Anglo-French singer and actress Jane Birkin had many lives – just a sigh ago, the publishing house Monstruo Bicéfalo reissued its diaries in Spanish, under the care of Felipe Cabrerizo-, although if one had to keep only one of them all, it would undoubtedly be his much more than hectic decade together with the controversial and brilliant Serge Gainsbourgperhaps the best composer of the 20th century, with whom he produced absolutely immortal musical works.
When they met, during the filming of the movie SloganIn 1968, she had already unknowingly left behind a lifetime in Swinging London, and he had just broken up with Brigitte Bardot herself. With BB, Gainsbourg had recorded an early version of the torrid hit I love you too, which did not see the light of day until 1986 at the express wish of the blonde, who later became an animal protector. Obsessed with that unpublished song, Gainsbourg did not hesitate to record a second version with Birkin which, as is well known, despite being a loving intercourse narrated in real time, including moans, passed through the networks of Franco’s censorship, which did not ban it until a few months after its publication, when both the BBC and the Vatican had already raised a cry to heaven. The censors had been content to read the print, and had not caught metaphors like “I come and go between your kidneys”. On the B-side of the single, Birkin sang to the tune of the Prelude in E. Minor by Chopin. The song was simply called Jane B. And so she would know it.
But let’s rewind. Born in Marylebone (London) in 1946, the daughter of a military man and actress Judy Campbell, the muse of the playwright Noel Coward, Jane B. He preferred to follow his mother’s vocation, studied theater and acted in various plays, including the musical Passion Flower Hotel (1965), produced by John Barry, the composer of the Bond saga, among other very ‘sixties’ jewels. Despite the fact that she was practically a teenage nymph and he was 13 years older than her, Jane and Barry, who had met in a nightclub, fell in love, married and had a daughter, Kate Barry, who became a photographer and ended up taking her own life in 2013. It took them no more than two or three years to divorce. Meanwhile, Jane B. was already an icon of Soho: she had been photographed by David Bailey, who fell in love with her almond-shaped eyes, she had made her film debut with a small role as a biker in The Knack… and how to get it (1965), crowned with the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and had scandalously undressed in the mythical Blow-Up, by Antonioni (1967), another Palm of Gold. Everything very Swinging London.
But Birkin got fed up with the British capital and, when he heard about a casting in Paris, he didn’t think twice, and with hardly any idea of French, he crossed the English Channel, not knowing that France would end up becoming his first homeland, despite the fact that he never lost his British accent.
In addition to putting the soundtrack of Sloganthe movie in question Gainsbourg was also the protagonist of the film. The first meeting did not go well. But they did have a bathtub scene together. He was allowed to get into the water in striped boxer shorts, but she was told to go in completely naked. That shared experience smoothed out all the rough edges that remained to be smoothed out. They celebrated by burning the Parisian night, closing all the nightclubuntil dawn, and they became inseparable beings.