Previous month:
March 2018
Next month:
October 2018

What Now My Love

WhatnowThis is my go-to Cher song when I’m feeling sadsack. I was supremely bored by the song when I was a kid, but experience has given me sympathy for this dirge to dependency.

While I was researching this diatribe on Cher's "Carousel Man," I came across the original French version of the song “What Now My Love,” which was recorded as “Et Maintenant” by Gilbert Bécaud in 1961. I really like that version. Maybe better. 

Here are the French lyrics, followed by the more literal English translation.

 

Et Maintenant

Et maintenant que vais-je faire
e tout ce temps que sera ma vie
De tous ces gens qui m'indiffèrent
Maintenant que tu es partie
Toutes ces nuits, pourquoi pour qui
Et ce matin qui revient pour rien
Ce c oeur qui bat, pour qui, pourquoi
Qui bat trop fort, trop fort

Et maintenant que vais-je faire
Vers quel néant glissera ma vie
Tu m'as laissé la terre entière
Mais la terre sans toi c'est petit
Vous, mes amis, soyez gentils
Vous savez bien que l'on n'y peut rien
Même Paris crève d'ennui
Toutes ses rues me tuent

Gilbert-becaud-et-maintenantEt maintenant que vais-je faire
Je vais en rire pour ne plus pleurer
Je vais brûler des nuits entières
Au matin je te haïrai
Et puis un soir dans mon miroir
Je verrai bien la fin du chemin
Pas une fleur et pas de pleurs
Au moment de l'adieu
Je n'ai vraiment plus rien à faire
Je n'ai vraiment plus rien

What Now My Love

And now what am I going to do
All this time that will be my life
Of all those people who cared about me
Now that you're gone
All these nights, why for who
And this morning that comes back for nothing
This heart beats, for whom, why
Who beats too loud, too loud
And now what am I going to do
Toward which nil will slip my life
You left me the whole world
But the land without you is small
You, my friends, be kind
You know that nothing can be done
Even Paris is dying of boredom
All its streets kill me
And now what am I going to do
I'm going to laugh at not crying anymore
I will burn whole nights
In the morning I will hate you
And then one evening in my mirror
I'll see the end of the road
Not a flower and no crying
At the time of farewell
I really do not have anything to do
I really do not have anything

Songwriters: Gilbert Francois Leopold Becaud / Pierre Delanoe

The lyrics and title in the official English version were written by Carl Sigman. The recurring musical motif in the background is Ravel's "Bolero."

You can see this is a very different song in French and English. The English is more sad and depressed. The French more angry, almost vicious.

Sonny-and-cher-what-now-my-love-et-maintenant-atcoThe French version was a number one hit in 1961. Bécaud recorded the “What Now My Love” translation in 1962 but it was Shirley Bassey’s version that became a #5 hit in the U.K. It’s considered one of Sonny & Cher’s greatest hits, although they only reached #14 with in in the U.S. It’s been covered a lot more than I had previously assumed: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Et_maintenant

And currently the song is still popular on the French singing competition shows, the most arresting being this version by Dominique Magloire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoDl1duwUOE

And I also found this: Becaud singing the English with Nina Simone. Wait for it. Becaud he does the French first: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkKQb6izVGQ

As I'm looking for these, I'm getting YouTube ads for Mama Mia 2 and it's confusing me. What was I searching for again? Cher on YouTube: c'est un trou de lapin!

Sonny & Cher live performances of "What Now My Love"


Cher Summer 2018

JcMama Mia 2

The new release date I’m seeing for Mama Mia 2 is July 20 here in the U.S. I'm afraid I’m going to have to wing it because I doubt I’ll find time to watch Mama Mia, the first. She's started to promote the movie.

Entertainment Tongiht: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RSiR6Enovk

James Corden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1I8IJ4PLlI - What charmers they are; this show caused a slew of media stories about Cher eating cow's tongue instead of saying something nice about Donald Trump. Note: Cher swallows. James doesn't.

Cher was also on Graham Norton. Here are some clips:

- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABG5GOoU_lQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gR9hI0lbWU 

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6mjfge (full show, but backwards)

Mama Mia 2 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MammaMiaMovie/

Cher’s version of Fernado was released and she sang the song live at Cinemacon. Article about it: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/cher-performs-mamma-mia-here-we-go-again-song-at-cinemacon-1105788

Cher Singing Fernando

Cher talks to Entertainment Tonight about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AK5QX2am-M

People Magazine: http://people.com/movies/new-mamma-mia-2-new-trailer-cher/

GnOn Graham Norton, Cher has confirmed she's working on a new album for the Australian tour. Rumors are it might be a full ABBA album.

