British actress and singer, Jane Birkin is spending this week with us on franceinfo. For five days, we look back on his journey with a landmark song of his career, until his last album, released last December, Oh ! Sorry you were sleeping… Today, she tells us the story of the song Jane B. taken from the album Jane Birkin – Serge Gainsbourg released in 1969.
franceinfo: Jane B., this title sticks to your skin. Tell us about this song.
Jane Birkin : This is the one I like the most. More … than I love you … neither do I because it’s so pure. I thought it was so great to have picked up the pages of my passport: blue eyes, brown hair. All the contents were a small portrait of me, like a passport. And since it was on Chopin, it was romantic. It is so pretty. Sometimes people don’t know it’s Chopin. Some time ago we were playing it somewhere and somebody said: “Oh, it’s Jane B.!“, I replied no, it was Chopin.
When you meet Serge Gainsbourg, is it love at first sight?
No. And maybe that’s why it lasted longer because I was finding out little by little. At first he terrified me. He had a smirk and when I arrived to do the shoot, I found him very distant. So he had dinner at Régine’s where there was a dance floor. I pulled it to go dancing. He stepped on my toes. I said to myself : “Happiness. It means that he can’t dance, that he’s clumsy. Basically, this arrogance is to hide a person so shy, terribly candid“.
Serge Gainsbourg, it was such a find, it was a man’s delight
Serge Gainsbourg is still in you besides?
Yes. Now I don’t need to defend him anymore, but at one point people thought he was cynical. At first, he was known a bit for that, for his responses to journalists. In fact, the answers are awesome. There is a play that the Comédie Française is going to do with six young people, including a girl. The Serge. They sing, it’s so fun and delicious. It’s really Serge. They also used pieces of interviews. Listening to them during a rehearsal, I found all his answers which are in fact a bit like Oscar Wilde. He couldn’t help but have the nice word, so it was lovely.
It’s with Jane B. that you will enter the hearts of the French. You are even considered the most French of ‘British’ singers. She marks this fusion with Serge Gainsbourg?
It was such a cheerful time that I feel like it’s another world
Probably yes. There was an innocence somewhere. We did all the radio shows for fun. We made duets for the Carpentiers with delight. If we had shouts, it was about childish things like the night when he poured everything in my basket on the dance floor at Castel’s. It wasn’t really a crime of lese majesté, but I took it as such. I threw a cream pie right in her face in front of people.
To retrieve it, I ran faster than him, on the way to Rue de Verneuil, he was removing the pieces of pie that were falling to the left, to the right. What to do to catch up? Something dramatic was needed after such an affront. I told myself that I had to pass him very quickly and that I attract his attention by throwing myself into the Seine. I waited behind a tree, down on the bank to be sure Serge was coming down the stairs, before throwing myself into the Seine, because I wasn’t going to throw myself for nothing. And finally, we came home, arm in arm, and the Yves Saint-Laurent dry-cleaning version of the little blouse had become a kind of little bolero.
Tomorrow we meet to talk about the song Di Doo Dah.