Cher's Performance in Jimmy Dean Gets a Deep Dive

Come-Back-to-the-Five-and-Dime-crying-cherWhen people ask me what my favorite Cher performance is I always say Sissy in Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Her performances as Loretta in Moonstruck and Rusty in Mask are pretty great too, but just not as great.

The issue in saying this, however, is that Jimmy Dean is a much more difficult movie for people to watch than all the other Cher movies. Unless you're a fan of Robert Altman and even then, this is not a favorite film among even Altman fans.

For one thing, there's the convention of time-travel through the dime-store mirror that seems confusing for most people. Then there's the whole storyline of transgenering, which in 1982 was challenging for viewers and is still controversial for some people now. 

So I was thrilled to find this dissection of Cher's performance by film critic Claudio Alves who has been watching the Criterion Channels Films of Endearment series. He calls this move "an underrated Robert Altman effort" and rightly credits Altman's role in handing Cher a serious film career. "If not for this flick, her ascendance to movie stardom might have never happened." 

Alves concedes that of the three women, Cher's role is "the least showy part, though no less complex" compared to Karen Black's performance of a trans woman ("portrayed with a sensitivity that feels ahead of its time for 1982"), and Sandy Dennis' performance of "warped fandom" and a life of lies. Cher's role still contains plenty of "juicy monologues and shattered multidimensionality."

He breaks apart Cher's casual entrance and connects it to her on-stage persona. He talks about her "vocal cadence and the rhythm of gestures" that reveal "a deeper weariness" and he contrasts this to her portrayal of her younger, more jubilant self.

He takes apart her "humor and energy" in the role during periods of reaction to the dramas of other characters ("comedic frustration," "dipsomatic deadpan," "bored and slightly critical in that way one is when being presented with an oft-repeated lie") and her performance of

"exaggerating emotion in order to force herself into genuine feeling. It's a risky gambit on Cher's part, for the approach could read as over-deliberate, mayhap over-technical when compared to Dennis' externalized implosions and Black's sense of innate fragmentation. Thankfully, Cher thrives in making bold choices look instinctual, erasing any signs of forcefulness until everything she does on-screen looks effortless. Such powers aren't beneficial for winning awards, though, since so much value is put on the performer's self-conscious extenuations. Nevertheless, they're vital to the songstress' success as a dramatic actress. They also define her presence as that of an old-school movie star. She can walk into a movie, captivate the camera, and magnetize the audience's gaze without breaking a sweat."

Alves even has some rare praise for Altman's work here: "This film...works as a showcase for Altman's ability to collaborate with actors and shoot limited spaces, finding infinite strategies to capture and contrast the store and its women...using these famous performers in ways no other film ever tried, before or since.

Not only does Alves give Cher's performance due diligence, his screenshots are perfectly illustrative of key moments.

Read the piece here: http://thefilmexperience.net/blog/2022/5/3/almost-there-cher-in-come-back-to-the-5-dime-jimmy-dean-jimm.html


The She-Shed Cher Shrine

TapestryOne thing I finished in April was the ‘shrine’ in the Cher She-Shed. Full disclosure, the story of the she-shed Cher shrine is a long and winding one. It began, one way or another, all the way back in 1998-9 when my friend Julie cajoled me onto the Internet and I discovered early Cher fan websites in the mid-1990s that mostly contained only copious amounts of pictures of Cher.

At the time I called those sites disparagingly 'Cher shrines.' After learning HTML for Ape Culture (Julie again), I secretly wanted to create my own Cher website but wanted to avoid a shrine. I came up with the jokey 'Cher Scholar' to pretend scholarly legitimacy. I’ve since come to learn you should be careful what you joke about. Jokes can overtake you. Sure enough, in 2010 I found a copy of the journal Camera Obscura with an academic essay on Lena Horne and I've been aspirationally scholarin’ since.

