On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg – Je t’aime…moi mon plus (1969)
We’re combining two countries today, dear reader, in the form of the UK and France. In this time of Brexit such a union would be frowned upon by some, sadly, but back in 1969 all was well as a young woman by the name of Jane Birkin began a relationship with Serge Gainsbourg, who has previously appeared on our list. The story goes that Gainsbourg was infatuated with legendary beauty, Brigitte Bardot, who asked him to write a song for her. This song was Je t’aime…moi mon plus which they recorded together but the song was not released until the 1980s. Instead, romance having not worked out with Bardot, Gainsbourg began a relationship with Birkin and together they recorded the song instead. Good news for them as it has landed on our 1001 Songs list.
Je t’aime…moi mon plus translates as “I love you…me neither”. In the song, Birkin’s refrain of “I love you” is met by Gainsbourg’s “me neither” but the rest of the song focuses on a conversation between a man and a woman in the midst of sex which doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination. It sounds like the ideal sort of union though in the respect that the man holds back in the lovemaking, focused on ensuring his partner is completely satisfied by the experience before worrying about his own needs. Ladies, I’m sure I don’t speak out of turn by saying not all men are this considerate. Anyway, both talk about climaxing and Birkin throws in heavy breathing, especially towards the end which is suggestive of her having an orgasm. By the time you reach the conclusion, you might feel the need for a cold shower but that is optional.
Je t’aime…moi mon plus was a big hit upon release, topping the UK chart but it was understandably controversial with its subject matter and suggestive nature of the lyrics, which led to a ban on some radio stations. Claims that the heavy breathing was the result of actual sex in the studio was denied by both Birkin and Gainsbourg with the latter amusingly responding that he’s pleased about this fact given how brief the song is. Saucy devil! I’ve heard this one many times before but did not realise just how erotic it is with an English translation. That said, I do like the angle of two people ensuring lovemaking is a satisfying experience for both parties rather than one, just as it should always be. All of that aside, the song sounds great to this day. Anyway, I’m a bit hot under the collar now. Maybe I’ll grab a cold shower as well!
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Who – Substitute (1966)
The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black (1966)
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)
The Doors – The End (1967)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (1968)
The Kinks – Days (1968)