Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg – Je T’Aime (Moi Non Plus)

29th July 1969 · 1960s, 1969, Music

This song was a huge cause celèbre when it came out in 1969. It was banned by radio stations in most countries, including the UK, and condemned by the Vatican.

Obviously that made everyone want to hear it. And to do that you had to buy it. So everyone did. Consequently it went straight to the top of the charts. Twice in fact – it reached No.2 in July and went all the way to No.1 when it was reissued three months later. 

Everyone of a certain age snogged and smooched to this song, which retained a transgressive appeal years later.  Thankfully I wasn’t yet of that certain age.

The banning of the song, which was widespread around Europe was especially peculiar. In France, where sex is compulsory, even with your own spouse, it was banned only until 11pm, presumably to aid the recovery of husbands who had exhausted themselves earlier during the traditional post-work “Cinq à Sept” after work.

Obviously, to the 11-year-old me, this was the rudest thing I had ever heard. Especially as it was strongly rumoured to involve some dirty old French bloke and his much younger girlfriend ACTUALLY HAVING SEX.

As a result, everyone I knew (including me) bought a copy. I can’t actually remember but I’m sure I blushed profusely as I handed over 6s/8d from my sweaty hand to a sniggering female sales assistant in WH Smith before running out of the shop with my heart thumping and dashing home to play it, with the bedroom door locked to ensure my mum didn’t hear.

Apparently, Serge Gainsbourg, the inexplicably popular French ‘heartthrob’ who once announced his enthusiasm for Whitney Houston on a TV chat show while characteristically drunk and even more characteristically offensive, originally recorded the song in 1967 with Brigitte Bardot.

Her husband was not amused, causing it not to be released, but it became a hit when he re-recorded it with his girlfriend of the time, Jane Birkin.