We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
It’s been a great year for Gainsbourgiana. Serge Gainsbourg—that notoriously lecherous French singer/songwriter and prodigious violator of social mores—died in 1991, but 20 years later he’s re-entered the cultural conversation. The cartoonist Joann Sfar made a delirious, formally adventurous biopic, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, which diagnoses its subject with society-induced self-loathing. Gainsbourg’s son Lulu, a composer, has recast the singer’s most famous tunes for a tribute album featuring celeb singers like Johnny Depp, Marianne Faithful, Scarlett Johansson, and Iggy Pop. (Meanwhile, daughter Charlotte released her fourth solo album, but it has nothing to do with dad.) And now Jane Birkin, Gainsbourg’s longtime romantic partner and muse, is performing his songs along with Japanese musicians she met in the aftermath of the March earthquake. With her brittle and girlish vocals, Birkin was always a perfect if discomfiting foil to Gainsbourg’s dirty-old-man persona. You could say that Gainsbourg helped mainstream that particular strain of libertinism in the 1960s. Sfar traced Gainsbourg’s connection to contemporary French public life in a recent interview with Heeb: “He’s very loved in France, but then again, I come from a place where rudeness and sexual candor are kinda cool. You can see it with [Dominique] Strauss-Kahn.”
Birkin performs at 6 p.m. at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $35. (202) 265-0930.