The joy of lan­guages

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - People -

AS a mul­ti­lin­gual pop star, Carla Bruni in­ti­mately feels each lan­guage.

In her na­tive Ital­ian, she ex­plains, read­ing a sim­ple menu sounds like po­etry but the words can be hard for non-na­tives to de­ci­pher.

French, her main pro­fes­sional lan­guage, is won­der­ful for writ­ers but lacks tonal­ity – “Rr! rr! rr! rr! rr! rr!” she ex­plains for em­pha­sis, ex­ag­ger­at­ing the Gal­lic uvu­lars.

But English, in which the singer, model and for­mer first lady of France recorded her lat­est al­bum, is the lan­guage of rock 'n' roll.

“It has a rhythm and it has a sort of tempo that Latin lan­guages don’t have,” said Bruni, beam­ing af­ter morn­ing stretch ex­er­cises, on the sweep­ing ter­race of her suite in a bou­tique Lower Man­hat­tan ho­tel. “English is a nat­u­ral singing lan­guage."

French Touch, her lat­est al­bum, con­sists en­tirely of cov­ers. The orig­i­nal artists vary widely – Abba, AC/DC, The Clash and Lou Reed, among oth­ers – but Bruni trans­forms each into a loungy, retro style of pop stan­dards with her breathy yet raspy voice.

It is Bruni's se­cond English al­bum fol­low­ing 2006’s No Prom­ises, in which she adapted po­etry. Bruni com­poses mu­sic on gui­tar but says she doesn't feel com­fort­able writ­ing lyrics in English.

Bruni thought about hir­ing a co-writer and spoke with David Fos­ter, the vet­eran mu­si­cian who has worked with soft-rock won­ders such as Chicago and Ce­line Dion. But af­ter hear­ing her cov­ers, Fos­ter signed on to pro­duce a full al­bum's worth.

One sur­prise from Bruni's al­bum – a pas­sion for coun­try mu­sic, a genre not known for its Euro­pean fol­low­ing.

Bruni brings a light sen­su­al­ity to Patsy Cline's clas­sic Crazy, with coun­try leg­end Wil­lie Nel­son duet­ting for a more twangy cho­rus.

“I love coun­try mu­sic. To me it's the white blues,” Bruni said.

And she sings Tammy Wynette's Stand By Your Man – con­tro­ver­sial on its re­lease in 1968 for its mes­sage, at a time of cul­tural tu­mult, of mar­i­tal fi­delity. Lines in­clude “Be proud of him / be­cause af­ter all he's just a man.”

Bruni in 2008 mar­ried France's then pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Sarkozy and, shortly af­ter leav­ing the El­y­see Palace, caused a stir with re­marks that ap­peared to crit­i­cise fem­i­nism.

The singer re­jected crit­i­cism of Stand By Your Man and said she con­sid­ered her­self a fem­i­nist.

“It's a sim­ple song about a girl who's in love,” she said. “If it was a man who wrote the song, it would be a lit­tle bit of a ma­cho song, but it's a woman, so it's her choice. I thought it was very fem­i­nine, very clas­sic.

“I'm very much a fem­i­nist, but I think that song is cool. I think you can be a fem­i­nist and stand by your man. I don't see the con­tra­dic­tion,” said Bruni, whose fa­mous hus­band was nod­ding to the beat from a ta­ble near the stage at her con­cert the night be­fore in a Green­wich Vil­lage club.

“Fem­i­nism was a fight – and it is still a great fight – but that doesn't mean you can­not get mar­ried and be happy with a man.”

Stand By Your Man re­turned to cen­tre-stage in the 1992 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion when Hillary Clin­ton – later a can­di­date her­self – said of her hus­band Bill Clin­ton's dal­liances, “I'm not sit­ting here like some lit­tle woman stand­ing by man like Tammy Wynette.”

French Touch touches pol­i­tics only at its most in­di­rect. She ex­plained her take on Depeche Mode's En­joy Your Si­lence as a hope for calm in a chaotic world. (US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump once claimed to be dat­ing Bruni, which she ve­he­mently de­nies.)

Else­where on French Touch, Bruni ac­cen­tu­ates the jazz un­der­pin­nings of The Clash's Jimmy Jazz, the sharpest de­par­ture from punk on the rock­ers' sem­i­nal al­bum Lon­don Call­ing, and brings out the Latin beat on The Rolling Stones' Miss You.

Bruni was once in­volved with Stones front­man Mick Jag­ger but in­sisted there was no chan­nel­ing of him. “The Stones are The Stones; they are for any­one,” she said. Bruni said she was not so much of­fer­ing an al­ter­na­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tion of The Stones or The Clash as she was per­form­ing songs she loved.

“It has no logic and no rea­son,” she said of her al­bum with a laugh. “All of these cov­ers were made with a lot of fun – but also with a lot of mod­esty.” – AFP Re­laxnews


‘I think you can be a fem­i­nist and stand by your man,’ says Bruni.

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