French singers, mad philosophers.

I was going to write about Friedrich Nietzsche today because I’m struggling with an existential crisis and like that “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” line which is probably horribly misquoted and definitely not always true. But then I realized that one line is the most I know about Nietzche, besides the fact that he died a madman, which calls into question the wisdom of considering his famous quote wisdom. And though I really want to write about him so I can learn a little more, time is limited today.

So instead we’ll talk about the French president’s hot wife, Carla Bruni. This came up because she’s an actress and singer and has a song on the soundtrack of “(500) Days of Summer,” a 2009 quirky rom/com that I really like, both for the storytelling and the awesome music therein. And I just came across the lyrics of that song, Quelqu’un M’a Dit (Someone told me) and remembered to order her 2002 album of the same name. The song is lovely — very gentle and sexy and thoughtful and musing about whether or not the object of her affection still loves her. She’s addressing the guy, “someone told me you might still love me, is it possible, then?” but it’s casual and that’s what’s so striking about it.

What is also striking is that she is the wife of France’s head of state. Can you imagine Laura Bush or even Michelle Obama having a singing/modeling career and also being the First Lady? Would Americans even stand for it? Would Laura have to be banned from doing topless photos, no matter how much tshe wanted to do it for the integrity of the art? Would Michelle have had to make sure the songs she chose weren’t too sexy?

God bless the French.

Having said that, I should clarify that Bruni herself is Italian. It is the French tolerance for things that would be scandalous in the U.S., that’s what I’m referring to. Before marrying French President Nicolas Sarkozy in February 2008, after only four months of courtship, Bruni was a supermodel who reportedly dated Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, and former French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius (oh my goodness, much too old!). Again, God bless the French; so what if their First Lady has slept with a few rock stars?

So here’s the full story: Bruni was born in Turin, Italy, in 1967, to a family with a lot of money from the tire-manufacturing industry and a lot of musical talent. Her legal father is classical composer Alberto Bruni Tedeschi, although she claims her biological father may be someone else. Her mother is Italian concert pianist Marisa Borini (yay for women named Marisa!) Her sister is an actress and movie director.

Bruni began modeling when she was 19 and by the 1990s had reached supermodel status, earning $7.5 million a year. She quit modeling in 1997 (a wise move, for even supermodels are criticized for aging, as inevitable as it is) and went into music full-time. I suppose one could see that as an egotistical, silly flight of fancy if one didn’t know her family history. It seems like an excellent choice to me. Quelqu’un Ma Dit, the album, was released in France in 2002. Work from that album has been used in the American film Conversations with Other Women, the U.S. television show Chuck, an H&M Christmas commercial, and the film Le Divorce. Which is good, because you know if she ever loses that family fortune and divorces the president of France, she’s going to need those residuals.

Bruni kept recording, releasing the album No Promises in 2007. It contains work of famous poets such as Dorothy Parker, W.H. Auden, and Emily Dickenson set to music. (Just thinking about that album makes me feel so much smarter. Imagine how intellectual one would feel if one bought it!! And maybe even listened!)

The third album, Comme Si De Rien N’etait, or As If Nothing Happened, came out in July 2008, after her marriage to Sarkozy. She wrote most of the lyrics. She’s working on a fourth album with Lenny Kravitz.

Bruni took part in a parade at the 2006 Olympics and sang at Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday party in July 2009, her first public performance since marrying the president. She is next to try acting, with a part in Woody Allen’s upcoming film Midnight in Paris, set for release in 2011. (And while we’re on the subject, is anyone else thrilled that Woody Allen finally got his butt out of Manhattan? His movies are so much fresher now, the good ones and even the bad ones.)

Meanwhile, in Bruni’s other life, she accompanies the president on state visits, generating, as you might expect, a lot of interest. Some were scandalized in April 2008 when a nude photograph of Bruni sold for more than $91,000 more than 20 times its expected price, on the eve of a state visit to Britain.

Bruni has also bonded with the U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, who shares her passion for fighting HIV/AIDS, and met with the Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama in lieu of her husband. Heads of state who meet with the Dalai Lama risk ticking off China, because China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist, but evidently the hotsy-totsy wife of a head of state meeting with the exiled leader is just fine. And I bet the Dalai Lama didn’t mind one bit either.

So could anything be more perfect for this talented, gorgeous, wealthy woman who seems on top of the world? Well, before you start hating on her, you should know that she has said she gets bored with monogamy, and that while love lasts fa long time, “burning desire” lasts only a few weeks. Mr. Sarkozy, were you aware of this?

Regardless, as it has withstood a presidential divorce (lord, we didn’t even talk about that yet, did we?), record albums, a history of dating rock stars, and nude photos, whatever Bruni does next, I bet the Eiffel Tower will still stand.

Although the Washington Monument may fall over out of shock.

A bientot, mes chers. Yes, I will try to learn how to add accents before I write any more about Frainch stuff.


One response to “French singers, mad philosophers.

  1. Just to add to the awesome: When Carla Bruni put on a few pounds a couple years ago, rumors started flying around that she was pregnant, and she debunked them by basically saying, “Nope, I just like beer.”

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