SERGE GAINSBOURG: UNE PETITE TASSE D’ANXIETÉ

“Une petite tasse d'anxiété” was written for the TV show, Teuf Teuf, which was filmed in the bois de Boulogne. When my artistic director, Jean Fernandez, learned I was going to work with Serge Gainsbourg, he asked to see me the same day.
   Fernandez, who was always so debonair, was pacing up and down his small office, he looked frazzled. He closed the door and announced that Serge Gainsbourg was unpredictable. I was not to talk to him, not to look at him. My eyes must have registered as blank because he repeated what he’d just said, adding: Serge could collapse— he is very delicate. Fernandez didn’t have a clue that I was dreadfully shy.
   A bit of a wreck, I rang the doorbell, Serge arrived soon enough, discretely, and I addressed my hello to his shoes. At the piano Serge offered me his lyrics. I was glued to the sheet of paper. Glad I was a fast learner. Automatically I adapted to his style, somewhat flat, ironic. The song was in a key that was a bit low for my voice. This made me sound blasé, deadpan, which he liked. He suggested that I improve on it, sound plain bored. He was attentive, very gentle and charming.
   That evening I went through his lyrics again and I noticed that he’d lifted one sentence from my first record, a duet with Henri Salvador. Which meant that he had listened to what I'd done. Which meant that I'd passed his inspection. Which gave me a rush of happiness. Which…I was over the moon…I knew him as “Le Poinçonneur des Lilas”. It had a haunting quality, velvety and obsessive….and that is how I became the first girl for whom Serge Gainsbourg wrote a song.
   The next would be France Gall.