August 8, 2008
At the top of a hilly cobblestone cul-de-sac in Paris' tony 16th arrondissement, a young, shaggy-haired Frenchman stands waving frantically. He is one of Carla Bruni's assistants. ''Dpchez-vous!'' he calls, urging a journalist to quicken her stride. ''Carla is about to play another song.'' Sure enough, on the other side of the imposing iron gate that separates Bruni's house from the rest of the neighborhood, an informal concert is taking place. Seated on her front steps, looking out into her lush garden, the supermodel-turned-singer- turned-First Lady of France is strumming her guitar to ''J'en connais,'' a track from her 2003 debut album, Quelqu'un m'a dit. Next to her is Taofik Farah, her longtime guitarist and collaborator, and in front of both of them is a BBC camera crew, shooting footage for an upcoming documentary on Bruni. Though they've been filming for hours now, Bruni seems perfectly engaged, tapping her foot and swaying with the music as she sings about all the men she's known. But then, somewhere in the middle of the second refrain, she stumbles over the lyrics. ''I forgot!'' she says, flashing an apologetic smile. ''We haven't done this one in five years!''
The Western world has never had to grapple with the idea of a First Lady artiste - much less a former glamazon who just last year told the press that monogamy bored her to tears. And certainly, no wife of a head of state has ever recorded a song like ''Tu es ma came'' (''You are my dope''), a bluesy number in which the premire dame de France, in her sexy, husky purr, compares a lover to ''Afghan heroin'' and ''Colombian white.'' (Just try to imagine Laura Bush crooning that W is as powerful as smack.)