Around the same time I had moved to New Mexico which is composed of three large groups of people: Native American Indians, Hispanics (self-identified descendents from Spain vs Latin Americans) and Anglos. When I moved here I started  researching the major Anglo artists here, including the Taos and Santa Fe art colonies and the grand dame of Anglo art here Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe is important in New Mexico for two reasons. (I promise this will get back to Cher). First of all, she’s one of the very few female artists with a museum dedicated to her (thanks to heiress Anne Marion). She’s also a pretty good interpreter of New Mexico from the point of view of Anglo transplants. And there has been a proliferation of Santa Fe artists and writers that are descendants of her style (and lifestyle).

Back in the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s my grandparents accumulated a bit of American Indian art from my grandfather's career in the Indian Service. I had a somewhat advanced knowledge of traditional Pueblo arts in New Mexico and Hopi, Arizona. Meeting students and teachers while working at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and visiting their associated Contemporary Museum (the area’s most interesting modern art actually), I caught up on non-traditional artists. But knew little to nothing about the Hispanic arts in the area

Back in 2015, I started working at a community college in Albuquerque and I took a class on New Mexico Art History. It was the whole world of Spanish-influenced New Mexican arts that had an impact on the Cher shrine as it came to be.

New Mexico was a very remote area in the empire of Spain for about three centuries. As a comparison, New Mexico has only been part of the United States for less than 200 years. Some very unique arts and culture developed here due to area's remoteness (from Spain and even Mexico), particularly objects related to the Spanish/New Mexican Catholic Church, as well as the practice of speaking Spanish here that was so secluded, it 'stagnated' (or separated from the natural language evolutions happening in Mexico and Spain) and became a different dialect of Spanish that is spoken to this day in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado.

IMG_20211120_182005Most of these arts were developed from lack of materials like gold, silver, wool and plaster. This includes fiber arts like colcha (lack of yarn), tinwork (lack of silver), straw filigree pieces made with wheat (lack of gold), and wooden altars they call retablos (lack of painting canvases) and bultos (or santeros), wooden saint statues (lack of plaster).

Anglo painters like Marsden Hartley even painted the retablos and bultos.

There are pre-historic and multi-cultural arts here that exist nowhere else on earth.

And here is where we come back to Cher. 

The idea to start a fake-shrine began when I acquired the praying-hands Cher blanket (at the Chersonian, we call it a “tapestry”) which was originally sold on her Believe tour. I thought immediately I could hang this up with a two-person pew beneath it. Fans could then pray "with" Cher if (hopefully not) "to" Cher. 

Then I found a little tourist retablo of Saint Cecelia in Santa Fe that looks totally like Cher in the 1970s. Catholic candles are very popular here (you can find them at every grocery store) and there are now Cher versions proliferating on Etsy. I snared one for the decades 1960s, 70s and 2000s. I then collected a few tin nichos (little nooks) in need of pictures so I downloaded some  Cher pics in prayer gestures and a very creepy Cher head transposed onto Jesus.

(click any pic to enlarge)

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At Spanish Market I ran into the booth of an artist who calls himself the “Picasso Santero,” Jose A. Lucero. His Jesus retablos had an uncanny resemblance not only to Cher in various colored wigs but they even uncannily indicated a Picasso-like post-plastic-surgery Cher. How great is that??

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The Cher store at Caesars Palace put out Cher mints that serve a handy Eucharist. And then I found the handy fan-made kneeling pillow (to replace the pew, which there was no room for).

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You may recognize the Vida scarf Cher designed a few years ago underneath everything.

One day I found a fan-made picture of the Divas Last Supper on Etsy. It arrived in the mail with a Britney Spears laminated card. I had no idea what this card was and asked Mr. Cher Scholar who informed me it was a Catholic prayer card. It took me literally a second to decide to design a Cher one with her lyrics for “Chastity Sun” serving as the prayer on the back. 

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All that was missing were the bultos, the wooding carvings of the saints. 

