Petula Clark releases Kaléidoscope, an anthology of her greatest hits.

"Singing is an orgasm"

She is Michael Jackson's favorite singer. At age 7, Petula Clark performed for the British troops during the Second World War. Eighty million albums later, she's still there, valiant, lively and fascinanting. She lives as well in England, Switzerland or America. In New York, her biggest hit Downtown is now the anthem of this city, ever since the September 11th terrorist attacks. Nostalgia is not her "cup of tea", there is no word yet that she'll come to sing for us in Paris, even though she's much tempted to do so. (Petula is French since she's married to Claude Wolff). In the meantime, we'll listen to Kaléidoscope, an anthology of her greatest hits including ten unreleased titles and three new songs, one which is a tribute to Serge Gainsbourg who wrote her some hits.

DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST MEETING WITH GAINSBOURG?
He came to my home, at the time I was living in Bois de Boulogne. He was not well-known at the time; he was shy, so was I, and he very seductive in his own way: I adore the ugly beautiful people, a bit like Woody Allen. He had a beer, I had tea and we sat at the piano. He wrote hits like La Gadoue or O SHÉRIF, funny songs not sexy songs, I probably wasn't an inspiration for him for this type of song.

TODAY YOU WRITE YOUR OWN SONGS?
I've been doing so, for a long time. I underestimated myself. Now, I have more confidence, and that only happened about ten years ago when I first performed in a play. It all started when I played Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. I didn't know that this experience would transform me entirely. The song Recommencer à Zéro is all about that: a forgotten dream that we can realise if we really want to.

AND IF YOU WERE TO START ALL OVER AGAIN?
At every step of one's life we find ourselves at crossroads without really knowing which way to go? You follow your path without looking back. Did I make mistakes? Probably, but at the time they didn't seem like mistakes. I mostly feel guilty towards my three children: did I give them enough? Probably not. I worked so much, like a maniac. Today I have two grand-children who find their grandma is a bit extravagant because they believe that she lives in airplanes and limousines. I don't think that I'm an eccentric person, even if I have lunch at unusual places in London, I love working class restaurants.

RATHER ORIGINAL FOR A COMMANDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE...
Oh! I had forgotten, it's a nice medal, I don't know where it is... The children must have played with it. I have awards and plaques in many of my closets in my apartments.

ARE YOU NOSTALGIC OF YOUR GOLDEN AGE?
Not at all. I live for now and I hate to be put in the category of "The Sixties". This is one reason that I do not do any shows in France, even though I really would like to: I just don't want to sing my old songs.

WHAT'S BEHIND YOUR LEGENDARY "JOIE DE VIVRE"?
I'm rather discrete; I don't say much, my life is not necessarily all rosy. Anyhow, as soon as we have a brain we are unhappy... I'm a Scorpio: when I'm in a room I always have a tendency of seeing the boogieman sitting in the corner. I fight so he does not get to me. But, in my life I often came close to what I call happiness. Singing, for example, is a real joy, a state of ecstasy that really can get to me, an orgasm in a certain way. Singing is like giving a part of oneself, a sexual experience which doesn't necessitate gettting undressed. That's the sexiest thing in the world.
Written by Richard Gianorio.
Translation courtesy of Daniel Bédard