Carla Bruni: Back to the job of chanteuse

(CBS News) A jet-setting political wife has been CHANGING HER TUNE of late . . . going back to her roots while apparently also settling some scores. Mark Phillips will be taking her measure:

"Un, deux, trois, quatre
Quand tu vas mal,

When life goes wrong
Try for a little French song."

It's not just a countdown to a "Little French Song." For Carla Bruni, it's the countdown to a new life . . . or to the resumption of an old one.

Before she was Carla Bruni, first lady of France -- the wife of Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France until a year ago -- she was Carla Bruni the model, the international celebrity, the cover girl-daughter of an Italian concert pianist mother and industrialist father. She'd also become a remarkably successful recording artist.

Now, she's that person again.

Her new album, "Little French Songs" is out this week. It turns out, first ladies of France have some time on their hands, and Carla Bruni spent some of it writing music . . . and planning a comeback.


"Was this album a fantasy you had while you were the first lady of France? Is this your dreaming it to the future?" Phillips asked.

"I never really wake up and said to myself, 'Oh, here I am. The first lady of France,'" Bruni said. "I didn't have such a conscious. When there was public moment, then I would really try to be where I had to be, next to my husband and representing my country. But the rest of the time, I just felt like, you know, me.

"Maybe I was thinking about the children and things at the house. I never thought, 'Oh, I am the first lady of France!'"

"But you were."

"Are you sure I was?" she laughed.

"You were, you definitely were," Phillips said.

"Yes, I was, and it was a pleasure and also an honor, but it was coming from my husband, you know? So to me, the main point was him, and his function and his job. I don't know if we can call it a job. So I tried to help him and then I tried to help the people that asked me for help. And then I tried to represent the country."

Now, the political constraints have been lifted.

"This answers the question what were you doing for those five years?" asked Phillips.

"I did, I was writing new songs," Bruni laughed. "But the songs, you know, I'd write them at night. They don't take so much time."

Bruni had said that she did not think it "appropriate" to perform in front of an audience while first lady. "And also, it would put the audience in a funny position," she said. "But now, it's completely appropriate again."

"But is it like you can be yourself again? Were you having to suppress yourself during that period?" asked Phillips.

"Well, it's like I can do my job again, that's for sure," she replied.

Her previous three albums had sold pretty well -- millions of copies -- and a surprising number of them outside of France.

Some say her celebrity status and political marriage didn't hurt.

In fact, her last album before "Little French Songs," "Comme si de rien n'etait," was released while husband Nicolas Sarkozy was president. They had met at a dinner party shortly after his divorce, and they married after a whirlwind, three-month romance. Not everybody thought her music -- with its occasionally racy lyrics -- leant dignity to the office.

"Je suis une enfant
Malgre mes quarante ans
Malgre mes trente amants

I am a child
Despite my forty years
Despite my thirty lovers."

And sure enough, there are songs on the new album that make some people uncomfortable as well -- especially the song, "Mon Raymond," about somebody called Raymond -- but which is really about her husband.

"Why'd you call it 'Mon Raymond' and not 'Nicolas'?" Phillips asked.

"Well, Nicolas was a song that was already existing. Somebody took it," she laughed.

"Mon Raymond il est complexe,
sentimental mais tactique.
Mon Raymond reste dans l'axe
en toute situation critique!
Mon Raymond c'est lui l'patron.
C'est lui qui tient la boutique
Et bien qu'il porte une cravate,
Mon Raymond est un pirate.
Mon Raymond est un pirate, oui!"

" 'Although he wears a tie, my Raymond is a pirate'?" Phillips queried.

"It's all about the rhyme," she said.

WEB EXTRA VIDEO: Watch Carla Bruni perform "Mon Raymond" by clicking on the video player below.

Describing one's politician-husband as a pirate, especially at a time when he's under investigation for possibly soliciting campaign funds illegally, may be a little close to the musical bone, but for Carla Bruni, it's the song that counts.

"It's just a song about a girl who writes about her man, and says, it's no matter he wears a tie. He's like a pirate, you know? I'm not thinking about the president, bah-bah-bah-bah, you know? You think maybe that. But I don't think that when I write. I don't think that when I sing it. It's more fun, you know? It's fun."

" 'He's dynamite,' you say here. Was that because of the rhyme as well? 'No matter what fools say, Raymond is dynamite. Yes, Raymond is dynamite.'"

"Yeah, he's definitely dynamite!" she laughed.