And We’re Still Talking About Believe

Believe boxAnd there were a few articles recently commemorating Cher's 1998 song "Believe":

20 Biggest Singles By Female Artists (Metro UK)

Revisiting Believe (thank you to Christopher)

Also, The Voice auditioner Taylor Alexander surprised the show's judges with a countrified cover of "Believe" that I actually liked. I tend to like the country versions better for some reason.  I’m not a huge fan of "Believe," truth be told, but I will defend it if pressed. How often does that happen, you might wonder. Well, last week actually.

I’m taking an Central New Mexico Community College class online on pop culture and during two weeks ago we read this essay: “Seduced by ‘Perfect’ Pitch: How Auto-Tune Conquered Pop Music” by Lessley Anderson. The author states, "The Auto-Tune or not Auto-Tune debate always seems to turn into a moralistic one, like somehow you have more integrity if you don’t use it, or only use it occasionally." Our discussion question was, how could a music debate turn into a moralistic one?

This was my (ahem) very lengthy response:

Discussions about Auto-Tune turn into moralistic debates because they can’t turn into craft debates. They are similar to debates about other film and sound engineering technologies going back to soft-focus filters on Bette Davis.

It is immoral to come across as more talented than you are? This seems to be the issue with Auto-Tune’s vocal pitch fixing. Many critics believe singing is either a honed craft or a punk rebellion against craft. As a dance track, “Believe” isn’t punk enough a rebellion. Also, Auto-Tune is a tool used for chasing perfection.

America is obsessed with perfection: models are airbrushed in magazines, viewers protest when someone sings out of tune on live show, we are even fearful of singing in public ourselves due to our less than professional imperfections (Drew, 270-286).

Yet Americans also have an obsession with authenticity. It’s hard to find a music genre devoid of affectation around authenticity. And because judgements about music resist objectivity, (e.g. what matters most: reviews, awards, record sales, concert sales, legions of fans, breaking records, longevity? *), we resort to moral judgements around who is more ‘real.’

However, it was more than Auto-Tune compromising the song “Believe.” Ever since disco, dance music has been criticized for political and social reasons (Myers). Cher herself has always struggled for respect. Sonny & Cher were not seen as authentic folk artists and Cher was not perceived as an authentic rock artist in the 1970s or 80s. In the mid-80s Cher earned respect for acting performances. Now, ironically, her success as a celebrity on Twitter has been attributed to her level of authenticity (Wortham).

If we truly believed in authentic moments, we would be attending only un-mic’d live performances and not purchasing any recorded media. Cher and the producers of “Believe” used Auto-Tune in a novel way and whether you like the sound or not, this amounts basically to learned preferences and biases, not objective aesthetics.

 

*Cher has hit all these metrics and yet is still not respected as a musical artist.

Works Cited

Drew, Robert. “Anyone Can Do It: Forging a Participatory Culture in Karaoke Bars.” Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture, edited by Henry Jenkins, et al., 2002, 270-286.

Myers, Ben. “Why 'Disco sucks!' sucked,” The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2009/jun/18/disco-sucks, Accessed 8 March 2017.

Wortham, Jenna,  “There’s Only Love and Fear: On Cher’s Twitter,” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/29/magazine/theres-only-love-and-fear-on-chers-twitter.html?_r=0, Accessed 8 Mar 2017.

The Influence of “Believe”

  1. “Believe” covers and mashups span pop, electronica, rock, heavy metal, country and hip hop. Believe was even covered as a sensation on The Voice this week.
  2. Believe – Cher
  3. Believe – MNEK
  4. Believe – Robbie Fulks
  5. Believe in You (Cher & Ariana Grande)
  6. Believe in Sexual Eruption (Cher & Snoop Dogg)
  7. Believe (Cher and Portishead)
  8. Believe (We Found Love) (Cher and Rihanna)
  9. Believe (Cher and Lady Gaga)
  10. Believe (Cher and ACDC)
  11. How Will I Believe (Cher and Whitney Houston)
  12. Believe it Right (Cher and Nelly Furtao)
  13. Do You Believe in Intuition (Cher and Shakira) 
  14. Hot N Believe (Katy Perry and Cher)
  15. Believe in my Religion (R.E.M. and Cher)
  16. Get Up Believe (Skrillex and Cher)
  17. Bulletproof Belief (Cher and La Roux)
  18. Believing On My Own (Cher and Robyn) 
  19. Believe in Sweet Dreams (Cher and Beyonce)

Cher’s Culture Influence & Songs We’re Still Talking About

SonnycheralbumdudsI’m reading 2016 issues of The New Yorker and came across a disparaging joke about Sonny in a satire piece about zen mantras. Which was very irksome; but then I saw some Rock Legends episodes and the one on Roxy Music reminded me of the always-impressive longevity of Sonny’s “The Beat Goes On” as it appears in the Roxy Music song  from 1975 “Love is the Drug.”

