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Turn Around and You’re Two…Turn Around and You're Four

76060501 This has been a busy week of weddingness: we assembled and sent our especially designed invitations, my dress came in and I had my first fitting, we met with the photographer and walked around our venue looking for photo shots. So I didn’t have much time to contemplate Cherdom this week. However, something pretty amazing happened, Cher-related.

So I’ve been a Cher fan since I was about four or six years old (1974-1976). I’m not really sure when I started exactly. I do remember it was one of the first aesthetic decisions I made, but the timing is so hard to place, looking back. I remember watching the first variety show with my parents when we lived in Albuquerque -- so that must have been in 1974 (I would have been four). I loved both the show and the two records my parents had (Look at Us and All I Ever Need is You). My Albuquerque friend Stacy got the Cher doll before I even knew there was one. This must have been in 1976. I was mildly outraged and discouraged that someone who was as passionate as I was about Sonny & Cher was not the first one on my block to get the doll. So I petitioned for it for Christmas and got one with a handful of outfits. I remember thinking that a fan of my caliber should have all the outfits. This is how it has always been you see. I took that doll to show-and-tell in first grade and, along with Stretch Armstrong, it was the most popular show-and-tell toy. Both dolls were broken that show-and-tell day as a result of their being so manhandled. Cher’s hands were broken off and Armstrong was punctured until his innards started oozing out.

I got the S&C TV Guide cover soon after, which I adored. Until my oldest brother told me I should stop slobbering over it because S&C were divorced. Tragedy of all tragedies! Why hadn't anyone told me! Then we moved to St. Louis  (and I think this is where I got the idea that moving was a diversion to heartbreak) just in time to watch the second variety series when my parents agreed to let me stay up past my seven-year-old bedtime once a week in order to watch it. But those good times were all over before I knew it (cancellation) and I was left to lick my wounds with that awful 1979 Solid Gold special which launched the very lame lip-synching series of the same name. I think it’s right around that time when gold started to lose its luster for me.

For Christmases and birthdays during the brief era of 1977 to 1979, my parents purcPeople79hased Sonny & Cher albums as gifts for me. And when I was sick with the stomach flu in 1979, my mom bought me the famous Cher People magazine cover issue with the hole-fit and the pink boa.

But this is all a long, long backstory just to say that SINCE THEN my parents have definitely not approved of my Cher obsession, and certainly not long after I learned how to drive and immediately chose to cruise across town to used record stores for Cher lps. Enough was enough already. Normal kids don’t have celebrity obsessions and if they did, they were more current acts like Duran Duran and Don Johnson (God help me—you see what I had to choose from?).

Flash forward to this year. These are the songs I picked as choices for my wedding’s father-daughter dance: “Take it to the Limit” by the Eagles (which was nixed because my brother and father interpreted it to be all about sex), “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack (which my father didn’t love), “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armtrong  (kind of clichéd, I felt), “Heavenly Day” by Patty Griffin and “IGUB,” which did come up but was controversial because it was sweet as a father-daughter dance but essentially a couple's song.  Between the two of us, my father and I didn’t agree on or couldn’t find anything on the many online lists of father-daughter-dance suggestions full of maudlin and sappy sentimentalities. One big problem I found was that most suggested songs were for younger brides (“everything she owns I bought her”) and in my case, I’m more the mature bride, not the fresh-faced innocent depicted in country songs.

Last weekend, my father ended up considering a pretty obscure Sonny & Cher song of all things (well, mostly a Cher song on a S&C album), a song called “Turn Around,” one I had suggested actually  but not the S&C version which I didn’t even remember. I was trying to find a Harry Belafonte version (he wrote it) and found many other recorded versions by Kenny Loggins, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye,  and the soundtrack of a famous Kodak ad eons ago. My dad maybe saw the S&C version listed on iTunes – I’m not sure. But I was frankly shocked when he suggested it.
 


Zoo Film Controversy

Chers%20Elephant PETA Asks Stars Of “The Zookeeper” To Just Say No To Live Animals by Michael Parrish DuDell

With a name like The Zookeeper you know there’s bound to be trouble!

Yes, especially since Cher just attended a Zoo protest earlier this year. Maybe she plans to go all Trojan horse on the film with inside activism. Hmm…somehow I doubt this.

The film...has contracted the company Birds & Animals Unlimited to supply their animals for the shoot…and PETA is not happy. Turns out Birds & Animals Unlimited have received TONS of violations from the USDA and have quite the reputation. To help mend the situation, PETA has written a letter to the stars of the film saying: “Exotic animals used as involuntary ‘actors’ are routinely subjected to rigorous and abusive training methods to coerce them into performing acts that are stressful, uncomfortable, confusing and even painful.” The answer: PETA suggests using computer generated imagery.

