Photography by Gerard Rondeau
Words by Ken Scrudato
It’s not often you’ll find a model decrying the rise of the visual over the written word. And let’s face it, no writer we know of has ever refused to get out of bed for less than $10,000.
But make no mistake, it is one Carla Bruni, Italian-born ex-supermodel and conspicuous rock star girlfriend, who is now gracing these decidedly graceless times with a loving, moving encomium to another kind of beauty altogether. Following the startling international success of her debut, Quelqu’un M’a Dit, she decided to enlist a few dearly departed literary titans for her first musical foray into the English language, setting the poetry of Dickinson, Auden, Yeats and Dorothy Parker (amongst others) to her own music.
The results, to put it mildly, are a glorious celebration of ethereal magic verse.
“Obviously, to write my own lyrics is easier,” Carla explains of her motivation. “”But to me, poetry has a rhythm; and I just liked these poems very much.”
Though the poems themselves are at times deeply mournful and rife with professions of loneliness and despair, her winsome compositions are mostly breezy and inviting, creating a curious and wonderful juxtaposition—sort of like dancing at funeral, if you will.
More significantly, it’s an almost classically inclined tribute to the wonders of language, in an age increasingly, troublingly obsessed with image.
“Maybe because images are everywhere, movies and television,” she observes, “writing doesn’t have the same impact. Before, if you wanted to know something about the French, you read Balzac. But now you can switch on your television, and go to a French channel. So, image has taken over for words.”
But to be sure, “There is always another story / There is more than meets the eye”, as Carla croons, borrowing from Auden. Ne’er truer words were written…or sung.