by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Histoire de Melody Nelson

Serge Gainsbourg - "Melody".

The next morning, Serge went out to breakfast with his friend Etienne. They ate eggs benedict with steak knives, yolks running. Serge used his hands to depict the Rolls-Royce, the bicycle, the slow way that they collided. At first he used passé simple. There were three kinds of glint in his eye.

"She was just a girl, Etienne; but mon dieu, what a girl. What a girl, what a girl, what a girl..."

"Pretty?" said Etienne.

Serge rolled his eyes, "Oh come on, voyons, oui, pretty as- pretty as- ..."

Etienne raised his eyebrows. His friend was not often starved for words in matters such as these.

"A gazelle," Serge said finally, "long, long, long. I watched her drink from a bottle last night and I could have spent the year watching. I brought the Rolls to a stop and on the road she tossed her hair, she got to her feet, she showed me her eyes."

"She showed you her eyes and you took them," Etienne smiled.

"I felt like a bear, looking at her. Felt like a raincloud. 'Melody Nelson,' she said. That was her name."

"Sounds like a song."

"It will be a song. I will make it a song. I need to make a song. The slowest-ever song. Slow as the way she brushed her hair from her face. Slow as her tongue darting across her lips. I do not know if I will see her again. A suite of songs."

"A whole album?"

"An album of jaguars, gazelles, moons. Rose quartz, black plastic, white steel, red hair. Ah, oui oui. Choirs, strings!"

"All that?"

"All that," said Serge. He scraped the knife along his tongue. "Did I tell you the red hair was her natural colour?"

"Yes," said Etienne.

"The way she felt... The way she felt, Etienne, when finally I brought her lips... When I tasted them."

"When she gave them," said Etienne.

Serge shrugged. "A girl, Etienne. A gazelle. Young, taut, tall, quick. Her heart leaps and strains in her breast. Hands meant to hold rose-stems. Feet meant to lie in sheets."

"Okay, okay."

"I should never see her again. Why would I? Let her live wild, away. She will die young. I know this. I will worship at her altar like a supplicating native. I will burn ferns, blacken my eyes. I will eat ash and lay in the sand. I will feel the sun all up and down my skin and I will remember last night. Birds will howl in my ears and I will feel wine in my mouth. Strings! Bass! Choir! Kettle drums! Trembling and then sudded storming noise! Oh, I can hear it, Etienne."

"Café?" said the waiter.

"This morning, with sugar."


Serge Gainsbourg's 1971 masterpiece, Histoire de Melody Nelson, which must make Jarvis Cocker long to have been born 20 years earlier, which Beck must dream of making, which has been sampled right and left, which makes even me wish to be a Parisian ladykiller, which is deep and tin-hot and thrilling, has just & at last been reissued in North America. Light In The Attic have released it in CD and 180gm gatefold LP, and you can buy it now. Do.

We also have one copy to give away! For your chance to win, leave a comment below, with the most seductive french word in the world. It doesn't have to be a real French word - it can be something you've made up, that you imagine balanced on yr tongue like a sparrow. We'll pick a winner later this week. Contest now over! Thanks for all the amazing submissions. Most of them seduced me, and most of them ought to win, but there can be only one and it was Matt, with hanches. Congratulations, sir.

Posted by Sean at March 23, 2009 11:29 AM


Posted by paul at March 23, 2009 1:17 PM


Posted by Be Rad at March 23, 2009 1:22 PM


Posted by Dan at March 23, 2009 1:25 PM


Posted by Margot at March 23, 2009 1:34 PM


Posted by Matt at March 23, 2009 1:45 PM


Posted by Houellebecq at March 23, 2009 2:00 PM


Posted by Charly at March 23, 2009 2:06 PM


Posted by duncan at March 23, 2009 2:22 PM


Posted by Ben at March 23, 2009 2:33 PM


Posted by Ashley at March 23, 2009 2:35 PM


Posted by miri at March 23, 2009 2:37 PM


Posted by tyler at March 23, 2009 2:40 PM


Posted by Tanner at March 23, 2009 2:47 PM


Posted by Kaiya at March 23, 2009 3:08 PM


Posted by sam at March 23, 2009 3:11 PM


Posted by Seth at March 23, 2009 3:50 PM


Posted by Joel at March 23, 2009 3:50 PM


Posted by Wesley at March 23, 2009 4:03 PM


Posted by Christopher at March 23, 2009 4:13 PM


Posted by Brian at March 23, 2009 4:16 PM

cinema verite

Posted by Mark N at March 23, 2009 4:19 PM


Posted by littleREDelf at March 23, 2009 4:48 PM


Posted by Gil at March 23, 2009 4:50 PM

la douceur

Posted by david b at March 23, 2009 4:51 PM

Ma bete noire.

