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Cher Hearts Hillary

Scsunsetstripriot I’m a Cher fan; I’m a dog fan; I love Mexican food; I dig pottery and poetry; I adore the southwest and I’m a political junkie. Two of these things have come to clash this week – Cher and politics. Don’t get me wrong: I love me some Cher stuff; but I actually get really fired up about the politics. 

And yet I really debated even covering this issue in 'I Found Some Blog,' even bothering to discuss Cher’s comments to Liz Smith about both of their feelings on US presidential democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama. I debated discussing it for two days and for two big reasons.

First, my parents told me never to bring up politics in a mixed crowd. So you can probably guess by that rule my parents are democrats. This blog is definitely a mixed crowd. So in warning: if you’re not someone of liberal leanings, go get yourself some coffee or take a walk around the block.

Secondly, is this blog really the place to hash out this sort of thing? And this is really a stickler. On the one hand the purpose of this blog originally was more about me and my learning to journal on a regular basis about semi-personal things, all under the guise of a celebrity blog; so political discussions sorta fit within that framework. And sometimes personal anecdotes bring readers and writers together—but sometimes personal subjects are just too derisive, you know? Sometimes it just doesn’t help to share.
But does that make soap-boxing permanently off limits? We can’t go that far.

Continue reading "Cher Hearts Hillary" »


Rumors about Cher Playing the Next Catwoman

If I had a dollar for every film role Cher was rumored to be in the running for...I go get me some Shakeys pizza.

One news report says “Veteran singer Cher” -- veteran: that's a new one -- is first in line to play Catwoman in the next Batman movie.  This we hear is according to the franchise’s director Christopher Nolan. However, Angelina Jolie is also rumored to be up for the part.

According to the Sunday Mirror,

"Cher is Nolan's first choice to play Catwoman. He wants to portray her like a vamp in her twilight years. The new Catwoman will be the absolute opposite of Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry's creations." Julie Newmar was the first actress to take on the role in the 1960s Batman television series. The supervillainess has also been played by Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether, Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry.

This doesn’t mean Cher has agreed, responded or even been approached officially yet for this part. So don’t go updating your Cher-filmographies, batkids. In fact, many entertainment news site are expressing their deep skepticism about this particular rumor.

 


Celebrity Family Feud

Familydvd08A friend showed me a few episodes of her new DVD of All-Star Family Feud. It must have been circa the late 70s because host Richard Dawson made a joke about the Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, Jerry Brown debates.

This particular episode pitted the cast of The Love Boat against the cast of Eight Is Enough (I never liked Eight is Enough  by the way - was it a comedy, a drama?). The Love Boatcast seemed a bit wild. Cruise director Julie threw a few angry eyes at Doc for his lame answers. Issac looked very flirty. On the other side, it seemed almost like a real dysfunctional family of 8 is Enuffers. To the directive “Name a body part where you would dab perfume” Dick Van P. answered inexplicably “the tip of your tongue.”

One question was “Name an Italian singer.” 100 people surveyed, top 8 answers on the board:

Enrico Caruso – 19 (who?)
Frank Sinatra – 18
Mario Lanza – 16
Dean Martin – 13
Sergio Franci  – 7 (who?)
Sonny Bono –4
Tony Bennett – 3
Perry Como – 1

No one guessed Sonny Bono, including Dick Van Patton, who at some point was golfing friend of Sonny. Maybe that was later, in Sonny’s Palm Springs era.
   


Wrecking Crew Documentary is Awesome

Cherwc If you live in LA, go see the documentary The Wrecking Crew at the Arclight in Hollywood this week only. The movie not only has good commentary from Cher, it has a semi-lengthy clip of Sonny & Cher in sessions for their Wondrous World album and interviews and conversations about the many musicians and producers who worked with them in the 60s and 70s. You get a great sense of what recordings were all about during that time of that frenetic westcoast sound S&C were part of. You also get:

  • Extensive interviews and discussions about drummer Hal Blaine, who played on many a Cher and Sonny & Cher album.
  • Interviews with Snuff Garrett – including a clip where he talks about “Gypsys Tramps and Thieves” a fact that made me rethink the musicians used for the All I Ever Need is You album. If the Wrecking Crew played for Snuff on the solo Kapp album Cher in 1971, they most likely played on the duet album as well instead of S&C’s live band at the time who played on their first live album.
  • Jimmy Webb was also interviewed extensively but not about anything related to Cher.
  • This tightly knit group of studio musicians were more often than not excluded from album credits even though they were the real musicians behind so many iconic albums, even for heavy-hitters like The Beach Boys and The Byrds. Conventional wisdom was that it would have been embarrassing to credit them. Buy at least producers like Phil Spector and Snuff Garret made sure they got paid well. It’s also interesting to note that Sonny Bono did credit them on Sonny & Cher’s debut album Look at Us: Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine, Don Randi, Mike Rubini, Don Peake, Julius Wechter.
  • Cher commented that she didn’t know how great these musicians were when she recorded with them; she was very shy and new to recording and she was basically just trying not to get in anyone’s way. Years later other musicians would ask her about working with these musicians with awe and respect.
  • The Wrecking Girl had one chick, Carol Kaye, and she was awesome! Worth seeing the movie for her contributions alone. She explained first hearing and working on “The Beat Goes On”  and coming up with that great bass hook. She sang how the song sounded as written (kind of adult contemporary, not very groovy) and how she thought ‘we gotta light this thing up!’ Very funny. She said Sonny loved it and they used it. Her story was indicative of how these studio musicians contributed in substantial ways to songs from Herb Albert to The Beach Boys.
  • More interesting tid-bits about what contributed to the wall of sound: the ceramic walls of Gold Star Studios, the bleeding between playing instruments and making musicians do so many takes, they became exhausted (less showboating).
  • If you see the movie at the Arclight in Hollywood, you are in a one-mile radius of where all these great songs were recorded. Amazing insight into 60s California sound.