Although PETA can sometimes make me cringe, I support their cause. I've done my time with anti-fur and Farm Sanctuary marching. Which is not to say I would be able to boycott this movie as easily as I am now able to boycott Whole Foods. I would still go to the movie even if they exploited animals to make it. I would just be forced to whine and complain about the abuse before and after the movie.

Hey...maybe they could recycle Cher's Farewell tour elephant...

   

  


"Walking in Memphis" (Why We Love It)

Memphis Friday, August 14, I received a field report from my friend Christopher who loves to peruse online videos:

Mary--
 
Okay, so people make fun of this
"Walking in Memphis" remake [mostly, our other friend Coolia makes fun of it], but it one of the best remakes of all time.  And this video, as you know, is such great fun.
 
And she looks GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   So natural and alluring.  PERFECT hair--the hair that any woman would be covetous of.  And her legs look phenomenal.  And all this at 50!  
 
My favorite moments are at 2:13-2:16 and 3:41-3:43.  What a beauty!  
 
If we agree that the rightful top of the pantheon is composed of Cher, Bette Midler, Vanessa Williams and Barbra Streisand--all of whom have had sustained, massive and well-respected successes as both singers and actresses, only Cher and Vanessa also got blessed with beauty, and Cher alone has exoticism. 

And have you seen the mash-up that was always meant to be?      
 
3:03 = M'am/Man I am tonight!!!
 
ENJOY!!!
 
Christopher

Well, you know I love Cher’s old lips but she is really beautiful in this video as both herself and Elvis Presley. I love this video for four reasons:

  1. She looks so lovely.
  2. She emotes. You can feel real emotion watching it; she relents on the tough-chick persona (which is nice but…) and it feels honest, human and refreshing.
  3. She sublimates her gargantuan persona into another gargantuan persona (amazing enough) and she does it with honest love and fun admiration even though it makes her look smaller somehow in the process, smaller as a legend (however, I truly believe she will rival Elvis in her legendary status someday), and in a particularly physical sense. As Elvis, she looks much more diminutive and you realize how much her costumery serves to make her seem very tall.
  4. For all of these reasons above, this one of the few artistic pieces she's ever done. Therefore, it is a treasure among treasures.

I flipped out watching the mashup video. Totally awesome editing…both musically (artfully swaying between two entirely different records) and visually (lovely overlaying of Marc Cohn and Cher). I LOVE THIS FAN ART!! Pinch me!

No, don’t pinch me.
  


S&C Singing "Stagger Lee"

Stagger-lee-ish Besides "Walking in Memphis" mashups, here’s something else I love to death, Sonny & Cher singing "Stagger Lee" on The S&C Comedy Hour. I used to play this song over and over on my cassette player  (as recently as 2002 when I was still walking around Marina del Rey with my walkman and my old dog Helga (RIP). I adore the S&C version. It’s so 70s-cool.

My bf and I (with the help of the video-editing skillz of my father) are making videos for our wedding reception. Lots of wedding drama ensued this week – both good and bad – from guest-list drama, to invitation-envelope drama, to dress drama. Meanwhile, my bf and his mom are picking through Mickey Gilley songs for their special dance (Gilley is his moms fav artist and she goes to see him in Branson all the time).

To get a video started, my dad sent me Gilley’s version of “Bring it On Home to Me” which I love and wish they would dance to. However, my bf is stuck on "A Room Full of Roses"  but this is kind of a depressing song and his mother prefers "True Love Ways."

Listening to them all I came across Gilley’s version of "Stagger Lee" which reminded me to look up and see who all recorded it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagger_Lee_(song)It’s). It's allegedly based on a true story about a cab-driving murderer from, of all places, St. Louis, Missouri (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagger_Lee_Shelton

Anyway, the S&C show version ROCKS and I wish there was a YouTube clip o that.

  


Joan Rivers Reunites with Cher

Was there a Joan Rivers Cher feud going on over the last 10 or so years? Who knows in the shadow of the more well-known Cher v. Bette, Cher v. Howard Stern feuds. (Is that last one even a feud? Or more like the faux-feud of Cher v. David Letterman? I can’t track this all people!) 

You’d think there was a Joan v. Cher feud listening to Rivers who once gripped about never seeing Cher anymore (back in the 80s on late-night tv, they used to joke about their competing garage sales).

So in light of this, it was nice to get a field report from Coolia on an episode last week of Howard Stern:

Coolia: joan rivers was on howard this morning, talking about a recent dinner she went to at cher's house, at the invitation of kathy griffin (just the 3 of them). she said cher looks great, super skinny, and they ate in cher's bedroom with servants. Elijah Blue was there and she said he was nice. They did not discuss Chaz. She said she and Kathy ate like pigs but Cher was on a cleanse and just had some beverage prepared by her staff.  She said it was lovely and they had a view of the ocean, that she hadn’t seen Cher in like 8 years but they got along fine. They talked about Michael Jackson and all agreed that it was a circus and that Brooke Shields was exaggerating the scope of her relationship. In talking about still performing at their advanced age, Cher told Joan, "We're performers. It's what we do."

