Know Your Cher Christmas Shows

Cher was involved in a lot of Christmas caroling throughout the 1970s and it's taken me a while to get the shows straight. The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour Christmas Collection DVD, as it turns out, does not show the pure, original episodes as it turns out.

The 12/20/1972 Show

SoldierThis is the show with Cher (and Sonny) singing "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" with the "One Tin Soldier" cartoon. This itself is a poignant song to revisit considering the rise of white nationalism and bigotry happening right now.

 

 

 

The 12/19/1973 Show

OholyThis was a full-blown Christmas show completely outside of their normal set, most notable for Cher's infamous rendition of "O Holy Night."

Xmas1But there are also other notable moments, like William Conrad reading a long, boring Christmas poem with Sonny & Cher in rapt attention, Sonny & Cher sitting on Santa's lap, and an incredibly odd Indian-Italian mashup with Cher dressed as a plains Indian skipping around with a talking bear looking for snow. The song is tragically ear-wormy but the set design is amazing. I don't remember ever seeing this on the DVD version of the show.

 

The 12/21/1975 Cher Show

CherxmasWow! The Cher show last night was lovely and amazing and so very timely.

Mr. Cher Scholar groaned when he heard The Hudson Brother and The Lennon Sisters were the guests. Never a value add there. But we both thoroughly enjoyed every scene Redd Foxx was in, including two really, really amazing pieces: Redd Foxx reading Christmas Wishes for Bigots, (God, I wish this was on YouTube--I will try to transpose it for us), and Redd Foxx as Elmer the Elf showing us all Santa's VIP gifts for the big celebrities of 1975. It was very funny.

Cher sings "White Christmas/We Need A Little Christmas" and the musical numbers make great effort to be multi-cultural, including:

  • "Some Children See Him" which Cher sings beautifully, all while surrounded with a plethora of poinsettias.
  • The full-cast big band medley at the end is very festive, lovely and international.

Cher also dons a Santa wig and beard for Chastity and Chastity also does some real tap dancing.  Oh, and we see Laverne's bedroom.

Great, great show.

 

The 12/5/1976 Show

Later-dayI haven't seen this show in a while but it's the only Christmas show after Sonny & Cher reunite.

- Opening duet: Sonny & Cher sing their uptempo "Jingle Bells"

- All-cast medley with Chastity, Elijah, Bernadette Peters and Captain Kangaroo

- Laverne with Alvie

 

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Xmasball


Get TV Comedy Hour Fall 2016 Shows

I don't have time to cover all the show in depth anymore but I can try to link to some of the online musical numbers with a few comments.

1/3/1972 Show

ButternutOpening duet: "Sooner or Later"  is a song from The Grass Roots.

 

 

 

 

Badwig BlurryCher's solo: "Come Rain or Shine" was recorded by everybody, including famously by Billie Holiday.  Mr. Cher Scholar and I joked her wig looks like 1960s rich housewife hair or an unkempt Marlo Thomas. It's a really bad wig and the early solo spots are so shadowy.

Concert segment: "Mr. Tamborine Man/Joy to the World" (with Dinah Shore). One of Cher's many Bob Dylan covers, a hit by The Byrds and Three Dog Night. Sonny & Cher did this song twice on their shows. This is the not-so-hot version. See Cher's lovely 70s fringe knot swinging around.

The show's close.

 

2/6/1974 Show

Concert segment: "HiHeel Sneakers/Barefootin" ("Sneakers" is a Tommy Tucker song and "Barefootin" is a Robert Parker song. Sonny wears a hilarious Miami-themed cabano boy shirt (I call this a Barry Manilow shirt). Cher sports an afro ponytail. Good mike tossing by Cher.

Hiheel Barrycopa

 

 

 

 

Cher Solo: "Working Together" with Cher in that macramé head thing Groovy organ. 

 

9/15/1972 Show

GreenOpening Duet: "Let Me Down Easy"  in white outfits with blue and green stripes. Don’t know who originally recorded this song but Dusty Springfield did a slow groovy cover in 1972 on the Dusty in London album. Cher also recorded it for her 1972 Foxy Lady album.

All the Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five material from the show, including "what are you gonna be when you grow up," "Looking Through My Window" and "Ben."  Interesting look at the pre-teen Michael Jackson.

Vamp Segment

Bono-awardIt annoyed me that the episode right before the U.S. election was the Ronald Reagan episode. Good bit of S&C self-deprecation here though and one of the best looks at the oddity that is the Bono Award.

 

 

 

Fuscia Cher Solo: "Say it Isn’t So" in that famous fuchsia dress. Heavy Vaseline job here and we see Cher's belly button.

 

 

 

 

 

Years 1 - 9/26/1973 Show

FavpicThis was the show immediately after the election. Although it's one of the unsatisfying "Years" episodes, it has some sketches to note:

 

The Vamp Through Time

I've never watched these shows in sequential order, which would be good to do so I could see how segments and trends on the show evolve. For instance, it's interesting to note how the Vamp dress evolved over the course of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.