Last month I posted a link to the article The 7 Faces of Cher  which does a wee bit of Cher scholarship in trying to categorize facets of Cher’s career. This article does a similar thing: “Cher – the ultimate pop icon” from Getintothis, Beats, drones and rock & roll.

Some other good stuff:

Madonna, Guns N Rose and Cher Had the Best Songs of 1989 (Inquisitr)

5 Times Cher, Nicki Minaj & Others Pulled Off Lil' Kim's Pasties Look (Billboard)

PaulAnd when I last talked about the song “Bang Bang,” I forgot the whole reason I had brought the song up, which was coming across this album online, an album my parents had in their collection (of a few Paul Mauriat albums), 1967's masterpiece of covers, "Blooming Hits" which I was fascinated by because the woman is naked, painted and gasp not airbrushed! It also has a cover of the song "Mama" which is very proud of itself. According to the liner notes:

“[Mama] emerges as a musical distillation of the composition….the harpsichord is pleasantly evident, but there is also an incredible horn solo complete with scat riffs…Hardly as Mr. Bono imagined, but nonetheless extremely successful.”

Which lead me to this album, More Mauriat, from 1966 which has a cover of "Bang Bang."

Elevator music you can play in your own home!


Bang Bang, Anderson Cooper, Lily Tomlin and Cher Scarves

Petula CLIFF_RICHARD_BANG+BANG-200822

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bang Bang

I recently found some more "Bang Bang" covers:

Petula Clark (1966)

Cliff Richard (1970) He does a gender switch that doesn't quite work but there are some interesting string arrangements.

Did I ever post Lady Gaga's version? (2014) Meh.

Peripherals

Anderson Cooper talks about how Cher was his mother's (Gloria Vanderbilt) fantasy daughter and how Cher now calls him little bro and how charitable Cher's been since Cooper reported on Hurricane Katrina. (The Huffington Post)

Lily Tomlin talks about working with Cher (Parade)

How Cher Succeeds (Fast Company)

Cher Scarves

Cher called into Home Shopping Network earlier this year:

Visit the main scarf page: https://shopvida.com/collections/cher (and don’t miss the video shot at Cher's house.)


Movies, Music, TV - It's All Happening

Chermakeuptips2016Current Events

Wow. So much is happening right now. It's overwhelming.

Here's the lowdown:

- Cher's involved in a TV movie about the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.
- The documentary In This Climate should be coming out soon.
- Cher talking to the Washington Post.
- Cher's new song "Prayers for this World" will come out in the documentary Cries From Syria directed by Evgeny Afineevsky. HBO will air it.
- Cher is being sued over the typeface art of Closer to the Truth. (The rags TMZ and Daily Mail reporting this.)
- Jack in the Box tacos have been in the news.
- The Broadway Cher show continues to percolate. The New York Times article an all the diva Broadway shows and Playbill's article on the January reading.
- Cher tweets about the heartbreaking passing of all the celebrities over Christmas:

"This is tragic. I loved Debbie, she was tough, funny, told the best old 40's-50's showbiz stories and lived through Hollywood bullsh*t. A huge testament to her".

"This is beyond heartbreaking. Debbie was an idol... I have seen Singing In The Rain a million times. Loved all her films... Words are inadequate."

So sad about Carrie and George, I have no words. I keep forgetting and then suddenly remember. Such great artists dying, and many are too young. Am heartsick."

"Talked to her on the phone: ironic, sarcastic and hysterical at the same time. Went to a few wacky Penny [Marshall]/Carrie Birthday parties".

"One time I was talking to George at a disco. I got up, danced six songs, came back, leaned over him, and didn't realize that I was sweating drops all over his shirt. We laughed."

- More media love for Cher tweets: "Cher’s Twitter is the only pure thing left in this world" and "Find a Tiny Bit of Solace in This Cher-ified Chick Emoji."

Cher News is Back

And I'm happy to report that Cher News is back! Actually, it's been up since last March! So much I missed. Go here for all your up-to-date Cher news.

Daniel Wheway, the site's mastermind, has some eBooks out now too:

Cher Bible Vol. 1 and Cher Bible Vol 2. I've downloaded them but haven't read them yet.

Speaking of eBooks, I've also downloaded the eBook Cher Toons by Scott Clarke which was very fun and also just purchased Scott's physical coloring book version.

But over the past year almost, Cher News is packed with awesome stuff (if you haven't checked it out already). There's info about the Syrian documentary, and Cher's song on it, "I Got You Babe" made it into the Grammy Hall of Fame and you can watch clips of Cher on ET (October 6) and Extra.

Daniel also did plenty of scholarship last year, posting Cher rankings for Billboard's Roundups including 100 Greatest Acts of All Time (Cher ranks #43 and Daniel notes she is the 16th highest female solo singer), Vogue's list of 22 Fashion Icons from the Music World (Daniel's recap), Marie Claire's reporting on plastic surgery requests and Cher's jawline (truly odd but interesting), Daniel also recaps a few Oscar Roundups from Vanity Fair, The Independent and The New York Times, and About.com ranks Cher songs (Daniel's recap).

