Thursday, December 20, 2007

Quand tu es près de moi...

One unintentional side effect of spending 4.5 months in France during the 2007 elections: an eternal fascination with Sarko, Ségo, and their ilk. Now Sarko--recently divorced from former fashion model Cécilia--has a new girlfriend, the model-turned-singer Carla Bruni. There's probably much to be said about men with Napoleon complexes and the beautiful women who love them...some trenchant commentary about gender and power dynamics in the modern world.

But mostly I just think this news is weird because Bruni's CD Quelqu'un m'a dit is the only album that has ever compelled me, when I heard it playing in a store, to corner the clerk and ask him what this great music was. (Actually, this happened twice before I finally broke down and bought the album. Once in a used bookstore in the town where my grandma lives, and once about four months later in the Poughkeepsie art-supply store.)

It's not that Carla Bruni has a great voice or anything. It's very husky, breathy, whispery, she can barely sustain a long note. But something about her music is captivating. She writes most of her own songs and the lyrics sound pretty clever to me--nicely rhymed and sharply observed. (The album's sole cover song, "La noyée" by Serge Gainsbourg, is also excellent.) The song "L'excessive" plays around with words that have an "x" sound in them, and "Le toi du moi" is a funny, rapid-fire list of metaphors for the narrator's closeness to her lover:
Tu es l'effet et moi la cause
Toi le divan moi la névrose
Toi l'épine moi la rose
Tu es la tristesse moi le poète
Tu es la Belle et moi la Bête
Tu es le corps et moi la tête

You are the effect and I the cause
You're the couch; I'm the neurotic
You the thorn, I the rose
You are sadness, I the poet
You are Beauty and I the Beast
You are the body and I the head
Meanwhile, a song like "Tout le monde" is great for listening to on a rainy night when you're feeling depressed. It's a sad ballad about how everyone in the world feels lonely, has "remnants of dreams," etc. But now that Bruni is dating Sarko, I have to laugh, too, at these lines that used to make me melancholy:
Il faudrait que tout l'monde réclame auprès des autorités,
Une loi contre toute notre solitude,
Que personne ne soit oublié.

Everyone should demand from the authorities
A law against all of our solitude,
So that no one would be forgotten.
I just imagine Bruni persuading Sarko to sign into effect this "law against solitude," and, well, that makes me laugh.

Because of Carla Bruni's whispery voice and the low-key instrumentation (mostly just some acoustic guitars), Quelqu'un m'a dit is a very intimate feel like you're all alone with Bruni and she's singing right to you. The song "Le ciel dans un chambre" sounds downright post-coital. And that's what makes this news that she's dating the President of France so strange: you listen to her music and you get a sense of what it would be like to date her yourself. That intimacy is very desirable in a singer--but not so much in a First Lady!

No comments: