Friday, March 7, 2008

You talk like Marlene Dietrich

Sometimes it is unclear--at least to me--whether a song's value derives more from external associations or from inherent musical quality. Or whether one can ever truly divorce the two ideas in the first place, especially with pop music. This particular song, Peter Sarstedt's "Where Do You Go to (My Lovely)," is pretty compelling in its own right, but it's hard not to wonder whether I wouldn't have generally ignored this song but for its prominent role in Wes Anderson's (SJS '87) film short, Hotel Chevalier, which served as a prologue to The Darjeeling Limited. And which I really liked. Obviously, this song had a fair amount of prominence in its original release, so listeners felt that it had merit on its own terms.

Songs from Wes Anderson's movies generally stand up on their own very well, but because he has such a knack for using music in film (to the point of being accused of using music as an emotional crutch), it is sometimes difficult to get a real bead on how well either the song, or for that matter the movie, would work independently. But in the end, maybe it doesn't much matter, when the results are as nice (no matter how well-worn) as this:

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