Cher History: Movies, Music, Musicals

MoonstruckThis is my last blog blast for the summer. This is the beginning of busy season here with guests visiting so I'll be back Cher scholarin' after that.

Old Interviews and Clips

I've been going through a huge pile of old interviews I've never seen. Media: it proliferates like wet gremlins.

Here a good one from October 2016 where Cher reviews all her movies.

And here's a 2013 interview about Closer to the Truth. She attributes of her longevity to luck and says she loves the tracks "Lie to Me," "My Love," "I Hope You Find It," "Dressed to Kill" ('cos it's campy), and "Sirens."

Here's a Love Hurts era interview from CBS This Morning. She's labeled the "Grande Dame of Pop Music" and she says at 45 that workouts are a pain.

Recognize the face of the first few seconds of this 80s interview?! Hint: he was just famously fired. The story is about whether Cher enjoys portraying bad girls in movies and Moonstruck. Gloria Steinem talks about Cher. Cher says Sonny was the "best and worst of everything I know about relationships" and that Gene [Simmons] was "the easiest person I ever lived with." She says Gregg Allman was "a nightmare" but that he had a great heart and great capability. She says she hated slapping Nick Cage’s face so many times.

Around Cher's birthday, Cher scholar Tyler found this retrospective of her best movie roles (Grindr)

In Music

VcTrivium’s Matt Heavy Covers Cher’s ‘If I Could Turn Back Time

Remember the picture above, that scene in Moonstruck where Olympia Dukakis as Cher's mother Rose says, "Now he’s going to play that damn Vikki Carr record and when he comes to bed he won’t touch me." Well, I was searching for "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" images recently and found this amazing thing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aDrztsC-RI from 1972. I didn’t make it to the end but...imagine Vikki Carr complaining to her friend: “Now he’s going to play that damn Cher record and when he comes to bed he won’t touch me.”

Other quotes from Moosntruck.

Cher scholar Tyler also sent me this link to Rock Back Pages where you can join and research old Sonny & Cher articles. Happy scholaring!

Broadway

The thing is a go! Whoohoo!

The Guardian

Billboard


Cher Food

Daily Mail has for some reason recently decoded Cher’s kitchen pantry based on her Twitter posts.

Good Housekeeping has similarly deconstructed the Cher diet.

And food for thought: Cher weighs in on the Nancy Pelosi debate (The Hill). As I've said before, I love it when Cher makes The Hill.

In tribute of this post, I've accumulated some kitchens from Cher houses and movies, along with the tweets of Cher's kitchen pantry (filled with cats).

Cherpantry Moonstruck2 Moonstruck2  Moonstruck2  Moonstruck2Moonstruck2 Moonstruck2Moonstruck2


Cher's Fashion Influence

 BurnettcherArticles continue to appear about the influence of one of Cher's past or present looks:

Makeup

You'll Soon Be Able To Shop Cher's Glitzy Eye Look From The Billboard Awards (Refinery29)

Hair

12 Celebrities Who Channeled 1970s Cher With Their Ultralong Hair (Pop Sugar)

Red Carpets

From Cher to Susan Sarandon, older women are making waves on red carpets (The Sydney Morning Herald)

My favorite wig

Burnettcher2For years I've been trying to describe my favorite Cher wig from the plethora of wigs seen on the 1970s variety shows. It is the Bun-of-Buns wig seen here screen-captured from The Carol Burnett Show, even lovelier encrusted with jewels. Cher scholar Tyler also mentioned that the dress she wore in this skit also appeared in this torch number, "He's Funny That Way" from one of her other variety shows. (She's wearing another version of Bun-of-Buns there!)

Speaking of Carol Burnett, I recently read her new book In Such Good Company about her show.

And thinking about Carol Burnett and Cher reminds me of Mary Tyler Moore and my Great Women of 70s TV meditations. We recently lost Mary Tyler Moore and my favorite tribute was from Cathy Guisewite of the Cathy newspaper comic strip, surprisingly because I never liked that strip. 


The Smell of Cher

Perfume2In the recent Gregg-marriage-to-Cher stories from Ultimate Classic Rock and Inquisitir, Gregg is quoted as saying Cher "smelled like I would imagine a mermaid would smell – I’ve never smelled it since, and I’ll never forget it.” 

Interesting because I would imagine a mermaid smelling sort of fishy.

