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.


Election Tweets, the Tabloids, I Paralyze and the Importance of a Good Wig

Trainofth2It seems I've developed an inability to blog in the month of July. And a lot seems to happen in Julys. Here's the recap:

Political Tweets: The Train of Cher's Thoughts

Cher attacks Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson in epic Twitter rant (Metro UK)

Cher: Trump a ‘f---ing traitor’ (The Hill)

Cher Just Shared a Hilarious Photoshopped Snap Of Donald Trump (Billboard)

Conclusive proof Cher is the greatest political commentator of our time (Metro UK)

I’m with Cher is the Anti-Trump Swag You Need (Paper Mag)  Get "I'm with Cher buttons because this fan wants to "Make America Cher again!"

Cher Fan Creates 'I'm With Cher' Campaign to Celebrate Singer's Political Punditry (Billboard)

The I'm With Cher page: http://imwithcher.com/

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Has Had Such a Bad Week Even Cher Is Ripping Her a New One (The Independent Journal Review)

I communicated like Cher for the day and people didn't know what to make of it (Mashable) - this was hilarious.

Music

IpIn this news sent to me by both Dishy and Robrt Pela, the album I Paralyze is sort of getting a new re-release: Back On The Street Again: Vibe On Records Reissues, Expands Cher’s “I Paralyze

Céline Dion impersonates Cher, Rihanna on Jimmy Fallon's late night how.

Tabloids and Peripherals

Jennifer Aniston published a personal essay about the tabloids I thought was particularly good. Of particular note:

“In this last boring news cycle about my personal life there have been mass shootings, wildfires, major decisions by the Supreme Court, an upcoming election, and any number of more newsworthy issues that “journalists” could dedicate their resources towards.”

I couldn't find a picture of Cher and Jennifer but, as they knew each other in high school, there is a picture out there of Chaz and Jennifer.

Chaz-and-jennifer

Speaking of Chaz, there's an article out there on AOL where he "opens about his mom Cher's support and why he's finally ready for his big break in acting" and it lists his recent guest appearances.

WigStyle

In reading through all my old issues of Entertainment Weekly, I came across a Melissa McCarthy interview from the summer 2015 issue where she says:

“I always start with the wig. It keys everything for me. You look so different in a wig that it changes your posture, how you carry yourself.”

I feel like Cher has said that before, too.


Sonny Bono Genius Search

OvSome friends of ours sent Mr. Cher Scholar some clips of Sonny as Deacon Dark on The Love Boat, completely unawares that I was in the process of searching for Sonny's Aaron Spelling episodes and also forgetting that I was Cher Scholar in the flesh. We asked our friend how he came upon the clips and he said he watched an interview with Terry Reid who mentioned Sonny as a genius. So I dutifully went online to search "Sonny Bono genius" and did not find the interview...but have you seen these?

Open Vault does a four part, almost hour long, interview with Sonny from 1993 about his music history. He talks about the first use of "Pinz-a" in the song "Needles and Pins" (which Cher thankfully dropped in her version). He talks about Sonny & Cher in The Blossoms, their part of the 60s revolution in style (specifically their clothes), his real feelings about Rolling Stone magazine (and maybe a hint into Cher's true feelings about them), his work for Phil Spector, (often described as a go-fer but he also was a record promoter for Spector and was working a student of production). Most interestingly he talks about he conceived of the song "I Got You Babe" as a mashup of the Spector Wall of Sound, Dylan-style folk and bubblebum pop. He also places the origins of Rock and Role solely in the black church.

Mr. Cher Scholar believes there's a natural antipathy between Rolling Stone and Sonny & Cher, not just because the magazine treated them as unhip (which they did in their 1973 long, harsh, but beautifully written, expose) but for the reason they treated them that way, because Rolling Stone has always been trying so hard to sell to the drug scene. That was their entire identity.

Anyway, then I found this! The 1969 promotion record for the movie Chastity.  Is Sonny smoking helium for this?

Chastity: "it had to be said," Sonny says. Who knew? Okay, so this interview isn't as flattering as the one above, especially in terms of how Sonny maintains that homosexuality and "free sex" creates psychic scars (one of his movie's themes) but I do believe/hope Sonny would have evolved on issues of feminism and gay rights as many fiscal conservatives have. That said, this is a juicy piece of Sonny & Cher history.


Today is the Celebration of Cher at 70 (With Over 40 Tributes)!

Pool2 PoolThere’s lots of love spilling over on the web-o-shere. It’s literally a virtual Internet Party! Just look at all the hip (and some unusual) sites and magazines celebrating Cherness today!

This is a saying I learned from the McCray family: Cher, I’m glad you were born! You are 70 years of fabulousness today! I feel like the ball on Times Square should drop or something.

