culte" in the song "You Get Mad At Napster" on her album Princess Superstar Is.
- The Welsh comedy-rap band Goldie Lookin Chain extensively sampled the title track of Gainsbourg's Cannabis film soundtrack for their single "Your Missus Is a Nutter".
- In 1997 Tzadik records released a tribute to Gainsbourg in their Great Jewish Composers series. The album includes covers by John Zorn, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Mike Patton, Fred Frith, Ikue Mori, Marc Ribot and Cyro Baptista.
- On the HBO show Flight of the Conchords, the sequence for the song "A Kiss is Not a Contract" is a tribute to Gainsbourg's video for "Ballade de Melody Nelson".
- The track "Serge" on The Herbaliser's album Take London is about a chance encounter with Gainsbourg 3 days before his death.
- Black Grape's "A Big Day in the North" is based on a sample taken from Initials B.B. and also features samples from "Ford Mustang".
- In the film High Fidelity, when a pair of punks steals from Rob Gordon's record store, one of the things they stole was a Serge Gainsbourg record.
- American hip hop duo The Beatnuts sampled "Melody" on their track "Superbad" off their album The Beatnuts: Street Level.
- Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave sang a duet of "I love you nor do I" with his longtime girlfriend Anita Lane. So did Barry Adamson with Anita in 1993 on his release The Negro inside Me with "Je t'aime ... Moi non plus".
- Trumpet player Erik Truffaz did a jazz remake of "Je t'aime, moi non plus".
- Australian psychedelic band Tame Impala covered "Bonnie and Clyde" in their 2011 tour of Europe.
- American hip hop band De La Soul sampled "Les Oubliettes" and "En Melody" on their second album De La Soul Is Dead released in 1991.
- In 2005, the album Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited was released by Virgin Records. The album consisted of specially-recorded English-language cover versions of Gainsbourg's songs, recorded by artists as diverse as Franz Ferdinand, Portishead, Placebo, Marc Almond, Michael Stipe, Cat Power, Karen Elson, Jarvis Cocker, Kid Loco, Faultline, Françoise Hardy, Tricky, Marianne Faithfull, Sly and Robbie, Gonzales, Feist, Dani, Trash Palace, The Rakes, The Kills, Carla Bruni, James Iha, Kazu Makino, Nina Persson and Nathan Larson.
- Brazilian musician and former Titãs member Ciro Pessoa wrote a song in honor of Gainsbourg, named "Até os Anos 70" ("To the 1970s"). It is present in his 2003 album No Meio da Chuva Eu Grito "Help".
- In 1994, Malcolm McLaren recorded a version of "Je t'aime ... moi non plus" for his album Paris
- On the American television drama series Mad Men, the song "Couleur café" was reworked into a jingle for a coffee company in the episode "The Gold Violin" from season 2. The song "Bonnie and Clyde" also featured prominently in the 6th season episode "To Have and to Hold".
- Slovenian industrial music band Laibach covered the song "Love on the Beat" on their latest album Spectre in 2014.
- Gainsbourg's son Lucien Jr. ("Lulu") and Scarlett Johansson covered the Gainsbourg/Bardot duet, Bonnie and Clyde (2011)
- 1958: Du chant à la une
- 1959: N° 2
- 1961: L'Étonnant Serge Gainsbourg
- 1962: Serge Gainsbourg N° 4
- 1963: Gainsbourg Confidentiel
- 1964: Gainsbourg Percussions
- 1968: Bonnie & Clyde (with Brigitte Bardot)
- 1968: Initials B.B.