But anyway, my friend Christopher was recently buying fragrances online and he sent me this great survey of celebrity fragrance lines:

I was struck by the endless number of celebrity fragrances I was encountering.  It prompted me to cull some information by looking up the various celebrity "houses" on Fragrantica.  It looks like La Liz [Elizabeth Taylor] started the whole genre, and aside from her it was a largely dormant field until Antonio Banderas got on board nearly twenty years later. (and with a vengeance--he has released 62 fragrances--!!!--and counting...) and then J Lo went full speed ahead ahead five years after him.    

The major success of J Lo's Glow seemed to have convinced every pop tart and her mother to start shilling scents. Paris Hilton actually has a number of well-regarded fragrances, but really, how many people are running around wearing Britney Spears? Apparently a lot.  And who knew Christina Aguilera had so many fragrances?  I thought she had two or three at most; they are not well-promoted, unlike Spears' line, which is widely/routinely advertised.  I was also surprised to see that Halle Berry is up to seven fragrances in just eight years.

The only males that came to mind were Banderas, McGraw, Bieber and Usher, and in presenting the information I decided not to include Usher because he only has five fragrances, which seemed a relatively modest amount, given the size of his celebrity.  It looks like he has given up on the endeavor, as all five were issued between 2007 and 2009 and nothing since.  Coincidentally, I actually like the Usher scents I've sniffed, but they don't have good longevity, but I imagine that is the case with many of these fragrances, as they are on the low end of the price spectrum.  I also smelled a Paris Hilton fragrance for men which I thought was fantastic but ultimately I couldn't bring myself to purchase something that would put $$ in her pocket and to have to answer people who inquired about the wonderful smell, "Oh, what I'm wearing?  That's Paris Hilton."

And here's a link to Uninhibited's entry on Fragrantica; I think you will really enjoy all the detailed impressions from past and present wearers:  www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Cher/Uninhibited-9615.html

  • Liz Taylor: 17 fragrances [started selling in 1988]
  • Antonio Banderas: 62 [...in 1997]
  • J Lo: 28 [...in 2002]
  • Paris Hilton: 22 [...in 2005]
  • Britney Spears: 21 [...in 2004]
  • Jessica Simpson: 16 [...in 2004]
  • Celine Dion: 16 [...in 2005]
  • Mariah Carey: 14 [in 2007]
  • Sarah Jessica Parker: 14 [..in 2005] Nm
  • Christina Aguilera: 14 [...in 2004]
  • Beyonce: 13 [...in 2010]
  • Rihanna: 10 [...in 2010]
  • Nicki Minaj: 8 [...in 2012]
  • Katy Perry: 8 [...in 2010]
  • Halle Berry: 7 [...in 2009]
  • Cher: 1 [1987]
  • Madonna: 2 [2012]
  • Tim McGraw: 7 [...in 2008]
  • Justin Bieber: 7 [...in 2011]

And I leave you with this frightening image, the bottle for Nicki Minaj's Minajesty, introduced in 2013. I'll bet it smells like a million bucks!

Wow. So considering that hefty list of celebrity fragrances, it's interesting that Cher's one itty bitty little ole fragrance does so well in comments considering that the competition is so fierce, considering that her perfume bottles are now 30 years old (!) but then also considering Cher has special mermaid-smelling powers she could put to use designing a fragrance, not just according to Gregg Allman but most people who meet her are always commenting on how she smells so nice.

Cher's debut fragrance Uninhibited was launched in 1987, soon after Elizabeth Taylor launched the infamous fragrance Passion. In fact, Cher's fragrance was sort of overshadowed by Passion, which sold very well with the wealthier and "more mature" Elizabeth Taylor fans. But it seems Uninhibited has become "a beloved vintage fragrance" according to comments online. Here are a few excerpts I thought were quotable. As Christopher and I discussed offline, the majority of these fragrance consumers don't seem to be SuperCherFans with any agendas to promote Uninhibited. These are simply perfume junkies who love it. Behold some of the best reviews of Cher's career...

Perfume1Comments on Cher's Uninhibited

As a feminist lesbian, I'm as big a Cher fan as there can be. She made a career out of "not fitting in" and being different, a total individual and an empowered woman who took life by the horns and made it hers.

**

Uninhibited is an old school power fragrance. I definitely smell aldehyde and rose notes, which are very nearly a deal breaker for me. But the tobacco note really hooks me in. It softens and sweetens as it develops on the skin, and eventually dries down to a classic Oriental style fragrance with a punch.