I couldn’t very well ask religious artists at Spanish Market to make me a custom Cher bulto, although I’ve stood in front of many a vendor table contemplating it. “This Jesus is so cool but…”

For Christmas last year my friend Julie got me a little wooden doll of Cher carved with her "Take Me Home" outfit. She found a Palo Alto artist named Holly on Etsy who does various wooden pop culture figures and she has a whole suite of Cher dolls in iconic outfits. I suddenly realized these was technically tiny bulto figures.

And so the New Mexican She-Shed Cher Shrine was done.

It’s been a big unnerving to watch some of my more religious family members tour the Cher she-shed but I did find the "Sonny & Cher read the Bible" advertisement; so I hope that mitigates the sacreligiousness for them somewhat. The religious visitors don’t seem too disturbed, honestly.

It’s the straight men who experience adverse effects repeatedly. I’ve taken large family groups into the shed and the girls (gay or straight) all express surprise and delight (which is always a shock to me considering how dorkey the whole enterprise is). But after the initial pass-through, I will invariably look around and all the straight men will have disappeared.

I look out the door and they’re out on the lawn literally fanning themselves. I’m not kidding. I think they’re having a religious moment.

 

More information about New Mexico's Spanish arts and culture:

Spanish-nm Spanish-nm Spanish-nm


Starting on the Cher Show

NewlogoSo back in March I promised to start reviewing Cher's solo show after April work ended. So here we go. The first episode has been posted along with some context.

Trashy3Other fans mentioned last year that, disappointingly, the Timelife episodes were cut, in this episode's case even more heavily than those that appeared on VH1 back in the mid-1990s. So that's kind of a drag. Since the songs cut from the first episode were jazz and Broadway standards, it's hard to blame the high cost of pop songs.

Episode two coming up soon.

 


And Then The Thing Was Done: The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour

LogoWhew. The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour review is done: https://www.cherscholar.com/the-tv-variety-shows-and-specials.html.

Huge milestone!

I looked at my publication date for episode 1 and it was all the way back to January 25, 2019!! And here I thought I’d finish the whole series in a little over one year. (There are 52 weeks in a year, right? 67 episodes. No problem.) It took me 3 years and 2 months.

I remember starting the project sitting at my old desk at the Central New Mexico Community College job, happy as a clam. Shortly afterwards, I was unfortunately promoted to a job I did not want and went back to ICANN, COVID happened and now possible nuclear antihalation is on the horizon. But hey, at least we’re halfway done with this project! Smiley face.

The 67 Comedy Hour shows are done. We have 63  shows to go (29 Cher shows and 34 Sonny & Cher Show part deux, plus a handful of TV specials). I’m going to take a little break for NaPoWriMo 2022 but then I’ll be back to review the Cher shows, some of which I’ve still never seen, even though they come out on the Time-Life series two years ago. I was waiting to review them here right after watching them. So looking forward to that.

Last night I actually had a dream about the last episode I just posted, #67. I dreamed I was going to write about how this was a typical “clips” show, or “greatest hits” type show we’re so used to seeing now, the retrospective. And I had always read that this was a cobbled-together finale of clips.

But I dreamed a young producer met up with me to set me straight. Btw, none of the show’s producers are young anymore; some are not even alive. And he told me this the last show was assembled from never-before-seen clips that were cut from earlier episodes and thus, new to us. But in any case, not rerun clips.

I thought ‘how novel” and I looked forward to reviewing the episode today to see if this was, in fact, true.

It was!


Famous Mononyms and Questions to Cher Scholar

CharoJPC

So while I was in Cleveland, we heard that the hip new song the kids are listening to, if by kids we mean my 5-years older-than-me sister-in-law (who is a trends-watcher nonetheless), is "ABCDEFU" by the artist Gayle. Looking her up online, Gayle is described in an article as a one-named artist "like Cher." 

Which makes me crazy right now because Cher hasn't been the only one-named artist since "like Madonna" or before that "like Charo."

