J is for…”Je Suis Venu Te Dire Que Je M’En Vais” by Serge Gainsbourg. From his Vu De L’Exterieur album, it’s as near as he came in the 70s to conventional singer-songwriting. That record takes the strummed, sensitive conventions of the time and coats them in shit and fart gags: but “Je Suis Venu…”, the single, plays it pretty straight and straightly pretty. It’s a cool acoustic kiss-off which turns callous only at the end, as Serge picks his way calmly through his ex-lovers muffled sobs.

It’s also the only listenable thing on Vu De L’Exterieur. The album may well be a bellybusting triumph of ribald laughter, but I’ve never managed to concentrate on the vapid music for long enough to attempt translation. Anyhow, it’s a keystone classic for the English-speaking Gainsbourg devotee, many of whom feel, you suspect, that its scatalogical concerns would form the last taboo in a conservative British or American pop market. Never mind that the British are world-famous for adoring toilet homour and that America put up with Frank Zappa for years, because anyway Gainsbourg’s caca’n’popo stylings were relaxed and uninhibited, whereas British attitudes to bodily functions are born out of unhealthy repression. It’s a stereotype no less silly for being so treasured, and it hangs over some Gainsbourg appreciation like, well, a strong fart.