He also reports that Get TV only purchased 30 Cher shows. Has anyone else heard about this?

And two big bombshells:

1. I missed the AXS Cher Biography from last year. Does anybody have a copy of this?? Looks like it has some good talking head Cher scholarship! Watch the trailer.

2. Cher posted a video of makeup tips! How awesome! 

So don't miss your Cher News!!

Old Stuff

Recently I came across Paul Mauriat's musak version of "Mama." And we watched the Johnny Cash Christmas special on GetTV over the holidays. I learned that "Someday" is a Gene Autrey song! The Johnny Cash Christmas special was amazing. Watch the Sun City Studios reunion of artists, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison sing "This Train."  (Wow…that’s some great TV right there). And the whole cast does an amazing "Children, Go Where I Send Thee."

Whew! And that's just the first two weeks of January!

 


Cher's Cover of Walk on Guilded Splinters

GsHuh...so those are the lyrics.

I recently came across the differing versions of lyrics to "Walk on Guilded Splinters." One of my favorite Cher songs and one that was most likely the closest single to my birth date in 1969.

Cher's lyrics on Google Play

Dr. John's lyrics on Google Play

They're very different. Huh. Cher is singing: Kon killy, killy kon kon. Who knew?

Here is a good video essay of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNd40VOQmPY

 Je suie le grand zombie!


The I Paralyze Re-Release

Ip3The re-release of the album I Paralyze came out recently with a booklet of liner notes by Quentin Harrison whose bio talks about “equalizing the commentary field for music in need of critical dissemination.” Sounds a bit wordy but surely good for cultural re-evaluations of Cher. He says she is, “instantly synonymous with glamour, empowerment, humor and wit” and that “her reach has extended into both music and acting, forming a two pronged approach to her legacy.” Do legacies have prongs? If so, Cher has more prongs than two. The great thing is, Harrison interviewed album producer David Wolfert who provided valuable insight into this obscure album as being one of the “pockets of lost Cher music” which I take to mean awesome but underappreciated Cher albums. Harrison lists 3614 Jackson Highway, Bittersweet White Light, (a controversial inclusion but one I agree with), Stars and I Paralyze.

Harrison talks about Cher’s “pyrric stay at Casablanca records." I looked it up: pyrrhic means "won at too great a cost to have been worthwhile for the victor." I'm not sure how to use this adjective with Cher's Casablanca albums. Two were not that victorious at all. One is arguably a good disco album. He calls Take Me Home “shrewd but satisfying.” I can accept that. Prisoner he calls “muddled.” Ditto. He says Cher signed with Columbia in 1981 while she was launching an acting career in New York City. He calls this “Cher’s most cohesive LP since Stars.” TMH seemed pretty cohesive to me if too light. Cherished was cohesively kitschy.  

David Wolfert says, “We didn’t want to make a dumb pop record, neither of us were in the mood" and that they worked to streamline "the ambition of Black Rose but avoiding the fluff of Prisoner.” He talks about “the sensuous, sci-fi grove” of IP. Wolfert wanted make an album you’d listen too from end to end.  “We took a long time to decide what order things were in...Cher and I talked a lot about the sound of the album…it wasn’t going to be slick, it wasn’t going to be overproduced.”

IpWolfert said he went through a thousand songs and narrowed a list down to 40 or 50 and Cher and Wolfert picked from those. Cher brought in “Rudy” and wanted Wolfert to write with Desmond Child [on “Walk with Me”] “which was fantastic,” Wolfert says. Harrison describes the song “Games” as “the shadowy ballad gave Cher’s contralo room to breathe." Wolfert says “We worked long and hard on that one, especially the vocals.”

Wolfert wanted "Walk With Me" to be first single instead of "I Paralyze" but Cher scholar Dishy reminded me that it was actually "Rudy" that was released as a single first. “I wasn’t around for the decision,” Wolfert says, adding IP was recorded “as an afterthought because they thought it had the best shot of being a single.” This sounds like Cher’s first overproduced moment. I doubt "Walk with Me" would have fared better.

I remember reading my first People Magazine Cher album review about swallowed vowels. This People Magazine review was not what I remember but it's interesting nonetheless:

This album seems largely a regression, with Cher yelling her way through such adolescent rock ‘n’ roll as Rudy, Games, Back on the Street Again and The Book of Love (a new song by Desmond Child, unfortunately, not the old Monotones hit). It’s hard to tell how seriously she’s taking all this, since her delivery often sounds as if her tongue were literally as well as figuratively in her cheek. There are two interesting tracks. One is I Paralyze, co-written and produced by John Farrar with the intriguing tone and synthesizer feel he used on Olivia Newton-John’s Physical LP. The other is a Micheal Smotherman-Billy Burnette tune, Do I Ever Cross Your Mind, a slow, moody piece in which Cher seems to be drawing on her talent and experience instead of the same kind of awkward, unflattering decorations she uses on her body.