**

This is a quintessential '80s scent. Loud, proud, brash and sassy. I get so many compliments on this fragrance and I'm sort of embarrassed to say it's Cher, but no one else is ever fazed by it. I fear that when my bottle is gone that will be the end of Uninhibited for me. It's getting harder to find and the prices are crazy on Ebay.

**

It opens with a blast of powdery leather smoke, that almost burns your nostrils. And a dry sandalwood mixed with some unburnt tobacco dominates thereafter. The tobacco is not the sweet/cherry type, but more earthy and dark. I am also sure that aldehydes are present, and the vanilla stays in the back the whole time (with today's standards the vanilla is almost nonexistent, but I guess a vanilla in the 80s was a whole different conception than now).

**

Uninhibited is one of the few scents that it gets better with the age. If the bottle was unopened, the scent is even more beautiful than it was when it was produced.

**

Hello from France, as a men, i used this women perfume at the age of 18 in 1991! i bought it in Geneva, i loved this strong smell and unique composition (so many ingredients distinctive).

**

One of the most precious gem in my collection. I keep it for real special occasion. Amazing. Simply beautiful.

**

...the heliotrope is to die for in this . Its expertly created, and some of the industry experts mention this as one of the best created...

**

All I can say is WOW, WOW, WOW!

**

A treasure. If you find it, snap it up!!

**

...my obsession with this bewitching elixir continues!

**

Unreservedly recommended.

**

GUY: HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE with this fragrance! My co-workers noticed the smell as soon as I walked in and said it smelt great on me, I smiled and said what it was and that I ordered it exclusively offline. I received compliments on it all day and am so gonna hunt down a big bottle of this little gem for daily wear.

**

One bad comment: This doesn't suit me at all - I smelt as if I'd been doused in WD40!

**

This really was just about the ONLY "celebrity" fragrance worth buying, in my opinion.

**

One of the most stunning fragrances ever made, hands down. I kept seeing this at outrageous prices online and, of course, it peaked my interest. So, I tracked down a misspelled listing on the bay and got a partial bottle for a relative song. I've been completely obsessed ever since.

**

You don't have to be A Scamp, A Camp and A Bit of A Tramp to sport this fragrance, however, I would not recommend it for the uncool--you should be uninhibited as the name implies.

 


Gregg Allman's Funeral

FuneralCher attended Gregg Allman's funeral a few weekends ago and it was a much quieter affair than the one we remember for Sonny; but fans still managed to insinuate themselves along the periphery of the procession route and around the edge of the cemetery (see below). 

It appears Elijah was there as well, although not fully photographed or mentioned.

Some local coverage:

http://www.macon.com/news/local/article154086244.html

http://www.macon.com/news/local/article153863999.html

Cher scholar Robrt Pela also located this very sweet retrospective of Cher and Gregg visiting a high school in Buffalo in the 1970s.  The story probably gives us more insight into their relationship that any of the other retrospectives that have surfaced of late.

While I was at the dermatologist last week, I spied a recent People Magazine (June 12, 2017) obit on Gregg Allman with a picture of Cher and Gregg in lower right corner of the cover. The table of contents declared the article was about "Gregg Allman: His Live and Loves" of which there were a few, but the article was exclusively about his relationship with Cher, "the glitzy variety show hostess" who met "the hard rocker from Georgia with a howl soaked in Jack Daniels."

FansAccording to People, Allman spent 11 stints in rehab and became sober in 1995. His nicknames were Cooch and Gui Gui.  Not to be confused with Gris Gris (from "Walk on Guilded Splinters"). They met, as we all know, at The Troubadour in Los Angeles where Allman said Cher “looked like an Egyptian idol.” And Cher said “I never loved anybody the way I loved him." But that "Gregg needed more than my love.” (which is unfortunately the Boilerplate summary of a music star relationship: see Victoria Principal on Behind the Music discussing Andy Gibb for the most infamous version.)

The relationship started working, Cher said, “when he found out that I was a person—that a chick was not a dummy.” Incidentally, this is the same realization Gene Simmons was made to come to in 1979. Cher: transforming sexist rock stars, one man at a time.

As we know, 9 days after the wedding, Cher filed for divorce but reconciled. Allman later felt "out of place in Cher’s glamourous world” and filed for divorce but she was by then pregnant with Elijah and they reconciled. Then they made their 1977 album and on the tour for that they fell apart with finality.