And since "like Adele," it's become absurd to keep saying "like Cher."

But this reminds us that when Cher legally became a mononym in the late 1970s, people lost their minds over it (or rolled their eyes a lot). This is what brought to being Cher's nickname, "Just Plain Cher" or "JPC."

There are so many single-named artists now there are web pages listing them: http://www.namenerds.com/uucn/listofweek/onename.html 

So many in fact, someone has taken the time to rank the mononymed singers: https://www.ranker.com/list/best-mononymous-singers-and-musicians/music-lover

TV Tributes

CherbettyBetty White recently passed away short of her 100th birthday, which made everyone sad. Cher took part in the televised tribute, even singing the theme song for the tribute and talking about what a good friend Betty was:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5rfZ4olWyw

 

ChertinaLast year, Cher also contributed to the Tina Turner tribute when Turner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwUxoSLLtUk (Cher parts start at 6:30 and 10:45)

 

 

 

Questions to Cher Scholar

Speaking of Tina Turner, I recently compiled a list of Cher's appearances with Tina for a friend. 


Buttons2Shame, Shame, Shame (Cher show, 1975-6) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCncupnwYDQ

 

Resurrection2
Resurrection Shuffle (Cher show, 1975-6) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHq11PKfws0

 

BeatlesBeatles Medley (Cher show, 1975-6) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y62c6Cs07S4

 

 

CountryCountry Side of Life (Cher show, 1975-6) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8iXSUMeZGE

 

MusicMakin Music Is My Business (The Sonny & Cher Show, 1977-8) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK8SnJKiwhU

 

Divas2Divas Live (1999): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwE8oOuAjzI

 


OrprahOprah: (bad version) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_n33Tsdnj4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPwgIO1LhqU&list=PLeKeuge7TXP_Sl1JLeFsYO5UMDFt0fGLL


EtOn Entertainment Tonight Cher talks about Tina as a role model for her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RadomvThxns

 

Cher and Tina Turner know each other going back to the 1960s when Sonny & Cher allegedly did caravan-of-stars style / soul revue tours when they were starting out, performing alongside big headliners Ike and Tina.

A Cher fan recently wrote to me asking for all the songwriting Cher credits. I compiled this list of wikipedia links for him:

Cherelton2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-Breed_(album) - 1973 The "Chastity Sun" lyric rewrite of Seals & Crofts' "Ruby Jean and Billie Lee"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxes_(soundtrack) - 1979 "Bad Love"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Take_Me_Home_(Cher_album) - 1979 "My Song (Too Far Gone)" about her divorce from Gregg Allman.

https://www.lesdudek.com/Gypsy-Ride.html - 1981 "Don't Trust That Woman" with Cher's lyrics and Les Dudek's music

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leather_Jackets_(album) - 1986 "Don't Trust That Woman" with Cher's lyrics and Elton John's music

Cherles2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not.com.mercial 1994 (writing) full album except for ""Born with the Hunger" (Sally Eikhard) and "Classified 1A" (Sonny Bono), released 2000

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_a_Man%27s_World_(Cher_album) 1995 "One by One" (thanks to Cher scholar Steven for pointing this one out)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Believe_(Cher_album) 1998 "Believe"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_Proof_(Cher_album)
 2001 "The Music's No Good Without You" and "Real Love"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closer_to_the_Truth 2013 "Take it Like a Man," "Dressed to Kill," and "Lovers Forever"

 


Cher Decades Smell Testings

Spray2So last year Cher released a fun new product in her new perfume line, four different perfumes called Decades (based on the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s). I was very excited to see what this was all about. Unfortunately, I was too excited because the night I received my spray-bottle versions I opened and snorted them immediately without trying a blind test them myself. Which I immediately regretted. 