[They did not just go there.]

Cher_i_paralyze_vinyl_back_coverThis Popdose review has another take, saying the song IP sounds like an outtake from Olivia Newton John’s album of the same era, Physical.  Let’s revisit a few of these ONJ Physical tracks for comparison:

- Landslide:  This songs has really full drums and depth and more unique accents than the IP tracks.
- Make a Move on Me: This song has hit all over it—what a great aerobic song it was. It probably encapsulates my entire philosophical and sexual ethos at age 16. Unfortunately, my love life then was as hot as Olivia Newton John’s dancing.
- Physical: Just tighter sounding than IP.
- Recovery:  Wow. What a video. Men inexplicably in a cage. This reminds me fondly of John Wait’s video for his song Tears.
- The Dolphin Song: The pre-teen animal rights activist in me loved this song.

“We all felt that record was under promoted,” Wolfert argues. According to Popdose: Cher only made “dulsatory (“marked by absence of a plan") appearances on Solid Gold and a rapidly aging American Bandstand to market it.” I’ve never seen the Solid Gold episode.

“No one tells Cher what to do,” Wolfert says. We’ve heard this sentiment from time to time since the late 1970s from producers of her solo albums. Is this an overreaction to a decade of being pushed around by Snuff Garrett and Sonny in the studio?

The liner notes talk about the album’s “polite touch of new wave.” And here is where the album's issues sit, in the new wave sensibility of its sounds and photo artifacts. Something about Cher just doesn't meld with New Wave. Yes, Cher…an artist who can meld with just about anything.  I actually like this album but I can completely see why it didn’t fly with new wave audiences.

Rudy – I liked the new tough-sounding belting from Cher, especially at the bridge but the music seems too low and muddled, not defined. The song could have kicked ass with more oomph from the backing vocals, keyboards and drums. Overall, it’s a kid-culture fail. There are also some awkward moments on the “why-y-y” and the “Remember” vowel slippages. But this is only recently post-Black-Rose and Cher is just getting her rock-voice legs.

Games is a lovely vocal and a great potential format for a Cher song. It’s a smart lyric about life experience. The metaphors are good but the production feels like a demo instrumental. There are more vowel slips. Like “Rudy,” it needed more instrumental texture. The guitar bridge almost sounds like a Little River Band song.

I Paralyze is fun but like a drum-machine among plodding instrumentals. Her vocals are fine but after many years I still can’t parse out some words and phrases. In fact, I could use help with the chorus if anybody knows the words. "Everybody’s sober and no one lies?" "Green as a dollar bill" or is it "greed as a dollar bill?"

Ip4When the Love is Gone - Again I like this song and its movements from soft to hard. But the piano just doesn’t sound present. Again it's just demo quality. The bridge sounds very similar to Earth Wind and Fire’s "After the Love Is Gone" (1979) without that song’s soft groovines. I have listened to this song probably over 200 times since 1979. The words in the bridge I cannot decipher at all.

Say What’s On Your Mind is ok. Some fine belting.

Back on the Street Again - What is not to like here? The original is great as it is,  (although, I could digress with a whole other post about that red jumpsuit). The synthesizer is a bit cartoonish and Cher inexplicably went safe with “gave every night” instead of “came every night” but then wanted to be on the “street again” instead of on her feet. Is this an empowering 80s woman “taking back the night” moment? Is it best not to represent anyone as being overly orgasmic? She gives the bridge a strong go of it and I imagine she probably loved the guitar part. It’s the best track on this album, IMHO. I was irked by the liner note’s attempt to correct the misspelling of The Babys with the dumbfounding possessive The Baby’s instead of The Babies (the baby’s what?) and then calling the song in the liner notes “Back On My Feet.” There are more than a few typos in the booklet.

Walk With Me is the Desmond Child song with typical Desmond Child atmosphere and his recognizable 90s pop-rock transitions. This song could easily have found itself on any of Cher’s Warren-Child infused Geffen albums. Similarly, it’s repetitive and plodding.

The Book of Love is very 80s-campy. I like the Michael Myers sounding piano and the bitchy chorus. “Chains of lovers” recalls the 80s magazine profiles of Cher with the obligatory sidebar of her love relationships. Another good guitar solo.

Do I Ever Cross Your Mind ends the album on a Allman-esque country note. It’s a quiet, sincere vocal although you have to sit through a dated keyboard arrangement in order to enjoy it.

This expanded edition of the album gives us two alternate versions of "Rudy," both with an alternate bridge of “I Love Yous” that was probably good to dispense with.

All of Wolfert’s instrumental tracks are included as well. Do these instrumentals add anything since they’re not that impressive in the first place? Not that they’re necessarily bad but it makes me wonder if  someone involved in the project preferred the album without Cher in it? David Wolfert maybe, considering "I Paralyze," the John Farrar’s single is the only track lacking an instrumental doppelganger?