The Country Music Awards opened this year with a moving tribute to Gregg Allman: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/country-music-awards-open-with-powerful-gregg-allman-tribute_us_5938f2e6e4b0c5a35c9bfb75

And Cher fans have been discussing their feelings (then and now) around Cher's relationship with him. Full disclosure: she was about to separate from Gregg Allman at the moment my older brother unceremoniously and gleefully informed me (at age seven) that Cher was no longer married to Sonny and I cried in a chair for an hour before moving on with my life. I didn't learn about the Allman marriage until I was old enough to read a Cher biography.

But Cher scholar Michael put it very nicely: "I'm happy that I come to Gregg through Cher because I'm not sure I would have found Cher through Gregg. Cher has recorded so much in her career. In the days of album credits, I learned who wrote those songs she recorded. Because of Cher I discovered Dylan, Donovan, Gershwin, Tim Hardin, Neil Young, Buffy Saint-Marie, and a long list of others. Cher may not think that she has made a musical impact, but I know I've been forever in her debt for my early musical journey."

I would agree. And would add that when I was 17 I went on a journey to locate from my local public libraries, every original version of a song Cher had covered. There were so many, I never finished. But it's an interesting exercise to think about other artists you discovered by being a Cher fan. If you need a refresher, take a walk through the writers list, album by album, starting with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_I_Really_Want_to_Do_(album) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Look_at_Us.

I can tell you this, I would never have tried to track down Edith Piaf's version of "Milord" or bought a Miriam Makeba CD in Paris had it not been for Cher.

 


Gregg Allman and Cher

GnaSunday morning I woke up to Mr. Cher Scholar telling me there was a front page story in The New York Times about the death of Gregg Allman, which was just very sad. It had been too tempting over the last few months to believe the reports that his illness had earlier been over-exaggerated. Apparently this was not so.

And although it is true that Cher fans don’t tend to be Gregg Allman fans and Gregg Allman fans don’t tend to be Cher fans, (as I bluntly stated last week), undeniably Gregg Allman was one of the major loves of Cher’s life and looking back over his life of surreal tragedy, (including the violent deaths of family and band members, suicides of ex-girlfriends--at least two--drug and alcohol dramas, all the way to a freak accident fatality on his biopic a few years ago), Allman was undeniably an emotional and physical survivor.

TwoAnd beyond the disparaging remarks he must have endured as Cher's second husband, (from the press and Cher fans alike), their one professional project,  Allman and Woman, continues to get a bad rap. A picture of Cher was placed prominently in The New York Times obit which stated, “the project was poorly received by critics and the record-buying public alike.” Technically true but the assessment could use a re-evaluation. Rolling Stone said the album “resembled an Ashford & Simpson-style effort.” Is that a criticism? I can't tell.

Is it a perfect album, no. Is it one of Gregg Allman's finest. Hardly. But it's full of sexual attraction, emotion and great musicians. And for the same reason Cher’s voice compliments Sonny’s, that same scratchy to syrup contrast works well on this record with Allman.

When I was eleven I found a library copy, (I can still remember the library’s thick plastic protective cover), and spent two weeks dancing to “I Love Making Love to You,” blissfully clueless to the song's meaning. I also felt their version of “You Really Got a Hold on Me” was comparable to Sonny & Cher’s and Cher’s performance of "Island" was duly heartbreaking. To invoke the ghost of George Michael, (ack! we’re losing so many!), listen without prejudice.

The Allman Brothers were groundbreaking in their lengthy improvisational performances but I liked the proverbial "radio edits" like "Jessica," a record I remember my brother playing quite often. I also liked both of Gregg and Cher's versions of "I’m No Angel" and Jackson Browne's "These Days" and The Allman Brother’s "Ramblin’ Man."

Cher-e-greggI have a friend who jokes that her life is so unlucky because she must have kicked puppies in a prior one. I hope Gregg Allman has paid off his karmic debts in this very challenging life and will be free for an easier one soon. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Cher over the last 40 years is that you can always find room in your heart to be friends with your ex-lovers, no matter what their travails or trespasses. Despite some disgruntled moments disparaging Gregg for his lack of parenting instincts, Cher and Gregg Allman eventually spoke well of each other and seemed to have stayed in friendly touch.

It's a very sad day when you lose someone who has rattled your heart so much.

The obituaries:

Some live performances from the Two the Hard Way Tour


Cher Slays the BBMAs

BillboardmagIt took me a moment to gather my thoughts this week and this is going to be a long post. Very exciting stuff going on and some of it very important to Cher scholarship.