So now whoever comes into the house is subjected to a Cher perfume smell test. For the most part, the test smellers have failed miserably and there seems to be no rhyme or reason who does better or worse (age, schnoz, recall ability). Seems it's hard to guess a decade by its scent although it doesn't seem an illogical task; decades do have particular smells: incense we associate with the 60s, that Windsong perfume I religiously purchased every year for my mother's birthday in the 70s, Calvin Klein in the 80s and, of course, teen spirit in the 90s.

That scents are so hard to ID is not surprising to me, though. There was a Children's Museum in St. Louis called The Magic House that my friends and I used to visit long after we were children (it was that fun) and The Magic House had an exhibit of boxes on a table with steel lids. You'd open each lid one by one and there'd be a powerful smell you were supposed to identify. The smells would be so familiar but impossibly illusive...like banana. 

The Results:

Mr. Cher Scholar (3 years older than me) initially ID'd all the smells correctly and then second-guessed himself and changed two of his answers. He said distinct memories came up from his childhood for each smell. The 60s scent had a floral smell he associated with that decade, the 70s scent reminded him of his mother's Jean Nate; and the 80s smelled like a date.

RollerballI gave the rollerballs out as a gift for Christmas. Dave (same age as me) guessed them all correctly. He couldn't articulate why. My friend Julie (younger but 80s era) got them all wrong. After knowing the correct smells, she did associate her mom's perfume to the 80s scent.

I threw two small Christmas parties this year (due to Covid). The first party was for my local cousins (both 60s kids). The party was a bit of disaster as the family was fully lactose intolerant and the menu was unintentionally dairy-laced. My cousins Mark and David both failed miserably. I blame the dairy.

The second party was for local friends all of whom were 90s kids. (I made sure to gather dietary requirements this time.) My friend Mary ID'd the patchouli in the 60s bottle right away. But got the others wrong and then proceeded to fold her answer sheet into an origami swan. Her husband Peter got the 60s/70s right but not the 80s/90s. He said he could tell they went from strong to subtle decade by decade. Melo got them all right but she cheated and guessed by the color wheel. Kalisha got the 70s/90s right but not the 80s/60s.

Rollerball2Last week, I just took a trip to Cleveland to try the rollerballs out on family members. My sister-in-law (five years older) got one right (80s), my brother (5 years older) got them all wrong, but did keep the 60s/70s together (which he said were more pungent) and the 80s/90s which he said smelled more contemporary, sweet, warm and leathery. My mother (1940s generation) made all the same guesses my brother did. My Dad (same generation) got only the 70s scent right.

You can get the rollerballs separately or in a set. 

Soon, according to Cher's Instagram, we will be able to buy the fancy bottles in all the decades too. Decades-bottle 


New Cher Channel Videos

I'll be visiting my parents and brother's family in Cleveland next week. When I get back, I'll have a lot more smell-test results on the Cher Decades perfumes and will be posting those when I get back. In the meantime...

Mainman2Main Man

Cher recently posted the official video for her 1988 single, the Desmond Child song "Main Man." Cher performed this on the MTV Video Music Awards that year but the song failed to Mainman1chart. The home-video feel of it was due to being shot at her Benedict Canyon Egyptian compound (soon to be sold to Eddie Murphy).

The hair is less big and the outfits less blingy and coincidentally this song will make an appearance in my 2022 NaPoWriMo project this April.

As in all the other videos of this era, Robert Camilletti makes an appearance; but instead of the fictional-music-video role he normally played, this video seems to be saying this is a glimpse into their much quieter real life together.

Elijah also makes a brief appearance in footage from the aforementioned Video Music Awards performance.

This has always been one of my favorite songs from Cher's Geffen Record/Power-Ballad era.

Looking for Love/When Will I Be Loved

Cher also released two more Celebration at Caesars clips, Johnny Lee's "Looking for Love," from the very popular 1980 movie Urban Cowboy, combined in a medley with Linda Rondstadt's "When Will I Be Loved," a song Cher sings from atop a mechanical bull.