To be fair, these are some interesting experiments in Cher doing new wave and it sounds like she is enjoying doing it. But she’s better suited, dare I even say it, to Bon-Jovi rock. Cher is too much for this genre.

The album does get good Amazon reviews and it’s one of Gordon Ashenhurst’s favs.  He says, “of all her Geffen releases it is only on I Paralyze where the one-size-fits-all power-rock formula is not relied upon” Oh, he says she’s singing “you’re as real as a dollar bill!” Huh.

  


Sonny & Cher on GetTV Weeks 3 and 4

PolkadotsI am getting whiplash or with these shows bouncing around. Week 3 takes us all the way to the end of 1973 in Season 4 for the episode Years Part 2. Yes, it’s true, we haven’t even seen Years, Part 1 yet. But as it turns out, the originals were never aired back-to-back either. They were shown two months apart. These are nostalgic, where-are-they-now episodes with musical guests from the 1960s.

Wolfman Jack starts things out by getting his Sonny & Cher records ready. He has an unbelievably hairless chest. Sonny and Cher come onstage in rainbow, polka-dot ensembles singing the Danny and the Junior’s song, “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay.” All the guests appear on the opening stage to sing the opening medly--all which makes the iconic opening feel cheapened and crowded. The nostalgia feels particularly manic, as well. Neil Sedaka sings “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” at the piano, Peter Noone, who never looks very comfortable, sings “Henry VII,” Paul Anka croons “Diana,” and The Coasters sing “Charlie Brown” with odd hitch-hiking choreography. Sonny & Cher provide backup through all this and everybody has coordinated, white suits. I have to say, I've never liked these Years episodes, back from when I first saw them on our cable access channel back in the early 1980s. It’s like a blast of kitsch coming at you too fast and furious.

In the opening  dialogue there’s a boob joke, a Sonny naked joke, and a Watergate joke. As Cher sings, we get a glimpse of early giggle TV. Her garage-door blue eye shadow is impressive, however. Wolfman Jack introduces another “Sonny & Cher mythology” skit that again tells the story of how they went from rock stars to nightclub entertainers to TV stars. At this time, tabloids had already started publishing stories about big, behind-the-scenes blow-ups between Sonny & Cher, going as far as to dub them The Bickering Bonos. They bicker throughout this skit, too, with short jokes, Indian cooking jokes (Sonny complains about her Buffalo pizza: “I’m still picking arrows out of my teeth”), Italian-mother fat jokes, nose jokes, jokes about Sonny’s musical pedigree. It’s interesting to note how these ethnic jokes might have signified entirely different things to people back in 1973. I would still like to know how the history of Cher’s use of Indian iconography and genealogy is perceived by actual American Indians (then and now).

ComicMurray Langston is seen prominently in this skit at the bar. Mr. Cher Scholar and I just watched Chuck Barris’ The Gong Show Movie (not the same movie as Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) in which Langston’s portrayal of the Unknown Comic stands out. The movie also shows an amazingly young cameo performance by Phil Hartman.

They air an old video performance of "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," the one with the yellow fringe dress and the gypsy wagon. GetTV airs a skit about fathers in the waiting room that I had never see aired in the TV Land before with Teri Garr playing a nurse among new fathers who are losing their minds.

The concert portion is a medley held together by the song Peter, Paul and Mary song “I Dig Rock and Roll Music.” Cher wears a red dress and a red bobbed wig. Everyone else is coordinated in suits of black and red. It’s all very manic like the opening. It’s interesting that none of Phil Spector’s acts were hired for these nostalgia shows. I’m surprised that Neil Sedaka is taller than Paul Anka and I’ve always had those two confused.  The Coasters sing “Poison Ivy,” Neil Sedaka sings “Calendar Girl, Peter Noone sings “I’m Into Something Good,” Paul Anka sings “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” S&C sing “All I Ever Need Is You” (hey, these S&C songs aren’t all that nostalgic so far; they’re recent hits!), The Coasters sing “Yakety Yak,” (and I really don’t dig these gimmicky songs), Peter Noone sings “Mrs. Brown,” Neil Sedaka sings “Happy Birthday, Sweet 16,”  S&C sing a very affectionate “I Got You Babe,” Paul Anka sings “Lonely Boy,” and S&C end the marathon with “All I Really Want to Do” in a very similar arrangement to what Cher uses to sing the song to this day.

GetTV does not air the 1960s-era Vamp skit which includes a skit with the Maharishi and Marilyn Monroe. I remember the TV Land version itself included some Batman characters in the recap but an actual Batman skit was missing from the aired sequence.