The 71st Birthday Tributes

Remember last year on Cher’s 70th birthday when we had a plethora of celebratory articles? This year there were far fewer but then people were already talking about Cher’s Billboard award instead. Still there were some:

10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Cher - They even take issue with the fact that she’s not in the Hall of Fame yet.

Cher's Most Iconic & Controversial Fashion Moments of All Time (E! Online)

Our Favorite Quotes (Biography)

Cher: A life in photos

A Star Is Born: Cher turns 71 today (LA Times!)

Midriffs, Wigs, Sparkles & Boots: Cher’s Glam Concert Style Over the Years (Footwear News) - Footwear News??

Cher: See Her Top 10 Most Outrageous Outfits Ever

#BornThisDay: Cher (World of Wonder)  (thanks to Tyler)

Cher at 71: Her most incredible outfits in pictures (thanks to Tyler)

Bonus! Tour Cher's California Homes (Architectural Digest)

Kim Kardashian even had her own subset of birthday tweets and articles resulting from those tweets:

Billboard Sweetness

So, in support of Cher’s Icon award, Billboard Magazine did a series of tributes to her (see more in my opinion post, Cher’s Musical Oeuvre).

The interview: Cher Sounds Off on Trump's 'Cheating' & Why She's 'Not a Fan' of Her Six Decades of Hits

The article tallies up more famous Cher fans, (so now we have Pink, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, and the already-mentioned Tracy Chapman and Chrissie Hynde). Pink calls Cher a smart “sharpshooting rock star.” The article covers facets of her reputation: her blunt opinions, clothes, her swearing, her “fearlessness.” It culls out her award winnings and record breaking chart appearances. This is an old school article that actually sends a reporter to visit Cher in her Cher lair. (Remember those interviews?) The article touches on her androgyny and how she solidified an image on her television shows as “a woman who claimed privileges usually reserved for men, including honesty, independence and confident sexuality.” That’s even understated IMHO. The article also talks about The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour’s technical innovations with chroma key. Author Rob Tannenbaum calls her current live show set a Parisian flophouse (nails it there) and says the show is “dizzying, festive and cheeky.” He calls her image during Geffen era the MILK of hair metal (funny and not totally off the mark).

This seems like a typo though: “There was one problem: no evident lack of talent.” Why would no lack of talent be a problem? There’s also at least one factual error,  stating that since Believe Cher has only released one album on a major label. She’s released two (Living Proof and Closer to the Truth on the same label).

The article states Cher has 3.3 million twitter followers and that Buzzfeed calls her “the world’s most beloved Twitter user.” (Sweet.)

Chad Michaels on Cher's Musical Legacy & What It's Like Impersonating the Pop Icon to Her Face

Michaels credits Cher with pioneering the music video on her 70s TV shows and talks about age-bracketing his shows for content. He calls Cher not only the Goddess of Pop but the Queen of Rock and Roll (yeah, let’s get that one going). He admits “it must be strange for any celebrity to come face to face with an impersonator” and he talks about working on stage parodies of Witches of Eastwick.

RaptureWhy Cher Is More Musically Radical Than You Think

This is an awesome piece by Joe Lynch who  talks about the sexism inherent in rock criticism. He gives only a partial list of Cher’s accolades, (awards, sales, endurance, record breaks), and says “Cher’s impact as a musical force is unfairly disregarded or minimized.” He says music history is “refracted through a male, rock-privileging lens. But it’s also a casualty of music fans’ obsession with authenticity.” I would argue that even under the authenticity rubric, (which is ludicrous in what is essentially a posing industry), the standards are not evenly applied depending upon the rock clique you belong to.

Lynch argues that it’s not even fair to judge artists who don’t have full control over their material because even auteur-film-directors don’t have full control of theirs. I think we can look even closer than film: did The Ronnettes fully control their material? Did any Phil Spector artists have full control? Because many of them are in the Hall of Fame. Lynch gives Cher credit for auto-tune and she should get credit for fighting for it if not coming up with the idea for it on her song “Believe,” (even though I think that is a problematic accolade in rock music, again around issues of authenticity).

We can all agree, like Lynch says, that Cher didn’t pioneer genres or “take lyrics to new poetic heights” but she did “forge an iconoclastic path for vocal and visual androgyny in pop culture that’s frequently overlooked.” (I would argue she also did that with glam rock).

And for the storyteller songs most derided in Cher’s catalog Lynch says, “It’s absurd to argue those songs could have been as effective in the hands of another singer—sure they’re good story-songs, but Cher’s delivery is what makes these admittedly dated pop songs resonate…” Lynch says Cher “teed things up for people like Bowie and Patti Smith, and the world would certainly be different if she hadn’t stayed so irrevocably Cher from the start.”