- 1969: Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg
- 1971: Histoire de Melody Nelson
- 1973: Vu de l'extérieur
- 1975: Rock around the bunker
- 1976: L'Homme à tête de chou
- 1979: Aux armes et cætera
- 1981: Mauvaises nouvelles des étoiles
- 1984: Love on the Beat
- 1987: You're Under Arrest
- 1980: Enregistrement public au Théâtre Le Palace (re-released in 2006 as Gainsbourg... et cætera - Enregistrement public au Théâtre Le Palace in an expanded edition)
- 1986: Gainsbourg Live (Casino de Paris)
- 1989: Le Zénith de Gainsbourg
- 2009: 1963 Théâtre des Capucines
Selected film scores
- 1967: Anna
- 1968: Le Pacha
- 1969 "Slogan"
- 1970: Cannabis (instrumental)
- 1976: Je t'aime moi non plus – Ballade de Johnny-Jane (instrumental)
- 1977: Madame Claude (instrumental)
- 1977: Goodbye Emmanuelle (instrumental)
- 1980: Je vous aime (only three pieces sung by Gainsbourg)
- 1986: Putain de film ! – B.O.F. Tenue de soirée
- "Black Trombone" (1962)
- "La Javanaise" (1963)
- "Couleur Café" (1964)
- "New York U.S.A." (1964)
- "Hold Up" (1967)
- "Initials B.B." (1967)
- "Bonnie and Clyde" (1968) (Brigitte Bardot et Serge Gainsbourg)
- "Élisa" (1969)
- "La Chanson De Slogan" / "Evelyne" (1969)
- "Je t'aime... moi non plus" (1969) (Jane Birkin avec Serge Gainsbourg)
- "La Décadanse" (1971) (Jane Birkin et Serge Gainsbourg)
- "Je suis venu te dire que je m'en vais" (1973)
- "L'Homme à Tête de Chou" (1976)
- "Marilou" (1976)
- "Sea, Sex and Sun" (1978)
- "Aux armes et caetera" (1979)
- "Lola Rastaquouère" (1979)
- "Dieu fumeur de havanes" (1980) (Catherine Deneuve & Serge Gainsbourg)
- "Sorry Angel" (1984)
- "Lemon Incest" (1985) (Charlotte & Gainsbourg)
- "You're Under Arrest" (1987)
- "Mon légionnaire" (1987)
- "Requiem pour un con" (1991)
- "La Noyée"
- De Gainsbourg à Gainsbarre (1989, 1994, Philips)
- A 207-track survey of Gainsbourg's career from 1959 to 1981 on nine CDs, issued both separately and in a box: Vol. 1 – Le Poinçonneur Des Lilas, 1959-1960; Vol. 2 – La Javanaise, 1961-1963; Vol. 3 – Couleur Café, 1963-1964; Vol. 4 – Initials B.B., 1966-1968; Vol. 5 – Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus, 1969-1971; Vol. 6 – Je Suis Venu Te Dire Que Je M'en Vais, 1973-1975; Vol. 7 – L'Homme à Tête de Chou, 1975-1981; Vol. 8 – Aux Armes et Cætera, 1979-1981; and Vol. 9 – Anna, 1967–1980. A two-CD highlights collection, also called De Gainsbourg à Gainsbarre, was culled from this edition in 1990. The box was reissued in 1994 with two more discs containing the later albums Love on the Beat (1984) and You're Under Arrest (1987).
- Gainsbourg Forever (2001, Mercury)
- An 18-CD box issued to mark the tenth anniversary of Gainsbourg's death containing each of his sixteen studio albums and the EP Essais Pour Signature (1958) in its original format (one per CD), plus a disc of rarities, Inédits, Les Archives 1958-1981. A separate 3-CD box, Le Cinéma de Serge Gainsbourg: Musiques de Films 1959–1990 (2001, Mercury) covered his film music.
- Serge Gainsbourg Intégrale (2011, Philips)
- A 20-CD, 271-track box issued to mark the twentieth anniversary of Gainsbourg's death. The first sixteen discs contain his studio albums and related tracks. They are followed by a disc of singles, a disc of television and radio recordings, and two discs of film music.
Albums written for other artists
- 1973: Di doo dah – Jane Birkin
- 1975: Lolita Go Home– Jane Birkin (about half of the album)
- 1977: Rock'n rose – Alain Chamfort
- 1978: Ex fan des sixties – Jane Birkin
- 1980: Guerre et pets – Jacques Dutronc (two-thirds of the album)
- 1981: Amour année zéro – Alain Chamfort
- 1981: Souviens-toi de m'oublier – Catherine Deneuve
- 1982: Play blessures – Alain Bashung
- 1983: Isabelle Adjani (or Pull marine) – Isabelle Adjani
- 1983: Baby Alone in Babylone – Jane Birkin
- 1986: Charlotte for Ever – Charlotte Gainsbourg
- 1987: Lost Song – Jane Birkin
- 1989: Made in China – Bambou
- 1990: Amours des feintes – Jane Birkin
- 1990: Variations sur le même t'aime – Vanessa Paradis
Singles written for other artists
- "Les Incorruptibles" (1965) – Petula Clark
- "La Gadoue" (1965) – Petula Clark
- "Poupée de cire, poupée de son" (1965) – France Gall
- "Baby Pop" (1966) – France Gall
- "Les Papillons Noirs" (1966) – Michèle Arnaud
- "Ne dis rien" (1967) – Anna Karina
- "Les Sucettes" (1966) – France Gall
- "Comment te dire adieu?" (1968) – Françoise Hardy (lyrics)
- "Betty Jane Rose" (1978) – Bijou
- "Joujou à la casse" (1979) – Alain Chamfort
- "Manureva" (1979) – Alain Chamfort
- "Amour Puissance Six" (1989) – Viktor Lazlo
- "Dis-lui toi que je t'aime" (1990) – Vanessa Paradis
- "White and Black Blues" (1990) – Joëlle Ursull (lyrics by Gainsbourg)
Selected tribute albums and posthumous releases
- 1997: Great Jewish Music: Serge Gainsbourg (tribute album)
- 1997: Comic Strip (collection of songs recorded between 1966 and 1969)
- 2001: I Love Serge: Electronicagainsbourg (remix album)
- 2005: Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited (tribute album)
- 2008: Classé X (compilation)
- 2008: Gainsbourg Gainbegiratuz (tribute)
- 2011: Best Of Gainsbourg: Comme Un Boomerang (compilation)
- Ginsburg is sometimes spelled Ginzburg in the media, including print encyclopedias and dictionaries. However, Ginsburg is the name engraved on Gainsbourg's grave, and "Lucien Ginsburg" is the name by which Gainsbourg is referred to, as a performer, in the Sacem catalog  (along with "Serge Gainsbourg" as the author/composer/adaptor)
- allmusic Biography
- Obituary Variety, 11 March 1991.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Serge Gainsbourg – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
- Simmons, Sylvie (2 February 2001). "An extract from Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful of Gitanes by Sylvie Simmons". The Guardian.