I also learned a lot about Plas Johnson and Tommy Tedesco who was doing guitar on just about every iconic piece of music from the 60s or 70s, including many TV themes like Bonanza and MASH.

At the end of the movie there was a Q&A with Don Randi (who played piano on Look at Us)  with the film’s director. The film is doing very well in festivals and showcases but is looking for a distributor. They do plan a DVD and soundtrack at some point. There are 125 songs in the movie, so that will be an interesting soundtrack. Check Wreckingcrewfilm.com for more information. Or read my post from last week.
   


Angst in Vegas (Concerts and Conventions)

Tewd I’ve been reading the latest fan posts on Chergroups and the tiny bit of the Cher.com user forum in search of posts of good times at last week’s Cher convention (which I did find, btw.) Things they loved were seeing the new costumes of the impersonators and catching up with everyone.

However, a few fans who attended the actual Vegas Cher shows last week expressed their disappointment with the show. One fan posted this version of Steve Friess’ review from May, a much more passionately negative review than the one I had read and quoted from in my Vegas show synopsis. It was interesting to read another version of it.

I do agree with Steve on this point (among others), the Cher Vegas show will most likely not change for our opinions and fantasies. Just like the Farewell Tour didn’t change in so many years, except by getting shorter. As I see it, what sells goes – the circus provides endless huckstering income. As has been said once so eloquently before, “You got to have the one and only...genuine, super-fine, Sunshine Sonny’s Elixir!"

“How much does it cost, this stuff?
Lady, what’s in your purse is good enough.”

I myself exuded a chortle of disgust at this post  - all the alleged retooling apparently resulting in...(gasp!) one new outfit. Well, one new costume is not a press release and is hardly worth another pilgrimage to Mecca.

Then there was the 2008 Cher Convention. There was a squabble on Cher.com when everyone got their neck fur in a ruff about the other Cher fan-fete, The Cher Expo. Someone associated with the Expo was accused of slyly hatin' on CherCon. A few years ago CherCon was accused of shutting out volunteer help from the Expo peeps.

The Expo is basically new and started running on odd years out on the east coast whereas the CherCon’s runs on even years and has been mostly westcoast/southwest. CherCon has put on five conventions total, three in Las Vegas, one in Los Angeles and the inaugural in Chicago.

As a former CherCon worker-bee, I have tried hard to stay out of the fray. I love the idea of conventions and I generally feel the more the better, right? But my own particular fantasies of a convention always involve an interview with Snuff Garrett and a gay-pride parade hosted by Ru Paul. So far, the Expo and CherCon have failed to be that off da hook. Which is not to say they don’t work hard for their events. Truly, Cher-fetes are life-consuming events. And they are great peoples. I love the CherCon peeps and have had many good times at the Convention. But I had more fun attending than volunteering. Why? There’s entirely too much chaos surrounding those three convention days for my obsessively organized brain. And then there’s always been trouble getting the word out about the event (as again reported this year when Caesars' own concierge and workers in the Cher store didn’t even know about the Cher Convention occurring under their own roof. The problem is publicity and for for a by-your-bootstraps kind of an event like this, it takes a type of aggression, a terrier doggedness of a publicist beyond the skills and pay-grades of the available and willing pool of helpers.

I’ve never been to the CherExpo, but I would go if I had the funds to do so. Because variety is the spice of life and you can always learn about different ways of celebrating Cher, even though it would seem she’s not too enthused about being celebrated by a bunch of Cher nerds in this way.

Bottom line is throwing conventions is hard work and no one should be disrespected for hosting one. Both fan gatherings have their pros and cons. Save your ire for the Cher show set list, which seems to have been chiseled in stone by Moses himself and will soon be made into a movie entitled The Neverchanging Setlist, staring The Edgar Winter Dog (pictured above) as the dragon who flies fans to the Cher show in a doomed land called Fantasia.
   


Cher Houses

Biscayne3 Last week, Jimmy Dean asked me if my comments about Biscayne Bay were a joke. Alas...no.