A Look Back on Her Film & TV Career

GwenHow Cher Transformed Fashion And Became One Of The Most Influential Style Icons In Red Carpet History

This article notes Cher’s influence on Katy Perry, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna, saying she has “left a trail of glittering breadcrumbs across the mood boards of designers and musicians.” Author Brooke Mazurek calls her “the original red carpet renegade and provides quotes from Michale Kors, Vogue Editor Andre Leon Talley and the Fashion Institute of Technology’s curator Kevin Jones. Mazurek also draws a line back to Marlene Dietrich and Josephine Baker and has Bob Mackie crediting Cher with bringing ethnicity to 1970s TV. (That is also a big thesis of the book Off-White Hollywood by Diane Negra).

Cher's 'Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves': Why It's One of the 20th Century's Greatest Songs

This is a great piece by Rob Tannenbaum who wrote the lead story. Cher is dismissive about the song and the length of the recording session but Tannenbaum calls the song “one of the most majestic pop hits ever made…a tale recounted at breakneck speed, of sexual hypocrisy…female and class consciousness…voyeuristic like a pulp novel…redeemed by a brash confidence Cher gives the narrator.”

Tannenbaum goes on to explicate the complicated story line, the implications of which most people blithely ignore as they sing along. This is real professional scholarship here! This could be a undergrad lit paper! Tannenbaum even deconstructs the song musically:

“The song feels urgent partially because of the breakneck pace: the band plays at 171 beats per minute. (For comparison, the Ramones’ “Beat On the Brat” is 157 BPM, and Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” is 164.) When she reaches the chorus, Cher suddenly sings way in front of the beat, an expression of anxiety. The lavish arrangement feels vaguely “ethnic” or “exotic,” thanks to mandolin and calliope, and also threatening, due to the irregular meters and some shreds of dissonance. It has the grandeur of a Phil Spector production, but with B-movie horror mixed in to it.”

He points out that Cher is never sexually “apologetic or sorrowful…but savoring freedom and rebellion… delivers the line [“Papa would have shot him if he knew what he’d done”] with chilling delight…[making] it one of the most lurid and sexy lines in pop music, merely through implication.”

The song, written by Bob Stone, has “plot, detail and emotional complexity, and Cher belts it with a punkish defiance. As a song about prejudice, poverty, and the consequences of pregnancy for working-class women, 'Gypsys' has aged beautifully.” Yes, indeed.

Cher's 10 Best Trump Tweets

I love Billboard Magazine’s implicit affection for Cher’s anti-Trump tweets here. It’s their own condemnation of Trump and such a reflection of the mainstream, they let it go without any qualification or judgement. The article credits Cher as an advocate of LGBT and women’s rights, her political activism. Lauren Tom calls her a “a pioneer of female autonomy during a male-driven era.”

Older related links

Bob Mackie's Archives Unveiled: Iconic Designer for Cher & Diana Ross Gives Billboard a Peek Behind the Curtains (Oct 2016)

See Bob Mackie's Sketches for Classic Madonna, Cher & Tina Turner Gowns

Press Before the Show

SpeechThe internet was also full of stories rehashing the Billboard interview and reacting to Cher’s admission, (not nearly a new one), that she hates her own music. Every time she says that, people respond in such surprise.

After the BBMAs Coverage

My two cents: award shows seem now to be just excuses for launching elaborate musical performances from big arenas. I'm bored with it already, especially the Byzantine performances of Nicki Minaj (and ten variations of her throughout the night). I did enjoy the Chainsmokers (although it sounds like nobody else did), Julia (I like that funny "Issues" song), and Lorde's very inventive performance pretending to be at a karaoke club. I thought Celine was understated but great per usual (that crazy dress!). She had a lovely chandelier to sing under.

Gwen Stefani introduced Cher who then sang "Believe" and then we watched a career reel while Cher changed into the hole-fit and sang "Turn Back Time" and then accepted her award. I liked her speech which threw some props to Phil Spector, the Wrecking Crew, her mom, Sonny, David Geffen, Diane Warren and luck. Watch Celine Dion sing along to Cher.

GIF of Cher saying she can do a five minute plank.

Spend an afternoon with Cher GIFs!


Cher’s Musical Oeuvre

GtthApologies but I wrote this after finishing the dual-biography The Youth of Cezanne & Zola by Wayne Andersen (and seeing the movie Cezanne and Moi last week) so if I start to sound too academic, slap me and tell me to snapoutavit.