Interviews from Australia

The Andrew Denton Australian interview was particularly good but it's hard to find online. How old fashioned of them. Good way to keep people from watching your good interviewing. See the trailer in any case: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StiKQPwTymY 

Another Australian piece: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-5720905/Cher-71-speaks-candidly-getting-older.html 

Cher Concerts:

Cher’s Vegas show continued to see news this spring and she scheduled dates for an Australian tour:

  1. Keyboardist D. Laurent Smith (Broadway World)
  2. Perth Show news
  3. Cher on iTunes Chart
  4. Tour Announcement

Cher in People Magazine

My friend Christopher sent me this happy Cher news. In his own words:

Mary--

You will be thrilled to know that in People's new "100 Reasons to Love America" issue, timed in celebration with the 4th of July, Cher finds herself ensconced on the list at #57 [reason:  "A living legend"]. It's worth pointing out that Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Madonna and Aretha Franklin did not make the cut; nor even Dolly Parton and Betty White (glaring omissions both)!  Then again, to keep things in perspective, #58 is "Lawn Flamingos" and other entries include "As Seen on TV Gadgets" [#31], Target's Opalhouse home decor line [#39] and Cardi B's catchphrase "Okuurt" ("'Okay' when spoken like a cold pigeon"--whatever the hell that means) [#88].  I, however, will choose to associate Cher's inclusion with the more luminous choices, such as 60 Minutes [#17], the National Spelling Bee [#41], the Liberty Bell [#43], the Rescue Dog movement [#71], Crayola Crayons [#79], the Parkland High School student activists [#82], and the best ice cream in the world [#100].   

Congratulations, Cher!!!

Christopher


Cher Sings Fernando (and Carousel Man)

Fern

So we found out Cher’s featured number in Mama Mia 2 is the ABBA song “Fernando.” You can buy it on Amazon. Go do that.

I’ve always loved ABBA. I may be one of the few people on the planet who doesn’t think “Dancing Queen” is overplayed. I actually found the song hard-to-come by on 80s radio. It was one of those songs I sang for years without having my own copy. My favorite songs change over the decades, but "Fernando" was definitely a childhood favorite so it’s a treat to hear Cher’s version.

It’s also always a thrill to hear Cher sing the place names of my home state. This probably suggests something disturbing about the degree of my celebrity obsession (that it can arise from the singing of a place name) but what can I say?

For those who don’t yet know, (you’d be surprised), New Mexico is a U.S. state and has been once since 1912. I was once getting electrolysis on my bikini area when I lived in Pennsylvania and the technician there, (who was in her 40s), asked me about my vacation and I said I was traveling to New Mexico. She exclaimed, "Oh, you’ll be by the beach!" I said, "Oh no, you’re thinking of the country Mexico" like maybe I hadn't enunciated properly. "I’m talking about the state between Arizona and Texas." She looked at me confused and asked, “Is there an Old Mexico?”

When I left LA, I tried to keep my bank in Los Angeles and I called them to see if they had any partnerships with a local New Mexico bank. They transferred me to International Accounts. Talk to New Mexicans and they all have stories like this.

In fact, when the Kardashians visited Santa Fe, the media were making fun over their lack of knowledge about U.S. states and where New Mexico was, my co-worker commented hilariously,  “get those bitches out of my country.”

Anyway, when Cher sings, “the frightful night we crossed the Rio Grande,” it’s lovely. LOVELY!

I was just as thrilled when Cher sang “one night in Santa Fe” in the middle of the song “Carousel Man.” CmI first learned that song when I was six or seven and like all of Cher's story songs, I loved it. I eventually grew up and started to worry that the song’s writer, John Durrill, himself didn’t know the difference between Mexico and New Mexico. I tried to rationalize that maybe the story in the song occurred before the state was ceded from Mexico in 1848 but that was ridiculous because our leading lady in the song wears blue jeans and the traveling show follow "county lines," which sort of indicates a rural U.S. environment. Here are the lyrics as Cher sings them (listen along):

I had a taste of bitter life
at sweet sixteen.
I was growing up too fast
if you know what I mean.
Met an older man
who taught me his own way to live.
And all I had to do to keep him
was to give and give

[Chorus] The carousel man
kept me going around and round.
The carousel man always knowing
I'd stay around.
The carousel man
wouldn't let me off his merry-go-round.

I followed him around in traveling shows
along the main county lines.
Watched him drinking his mind away,
not ever knowing my name at times.
Each night when the show closed down
he used to tell me of his dreams.
He was wearing new French suits
while I mended my torn work jeans.