PantsuitWe fly back to 1972 with Merv Griffin's second appearance on the show in March. This is the season 2 finale. I’ve decided the opening cartoon sequence cartoons probably deserve their own future study. Sonny & Cher sing The Temptations’ song “Get Ready” in yellow and white suit and pantsuit. Cher does hair swings, there are short jokes, mother is fat jokes, sex jokes. Sonny calls Cher a tart. The show is actually pretty good at conversational humor. Sonny gets trumped in a verbal exchange and swivels the dialogue with a “Well, anyway” and this gets a big laugh. Sonny shakes his fist at Cher at one point and they discuss resorting to personal digs when you lose an argument. Sonny shoulder punches Cher and she hits her knuckles into his chin in response.

Cher sings “The Way of Love” in a pink dress with a big flower in her hair. This is her ultimate torch song. There are great camera flares off the flower. This is followed by The S&C stomp, a song and dance about “the craze” of their current popularity. Sonny & Cher lead four sets of Sonny and Cher impersonators in a dance celebrating their quirks and postures: Sonny pointing a finger at Cher, Cher throwing back her hair, their hands on their hip, shoulder socking, Cher folding her arms and giving the cold stare. They sing about the “goombah beat” (another slur on Sonny’s Italianness). They are laughing at themselves, figuratively and literally. It’s early meta and proves why Cher would be great singing Ben Folds Fives “Best Imitation of Myself”  because there is nothing impersonators have ever done with her that was anything she hadn't already parodied about herself first.

Cher’s Vamp dress is red, red and her hair is curly. I’ve always wondered why a vamp theme necessitated pizza parlor laps hanging above the stage. In the Bonnie and Clyde sketch, Merv and Cher play Bonnie and Clyde. Cher sings a provocative intro with “Bonnie shows him how to load his gun.” Merv frets about a prison full of “men, men, men” and Cher says “Sounds like fun.” Cher undresses Sonny and they crack up after a mash-up kiss. In the Theda Bara skit, Cher wears a metal bra identical to the shape of her Take Me Home album breast plates. Sonny makes me crack up when he yells “Oh Sheik!” instead of “Oh Shit!” Six men climb out of an urn to expose Cher’s infidelity and she is not only unapologetic but she talks her way out of it. Sadie Thompaon, Cher’s Mae West, does the same. She says, “I can’t change my ways! I can’t even change a tire!” They make an Arthur Treacher joke I completely didn’t get.

Gypsy 9

 

 

 

 

In a Fortune Teller skit (compare Cher 70s teller to the one in 9: The Last Resort), Sonny endures  short jokes while Merv gets delivered Miss Universe. Sonny sings Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life” while photos and video show Cher and Chastity playing on big screens. This is early reality TV. The green screen cuts off the top of Sonny’s head. Sonny & Cher lip sync their hit, "A Cowboy’s Work Is Never Done” with Cher in a bobbed wig, black halter top and fringed skirt. Her rib is sticking out prominently. Sonny has nothing much to do but look tough. I love this song. The line “I play games now but it’s not fun” hangs there in the ether giving the thought time to sink in.

TV Land cuts the Cultural Spot on Vlad the Horror which is a shame because it has a good cameo by Steve Martin in it.

  


Bob Dylan Wins the Nobel Lit Prize (Cher Blog Version)

Chebob3It was announced on Oct 13, 2016, that Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

A few years ago I took a class on Nobel Prize Winning Poets at Santa Fe Community College and our teacher told us that no American poet had previously won the prize. This isn’t entirely true. Reports also stated he was the first songwriter to win. This wasn’t entirely true either. It turns out poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote a tune or two in his day.

If you decide not to include T.S. Eliot as an American poet because he had emigrated to the U.K., then you have to accept Joseph Brodsky as American who emigrated from Russia. You could split hairs and say Bob Dylan is the first native American winning while living in America.

In any case, there are a slate of full-time poets and novelists who are pissed off. Which seems to happen every year the prize is announced for one reason or another. http://time.com/4529524/bob-dylan-nobel-prize-literature-reaction/.

Fictionistas usually feel like they should take precedent over poetry for reasons of cultural popularity and poets are always every-ready to be jealous of any competition from inside or outside their circles. I can easily see how a whole new subcategory could riffle their feathers. "What’s next? Bruce Springsteen?" I do think Bob Dylan deserved the Nobel Prize for taking songwriting in folk and rock to a higher level (Both Scorsese's No Direction Home documentary and the book Jingle Jangle Morning touch on his elevation of the lyric) and for being a writing influence to so many writers and musicians worldwide. I also appreciate that he strongly problematizes the line between poets and songwriters. Poet’s fully intend to die before this crepe-paper tent, the idea that poetry is somehow fundamentally different than song lyrics.

"Songs are not poems!" they say. But they kind of are. I would put up a few Sting, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen lyrics as poems; Bernie Taupin admits to having written poems that Elton John set to music. And many poets will concede that Dylan's lyrics are poetry. Plus, he has the best book of celebrity poetry I've read so far.  Many poetry verses have turned into songs and song verses have been just as inspiring and meaningful to people as poem stanzas, arguably more so in modern times. If you were presented with four lines of poetry and four lines of Bob Dylan lyrics, I’ll bet you would be hard pressed to find a difference. You can’t say, on the one hand, that form is essentially the power of rhythm but yet it doesn’t quite reach the level of melody. That's just a game of intellectual Twister. The hard cold facts of life, (thank you Porter Wagoner), are that the American Songbook is a canon of literature and Dylan has made enormous worldwide contributions to it.