Simple Shiny Crosshatch

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The simple blood red dress with long, curled hair,
  2. The shiny hot red dress with the curly wig and pinned heart,
  3. The later-day cross-hatch textured dress.

Where We Are Now (with Great Cher News)

BuddhaBefore we start, I'd like to share this zen parable I learned many years ago. This story has helped me in both good times and in bad:

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. Now he would not be able to help on the farm. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.

Where I Am Now

So...I haven't been posting for the past three or so weeks. First it was the week before the U.S. election and work was very busy at CNM. Then the week of the election happened and many of us, (I would argue the majority of us) , were feeling stomach cramps and living the U.S. Electoral nightmare. And I have to tell you, something in me changed on November 9. It was as if the election showed me what my special purpose was, to quote Navin R. Johnson. I've been spending the last few weeks organizing and setting up some new messaging initiatives against what I see as the encroachment of Fascism and racism in my country and around the world.

Elections have consequences, as President Obama has often said. For our purposes here at I Found Some Blog, I no longer will have the time to post long, academic Cher tracts beyond the latest news. Something's gotta give after all. I'm working on a novel and two other writing projects. I can't take on the new commitments of activism without giving something up. So no more play-by-plays of the television shows and long reviews of albums. I actually had three of the last four Sonny & Cher show wrap-ups ready to go. But there's no time to finish them now. My gift of gab is now "going to the cause" and that means getting active in my community, motivating Democrats to vote, and wearing my safety pin as a reminder to fight racism and hatred every single day.

If these are values you share, please come by my new Facebook page "BTW New Mexico is a U.S. State," LIKE the page, and SHARE some of the posts with your friends. I would sure appreciate it.

Television

CherxmasBut even Dark Ages had good times. There has been some great Cher news over the last three weeks and we're thankful for tender mercies, we are.

Cher scholar Bruce Barton notified us recently that on Monday December 5 GetTV will be airing the rarely seen 1975 Cher Christmas show. He also linked us to a clip of the festive intro. Can't wait!

And according to the GetTV schedule, there are other goodies in store.

This Monday, November 21, we can binge on three episodes we've already seen: (1) Jean Stapelton and Mike Connors, (2) Jimmy Durante and (3) Andy Griffith.

November 28: The 1973 Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour Christmas Special

December 5: The 1975 Christmas Special with Redd Foxx, The Hudson Brothers and The Lennon Sisters. It looks like it's the full hour show.

Concerts

ClassiccherYou may have heard that Cher is doing some limited shows in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. next spring. Miraculously I was able to get tickets to one of the Vegas shows. Check out Cher's site for details.

Cher as also on James Cordin's late night show around the time the tickets went on sale. Watch Cher and James singing "I Got You Babe" and  Cher talking about "I Got You Babe".

She was also on The Today Show.

Broadway

So the Broadway show is also actually coming together. From Playbill:

There will be a two-week staged reading in New York City January 2-14. Pitch Perfect’s Jason Moore will direct. It's being called The Cher Show. Flody Suarez and Hamilton’s Jeffrey Seller are producing. And some details were revealed. The characters of Cher are Babe (teenager), Lady (solo) and Star (which sounds like her evolution to icon). Other characters include Sonny, Georgia, Bob Mackie, David Geffen, Gregg Allman, Robert Altman, Rob Camilletti, and Sigmund Freud. Different era Chers may also talk to each other. The book was written by Tony Award-winning Rick Elice (of Jersey Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher). Cher songs in the show may include  “I Got You Babe,” “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “Take Me Home,” “Believe,” and “If I Could Turn Back Time.” Tony winner Daryl Waters is musical supervisor.

Our Beautiful Friends

Farm-storyCher scholar and one of the contributors to Cher Zine 3 has published a memoir called Farm Story! I'm very excited to read this as soon as I can finagle a copy.

Cher was also interviewed for the Fast Company Innovation Festival, "Cher on Creativity and the Power of Authenticity."  I was disappointed with the piece but the "big show" comments were interesting and her ideas around emojis, which are now considered fine art!

 


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.

  


Cher Scholar Talks Politics

CherhillaryA few weeks ago I linked to a Cher World story about Cher’s appearance at a recent conference where Cher made comments about Hillary Clinton. Often I talk about Cher’s tweets or Republican site attacks on Cher but I have tried to refrain from going personally into this season’s politics. It’s been so contentious between Bernie, Trump and Hillary supporters. But unfortunately I linked to the Cher World piece without reading it first and linking without comment feels too much like an implicit endorsement, and one I can’t just let sit there like a wet turd. This has nothing to do with Cher World specifically or it’s hard-working founder. I was never able to find where the article text came from (outside of Cher World) and the piece is not credited to any site or writer. By linking to it, I am now forced to take issue with its anti-Hillary propaganda messaging.

The piece says that Cher admits Millennials may not trust Hillary due to ‘sins’ and that at the World Conference, Cher stated that “If you delve into some of the things she’s being accused of—she’s screwed up and that’s for sure.” It's a pretty vague statement on the surface but then the piece speculates that “Maybe Cher is referring to the following?” and goes on to list the same anti-Hillary talking points both Bernie-or-Bust and Trump supporters have been using. It reads like the Greatest Hits of ineffectual propaganda.

