|"Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?"|
|Single by Peter Sarstedt|
|from the album Peter Sarstedt|
|Peter Sarstedt singles chronology|
"Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?" is a 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 1970 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. The arranger and conductor was Ian Green.
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The song is about a fictional girl named Marie-Claire who grows up on the poverty-stricken backstreets of Naples, becomes a member of the jet set, and goes on to live 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 might not have brought Marie-Claire happiness or contentment.
Even though Sarstedt himself was not French, the song 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:
The version on the album Peter Sarstedt is longer than the radio edit version released as a single, having extra stanzas beginning "You go to the embassy parties . . ." and "You're in between twenty and thirty. . . ."
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 coincidence. I really wasn't thinking of anyone specific.'"
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, whom 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."
DJ John Peel repeatedly stated that the song was one of his least favorites. On his show on BFBS radio on 1 July 1989, he said: "It's a terrible, smug, self-satisfied, hideous record. Really have hated it ever since I first heard it."
In 1997 Sarstedt recorded a sequel, "The Last of the Breed (Lovely 2)," on his CD England's Lane. This picks up the story of Marie Claire 20 years on, living now in London. It names more people and places, including Belgravia, Ballets Russes, Cape Town, Claridge's, Gstaad, John Galliano, Harrods, Jerusalem, Long Island, Milan, Rudolf Nureyev, Palm Beach, Rio de Janeiro, and Isabella Rossellini. In recent years,[when?] Sarstedt and a co-writer were working on a further sequel, "Farewell Marie-Claire," in which the story was brought to a conclusion. The song was to feature the same waltz feel as the original. But Sarstedt's retirement from the music industry meant that the track was abandoned.