Me: this is hilarious...was howard nice talking about Cher? I think he secretly likes her.

Coolia: yeah, howard seemed fascinated and jealous. he kept asking a lot of questions about it, and kept steering the conversation back to cher when they were trying to talk about other things.

On a related note: my bf is always going on a cleanse. He has all sorts of undesirable potions around the house for such purposes. I tried it twice and, quite frankly, am just happy to have survived both experiences. 
 


Can You Dig It? (Notes on “Somebody”)

Anthology To those of you who thought I overreacted last week about the bad Cher compilations, let me just say I appreciate your concerns. However, the fact is I care so much...because I love too much. And I just want each little compilation (each one like a fuzzy misfit in an overpopulated bunny farm)  to be the best little compilation they can be.

That and it would be nice to save a few trees and a barrel of oil. Frankly, the last thing this troubled world needs is another bad Cher compilation. And a good Cher compilation is as rare as a Vancouver Island Marmot.

On my birthday a week ago, I visited the Amoeba record store in Hollywood where I did the obligatory look through the used CD and record bins for Cher stuff. Besides the aforementioned bad Cher compilation, I also bought my third copy of the All I Ever Need is You(KS 3660) album, but this one was with the pink and orange Kapp label as opposed to the black label my parents had. I wondered if the pink vs. black label might explain the differences in the gospel choir endings in the song “Somebody.” My latest thesis was that maybe only the black Kapp label printings had it. Maybe this would explain why other fans didn’t know what I’ve been taking about all these years?

“Somebody” happens to be my favorite Cher song. I talked about this on Cherscholar.com years ago:
http://www.cherscholar.com/topten.htm#somebody and I won’t regurgitate that bit here but I will add that I still love the whimsical bass line, the honking horn that almost blares like a headlight flash, Cher’s smooth intro and then singing like Sonny (d.b.a harmonizing) in the second half of the song, the nasally sax, and most of all the gospel send-off at end.

To my surprise and glee, the pink-label Kapp version didhave the accented wailings at the end. Compare your All I Ever Need The Kapp/MCA Anthology CD version (and my CD bootleg version is also robbed of this ending) to this copy I have burned from the Amoeba album (see link at bottom of page).

There’s a fuller gospel sound at the end, complete with some solo stand outs (including the final “Iiii said!”). Now there’s even a third version, the 45 which predates the album version, with completely different ending lines, but discussing that is for another day.

Download 02_Somebody_(with_wailers)


Worth a Sniff – An Uninhibited Revew

Cher-Uninhibited There's a cool page on Cher’s 80s perfume venture Uninhibited on the site Perfume Posse (their tag: “Perfume is our poison”): http://perfumeposse.com/2009/07/26/cher-uninhibited/

First of all, I love the idea of a “perfumista cult” – and I love that perfume experts are dissecting Uninhibited so expertly, so scholarly! They’re using jargon like “notes"and “drydowns”! How exciting!

The best line:

[the perfume] “manages to convey both sensuality and aloofness.”

That’s seems Cher-like, no?


So I’ve gotten to try one of those perfumista cult perfumes – Cher’s Uninhibited, thanks to Melissa!   I love the bottle, isn’t that a gas?  I had a heckuva time finding a decent image.  This is allegedly a factice, which I think looks like the parfum bottle, with a frosted glass (crystal?) half moon stopper.  The stopper on the EdT bottles is silver toned.

I personally would expect Cher’s fragrance to suck, only because so many celeb fragrances do.  According to Basenotes, Uninhibited was inspired by two fragrances Cher wore together: Charles of the Ritz and Jean Laporte Vanilla. Since I don’t have either of those I can’t say, but Uninhibited has been discontinued for some time and fetches premium prices online.  It shows up on eBay and it appears to be available at a couple other sites.

Notes are lily, peony, dried fruits, ylang, orris, magnolia, vanilla, heliotrope, musk. I’m finding that list a little suspect, only because Uninhibited doesn’t smell as sweet as that list would suggest.  In fact, the opening smells like aldehydes to me; for the first few seconds you could be smelling some chilly Chanel.  It’s a dry cocktail of a thing at that point.  Then the fragrance opens up and sweetens on my skin, but never gets all that sweet.  It’s powdery the way orris can be powdery, and the heliotrope isn’t overwhelming.  The drydown’s really nice, a slightly tart musk that manages to convey both sensuality and aloofness.

I think Cher Uninhibited fits in nicely with Cher’s image of the time – it’s fierce and strong and yet retains a sense of humor.  It also has that pre-gourmand vibe when “sexy” smelled like musk and patch and civet instead of like baked goods.  I’m not sure I’d go to the ends of the earth to get my hands on a bottle, but if some comes your way it’s worth a sniff.

