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This song is about a young girl born in poverty in Naples, Italy, who grows up to become a member of the jet-set. It has been alleged that Peter Sarstedt had in mind movie star Sophia Loren, who was herself bought up in the back streets of Naples.
Peter Sarstedt's elder brother Richard had already had a #1 hit in UK "Well I Ask You" in 1961,when he sang under the name Eden Kane. When Peter Sarstedt reached #1 7 years later, this made them the first brothers to have solo #1s in Britain. In 1976 a third Sarstedt brother, Robin, reached #3 in the UK with his version of Hoagy Carmichael's "My Resistance Is Low," enabling the Sarstedt clan to become the only 3 brothers in British chart history to rack up separate solo hits.
Among the personalities this song references is Zizi Jeanmarie, who was a French ballerina who in the 1950s was reckoned to be the best dancer of her generation. It also refers to Aga Khan, a wealthy Islamic leader who married the English fashion model Sarah Croker-Poole in 1969. The names of Marlene Dietrich, Picasso, Sachel Distel and The Rolling Stones are also mentioned.
This 5-minute song was not originally intended to be a single. Peter comments in 1000 UK #1 Hits
by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: "I wanted to write a long, extended piece because I was working in Folk clubs and universities, and Al Stewart had something that was half an hour long and Bob Dylan's 'Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands
' took a whole side of an album. 'Where Do You Go To My Lovely' was my first attempt at writing something longer than my normal 3 minutes. It was amazingly easy to write, but I knew what I wanted to say. I wanted to say something about this particular person, although it wasn't about anyone specific."
Initially, his record company were not interested in releasing this as a single: Peter Sarstedt comments in the same publication "They said it has no drums, it is too long and there are only 3 instruments." The label relented and the song topped the UK charts for 6 weeks.
This won the 1969 Ivor Novello Award for Best Song, together with David Bowie's "Space Oddity
." (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for all above)
In an NME interview, legendary BBC DJ John Peel named this record as his personal worst of all time.
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