Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?" is a 1969 song by the British singer-songwriter Peter Sarstedt. Its recording was produced by Ray Singer, engineered by John Mackswith at Lansdowne Recording Studios and released in 1969. It was a number-one 1 hit in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks in 1969, and was awarded the 1969 Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. In the United States, the record reached No. 61 on the Cash Box Top 100 Singles. The single also peaked at No. 70 on the Billboard Hot 100 that May.

The music has been described as "a faux European waltz tune" and the arrangement is a very simple one of strummed acoustic guitar and bass guitar, with brief bursts of French-style accordion at the start and the end.

Lyrics

The song is about a fictional girl named Marie-Claire who grows up on the poverty-stricken backstreets of Naples to become a member of the jet set, and lives in Paris. The lyrics describe her from the perspective of a childhood friend; it is left unclear whether they have remained close. The rhetorical question of the title suggests that her glamorous lifestyle may not have brought Marie-Claire happiness or contentment.

Even though Sarstedt himself is not French, the song may have benefited from the contemporary awareness in Britain of such French and Belgian singers as Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Brel (Belgium-born of Flemish descent).

The lyrics contain a large number of contemporary and other references:

There is also a slightly longer version (5.20 as opposed to 4.42) with an extended verse that was apparently banned from radio play as lyrics describing her body as "firm and inviting" could be considered too explicit for radio.

Inspiration

It is often suspected that the name Marie-Claire is inspired by Marie Claire magazine, a women's fashion weekly that began in 1937 in France. One theory says that the song is about the Italian actress Sophia Loren, who was abandoned by her father and had a poverty-stricken life in Naples. Another theory has the song being inspired by Danish singer and actress Nina van Pallandt.

According to Alan Cooper, "Sarstedt insisted it was not written with actress Sophia Loren in mind. 'Yes, it's a portrait of a poor-born girl who becomes a member of the European jet-set. And yes, there's reference to her growing up on the 'back streets of Naples', so I can see why people may think it was written with Sophia Loren in mind. But that's just a co-incidence. I really wasn't thinking of anyone specific.'"

The song was written in Copenhagen.

In 2009, Sarstedt spoke to a gossip columnist for the Daily Express. He admitted he had lied about the song being about a socialite who died in a fire. He said that the song was about his girlfriend at the time, who he later married and then divorced. According to Mark Steyn, "Anita is now a dentist in Copenhagen. Peter Sarstedt has spent 40 years singing about wanting to look inside her head. And for most of that time Anita has made a living by looking inside yours."

Reception

The song was a hit far exceeding Sarstedt's other work, although he is not a one-hit wonder. In 1998 he was earning £60,000 annually in royalties from it.

The song was used as a soundtrack in Wes Anderson's 2007 film The Darjeeling Limited, and in Jennifer Saunders' 2016 film Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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