Bullet 1: “33,000 deleted emails from her illegal private server.” The server was never deemed illegal nor was the usage of a personal server unprecedented. She violated department policy. The FBI only found the potential for violation, but not an actual living, breathing violation of the law. Both the right wing and Bernie-or-Bust speculate with ever-increasing hyperbole that the server was illegal and that she was willfully reading confidential documents on it. This is the same system of email Colin Powell used (and deleted emails from) and one he might possibly have encouraged Hillary to use. Different parties, different rubrics.

More information:

NPR story http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/04/02/396823014/fact-check-hillary-clinton-those-emails-and-the-law
The factcheck.org story http://www.factcheck.org/2016/07/a-guide-to-clintons-emails/

Bullet 2: Lied about terrorist attack that killed 4 American’s in Benghazi.

The interesting thing about this drama is that it follows the Republican template Ken Star created for the Whitewater-to-Monica-Lewinski circus. In this case, first Clinton and President Obama weren’t naming the happening right. That morphed into some hidden knowledge she might have had prior to the attack. Then Republicans demanded access to her emails to uncover said hidden knowledge. That turned into Server-gate. Years of these investigations and faux scandals never produce any bang for the buck but they never stop trying. It was a wartime event. Just like similar attacks under Reagan and Bush.

More information:

The Washington Post has a good story about the difference between lies versus the fog of war: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/10/30/is-hillary-clinton-a-liar-on-benghazi/

Bullet 3: War on women covering up her husband’s long history of sexually abusing woman and rape.

I said the phrase "Hillary's War on Women" to my co-worker just now and she looked at me like I had two heads. It's a pretty far-out stretch. The Huffington Post does a good job covering all of the Bill Clinton sex-scandal allegations and what happened with each on in this piece. The "freeing the child rapist" story was debunked by Snopes. Even Fox News’ Megyn Kelly recently defended Clinton: “All women had serious problems with proof.” (Megyn Kelly and Judge Andrew Napolitano). It’s possible Trump accusers would have had issues with proof as well if Trump hadn’t already implicated himself on various radio shows and hot-mic recordings.

Bullet 4: Pay for play corrupt Clinton Foundation which provides special favors to donors and access to Hillary in her role of Secretary of State in return for millions in donations and speaking fees.

It's so easy to accuse, so much harder to prove. No pay-for-play has yet been found. There was the unseemly possibility but no evidence found that favors actually occurred. Read the Politifact article that states, a “tangle of relationships...doesn’t prove wrongdoing.” Trump is meanwhile fighting scandals of his own surrounding The Trump Foundation.

Bullet 5: Millions of dollars collected from Sharia Law abiding Islamic countries that throw gays from rooftops and stone woman for not conforming to their husbands.

As political donations? All Republicans would fall and die by this sword.

Bullet 6:  Responsible for $6 billion missing in the State Department due to the improper filing of contracts during the past six years.

This one is hilarious and was used when Trump's tax-return losses came to light. It’s been debunked by Snopes. The money was never lost. It was mislabeled.

It seems the right likes to call Snopes itself a liberal conspiracy. However, Snopes is an equal-opportunity debunker. Check out this left-wing talking point that got debunked. Turns out Trump didn’t say Republicans were the dumbest voters.

Then the Cher World article links to the Clinton Cash documentary which has been heavily promoted by the extreme, Breitbart-wing of the Republican party: “Reporters React To Trump’s Clinton Cash Citations By Noting 'Widely Discredited' Book's Factual Problems."

DiscussionSo this idea that Hillary is “untrustworthy” and that somehow Trump is the last trustworthy Republican is beyond the pale of not only myself but seemingly the mainstream voter. And many, many Republicans know this. It's why they've jumped ship. What pisses me off is that I've had to re-research all this shit for the Cher blog and that extremist voters won’t even bother to read or consider it because they’ve picked their team and no ideology or rationality will keep them from cheering for their side.

It would fair to to counterpoint at this time with a lists all of Trump’s scandals from The Atlantic: The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet).  Lying hasn’t worked in the last three presidential election cycles, but the extremist leaders always respond by lying even more and more aggressively.

My Cornish grandfather used to always invoke the phrase "the Human Element." Politics can get you in such a state of anger and hate that you speak and act irrationally. When facts come out, when you get discredited, when you get caught over-exaggerating, you can accept it and move on or you can just get more entrenched.

It’s cult behavior. Both Mr. Cher Scholar and Rachel Madow apparently recently invoked a Chicago cult study from 1956 in relation to the far-right extremists. From Wikipedia:

When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World is a classic work of social psychology by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter which studied a small UFO religion in Chicago called the Seekers that believed in an imminent apocalypse and its coping mechanisms after the event did not occur. Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance can account for the psychological consequences of disconfirmed expectations.

Their first response was shock, then anger. Then they doubled down. It’s like hitting rock bottom and then declaring everything is rigged because you can’t handle being wrong.

"If you believe in things you don't understand, you suffer." Stevie Wonder


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