Listen to Charlotte Gainsbourg’s favorite tracks straight from Wired.com.
Who: Charlotte Gainsbourg
Song: “Time of the Assassins”
Gainsbourg described her song “Time of the Assassins” as having an element of “fantasy” to it. The track’s washed-out reverb chorus and resonant organ chords certainly evoke ethereal sensations.
Song: “Paranoid Android”
With Kid A, Radiohead rewrote the book on what an alternative rock album could be. But Rome wasn’t built in a day. Before the band could make one of the most important records of this century, Radiohead’s members had to hone their craft. OK Computer marks the band’s transition from the more straightforward Britpop of Pablo Honey and The Bends into the genre-shattering Kid A and Amnesiac. Gainsbourg picked one of OK Computer‘s most frenzied odes to modern life — “Paranoid Android.”
Who: Lou Reed
Song: “Perfect Day”
At a loss for words, Gainsbourg shrugged and said “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed was, quite simply, “perfect.” Just as Gainsbourg and Beck teamed to produce IRM, on Transformer Reed was joined byDavid Bowie, who produced the album with Mick Ronson, the lead guitarist in Bowie’s backing band, The Spiders. “Perfect Day” is exemplary of the mellower side of Reed — recalling the Velvet Underground‘s “Sunday Morning.”
Who: Bob Dylan
Keeping with the theme of collaboration, Gainsbourg talked of her work with Todd Haynes, director of Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There. In the film, the folk singer is portrayed by multiple actors over the course of his life. Gainsbourg played Dylan’s wife in the scenes where Heath Ledger took on the role of Dylan. “It was a very special film for me,” she said. While shooting, Haynes made the actors playlists of songs that would relate to their respective characters. “Sarah” was one of Gainsbourg’s songs.
Who: Cab Calloway
Anyone who has seen The Blues Brothers ought to recall Cab Calloway stalling for time with his hit “Minnie the Moocher.” Gainsbourg, however, was introduced to the big band classic through another iconic character of the silver screen — Betty Boop. As a child, Gainsbourg would watch Betty Boop cartoons with her father. One episode in particular “was very memorable, because of this song,” the singer explained. When Gainsbourg recently rediscovered the song, it brought back a flood of memories — she compared hearing the song to smelling a familiar but long-forgotten scent.
Who: Serge Gainsbourg
Song: “Ballad de Melody Nelson”
Gainsbourg’s father, French musician Serge Gainsbourg, released Histoire de Melody Nelson in 1971. (Charlotte’s mother, who appears on the cover of Histoire, at right, wears unbuttoned bell-bottom jeans because she was pregnant with Charlotte at the time.) The bass line from “Cargo Culte” was sampled by Beck on his 2002 album, Sea Change, for the song “Paper Tiger.”
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