Monday, July 28, 2008

The possibility of Bruni

Carla Bruni sings Michel Houellebecq.

I heard Carla Bruni's new album playing in some shop or other last week, instantly recognizable, as it sounded so much like her first album. I almost bought it there and then anyway, cuz she always sounds, well, nice, in a mellow, sexy kind of way, but I didn't. However, when I heard she'd put to music a poem of Michel Houellebecq's, I had to give it a closer listen.

I'm still intrigued by what it is other people, particularly smart, self-assured women, might see of worth in Houellebecq, in hopes that it holds a clue to my own fascination with him.

The song is La Possibilité d'une île, the poem being one featured in Houellebecq's novel of the same name.

Ma vie ma vie ma très ancienne
Mon premier voeu mal refermé
Mon premier amour infirmé,
Il a fallu que tu reviennes.

Il a fallu que je connaisse
Ce que la vie a de meilleur,
Quand deux corps jouent de leur bonheur
Et sans fin, s'unissent et renaissent.

Entrée en dépendance entière,
Je sais le tremblement de l'être
L'hésitation à disparaître,
Le soleil qui frappe en lisière

Et l'amour où tout est facile,
Où tout est donné dans l'instant;
Il existe au milieu du temps
La possibilité d'une île.


Sadly, it is, I think the weakest song on this CD. (I don't think it's a particularly remarkable poem either; I post here as an oddity.) The song has been described as having a Twin Peaks kind of vibe, which it does — and suddenly I see similarities between Julee Cruise and Carla Bruni... that breathy, whispery style — only, the mood of it just doesn't sit well on Bruni.

Review, in which it is argued these songs "treat life as a fatal game. The lyrics regard the blood sports of love and possession with the focused detachment of someone who has retired from the field only long enough to jot down the score." In spirit, this plays as a suitable, quiet accompaniment to my own current midlife crisis.

Now, it just happens that, the last few days, even before buying this new CD, I was feeling compelled to be listening to a lot of Bruni. This is maybe a mistake, actually, because it's been making me cry!!! and I can't stop myself!

There's no denying Bruni has a poetic sensibility.

Bruni's second album I don't care for so much, musically, but its ambition is admirable, and through it I've come to know and appreciate poems that I might otherwise have discounted. (Do you know this one, by Christina Rossetti?)

And here we are: third album. Kind of crappy, but the more I listen to it, the more it dissolves into inoffensive background music.

So. What affinity exists between Bruni and Houellebecq? The dream of an ideal of free love? Or the dream of outgrowing that desire?

And love, where all is easy,
Where all is given in the instant;
There exists in the midst of time
The possibility of an island.
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