Here’s the massive list of love (and one snipe) as of 2 p.m. MST. I’ve broken it down into scholarship categories. Fun with essays, accolades and photo reels!

Straight-out Birthday Wishes

Cher prepares to celebrate her 70th birthday (Reuters)

Happy Birthday from Money Magazine

Singer Cher turns 70, fans pay tribute (Townhall.com) 

Love for Defying Age

Cher just turned HOW old? (Mercury News)

Cher Can’t Turn Back Time: She Turns 70 Today (WBT—Conservative Talk Radio) -- Remember, these are the folks who said Cher is some has-been no one remembers!

Maybe she can turn back time: Cher at 70 (Deutsche Welle)  - SNAP!

Cher Turns 70, Still Knows How to Turn Back Time (Inquisitr)

Can you tell if these celebs are older or younger than Cher (Metro UK)

Turning 70, Cher still a 'hot artist' after 50 years (Inforum)

Love for the Music

10 Reasons Why Cher's “Believe” Is the Biggest Club Record Ever (Thump)

Cher's Official Top 20 biggest selling downloads revealed (Official Charts.com)

Mashable Cher in the studio (Mashable)

Love for the Television

Happy 70th birthday Cher! Relive the time she played every single part in this West Side Story medley (Digital Spy)

Cher turns 70 Today – watch her take a massive tumble in this rare vintage clip (Daily Star UK)

Love for the Film

Happy birthday Cher! Celebrate with her 5 greatest film roles (Arizona Central) - good to see Jimmy Dean love in there but you know how I feel about Mermaids!

Love for the Style

See the Evolution of Cher’s Style (Time)

All Hail Cher, Queen of the Red Carpet Rebels (Vogue)

Can You ‘Believe’ How Many Hairstyles Cher Has Had Over The Years? (Huffington Post)

Cher’s Show-Stopping Style Redefines What It Means To Be 70 (Huffington Post)

Cher's Most Outrageous Outfits (Huffington Post)

Cher at 70: seven iconic style moments (The Guardian UK)

23 of the singer's most outrageous fashion over the years (BT)

The many looks of Cher (CNN)

Cher’s Changing Looks (Wonderwall)

Cher Turns 70! Celebrate By Revisiting The Pop Icon’s Most Glamorous Looks (Idolator)

Cher Hair! Celebrating the Singer’s 16 Best Hair Moments (Vogue)

Love for the Sass

24 Times Cher Was Sassiness Personified (Elle UK) 

10 Times Cher Nailed Twitter (Newsweek)

Her 5 Most Shocking Moments (Express UK)

Cher’s Most Outrageous Tweets of the Past Year (Hollywood Reporter)

Happy 70th Birthday, Cher! 23 Times The Dark Lady Wasn’t At A Loss For Words (Logo)

Love for the Whole Thing

A Look Back (ABC)

You Haven't Seen the Last of Me: The Phenomenon of Cher (Biography.com)

Legendary singer’s best moments (OK! UK)

70 Things we love about Cher (Gay Star News)  -- 70 things! That's impressive!

A look back at her outstanding singing and acting career (DW.com)

Inside the glamorous life of Cher (Marie Claire)

10 amazing facts about the pop superstar (Digital Spy)

The living legend’s most iconic moments (Attitude UK)

Celebrate Cher's 70th birthday with five memorable moments (Lancaster Online)

Cher then and now (WTAE-Pittsburgh)

Cher’s Career in numbers (International Business Times)

CNN’s Cher Fast Facts (CNN)

Fast-Forward Through 5 Decades of Cher (Yahoo! News) 


RIP Stars Re-Release

Chertweet
So the Cher tweet says it all. Cher did not, in fact, know WTF about the Stars re-release, despite some articulate licensing bravado from Binge! Music.

Cher tweeted on Saturday. My full refund floated back across the bank-o-sphere on Sunday lacking any customer service reason. That felt weird and cagey. By Sunday, Binge! Music's website was also down, along with their Facebook and Twitter pages. 

I would like to imagine Cher's henchmen making clandestine phone calls with threats of concrete shoes. It helps ease the pain of not having a legitimized, sanctioned, and scholarly-considered re-packaging of a historically important Cher album working itself through the CD-presses as we speak.

On a Cher Scholarship note: I've never heretofore seen such fan excitement to a piece of Cher news. I think this is yet again another piece of evidence that suggests Stars is Cher's most beloved album. And that this is the life of the Cher fan. Highs. Lows. Longings. Old-age dispairings.


Updated-Big News: Stars on CD Has Arrived

Cher-starsBig news gone bad: this story has been updated.