Posted by Ryan at March 23, 2009 4:53 PM


Posted by Andy at March 23, 2009 4:54 PM


Posted by luisa at March 23, 2009 4:56 PM


Posted by Alex at March 23, 2009 5:27 PM

maquis panthère

Posted by brooks at March 23, 2009 5:28 PM


Posted by J Epstein at March 23, 2009 5:45 PM

Petit mort

Posted by Jeff at March 23, 2009 6:14 PM


Posted by mark at March 23, 2009 6:17 PM

(see above match for melody n.)

Posted by gael garcia velour at March 23, 2009 6:43 PM

gael garcia velour

Posted by oops at March 23, 2009 6:44 PM


Posted by dan at March 23, 2009 6:45 PM

Gerard Depardieu Baguette

Posted by Chris at March 23, 2009 7:26 PM

I think it would be: seduisante.

Posted by Donovan at March 23, 2009 7:46 PM

benoit pioulard

Posted by adam at March 23, 2009 7:46 PM


Posted by tyler at March 23, 2009 7:48 PM


Posted by rouillé at March 23, 2009 8:31 PM


Posted by Lindsey at March 23, 2009 8:58 PM


Posted by mikeh at March 23, 2009 9:28 PM


Posted by Jason at March 23, 2009 9:52 PM


Posted by stephen at March 23, 2009 10:29 PM


Posted by Fraser at March 23, 2009 10:34 PM


Posted by ben at March 23, 2009 11:04 PM


Posted by Chris at March 23, 2009 11:11 PM


Posted by karpe at March 23, 2009 11:52 PM


Posted by sa me at March 24, 2009 1:22 AM


Posted by gabe at March 24, 2009 1:55 AM


Posted by matthew at March 24, 2009 2:13 AM


Posted by rolf at March 24, 2009 4:08 AM

someone should write a song with all these words, especially the fake ones. Then some british-speaking girl would sing it softly and it would be awesome

Posted by bouudiii at March 24, 2009 7:14 AM


Posted by yvanpk at March 24, 2009 7:24 AM

As in Gi-(whispered), Gant-(wide-eyed), and Esque(soft; long enought for the tip of the nose to find the little nook behind the ear).

Posted by maryam at March 24, 2009 10:02 AM


Posted by nico at March 24, 2009 10:40 AM


Posted by pml at March 24, 2009 11:01 AM


as in: tu m'époustoufle.

Posted by Liz at March 24, 2009 12:50 PM


Posted by Emile at March 24, 2009 1:20 PM


Posted by jenanne at March 24, 2009 1:51 PM


Posted by moss at March 24, 2009 4:10 PM

coup de foudre

Posted by presley at March 24, 2009 4:16 PM


Posted by Chol at March 24, 2009 4:24 PM


Posted by tim at March 24, 2009 9:51 PM


Posted by Graham at March 24, 2009 10:25 PM


Not just because of the way it sounds, but also, what it means to the Romantic, and also what it would sounds like if Charlotte Gainsbourg said it to you.

Posted by Stewart at March 24, 2009 10:25 PM

Carquois (pronounced Karkwa)

Posted by stannate at March 24, 2009 11:58 PM


Posted by V at March 25, 2009 12:19 AM

The word for "face" is often the sexiest in any given language.

Fr: Visage

Ger: Gesicht (listen: )

Welsh: Gwynebu

Posted by joe at March 25, 2009 2:37 AM


Posted by vic at March 25, 2009 5:36 AM

Sensational (as sung by Serge in the hit version of Je T'aime)

Posted by David B at March 25, 2009 11:45 AM

le foque

Posted by kara at March 25, 2009 1:15 PM


Posted by Fred at March 25, 2009 4:14 PM

la chair

Posted by katman at March 26, 2009 3:08 PM


Posted by Jo Fallak at March 26, 2009 5:04 PM


Posted by matt at March 26, 2009 6:49 PM

approfondir - to increase the depths of (as in obsession) or to plunge into the depths of (as in well what else)

Posted by alex at March 26, 2009 10:42 PM

"clafoutis" (it softly rolls off your tongue with a tinge of exquisite titillating provocation, like when you say "clit" with a come-hither look for example, and also simply because it tastes like it sounds, sweet.)

Posted by Nana at March 27, 2009 4:53 PM

tessier (pronounced tessiard)

Posted by Adam at March 27, 2009 11:56 PM

ferrier vous

In my imagination, it means "iron [the metal] yourself" or "make yourself like iron."

(soft, soft lips
magnetic, electric hips)

Posted by Laurel at March 28, 2009 9:21 AM

don't know french-- but that song was beautiful. i listened to the whole thing -- which is rare when i first hear a song.
thanks again for the rad music

Posted by annie at June 4, 2009 1:06 AM

Post a comment

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about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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watch StG's wonderful video contest winners

our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)

Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

things we like in Montreal
st-viateur bagel
café olimpico
Euro-Deli Batory
le pick up
kem coba
le couteau
au pied de cochon
mamie clafoutis
tourtière australienne
chez boris
alati caserta
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c

drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c

casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe

Cult Montreal
The Believer
The Morning News
The Skinny