Lately I’ve been smitten with French pop singer France Gall, and am dying to get my hand on a biography that’s written in English. Does this exist? There’s so much speculation surrounding her life, and I’d love to know more of what really went on during her rise to fame.
Wikipedia tells me France Gall was born to successful musician parents, and she and her brothers began performing at a young age. By the time she was 16 her father used his connections in the recording industry to get her quickly signed to a label. Like other “ye-ye” musicians at the time, France Gall was young and “doll-like” in appearance (pretty creepy that this was a ‘thing’, actually) but had a series of original hits instead of adaptations of English-language songs. Ultimately Gall had little-to-no say in her material because veteran musicians (Serge Gainsbourg, most notably) arranged her songs and lyrics for her.
Gainsbourg’s songs in particular were dark, ya know, as he was quite apt to be. His song lyrics also had ridiculous sexual undertones, which Gall claims she was ignorant of due to her age. Basically, it supposedly went down like this: (rumored) creep old man writes pervy song for 17 year old girl, girl sings about dirty things “without knowing what they mean” (dunno if I believe this, ya’ll), French media freaks out, girl gets blacklisted and her songs don’t chart for years. Gall claims her partnership with Gainsbourg sent her into a deep and psycho depression, and she refuses to speak about him to this day.
Still, working with Gainsbourg led Gall to participate in the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest with his song “Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Son (Doll of Wax, Doll of Sawdust)”. Her performance at the contest is seen above (starts around :40), and I can’t stop watching it. She seems nervous – her first note is totally off, and the expression on her face that follows shows forced enthusiasm, like, “just smile, you can still save it, you’ve done it a million times.” Throughout the performance she wavers, goes flat at times, and seems to lose her pacing. Maybe it had something to do with her looking completely adorable, the awesome orchestra arrangement, the fact that she straightened out by the end and totally killed it, or maybe the competition was awful that year – but Gall wound up winning the contest. Gainsbourg was (possibly-maybe?-probably-depends on how you look at it?) a total perv, but damn he was a genius.
This is the studio version and promotional (scopitone?) video. I LOVE THIS VIDEO. For whatever reason, there is tons of footage of Gall online, and it’s all in the vein of those 60s-era boring/one or two shots/”experimental” clips. My dream.music | Tags: 1960s, france, france gall, serge gainsbourg, swingin, yeye | 1 comment