These performances are illustrative of what I think is so special about this show. Since I was about 11 or 12, I've seen this concert many, many, many times and I believe it's a key show in her live-show timeline. Many fans had mostly only seen Cher on television up to the early 1980s, variety show episodes and some experimental TV specials up to this point. Not all fans had had the opportunity to see Cher perform live on the road or in one of her Las Vegas shows. So this was a different kind of TV special, a sustained concert. And Cher was turning a new leaf as a musical performer. The seeds of this show grew out of her Take Me Home tour which was her first tour without Sonny. Her demeanor is remarkably different from the torch singer on the 1970s TV shows.

She is confident, makes eye contact with the audience and the camera, her body language is full of bravado and she moves with a kind of ease that will make an impression on all the fans watching her. It's the ingredient of swagger everyone will take for granted by the end of the 1980s.

Looking4love3 Looking4love3 When1

 

 

 

Looking4love2
These performances are very sexual. Cher is looking awesome in a cowboy hat and sporting her own turquoise jewelry.  (And dancing with her at one point is Damita Jo Freeman, who allegedly taught Michael Jackson how to moonwalk, see pic at right). Cher's interaction with the male dancers is very physical. Cher lightly teases the hip-gyrating dancing cowboys and there's plenty of affectionate touching.

When2In "When Will I Be Loved," she romps with sometimes two cowboys. And there's an interlude on the mechanical bull with one of those cowboys which is very, very suggestive, their rhythmic movements indicating sex and exclamations of ecstasy, all providing some ironic distance from the lyrics of the song, ostensibly lamenting Cher's sad love experiences (lied to, put down, pushed 'round). It's a real "woe-is-me, wink-wink" performance.

When3 When3 When3

 

Look at all those cowboys!

When6


Cher Takes Over Smells, Slippers, Cosmetics and More

WisdomHappy 2022, Cher fans. Taking a moment to catch-up on all the great Cher stuff happening right now.

WisdomofsoundA few months ago Cher contributed to the 2021 Wisdom of Sound with her Miley Cyrus song "I Hope You Find It." This was a benefit concert for the Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery and Nagi Nunnery in Nepal. Cher made an appearance, Richard Gere hosted and the live-stream included Laurie Anderson (also love; where else could Anderson and Cher appear together??), Jon Batiste, Norah Jones, Angelique Kidjo, Steve Miller Band, Gregory Porter, and Maggie Rogers.

Last year Cher also released an offshoot of her Eau du Couture line, scents from the decades (60s, 70s, 80s, 90s) for sale at Walmart in a larger bottle and small roller-ball bottles. I've been asking my friends to do blind smell tests to identify the decades. How bizarre this seems to locate a certain scent for an entire decade. I'm curious to know if there is consensus on this wild experiment. More on that later (I'll be testing family members in Cleveland soon). So far the younger kids are doing better at guessing the decades although they weren't around for some of them. 

F187cd8b-6cb9-40d1-b7ed-6ce86f4d5ada.5c9b1b75e3c084d13ed6874e3bf0d9ec F187cd8b-6cb9-40d1-b7ed-6ce86f4d5ada.5c9b1b75e3c084d13ed6874e3bf0d9ec

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cher has also done big things for Ugg in just one week. Here's their Cher page:

Ugg

Here's the tweet on the power of Cher:

Ugsspike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More ugg pics:

Ugg2 Ugg2 Ugg2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ugg ad in Cher's Malibu house: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei5cc_isx60

But that's not all. MAC Cosmetics this week has also unveiled a big campaign with Cher and the rapper Saweetie:

Macad1 Macad1 Macad1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The MAC ads:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_gsH9yLNuw

https://www.tiktok.com/@cher/video/7049723316873088262

And that's not all! Late last year Scent Beauty released a body lotion for Eau du Couture and Cher went on HSN to promote it. Frustratingly, you could only get the lotion in combination as part of a set. But then they offered it as a one-off if you purchased other Scent Beauty products, so I bought my friend a few of the new Dolly Parton perfumes for Christmas and snared my body lotion that way. Now it seems you can just buy the lotion separately. It was like a Christmas shakedown.