Big news, huge news! Did you think you would live to see the day that Stars would be released on CD? Thank you Binge! Music. Get your pre-orders in!

From the blog post by The Second Disc: “Licensing information on the label’s website indicates the involvement of both Warner Bros. Records and Cher’s Isis Productions, which should quell speculation elsewhere about the legitimacy of this release."

Cool beans!

What excites me is the scholarship that might happen in the liner notes.

Need a reminder about why Stars is so awesome? Check out The Soul of Cher: Stars Reviewed.


Sonny & Cher on the Newsstands

Sandc-coverI received a message from Cher scholar Robrt last Saturday while out shopping for next weekends family reunion, (my third in so many years). He said it was suddenly 1975 on the newsstand again!  And sure enough, Sonny & Cher are sitting by the checkout stacks right alongside Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani. Do the millennials even know who Sonny is?

It's a brief story in Closer about the history of their relationship. It's pretty well summed up for such a short piece. With all the hubub going on with Cher's Twitter posts last week and talk of nasty tabloids, those hemorrhoids of journalism, I was confused about whether I should even purchase a magazine called Closer. Was it a tabloid? Closer Weekly in UK sure seems to be by all accounts of my Google searches.

But my perusal of Closer so far leads me to think it's made up of mostly soft-stories about celebrities. There's nothing erroneous in this S&C piece. Nothing new either. Just some quotes from biographer Taraborelli, and old co-worker Hal Blaine. They even dug out Cher show producer George Schlatter commentary. The story that follows is a equally soft piece about Dolly Parton, the boon there being an elusive picture of husband Carl Dean.

If you pick up a copy and read it, you'll surely come to see what an amazing art newsstand cover copy really is.

The Daily News also ran a roundup of shocking celebrity couple breakups that included Sonny & Cher.

Music

Top 40 website also did a list of Top 10 Cher songs. I beg to differ with some of these.  It feels more like a reshuffling of her hits. 

More Posts on the Twitter Thing

It seems like tabloid web pages are the only outlets really running on this Twitter story. Although Cher did do some cryptic tweet ranting last week so who knows. It feels like a personal story (Twitter release all the same) and I debated even bringing it up here except that it bears commentary on how creepy fandom can be. In that it's creepy to be an uber-fan, even a well-behaved sort and when you read stories about creepier fans, unhinged fans or entitled fans, or even just the roach-ridden underbelly of show business, it's so not fun and makes you question whether or not you should be reading Infinite Jest faster (I've started a reading group!) or devoted more of your life to poetry. That is until the poets and their back-biting competitive infighting starts to depress you and you begin to question maybe whether you should be listening to more Cher records and working to finally launch that Chersonian Institute.


Snuff Garrett and the Cher Brand

GuitarsMy parents had this album in their 70s record collection! It's one of his "50 Guitars" series that features Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Todesco.

Tommy Garrett (known as Snuff) died in Tucson December 16 or 17 at the age of 77. Some sites erroneously list his age as 76 but he was born July 5, 1938 according to The New York Times. Another one down in the last few months from cancer.

Garrett gained prominence as a radio DJ in Lubbock, TX, where he was the first to play a new artist local named Buddy Holly. Eventually he made his way to Liberty Records in Los Angeles and became a “pivotal producer.” His obit accolades include Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Del Shannon and Cher, although he had left Liberty Records by the time he started working with Sonny & Cher on Kapp Records.

Best Classic Bands website also claimed he was responsible for hiring Phil Spector to work at Liberty and first employing Leon Russell. He also produced the movie scores to Smokey and the Bandit II and Cannonball Run.

Cher has often said she doesn’t much like these Snuff–era songs. Bob Dylan didn’t like them either according to the story about the “Dark Lady” listening party of 1974. And Snuff Garrett himself didn’t sound too proud of anything he ever made. Or take much effort to defend it anyway. But luckily for me I am not Snuff Garrett or Cher or Bob Dylan and am perfectly free to like this music. In fact I would argue here is some of the most creative Cher music of all time, some of the most articulately original in tone, production and flourishes of instrumental inspiration. There is plenty of filler around as well. I can’t defend it all but the best is right up there with anything Cher has done.

AlliConsider the first guitar strums of All I Ever Need is You, the heartbeat of the muffled drum. This is the inaugural moment of Sonny & Cher in the 1970s. Consider that Garrett managed to get Sonny to sing better than he’d ever sung before. Garrett unveiled a comparatively pristine sound for Sonny & Cher with violins and horns. They cleaned up good those two. Garrett could have taken them down a completely dull, adult contemporary path; but the songs here are infused with western elements and Cher’s beautiful honey-flavored voice is pulled forward. There are some unforgettably well-crafted songs on this album including "A Cowboy’s Work is Never Done" (who else could invoke comparisons to Enni Morricone?) and "Somebody." More on the album.

