21 June 2008

Song of Bernadette?

And for an encore, “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”

Hot on the heels of a new album by Carla Bruni, the pop singer and first lady of France, Bernadette Chirac today announced that she, too, is releasing an album. The wife of former French President Jacques Chirac revealed the details in an exclusive, English-language interview with this blogger.

“I am someone who is very, very musical,” the former first lady said, “and since many years people have said to me, ‘Bernadette, you sing so beautiful! Why do you not cut the record album?’ Now it is, the time to show the world that of which I am capable.”

The result, Les Pièces Jaunes (Small Change), is certain to surprise even those who have followed Mme Chirac, who has thus far never shown any hint of a performing career, though she served many years as wife to the mayor of Paris, the minister of agriculture, the minister of the interior, the prime minister, and the leaders of two conservative political parties, the Union for a Popular Movement and the Rally for the Republic. (“I guess you could say I am a man-eater!” Mme Chirac giggles. “I have a — how you say — penchant for the powerful men.”)

We have been privileged to hear excerpts from the album, including covers of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Je t’aime / Moi non plus” and Kelis’ “Milkshake.”

Yet most attention is likely to focus on the songs Mme Chirac penned herself, including “O, mon beau sac à main” (Oh, my beautiful handbag), “La Bagatelle à 14 millions par jour” (A trifle for 14 million francs a day), “T’as pas l’air un peu juif?” (Don’t you look a little bit Jewish?), and “Il fait doux aux banlieues de Paris” (It’s a nice day in the strife-torn suburbs of Paris).

“The rap, it comes very natural to me,” Mme Chirac explained. “When you have the rage of the underprivileged existence, as I have, growing up the second-class citizen in my own country, with only one particule to her name — the words, they just explode.”

The former Bernadette Chodron de Courcel denies that her singing career owes any debt of inspiration to Carla Bruni. “Au contraire,” she insists. “It was Susan Graham who inspires me. When I see her in the Warlikowski staging of Gluck’s the Iphigenia in Tauride, and I see that she is dressed exactly like me, I say, ‘Well, I could do that.’ And now I do!”