Initials B.b. – Serge Gainsbourg

This spring marks 50 years since the release of the song Initials B.B., written and sung by the controversial yet revered French chanteur Serge Gainsbourg.

The song, spoken poetically amid dark, dramatic brass and strings, recalls his passionate, short-lived affair with 60s beauty icon Brigitte Bardot, culminating in their supposed parting in Spain.

Gainsbourg’s lyrics use extremely atmospheric imagery to evoke the colours, scents, and sounds of the seductive and smoky 60s backdrop to his encounters with Bardot. With a nod to her Guerlain perfume, it’s no surprise the song was used for Guerlain adverts in 2009 and 2011.

We especially like the first lines: “One night, while I was moping around some English pub in the heart of London…” which contrasts perfectly with Gainsbourg’s bright “vision” of Bardot. Whilst this opening was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Crow, the orchestral music draws on Gainsbourg’s appreciation for Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9.

Why not visit Gainsbourg’s grave at the Cimetière Montparnasse to see the unusual items that dedicated fans leave in his memory?

Discover more French music HERE.


Une nuit que j’étais
A me morfondre
Dans quelque pub anglais
Du cœur de Londres
Parcourant L’Amour Monstre de Pauwels
Me vint une vision
Dans l’eau de Seltz

Initials B.B.

Tandis que des médailles
Font briller à sa taille
Le bronze et l’or
Le platine lui grave
D’un cercle froid
La marque des esclaves
A chaque doigt

Initials B.B.

Jusques en haut des cuisses
Elle est bottée
Et c’est comme un calice
A sa beauté
Elle ne porte rien
D’autre qu’un peu
D’essence de Guerlain
Dans les cheveux

Initials B.B.

A chaque mouvement
On entendait
Les clochettes d’argent
De ses poignets
Agitant ses grelots
Elle avança
Et prononça ce mot

English Translation

One night, when I was
Moping around
some English pub
in the heart of London
thumbing through Pauwels’ Amour Monstre
A vision came to me
in my soda water.

Initials B.B.

While commander’s medallions
Make the bronze and gold shine
around her waist,
Platinum carves out
her cold form
Slave branding on each finger

Initials B.B.

She wears boots
which reach up to the tops of her thighs
like a chalice
containing her beauty
She wears nothing,
apart from a little
Essence de Guerlain
in her hair

Initials B.B.

With each movement,
one could hear
the silver bells
of her bracelets.
Her little bells quivering,
she came forward,
and said the word