The Musical Wes Anderson: Peter Sarstedt – “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?”


In the second installment of our on-going weekly series The Musical Wes Anderson we stay in Europe, and take a look at a plaintive folk hit.

The song was written and performed by India native Peter Sastedt. Though not a hit in the US, the song was number one in the UK, a position it held for four weeks in 1969.

ANDERSON WORK

The song made its first appearance in Wes’ 2007 short Hotel Chevalier. In the film, Jason Schwartzman’s character Jack uses the song as score for meeting with his sometime girlfriend.

The song reappeared in Anderson’s feature film The Darjeeling Limited. Jack once again uses the song as mood music for a woman, this time Rita, the stewardess he is involved with on the train.

CONTEXT

The song’s use in Hotel Chevalier is interesting in several respects. One, the song’s lyrics paint a picture of a flighty girl of privilege, one well versed in art and culture and prone to travel. While the song mostly takes a biting (if playful) look at this type of figure, the film itself offers a more complex view of the dynamic at play. Jack’s girlfriend is, by all appearances, a constantly moving and elusive presence in Jack’s life. She shows up unannounced in Paris and immediately wills her way back into Jack’s life. We can parse from the one item she leaves for Jack (revealed in Darjeeling to be a Chanel-like perfume) that she is a person of means, or at least lives like one. Jack probably understands the parallels between the song and the girl he chooses it for, but it also has an unmistakably Parisian feel (despite its origins). Beyond the barrage of French references, the accordion that carries the song conjures up a romantic version of Jack’s surrounding, an art-filled paradise, Europe in the 1960s. As a writer he is aware of how much the setting of a story can shape the actions that unfold within it and he is, consciously or not, using the song to embellish the lie he is presenting to her and attempting to live in himself while simultaneously using it as a piece of criticism of her. She’s a type, one which he can reduce to something so identifiable that there’s even a song about people like her. This is a means of separation for him from the pain that he’s endured in what we can presume has been a somewhat long-term relationship. By bringing the song back in The Darjeeling Limited, Anderson not only gets a laugh from those familiar with Chevalier, but also exemplifies that Jack is fucked up. All of the characters in both films are, and the rest of each of the respective films are about those characters trying not to be. The song also provides a very sly nod to The Darjeeling Limited, given that Sarstedt was born in Dehli, India.

HISTORY

The song catapulted Sarstedt to immediate fame in the UK, and topped the charts in 14 countries around the world. The 26-year-old singer/songwriter continued to record and perform throughout Europe, but has never matched the success of the song. See the annotated lyrics below the video.

You talk like Marlene Dietrich
And you dance like Zizi Jean-Maire
Your clothes are all made by Balmain
And there’s diamonds and pearls in your hair, yes there are

You live in a fancy apartment
Off the Boulevard St. Michel
Where you keep your Rolling Stones records
And a friend of Sacha Distel, yes you do

But where do you go to, my lovely?
When you’re alone in your bed?
Tell me the thoughts that surround you.
I want to look inside your head, yes I do.

I’ve seen all your qualifications
That you got from the Sorbonne
And the painting you stole from Picasso.
Your loveliness goes on and on, yes it does.

When you go on your summer vacation,
You go to Juan-les-Pins
With your carefully designed topless swimsuit

You get an even suntan
On your back and on your legs
And when the snow falls you’re found in St. Moritz
With the others of the jet set

And you sip your Napoleon brandy,
But you never get your lips wet

But where do you go to, my lovely?
When you’re alone in your bed?
Won’t you tell me the thoughts that surround you?
I want to look inside your head, yes I do.

Your name it is heard in high places.
You know the Agha Khan.
He sent you a race horse for Christmas
And you keep it just for fun, for a laugh, aha haha.

They say that when you get married,
It’ll be to a millionaire.
But they don’t realize where you came from
And I wonder if they really care, or give a damn.

But where do you go to, my lovely?
When you’re alone in your bed?
Tell me the thoughts that surround you.
I want to look inside your head, yes I do.

Ah, remember the back streets of Naples,
Two children begging in rags
Both touched with a burning ambition
To shake off their lowly-born tags, so they try.

So look into my face Marie-Claire
And remember just who you are.
Then go and forget me forever
But I know you still bear the scar deep inside, yes you do.

Ah, I know where you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed
I know the thoughts that surround you,
Cause I can look inside your head.


You can buy Hotel Chevalier and The Darjeeling Limited on Criterion DVD and Blu-Ray now. By using our links you help to support the site.

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