- 2003年4月21日 (月). "The 100 Greatest Artists – No. 62". Hmv.co.jp. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- Vanity Fair, "The Secret World of Serge Gainsbourg", November 2007
- fr:Liste des chansons de Serge Gainsbourg
- fr:Reprises des chansons de Serge Gainsbourg
- Sometimes spelled Olia, his mother's actual given name was Olga, as written on Gainsbourg's grave
- Benjamin Ivry: The Man With the Yellow Star: The Jewish Life of Serge Gainsbourg, The Jewish Daily Forward, 26 November 2008.
- Great Jewish Music, Deconstruction in Music.
- "Serge Gainsbourg Biography – life, family, parents, name, story, death, wife, school, young, son, book, old, born, husband, marriage, time, year, scandal, sister, The outsider". Notablebiographies.com. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- LucienGrix No real name given + Add Contact. "1928 Liliane & Lucien Ginsburg | Flickr – Photo Sharing!". Flickr. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
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- Adams, William Lee (26 January 2010). "French Chanteuse Charlotte Gainsbourg". TIME.
- "Best-Looking Couples Ever". LIFE.com. See Your World LLC.
JoAnne Good (9 July 2011). "Inside Travel: Pooches in Paris". independent.co.uk.
"Serge Gainsbourg's women: the music". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. 7 February 2011.
"Birkin, Bardot and Gainsbourg, the accidental sex symbol". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. 5 July 2010.
"Jane Birkin". Apple Inc.
- Wyatt, Petronella (25 January 2008). "Jane Birkin reveals the naked truth about being a Sixties' icon". The Daily Mail. London.
- Album notes from Initials SG
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- Chrisafis, Angelique, The Guardian (14 April 2006). "Gainsbourg, je t'aime". London.
- Roughly 75 €, but in 1984, 500 FF represented one sixth of the net minimum monthly wage in France
- Hodgkinson, Will, The Guardian (5 February 2003). "Serge, mon amour". London.
- Kent, Nick , The Guardian (15 April 2006). "What a drag". London.
- A controversial video for Lemon Incest featured a half-naked Gainsbourg lying on a bed with his daughter Charlotte. Phrases from the song include L'amour que nous ne ferons jamais ensemble/ Est le plus beau le plus violent/ Le plus pur le plus enivrant (The love that we will never make together/ is the most beautiful, the most violent/ The most pure, the most heady).
- "Tam Tam Books". Tam Tam Books. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- Simmons, Sylvie, The Guardian (2 February 2001). "The eyes have it". London.
- Bart Plantenga (2014). "Serge Gainsbourg: The Obscurity of Fame". wfmu.org. wfmu.org. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
- Jody Macgregor (16 April 2014). "8 secret music destinations you need to visit right now". Faster Louder. Faster Louder Pty Ltd. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
- César Awards 2011 imdb.com
- Holman, Rachel (March 3, 2013). "Twenty years on, Gainsbourg remains France's favourite 'enfant terrible'". France 24. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
Frédéric Sanchez, who curated “Gainsbourg 2008” in Paris, describes him as, “one of the most important artists of the 20th century”.
- Litchfield, John (October 23, 2011). "Je t'aime (again): The French love affair with Serge Gainsbourg". The Independent. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
The curator of the exhibition, Frédéric Sanchez, describes the choice of Gainsbourg as a "consecration" and an "apotheosis".
- Serge Gainsbourg: View From The Exterior by Alan Clayson (1998). Sanctuary. ISBN 978-1-86074-222-4
- Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful of Gitanes by Sylvie Simmons (2002). Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81183-8
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