Plus, Nobel judges have always followed their own drum. As I learned in my class, Nobel prizes are political and subjective. See the full list. Sometimes writers win for a single work, sometimes for a body of work, sometimes in recognition of leadership qualities or other nebulous reasons. Many of their choices look obscure to us today.

Cherbob4Cher has recorded over 10 Dylan songs.

  1. "All I Really Want to Do" (1965) from All I Really Want to Do
  2. "Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright" (1965) from All I Really Want to Do
  3. "Blowin In the Wind" (1965) from All I Really Want to Do
  4. "Like a Rolling Stone" (1966) from The Sonny Side of Cher
  5. "I Want You" (1966) from Cher
  6. "The Times They Are a Changing" (1967) from With Love
  7. "Masters of War" (1968) from Backstage
  8. "Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You" (1969) from 3614 Jackson Highway
  9. "I Threw It All Away" (1969) from 3614 Jackson Highway
  10. "Lay Baby Lay (Lay Lady Lay)" (1969) from 3614 Jackson Highway
  11. "Mr. Tambourine Man" on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour (I love this kooky version.)

The fan blog, All Dylan, also gave a very lovely review of Cher’s history of recording Dylan songs on her 70th birthday this year: http://alldylan.com/cher-covers-bob-dylan/.

Dylan has gone all Woody Allen on us and has ignored the award. Good for him. The award comes with no requirements. By the way, I just saw Dylan's show this week at his Albuquerque visit to The Kiva Auditorium (see the set list). It was a great show. I loved the new revamps of old songs and particularly loved "Desolation Row."

I've also posted a similar blog on Big Bang Poetry but with more information on American Nobel Prize winners.

Cherbob5


Online Cher Stuff: Tweet Fails, Song Covers, Summits and Plays

CowboyThe Internet is great. It gives us Cher coverage in various forms almost constantly. It's become hard to keep up.

The Tweets

There was a "latest Cher Tweet snafu" when she accidentally forwarded a tweet with a penis avatar in it. What's to apologize for this? I don't know but drama did ensue.

Cher Logs Off Twitter After Accidentally Retweeting A Dick Pic

Cher Takes a Break from Twitter After Accidentally Retweeting a Dick Pic Avatar

Okay the headlines are hilarious and it gives new punch to the term Freudian Slip. Cher is right: Twitter is unforgiving.  And very funny. Cher is, after all, only human. She's made mistakes. But she's "in command of lost control."

The YouTubes

At work one day last week I was in the mood for some "Cowboy’s Work Is Never Done" and since my iPod is a busted mess, I went on to the dark interwebs and found this amazing thing of pronoun weirdness from Diego's Umbrella's 2012 gypsy rock version.

Recaps

The show ‘Last Man on Earth’ invaded Cher’s house in a latest episode. Spoiler and fragile-fan alert, in the "cameo" clip Cher has passed on to that Bob Mackie closet in the sky. Kristen Schaal is seen below trying on Cher outfits as the group hides out in Cher's Malibu house. I can't really tell but this almost looks like her house. What do you think?

Cherhouse

Cher attended the Young World Summit in Ottowa and spoke about elephants and Trumps. Here is video from the UK's Independent and summary text with video from Cher World.

Ottowa

ChernymagArchives

A few weeks back I found this online version of New York Magazine with Cher and Robert Altman on the cover with a story about Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean on Broadway. Read a more in-depth story about Cher's near-death experience with a monster vitamin. Scary.

 


Are You Cher Music or Cher TV?

SonnychershowI mean if you had to give up one thing? Forget the movies for now. Are you Cher Music or Cher TV? I came into this obsession at four or five years old. I have no personal recollection of what came first: the albums or the TV shows. But one thing I do know: the TV shows are much harder to come by.

Music has its ways: bootlegs, leaks, re-releases. The TV shows have only aired about once a decade, if that. I remember The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour first coming back in the 1980s on my local UTF channel, a small spattering of episodes airing on Friday nights. I had no VCR and was forced to tape the shows to cassettes. This meant I had to be home on Friday nights and one night the power went out and I lost my f*cking mind. Yes, this is where the crazy Cher zombie makes an appearance in Cher Scholar.

When I moved to NYC to attend Sarah Lawrence College to study poetry, the shows came on once again but only through a new channel called TV Land, a channel my stupid Warner Bros cable would not carry until after the series stopped airing entirely. I was only able to nag one friend into taping a handful of episodes for me. This threw me into the jaws of some very friendly bootleggers who have since disappeared into the night.

