I always come into Wes Anderson films knowing that I’ll get a good plot, beautiful cinematography, excellent music and amazing music. In his past movies like Rushmore, we’ve gotten The Who’s “A Quick One (While He’s Away)” from Live at Leeds, “Here Comes My Baby” by Cat Stevens and the Faces’ “Ooh Ooh La; while in his other masterpiece, The Royal Tenenbaums, we hear “Police and Thieves” by The Clash and two of Bob Dylan’s more “interesting” songs, “Wigwam” and “Main Title Theme” from Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.
All of those artists I had heard and was quite familiar with the songs before viewing the movie, so it’s always a nice surprise when something new and unexpected comes along. That was the case of Hotel Chevalier.
Last week, in SoHo, the Apple Store was having the world premiere of Chevalier, a 13-minute prequel to what was then the soon-to-be-released The Darjeeling Limited. After only hearing that they were doing this nearly two hours before the event was to begin, my friend, Kayley, and I hopped on the subway and were soon waiting on a huge line.
Shortly after 9 pm, they started letting the nearly two thousand waiting into the store and it wasn’t long before the store was totally packed. Kayley wasn’t able to see all the screen that was to be showing Chevalier, but due to my height, I could.
At about 9:15 pm, the lights dimmed and the mini-movie began. It tells the story of Jack (Jason Schwartzman) and an unnamed women (Natalie Portman) meeting in a hotel in France, with the rest of their life a mystery to us. It would, of course, make a lot more sense after viewing Darjeeling.
While Jack is waiting for Natalie Portman to arrive, he puts a song onto his iPod:
“You talk like Marlene Dietrich
And you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire
Your clothes are all made by Balmain
And there's diamonds and pearls in your hair…”
I had no idea who this song was by or when it had been released. When I returned home later that night, I would find that it’s by Peter Sarstedt, called “Where Do You Go To My Lovely” and released on the album of the same name.
I was instantly captured by the song—although I didn’t understand many of the French references. In fact, the only pop culture clue I really got from the song was when Sarstedt sings, “…Where you keep your Rolling Stone records.”
But it wasn’t really the words that captured me; it was the sense of urgency Sarstedt was singing them. Or, more correctly, the lack or urgency. It sounds like he’s outside of the girl’s apartment, attempting to woo her.
“I want to look inside your head.”
The song begins with a guitar and accordion overwhelming your hearing, and the singer comes in 15 seconds later. For the next 4 minutes or so, you’re left forgetting about the accordion and only think about the guitar when Sarstedt stops singing.
“Lovely” is featured prominently in Chevalier (and, as I would later find out, Darjeeling too) as it becomes more of a vocal point than the words coming out of the character’s mouths.
After the movie was finished, after talking about how much I love Natalie Portman, Kayley and I kept talking about the song. The next day, I found it on a blog and, between the two of us, we’ve listened to it at least 25 times—all in about a week or so.
In fact, the only time I’ve ever shared headphones while walking down the street was when two days ago, Kayley and I really wanted to listen to the song, so we put it on. And looked like idiots.
But that’s the great thing about a song that finds unexpectedly; you don’t care if you look like an idiot because you’re just so overwhelmed by this something you’ve discovered.