According to Garrett he worked fast and kept his eye on the dollar. Allegedly, nothing else mattered much . And all while dealing with Cher’s broken manicures. Are we to believe he stumbled his way into some of Cher's most iconic songs? Was he being disingenuous or subtly self-abusing? This from an obsessive hit-maker who, like everybody else, could never deconstruct or predict the elusive formula of a hit single. Most of his songs for GypCher were hit-less, all told. How then can we explain how "Gypsys Tramps and Thieves" has become the timeless, enduring track it has? You don’t need to add a symlin in there to get a hit record. Ask anybody, "Gypsys Tramps and Thieves" doesn’t stand the test of time because it has a hook or was a gimmick record. Who’s still delighting over "Monster Mash" or the "Surfin Bird" besides Elvira or Peter Griffin?

Not only is hit prediction practically impossible but cynical hits drop away from public consciousness pretty fast. We could argue this was the fate of maybe "Half Breed." But not "Gypsies." I would argue not for "Dark Lady" either. Garrett’s version of “He Aint Heavy (He’s My Brother)” is also a lovely and subtle rendition.

But it was “The Way of Love” that took Cher to a whole other level and has become her definitive example of torch. What’s so hit-sure about that big to-do of a song? Those heartbreaking strings and the soft-build execution? But what an opening to an album!

FoxyThe Foxy Lady album sounds like it was a drama-filled experience behind the scenes. This seems reflected in the mishmash of its song lineup. But "Living in a House Divided" is another breathtaking opening to any album. The first cascading note unlike anything you’ve heard on a single anywhere. Shakers, horns, Cher’s anger at the end. What is formulaic here?

HbOf all Garrett’s albums for Cher, “Half Breed” has the most inexplicably subdued entrance with a Paul McCartney ballad (“My Love”). This strikes me as her most feminine album. “Carousel Man” is a thrill of texture. Garrett could have overplayed the carnival sound but he made the song more adult, more sinister than cotton candy and tilt-a-whirl music. Cher’s voice does the hard work of expressing life on the carnival grounds.

And I’ve always found “Chastity’s Song” better and more sincere than the original. Decide for yourself.

The "Dark Lady" tracks, like much of Cher’s work with Garrett, are not perfect but they are always ambitious and flavorful, much more so than either have ever admitted.

We’re back to a creative opening track here with that train whistle of the blues-pop sounds of “Train of Thought,” Cher singing through cigarette drags. The song is a suicide by gun, manic desperation, the keyboard sound evoking train travel, the backups doing the train’s horn. Truly delightful! And then the spiraling end. Who does all that work for a quick-off single?

Darklady“I Saw A Man Who Danced With His Wife” is the movie Casablanca on big band night. Then comes “Dark Lady” where Cher sings the word “laugh" like a cackle. This song is a perfect depiction of French folk/gypsy. And let’s be honest: a song like this would have created a sink hole on the charts if it hadn’t been perfect. The concept is too heavy, too near-cartoonish to bear any misstep. Only a master could have stepped so gingerly over this thing. It’s impressively un-embarrassing. It’s not one of my go-to songs, I admit, but I come back to it from time to time and I respect it. Some critic called it “grimly comedic” but considering its popularity with children in the mid-70s, it’s more like a Grimm’s lost fairy tale.

And THEN we get “Miss Subway” and Cher’s vaudevillian Mae West. And THEN we get the southern ballad Dixie and THEN the R&B cover “Rescue Me” and THEN the Great Gatsby’s Irving Berlin ballad “What’ll I Do” with Cher sounding full-bodied and contemporary compared to the tinny and sad original.

All this variety and no song feeling like it doesn’t belong together in the overall atmospheric and glamorous album set.

For all its faults Cherished even begins evocatively with violins and the sounds of seagulls. An accordion means sailors are about. Nothing feels as sharp on this album as other Garrett albums but there are lovely ballads here (“He Was Beautiful,” “Again”) and that cotton-gal song “Dixie” which always entertains me. This Cherishedis the only Cher album from the 70s that truly devolves into kitsch.

Like Cher, Garrett wasn’t perfect but there are more creative elements in these songs than you’ll find in earlier and later hits. And despite all claims to the contrary, they all feel less formulaic.

Cher’s career is nothing if not ironic on many levels. And the fact that Snuff Garrett gets no cred for his work on Cher music in the 1970s is most problematically ironic. These songs built Cher’s reputation as a gypsy. Garrett played no small part in her success during that decade and in solidifying her eternal image as an icon evermore. It takes more than a Bob Mackie to get there.