[Chorus]

Then one night in Santa Fe,
the horses stopped going around.
There he was my poor rich man
lying on the Mexico ground.
All the sad music of his life
is still spinning in my mind.
The carousel starts up again
and I found my place in line.

[Chorus]

The lyrics online clearly say Mexico [forget the grammatical issue of Mexico vs. Mexican]. And why her producer Snuff Garrett, (from Texas no less; he was even a DJ in nearby Lubbock!) didn’t catch this is beyond me. You can kind of convince yourself that Cher is singing “New Mexico ground” instead of “the Mexico” ground. But I know. She isn’t. It’s a mistake.

Sante Fe hasn’t been part of Mexico since 1848. And back then there were no torn jeans or carousels visiting Santa Fe along county lines. It’s hard to look around that. I mean, obviously, most people can.  

But the pleasure of hearing Cher sing “one night Santa Fe” is now is compromised by the fact that this historic town is considered part of Mexico in all the minds of everyone writing, producing and singing the song and that makes me sad a little bit every time. A little thrilled and then a little sad. Every time.


The Cher Show Hits Chicago

Robbie-chicago-showThe prospect of a Cher Broadway show has never much filled my heart with glee. I think this is because Cher's not in it, which always takes the rest of pop culture in the universe down a notch for me. So talking about it last year felt kind of obligatory. But now that I've read about the actual details of the show, I feel a sense of new excitement about it. Because this is scholarship in action. This show is trying to make meaning of her life story. This isn't The Beat Goes On movie, part deux. Broadway artists are working on strategies to try to conceptualize Cher, structurally in a story and aesthetically with visuals and sounds. It's a cool thing for a Cher nerd after all.

The show opened a few weeks ago and there haven't been many reviews, mostly because this is a soft opening to a work in progress. A try out. Some Chicago papers have been doing feature stories on the show, like the Chicago Sun Times. Some interesting excerpts:

"...producer Jeffrey Seller, who is also the producer of “Hamilton” (playing a few blocks away at the CIBC Theatre), which tells the tale of, well, another iconic American. 'Who ever thought you could put Hamilton and Cher in the same sentence,' Seller said amid hearty laughter. 'America would not be the same were it not for Alexander Hamilton and Cher. And that is inarguably true. … People who are tenacious often are people who change the world. Alexander Hamilton unquestionably changed the world, and I think Cher, over the past 50-plus years, has absolutely changed the world"

Cast"'The idea of presenting Cher as a girl group was fascinating to me as a writer,' Elice said. 'You could have one of them argue with the other two, take sides against someone else, show how the three of them could support each other and evolve together over the course of the show. So, it’s not the cinema’s solution of here’s the young one, here’s the middle one, here’s the old one. They’re on all the time together so that we see sort of a refracted image of a personality onstage, which struck me as being a great way into a life that is so varied.'”

“'[The young ‘Babe’ Cher] is fearless but yet vulnerable and optimistic,' Block said of Elice’s unique character concept. '[Midlife ‘Star’ Cher] is confidence and poise. And I’m [as Lady] the wisdom of it all. I think the audience will really be taken aback that it’s not the young one who passes the torch to Lady who passes the torch to Star. We kind of liken it to a Russian nesting doll: There is the one doll, and then you open up and there’s the second and then the third. But yet when you put them all together it makes a complete Cher. And we’re hoping the audience really grasps and takes a hold of that because it’s not only theatrical but it’s very special and moving. … It’s this gorgeous, theatrical Cher therapy session.'”

There have also been interesting articles about the cast (ew.com and Playbill and CBS Local), the promo, Ru Paul's Drag Race put on an unauthorized Cher Rusical that was very smart and politically aware. Carol Burnett attended the opening show to support Bob Mackie.  We saw behind the scenes photos. 

I haven’t seen many official reviews yet (see one at the end of this article) but both Cher fans and theater fans have written some very good commentary on the show’s highlights and drawbacks.

Because these is long, I'm creating a post break for you.

Continue reading "The Cher Show Hits Chicago" »


Breaking the Band

BthbWhen I checked off the tags for this post, they were 'music' and then 'television." I also wished I had a tag for "reality television." Because Sonny & Cher were early music-television and reality-tv before its time. And reality TV with all its baggage of falsehoods. "Seemingly real" is what it is. And the more real it seems, the better its reenactors are.

Cher Scholar is suffering, dear friends, Cher chickadees and zombies. This is a high Cher tide and I'm so woefully behind with it. This whole year has been quite a shit show. First my department reorganized and the work seemed insurmountable. Then I hit a season of traveling that won't end until the end of July. And on top of all that, I'm spending the majority of my free time preparing the new book of poems, which involves endless rounds of editing, cover design work with an art designer, getting my photo done in a tintype theme, and taking care of all the business aspects of the book. 

