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Baker's Dozen

Inhabiting The Music: Charlotte Gainsbourg's Favourite Albums
Jeremy Allen , April 25th, 2018 07:45

Ahead of her appearance on The Quietus' stage at this year's Field Day Festival, Charlotte Gainsbourg takes Jeremy Allen through her favourite albums, from Portishead to Bach, Lou Reed to her dad


The Beatles - The Beatles
Like with Bob Dylan it was only much later on that I discovered the real albums and not the compilations. So the White Album [The Beatles] is the same thing. The Red [1962-1966] and Blue [1967-1970] albums were offered to us when we were children and they were part of our music library and we loved every song. The White Album is more of a real cheese - I don't know why.

When it comes to the Beatles it's hard to choose one album. This one is a bit more rock maybe? It still has 'Blackbird' and 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' mind you. And 'I'm So Tired' is a song that comes to my mind so often just because I am always so tired [laughs]. It's such a sweet song. Anyway a lot of songs on that album are either a little harsh with a rock sound, or very, very melodic. I just adore it - you never get blasé or fed up of that music which is one of the rarest things. It seems so banal and so stupid to talk about the Beatles because it's so obvious, but you have to. 

I contacted Paul McCartney through my record company but I don't really know how our meeting got organised, but he agreed to have lunch with me in London, and that was six and a half years ago. I went to this lunch very excited. The lunch happened - it wasn't like having a meeting, it was very casual and sweet and I suppose there was a shyness about the fact we were sitting together, and I didn't tell him why we were there for quite a while.

I was very pregnant at the time. We talked about the coming baby and family and very sweet and intimate stuff. It was only at the end that I asked him if he had the time would he spare a song for me. And we parted and I had no idea what would happen or if he'd want to do something. Of course, he was Paul McCartney, and I was already feeling very lucky for having had this opportunity to have lunch with him. But a few weeks later he did respond.

And after that it was embarrassing for me because I wasn't already working on an album. And I didn't just want to do this one song, I wanted it to be part of a project. So I waited and I think it was three years later when I was fully into the process of working with Sebastian that I made him listen. But we had to mess with ['Songbird in a Cage'] in a way that it would resemble us. Resemble me. And with Sebastian he had to make it his own. And that's what we did - with the singing I tried to do the same.

And then we sent it back to Paul McCartney to see if he still liked it and he did. And he came back to New York and recorded some instruments with us. I saw some footage of the recording session the other day and it seemed like a dream - I can't remember exactly. I'm sure I was in the same room but at the time I think I was so impressed that a lot of things were going in my mind. You can't tell [laughs]. It was such a lovely second encounter.