To be honest, I wasn’t overly excited about Cher’s Icon award from Billboard recently served. What did it even mean? Cher even admitted the word Icon was stupid last week. That said, I WAS exceedingly, super-duperly excited about the set of Billboard articles that came out last week in support of the award. They were scholarly and explored various facets of Cher’s “genius at the zeitgeist,” to borrow David Geffen’s idea. It all felt like a landmark-y change-in-the-tide week in terms of Cher criticism, at least a tide coming to pass outside of Cher zines and blogs.

These two pieces were impressive:

Why Cher Is More Musically Radical Than You Think by Joe Lynch

Cher's 'Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves': Why It's One of the 20th Century's Greatest Songs by Rob Tannenbaum

And it's significant there are young male writers...in that are we getting hipster men to admit there is value in Cher's music.

Gtth2But it feels a little weak that during the very week that mainstream male critics have turned a corner describing Cher’s oeuvres, (as they are multiple), and Cher gets her first serious accolades for something beyond movies, costumes or Twitter posts, (although Billboard historically has always been very kind to Cher's albums if not laudatory), Cher once again announces that she hates her music and even some tracks we previously assumed that she liked (the song "Believe" or the whole of It’s a Man’s World).

It’s quiet extraordinary and, as a pseudo-scholar, I never know quite what to make over Cher’s condescension about her own music.

She’s been in the business such an unbelievably long amount of time that it’s hard to keep hearing that she’s had little opportunity to produce the kind of music she likes, (beyond the Geffen material which was produced over a tiny five-year span of 1987 to 1991). She supposedly now has the means and hopefully the confidence to show us all more of what true Cher music should be, but she has kept capitulating to other plans.

You can always say No. And although Cher might not be as ballsy as she comes across, she was ballsy enough to last 50 years and ballsy enough to say no to even Sonny Bono and David Geffen eventually. It’s long past the time when Cher needs to be intimidated or misled by male producers, lovers and Svengalis.

Gthth4It also seems apparent that musical artists have more autonomy over projects than actors would, albeit still dependent on record companies (outside of DIY projects). After 5 decades of not saying No to material you don’t like, you’re simply left with the oeuvre you have. What is to be gained by distancing yourself from it, beyond recurring shame or wanting to be respected by various persons who also dismiss your genres and efforts.

And it should be said, this isn’t another case of an artist simply being dissatisfied with their efforts or a singer disliking the sound of her voice. That kind of self-criticism is always self-tempered: "I tried to do something and didn’t quite get there." It’s different to say “it’s all rubbish”.

Gtth3In Cher’s case it always feels like the dismissals are some sort of internalized, male-privileged shame-criticism of the kind you’d hear from a Gregg Allman fan or KISS fan. And I realize I’m psycho-analyzing here from a distance,  but the problem is that these personal dismissals exacerbate and perpetuate the existing, arguably-sexist and rock-snobbist dismissals about Cher's music that you'd get from older critics and the rock establishment of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Cher music = uncool.

It's very possible Cher herself is a rock snob.

As a Cher fan since the age of 5, I've heard a lot of rock snobbery. I had two older brothers who were teen fans of the Beatles, Styx and Montrose. I heard everything by the time I was seven and I've written a lot about the false idea of authenticity in an industry of institutionalized posing. Cher=uncool is the baseline of all of it.

And it that’s the praise you seek, praise from old white men, I can see why you would want to distance yourself from their judgements. But the reality is that many ground-breakers never fully reveal during their own time and there are many Cher scholars among us who challenge those white male judgements.

Which is what has always made being a Cher fan feel so rebelliously brave.

  


The Armenian Poets

CherarmeniaOn Big Bang Poetry, I’ve been doing blog posts about protest poetry ("Protest Poetry and Resistance Poetry are Flourishing") and one of the books I mention, Against Forgetting, 20th Century Poetry of Witness, edited by poet Carolyn Forche, starts with two Armenian poets.

For Armenians there are the best of times and the worst of times. The most famous Armenian superstar in the world is now winning icon awards and yet barely 100 years ago her ancestors were being slaughtered in the first modern genocide.

“Any 20th century history of human rights and genocide must begin with the massacre of Armenians, then the largest Christian minority population of Turkey…Between 1909 and 1918…1.5 million Armenians were massacred by order of the Ottoman Turkish government...Historians have called [it] the first “modern” genocide…the first instance of political mass murder made possible by advanced technology and modern communications."