Meanwhile, Cher is out there with concerts, planned tours, a Broadway show, TV docs, a new album in the works, a new movie and new publicity around all that. So much stuff I would love to indulge in and can't fully. So, so frustrating. 

But I will drop everything for a Cher documentary. And one came on last Sunday on the Reelz channel. I wasn't expecting much. It's the Reelz channel after all, full of shows like "Autopsy: [enter celebrity name]. Salacious and thin shows that seem exploitative. 

This was the first documentary on Cher that sprung for re-enactments, which was very funny. And reinforced for me why Cher and Sonny re-enactments always fail, and fail for all the same reasons. Bad impersonations. Bad outfits.

Let's start with the clothes. Seemingly a simple and innocuous thing. However, with Sonny & Cher these things are crucial. All of their cool cred was tied up in their clothes. You could say this is true for any music personality or band. The only difference between rock outfits and pop outfits is that rock singers try to play it off as authentic and organic and pop singers freely admit to using the device. The clothes on these impersonators, as in all Sonny & Cher re-enactments, looked cheap and ill-fitting. Save up all the money you would spend on a set and put it into the outfits. In comparison to these impersonators, you can see just how good Sonny & Cher looked.

The second issue is the faulty impersonations themselves. This is more complicated. Why is Cher, and surprisingly Sonny, so hard to impersonate well? They always cast for a 60s Cher and then expect her to be able to pull of 70s, 80s, 90s, etc. Cher. It's never been done. Not even professional Cher impersonators try this very often. And this is why the new Broadway show on Cher has split them up.

And then there's Sonny: he's always cast as a doofus. Just compare the Sonny re-enactor to the photos of Sonny in the documentary. The serious, competitive, intense Sonny staring back at us bears no relation to the impersonated buffoony Sonny, which tries to cast his TV persona (admitted dim) into their private scenes. The problem is the enactments are always cartoony, a caricature of the TV show characters. 

Maybe I'm just overly sensitive to a celebrity I know more about. Maybe all impersonations are bad everywhere. But I think the difficulty in impersonating Sonny or Cher (and often the discomfort we sometimes feel watching it) proves how multifaceted Sonny and Cher are as performers and people. This goes against the common critique of them since day one, that they are shallow and fluffy. But the problem of impersonation exposes problems in that theory.

The show also had some great new talking heads:

  • Don Peake, their guitarist during the Wrecking Crew days
  • Michel Rubini who was part of the Wrecking Crew and worked with Sonny & Cher into the 70s doing arrangement work and playing the piano and harpsichord
  • Cher biographers Randy Taraborrelli and Josiah Howard
  • Sonny's ex-wife and wife-after-Cher, Susie Coelho. Say what you want about Susie Coelho but she always provides eloquent, even-handed commentary and she has a unique perspective on Sonny right after he broke professionally with Cher.
  • Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour producer Allan Blye
  • Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour hairdresser Gary Chowen - hairdressers, they know stuff. 

I learned a few new things too. I didn't know, for instance, that Cher's unhappiness around their TV show was anything more than the quality of the music they were singing or the conditions of overwork. That Cher called herself Queen of a Mediocre Medium and wanted to be as big as the Rolling Stones is surprising. What boy-girl duet could ever have a shot at beating a rock band? It's inconceivable. But if anybody could have make a couple duo look cool, maybe it would have been Cher. But is she even that all-powerful?

The show also provided good commentary on what changing Cher's look and sound might mean to her soul, and her ability to grow out of Sonny, and how Sonny was smart enough to be aware of this. I was also surprised Cher offered to stay in the act for a deal of 50/50. We all know Sonny thought Cher's career would tailspin without his guidance.  And we all know how wrong he was. Gary Chowen's comments were good reinforcements around the idea of Cher’s growing up and standing up for herself. This is fresh new narrative that makes mince meat of the idea that Cher outgrew Sonny for ambition.

Chowen also illustrates an iconic irony about Cher when he comments how private Sonny and Cher were around their relationship struggles. Here they were pretending to be a reality-TV like open book onstage and in interviews, but that was all smoke and mirrors, not just their relationship status, but the entire facade of being candid performers to begin with. It was a fake intimacy Sonny had cultivated since their early days. And it's the same fake-frankness, or rather the "strategic frankness that distracts " which you can see Cher practicing even today. 

Inexplicably, the show kept calling David Geffen’s LA club On the Rox. On the Rox was the private lounge on top of his club, The Roxy. There's the club and the lounge within the club. 

 Check Reelz channel for future listings. Here's the trailer.