The shows have made me a crazy, hot mess. So true to my fate, this headline caused quite a ruckus while I was on vacation: Sonny & Cher and Cher shows returning to TV. It's like a lifelong pattern of elation followed by despair. The shows are airing on GetTV starting next Monday, September 12....if you have Dish TV as your cable subscriber. Direct TV viewers are out of luck. 

Luckily, I was out-of-contract with DirectTV but it was a massive soap opera to make the switch because Dish TV does not supply the NFL package or much of a football package worth a dime. Supposedly, according to our Dish installer, (who doesn’t even watch TV and uses Sling TV like a good millennial), Direct TV paid 2 billion dollars to give Direct TV the exclusive on all NFL games. Did you catch that? Mr. Cher Scholar will be out of his Chiefs games on TV!

It was like Kramer vs. Kramer for a minute in our house. Mr. Cher Scholar’s obsession vs. my obsession. Mr. Cher Scholar eventually volunteered to give up his games on TV because he can still get them online but after his vacation of power washing and being a super son-in-law, this was a huge ask. And I'm sure the lack of football in the house will continue to be very distressing for him.

New Album?

There was also new album news. What kind of album I wonder?

Believe it: Cher confirms that she is working on brand new music (Digital Spy)

Cher hints at new music release (Pink News)

Cher teases new album (Entertainment Weekly)

Cher heads back into the studio to record new music

ChercyndiFan Finds

Cher scholar Jeffrey sent me this, an article I missed on Cher's birthday, 70 reasons to love Cher at 70.

Cher scholar Tyler sent me this Elvis-Cher mashup: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMfNFI5oi4w

Cher scholar Michael sent me this recent clip of Cher singing backup for Michael McDonald: https://youtu.be/oP6plRUU668

Cyndi Lauper was also on the latest cover of AARP. Years ago I was visiting Las Vegas and the husband of a friend of mine living there tried to tell me these stories he believed about Cyndi Lauper and Cher not getting along and about how jealous Cher was of Cyndi and her fans. Well, the decades have proven that story was full of bunk as I knew it was. Not only do Cyndi and Cher continue to work together tour after tour, Cyndi never stops singing Cher’s praises. It’s even evident in this AARP piece which has a lot of great Cyndi material but also ends by saying:

“[Lauper] has no script for aging gracefully. “It sucks. That’s it,” she adds, but you get the feeling she’s not really minding it too much. Apparently, she has discussed the matter with another great female music—and fashion—icon who also has no plans to go gentle into that good night. “I really think that when Armageddon comes, it’s gonna be just cockroaches, me and Cher,” Lauper jokes. “And we’re gonna do the ‘End of the World Tour.’ I’ll probably open for her.”

A Newish Music Book

RocklovestoriesMy mother-in-law gave me a Barnes and Noble gift card for my birthday and I used it to buy a book in their weird coffee-table/novelty-book section, Rock and Roll Love Stores, True Tales of the Passion and Drama by Gill Paul published in 2014.

Here’s the list (guess how many are Hall of Famers): Johnny Cash, Ike and Tine (not so much a love story), Elvis and Priscilla, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, S&C, George Harrison and Pattie Boyd, John and Yoko, Mike and Marianne Faithful, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, James Taylor and Carly Simon, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, Sid and Nancy, and Kurt and Courtney.

I asked Mr. Cher Scholar to guess the couples in the list and he guessed a bunch who should have but in the book but weren’t included: Paul and Linda, Ringo and Bach, Jerry Lee and Myra (pretty scandalous one as they go), and Tammy Wynette and George Jones.

The book has interesting things to say about rock love: rock stars don’t seem 'on the whole' great lovers despite every song about love. Long tours, availability of ready sex, drugs, booze, antisocial tendencies, cynicism about monogamy, love perceived as being too square....Does love damage one’s “cool credentials”?

And did any of these issues apply to S&C?

It's also interesting that Marianne Faithful and Carly Simon might have been vilified for having multiple partners. Cher always received the obligatory break-out box of boyfriends in magazine articles but I don't feel she was actually vilified. Madonna is listed as the first female performer allowed to flaunt her sexuality. But wasn't Cher the foundation for that?

Also, glam rock is listed as being camp, with glittery clothing, and presenting a reassessment of gender roles. With that definition, how glam was Cher?

The book talked about the many ways fans follow their star obsessions, showing interest in their homes, clothes, hairstyles, cars, relationships, personas, and lyrics.

Fact Checking Fun: The book says Sonny was 2 ½ inches shorter than Cher and that Sonny’s dad was a truck driver and played the banjo and accordion. It also states that Cher hated short skirts because her legs were bowed. Is any of that true?

It does correctly state that S&C popularized bell bottom flares and that Cher was the first to expose navel on TV and that in 1999 she was given an lifetime achievement award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The book calls her “the original style queen who blended ethnicity with bling.”

The book also states that Cher once drove Excalibur car, Sonny an Aston Martin and a motorcycle. And that their first TV show had 25 million viewers which represented 35% of the public viewing audience.