The other night we decided to watch Public Speaking, Martin Scorcese’s HBO documentary about Fran Lebowitz, a brash, brainy New York writer renowned for her razor-sharp wit. One of the highlights of the movie for the Brooklyn Gal: the video clip of Serge Gainsbourg singing New York USA that Scorcese used to illustrate some pivotal point about Leibowitz’s life in the big city.
Like many of the late, great French showman’s tunes this melodic homage to Manhattan is schmaltzy, theatrical and classy, all at once – in other words, oui, it’s vintage Gainsbourg.
And it brought to mind director/artist Joann Sfar’s film Gainsbourg Je t’aime…moi non plus, which we were lucky enough to catch at last spring’s Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan. Funny, we thought that this quirky love letter to Gainsbourg, based on Sfar’s graphic novel, would be a cult hit or that it would at least gain traction over time, but after making a splash at the festival it seemed to disappear into the filmic ether. Will it ever have a proper theatrical release in the states (or did we miss it?!)
Perhaps Americans are just not all that interested in Gainsbourg and his wild exploits.
But the Brooklyn Gal also had the chance to see the amazing Gainsbourg multimedia exhibit in 2008 at the Museé de Musique in Paris and we truly believe that this Gallic pop star was a genius, a man of many genres, who was way, way ahead of his time. And while he remains an icon in France 20 years after his death, he somehow never attained that kind of notoriety here. We’d even gamble to say that many people have absolutely no clue about Serge.
In other words, we think the time is right for a Serge resurgence.