  


Cher Compilations That Drive Me Slowly Mad

9211earlyyears_s Okay so my actual 40th Birthday was hellish. Basically a chaotic work day of disaster. I got home and my bf had set out two sets of flowers (roses and orange daises that I like), the daises displayed very cutely in an old coffee thermos because he couldn’t find another vase. He also set up both champagne and champagne cake, too. We watched ghost shows. 

The next day was my 40th celebration day -- officially. We went to a DVD-signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank to visit our friend Akiko Shima who is in the DVD, a horror flick called Ghost Month. Akiko is very creepy in the movie and has a great death scene.

Then we went to buy my present: a VHS-DVD-R dubbing contraption that will help me convert a lifetime’s worth of Cher clips on VHS over to DVD. A very generous gift in so many ways.

I will also be able to re-watch quite a few John Waite videos taped a thousand times. We also found the wedding guestbook pens we’ve been looking for at an art store and then we cruised over to dinner at Maloon Sunset, my favorite restaurant for their spicy corn on the cob, salsa trio appetizer and hotter-than-hell shrimp diablo. I’ve been there four times and always get the exact same thing.

Then we went to see the new Harry Potter movie at Mann's theater over on Hollywood Blvd. Potter was great, per usual, except for one fatal flaw. They cut out all the back story on Professor Snape (played by Alan Rickman). Not only is Snape my favorite character but his development is the point of this whole book (The Half-Blood Prince). It explains all his prejudices (the book does, with real heart -- it’s Wuthering Heights-esque), and not only does this prepare you for the series finale, it serves to knock you off your own prejudices about good and evil and who is on who’s side.

You could say Snape and Potter are the characters that define the whole series and its main theme. Cutting out the meat of the book made me feel emotionally robbed and also robbed of major plot foundation, and then confused about why the movie-makers decided to even keep the title if they were barely going to refer to it. They tried to cover that fact by a throwing in a scene at the end to quickly resolve that elephant-in-the-room, and that scene was frankly insulting to the book’s readers.

Since birthday weekend, I’ve been dealing with work craziness and car issues. So not a great week starting my somewhat-middle-age.

This week I also checked out a Cher compilation CD I found at Amoeba Records, a compilation I didn’t think I had – although there are so many Cher compilations now, I’m starting to forget.  This one is The Best of Cher The Early Years, a two CD Set -- undated.

A waste of God’s good materials if you ask me. 

I always wonder how songs are picked for these when they’re not actually comprised of real hits. The producers quirky choices? Random selections out of a hat? This set is divided like as follows...

CD 1: Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves (I appreciate the attempt to correct the spelling of 'Gypsys' but is it better to be a good speller or misquote history?)

  1. The Way of Love
  2. Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves
  3. He’ll Never Know
  4. Fire & Rain
  5. When You Find Out Where You’re Goin’ Let Me Know
  6. He Aint Heavy, He’s My Brother
  7. I Hate to Sleep Alone
  8. I’m In the Middle
  9. Touch and Go
  10. One Honest Man

Okay kids, so this is basically a redux of Cher (1971), the album later re-titled Gypsys Tramps & Thieves. Maybe the re-release of the CD is already out of print, thus necessitating HALF of this compilation being taken up by a re-re-release of the whole damn thing. More likely, it looks like somebody had a mass of old Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves album CDs without cases, vulnerable to repackaging just like those old Mego doll Cher heads in the late-70s that were left over and stuck on cheaper plastic barbie bodies. Atrocities to Cher heads, that was.

Half Breed is what the second CD is titled and I’d think we’d be getting the full Half-Breed album, if I've learned anything from what’s on CD 1. What was I thinking? Trying to use logic on Cher compilations is thankless.

  1. Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves (inexplicably again!)
  2. Don’t Hide Your Love
  3. The First Time
  4. Let me Down Easy
  5. Half Breed
  6. Dark Lady
  7. Carousel Man
  8. Song for You
  9. Train of Thought
  10. The Way of Love (inexplicably again!!)

At first I thought we were getting Cher’s Greatest Hits (1974 MCA) until I hit “The First Time.” What hodge-podge of hits and non-hits is this? And WTF, two songs repeated twice? And the same Orange-Daisy-726565 song beginning and ending the entire compilation...for no purpose!!

Listen, I don’t care if you try to rip me off with cheap compilations, you scammy record-companies. But just don’t throw crap at a wall. Is that too much to ask? Can you at least put ten minutes of thought into this junk before you send it on its merry way? With all of Cher’s recordings in the world, ten monkeys could type out more coherent, cohesive compilations combinations. 

Okay...maybe that’s my lack-of-transportation-frustration talking.  But come on. Is it me?