Author: Serge Gainsbourg
Edition: Sea Urchin #2
Size: 165 x 115 x 6 mm
Translation: Jan Pieter van der Sterre
Cover portrait: Gilles Cappé
On Serge Gainsbourg‘s album Mauvaises Nouvelles Des Étoiles (Bad News From The Stars) from 1981 there is a song called Evguénie Sokolov. Although accompanying lyrics were printed on the sleeve, the song itself consists of nothing but farts, gurgling and rumbling accompanied by The Wailers from Jamaica. After all, the lyrics are a passage from Gainsbourg’s story of the same name, in which an artist suffering from incessant windiness is the protagonist. ‘Evguénie Sokolov’, labeled a ‘parabolic story’ by Gainsbourg, is an obscene black comedy about the rise and fall of an artist who accidentally discovers how his windiness can assist him in the production of his art, a discovery which leads to worldwide success.
In elegant phrases and carefully chosen words Gainsbourg, who maintained self-mockingly that the story was autobiographical, sketches a hilarious and at the same time dramatic life that serves as a model for the obscenity of artistry, the art world and of success. Sea Urchin Editions has published the first Dutch translation of this story under the title JEVGENI SOKOLOV.
Serge Gainsbourg (1928-1991) started his notorious career at the École des Beaux Arts where Fernand Léger was one of his professors. For additional income the young artist played the piano in all sorts of clubs and bars in Paris, where he was discovered by Boris Vian. Right from his first EP Le Poinçonneur des Lilas in 1957 it was clear that Gainsbourg’s compositions, or rather the combination of seductive melodies and nihilistic, ambiguous or plainly obscene lyrics, were part of a strategy to expose the hypocrisy of prevailing standards and morality. In doing so Gainsbourg took the Dadaists for an example, notably Francis Picabia. Gainsbourg referred to Picabia on several occasions: in JEVGENI SOKOLOV, for example, there is a quote from Picabia’s scandalous book Jèsus-Christ Rastaqouère and on the infamous album Aux Armes Et Caetera there is a song called Lola Rastaqouère.
JEVGENI SOKOLOV is the pinnacle of a consistent line of anally orientated works that Gainsbourg started with the song La Décadanse in 1972, continued with songs like Des Vents Des Pets Des Poums and the film ‘Je T’Aime, Moi Non Plus’ in which he ridiculed and tested the success of his hit of the same name.