Siamanto

SiamantoThe first poet, named simply Siamanto, was himself executed on April 24, 1915.

This passage from his poem “Grief” sounds eerily familiar in reference to Trump and those who have and those who have not, although admittedly on a much smaller scale than genocide.

“And this evening before sunset
all of you will go back to your houses,
whether they are mud or marble,
and calmly close the treacherous
shutters of your windows.
Shut them from the wicked Capital,

shut them to the face of humanity,
and to the face of your god…
even the lamp on your table
will be extinguished
by your soul’s clear whispers.”

Siamanto’s poem “The Dance” is absolutely horrific, a poem about a group of Armenian women made to dance naked in public until they were exhausted, then lit of fire with kerosene. The poem ends with Siamanto saying “How can I dig out my eyes.”

His poems were translated by Peter Balakian and Nevart Yaghlian.

More about Siamanto

His bust was dedicated in Yerevan.

Remembering the Armenian Genocide thru Siamanto’s Poetry

Vahan Tekeyan

3799The second Armenian poet in the anthology is Vahan Tekeyan. He escaped execution due to being in Jerusalem on business and lived in exile until his death. I loved all his poems in the book.

"Forgetting"

"Prayer for the Threshold of Tomorrow

Does this remind you of anything?

“Let the fortress of egos,
that huge barricade,
crumble.”

The poem “Dream” is about the dead coming back from heaven and “a wolf slinking off, surprised to see his victims again.”

And "The Country of Dust," is a great poem about being small and scattered and dispersed like dust:

“But hope
rises like the sun. Accumulate. Dust consolidates into stone.”

His poems translated by Diana Der Hovanessian and Marzbed Margossian.

More about Vahan Tekeyan

A bootleg book of his poems which must be out of print.

Sixty-five Years after His Demise, His Vision is Alive and Growing

 

You can also read the Anthology of Armenia Poetry.

Famous culture critic Theodor Adorno once said there can be no poetry after the holocaust. This was often taken to mean there can be no beauty after such atrocities. But academics believe he really meant that there could be no poetry because the state would co-opt it for their own purposes. Carolyn Forche begins her anthology quoting German poet Bertolt Brecht, almost in response, who said:

“In the dark times, will there also be singing?
Yes, there will be singing.
About the dark times.”


Cher History: Marriages, Music, Hair, Movies and TV

ChergreggGossip

Cher's marriage to Gregg Allman was revisited by Inquisitir: “inside their whirlwind marriage.”

 

 

Music

And on the site AV Club, death-fuled songs from the 70s place "Dark Lady" in the same league with Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" and “I Don’t Like Monday’s” by The Boomtown Rats.

Death-songs

Speaking of their "Copacabana" video, watch some bad, unenthusiastic lip-synching and awkward dancing from a dapper and youthful Barry Manilow in that video. He even does a Cher-like costume change!

I love that guy. “Don’t fall in love. Don’t fall in love.”

They also list "Indian Reservation" by Paul Revere and the Raiders (see the stats article).

CherhairFashion

Is Cher hair still a trend? The article references Kim Kardashian but she just cut her hair.

Thanks to Cher scholar Tyler for this article on the Five decades of Cher outfits from CBS News.

 

 

 

 

 

R.I.P.

Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour producer Chris Bearde has died. Mr. Cher Scholar always snickers these days when the credits roll and his name appears as chrisbearde.

Cher-chris

Cher’s late-1970s manager, (before 80s-era Bill Sammeth), Sandy Gallin, (whom for years I thought was a woman) has also died.  (Thanks Cher scholar Michael for that link.) Another story from the gruesomely named Deadline.com.

Cher-sandy

This TV site mistakenly attributes Cher’s tweet about Bearde to be about Gallin.

But on the brighter side, Cher says her mom is doing better.

Cher80sMovies

I've been finding a lot of interviews on YouTube that were obscure since the 1980s. I will try to blog about them as I can. This is one of the best, a great German interview for Witches of Eastwick and Cher's Geffen Records era debut.  In it, Cher says she and Sonny were the first hippies in the world.

 

GlencTelevision

Cher scholar Tyler found this amazing bit of scholarship on YouTube, a fascinating medley between Sonny, Cher and Glen Campbell, a medley proving that when art is concerned, conservatives and liberals can get along.

 
You can also watch the full 1976 episode of Sonny & Cher on Donny & Marie

Dandm