Here is the house:  http://www.luxist.com/2008/08/07/chers-former-home-in-key-biscayne-estate-of-the-day/

Here is the lyric:
(note: most sites get the lyrics to this song wrong; their attempts at the first sentence don't even make sense. Cher scholar Tyler was the only one I found who posted them right.  

Pirate
Lyrics by: Gary Harju
Music by: Steve Dorff and Larry Herbstritt

He sailed on in with the summer wind
That blows on Biscayne Bay
Everybody called him Pirate
Dark and handsome in his own way
And the fire in his eyes
Lit all the fire inside of me
And soon we were feeling so much more
than the wind and waves and sea

Chorus:
Pirate, I'm not gonna take your soulPirate
I only want the right to love you
I know the sea won't let you go
Pirate, my love will only chain you down
So just know how much I love you
And then turn that ship around

Second Verse.
Every time that he'd sail back to me
We'd fall in love again
And my face would fill with wonder
At all the places that he'd been
But I knew his sweetest love song
Was when he heard the trade winds blow
And I loved him way too much
To tell the secret he should know

Chorus
Third Verse...
Now as I watch in silence
Another young man goes to sea
And his silhouette is stirrin' up
A painful memory
And I know his heart is set to sail
But mine is set to cry
Cause I feel as the way I did
The day his Daddy said goodbye
I told him.....

Speaking of Cher houses, the brownstone in the movie Moonstruck just sold for $4 million instead of the asking price of $5 million. Times are tough, man.

The LA Times also wrote about the selling of Cher’s Malibu house which they call The Palm Palace.

     


Sonny & Cher Musicians and Cher in a Movie Alert

Here’s a link to a story on a new documentary about The Wrecking Crew, a gang of studio musicians who for Sinatra, Streisand, S&C and many others and included both a young Glen Campbell and a young Leon Russell.

Coincidentally, I just made Mp3s of three songs from my only Leon Russell album:

  • Tightrope" – which is why I picked up the album in a used record store in St. Louis back in the 80s.

    "I’m up in the spotlight
    Oh does it feel right
    Whoa, the altitude seems to get to me"                        
               
  • "Stranger in a Strange Land" - which I can actually hear Elijah covering nicely in my head. Or Cher too for that matter.
       
  • And the oft recorded "Song For You" – Russell wrote this song so I feel this should be the definitive version, not The Carpenters’ or Ray Charles'. However, I do think Cher’s version is great, far better than The Carpenters version because she sounds more experienced to Karen Carpenter’s voice of innocence. I feel the inverse applies to their dual recordings of “Superstar” – the innocence in Karen Carpenters voice here serves the song better. As for versions of “Song For You” I also really like the R&B/rap group City High’s version (I love their song “What Would You Do.” I really do). Actually, I think I take umbrage with the words 'definitive version'. What does that mean anyhow? The version that quintessentially defines the song? What the hell? Is that even possible?

But I digress. There’s this documentary out on The Wrecking Crew:

“The stars, he said, were accommodating, including Cher, Dick Clark and Campbell,” said producer Denny Tedesco, 47-year-old son of Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco. “As big as Cher is, she was very giving. It brought her back to that period when she was 16 years old. It was a wonderful time for her. And it was a lot of fond memories for Glen. He said he missed not having to be 'the guy.' Tedesco, a Woodland Hills resident, grew to admire his father even more after all the research and filming.”

Halblaineglencampbell Visit http://www.wreckingcrew.tv/upcoming.html to find a screening in your town.

Here's another Wrecking Crew interview that includes another S&C musician, Hal Blaine: http://www.modernguitars.com/archives/004300.html

As, you may know many S&C band members from the early 70s went on to form the band Toto and as I was starting to convert my vinyl to MP3s recently with my new turn-table, I came across these Chicago liner notes from Chicago 16(yes I bought it for “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” in 1983 when I was 13, I’m not ashamed of it!). I found many familiar names in the liner notes: Steve Lukather guitars; David Paich synthesizer, Steve Porcaro synthesizer programming. And I can’t shake this feeling that I’ve seen Chicago’s own Bill Champlin on a Cher album credit somewhere. Am I crazy? Please don’t answer that. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

Jimmy Dean also alerted me last week of Jerry Wexler’s passing. Wexler was a famous Muscle Shoals Aretha producer for many landmark albums of Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield among many others. The awesome Dusty in Memphis was recorded the same year as Cher's unheralded 1969 album 3614 Jackson Highway which Wexler was one of the producers on. Jimmy Dean also mentioned that no news reported his brief association with Cher. I searched google in vain to find such a reference myself. However, I did find this exert of a bio of David Geffen (scroll down and click the link "The Operator") that claimed Wexler was Geffen’s long-time nemesis. The excerpt covers details of the night Cher met Geffen and the general gist of his involvement and substantial aid to Cher in her time of mid-70s legal crisis, which is quite important in considering where she is today. You could almost say there would be no Sonny & Cher without Sonny and there would be no Cher solo without David Geffen. And possibly no Cher into the 21st century without Cher herself. She’s been svengali-less for decades now!