Carla Bruni Q&A: “The only politician I look up to is my man”

The singer talks Cinderella, Later… With Jools Holland, and the art of Gustav Klimt.

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Carla Bruni, 49, is an Italian-French singer-songwriter. After a decade working as a model, she released her debut album, “Quelqu’un m’a dit”, in 2002. In 2008 she married Nicolas Sarkozy, who was president of France from 2007 to 2012.

What’s your earliest memory?

It is of someone coming into a room in my house, when I was probably about four or five years old, and saying “your grandfather is dead”. I also have memories of cuddling with my mother.

Who are your heroes?

My childhood hero would be Cinderella, a nice metaphor of a dream. My adult hero would be Sigmund Freud. He had a few ideas that were really helpful for us human beings.

What was the last book you couldn’t put down?

Sarah Bakewell’s How To Live: A Life of Montaigne. Very intelligent, very strange and wise. A concentrate of wisdom.

What politician, past or present, do you look up to?

The only one I look up to is my man. Although he isn’t a politician any more.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

I’m so bad at these things. Maybe pop music. I wouldn’t go for politics or history.

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

I would love to live in Ancient Egypt; or during the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution. Or it would be the hippy movement in the Sixties, when freedom was a discovery and not a fear.

What TV show could you not live without?

We don’t really watch too much television. I do love Later… With Jools Holland; that there is a show completely of music.

Who would paint your portrait?

Gustav Klimt. His women are so mysterious and at the same time simple. The Three Ages Of Woman is one of my favourites. I just love it.

What’s your theme tune?

Something Italian. Perhaps Gino Paoli’s “The Sky in a Room”. So simple and perfect. It doesn’t really describe me, but it describes the beginnings of love.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

My father said: “Don’t compare yourself to anyone. There are always people much better and much worse. It is a waste of time.” I try to follow it.

What’s currently bugging you?

Noise. A lot of noise. Noisy places. General noises are OK – I like living in a city – but I don’t like precise noise… people screaming next to you or loud cars.

What single thing would make your life better?

Immortality. I don’t know if it would really make it better, but I would love to try. Someone has to. And if they need someone to test it, I’m your man!

When were you happiest?

When my children were born. But I am easily happy. A summer day, a nice sky, a nice drink, friends.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?

I would love to be a doctor – a very good one. Not a surgeon (no blood). Something like a psychiatrist.

Are we all doomed?

We are doomed to death. But apart from that, no. There is always hope.

Carla Bruni’s new album of cover versions, “French Touch”, is released on Verve Records on 6 October

This article first appeared in the 28 September 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The Tory tragedy