Hsndec21 Hsndec21

 

 

 

 

 

Cher on HSN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbFVoSzjGjU

 

OwnwordsI was reviewing my date calendar from last year (it's full of quotes to inspire) and found I missed this Cher quote from April 2021: “If you really want something you can figure out how to make it happen.”

I have no memory of this quote by Cher, at least in the famous quote pages and books…yes there’s a book of Cher quotes.

 

 

Mrms-2And best news of all, after over a year of hiatus I'm finally back on track with the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour episodes with what I think is a very good lost episode, #56 from December 12, 1973. There are only 11 more episodes for this first variety show series. Then we move on to Cher solo shows.

https://www.cherscholar.com/the-sonny-cher-comedy-hour-episode-56.html


Christmas with Cher, 2021

Chersanta

It's baking time...so this will be the last Cher Scholar post for the year. I feel like 2021 was mostly getting my head back on track after the drama of last year. Hard to believe I've done not one single Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour recap (and I was so close to the end of that series). Well, hopefully next year.

The Cher Christmas tree is up this year with two more dolls. (Had to upgrade to a bigger tree this year). The nativity of boyfriends is back, as well.

30oyit 30oyit



 

 

 

 


It's Christmas so it's time for people wanting to watch Moonstruck again. Here's one last essay from this year's scholarly readings of Moonstruck-think-tanking, "An Honest Contrivance': Opera and Desire in Moonstruck" by Marcia J. Citron.

Citron talks about the movie's tone, "romantic idealism tethered to the magic of the moon" and how the movie's conceit balances so precariously by successfully between realism and maudlinism. She identifies each part of Puccini's La Bohème as a part of the movie's soundtrack, the actual opera scenes, and the ways in which each Puccini theme ties to a character, mostly Ronny. She concludes "the verismo idiom of Bohème...has a stunning impact on the film." She even provides us with a table listing each act, the DVD timestamp, the piece of the score, the location in the plot and whether the musical element is a soundtrack piece or a literal opera performance. "The visit to the Met to see Bohème occupies a central place in the story, and Bohème is foregrounded as ritual through signs, posters, and phonograph recordings...it's use of opera music...performs important meta-level functions for memory, conciousness, and desire."

MoonstruckCher's character in the film is explored as well: "Loretta Castorini an uncomprehending novice...throughout the film she has been independent and functioned as an individual with her own mind. Film scholars see her as an unusually strong female character in a genre in which women have been subordinate to men...Loretta appears to have internalized the opera-desire connection and made it her own, even though Ronny instigated and controlled the music." (referring to the scene in his apartment when he put a Puccini record on his turntable and then later when he invites her to the opera).

You can check out the essay on JSTOR: https://www.jstor.org/stable/30162938

So recently my friend Natalie asked for a Christmas mix. My personal Christmas mix is on my iPod and quite a few of the songs included on it are not available on Spotify, including all of Cher's Christmas offerings. Searching for them today online  reminds me how much Christmas material Cher performed on her various TV shows. Maybe this is why she's not in such a hurry to give us a Christmas album. We're insatiable, Chrismastly speaking.

Years ago I did a brief breakdown of all the Cher Christmas shows.

Here are the elements of those shows:

MisletoeThe 1969 Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour with Cher
Where they started singing "Jingle Bells" that tragically hip way. Look, he surprises her with misletoe. Adorable!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VT06CBkTkyM

You can now watch the entire show on Amazon Prime.

The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour (1972 and 1973) Shows

OholynightThe ultimate Cher Christmas song is, of course, "O Holy Night." Unforgettable. So much so that there was once a yearly tradition to recreate it on David Letterman. Watch Paul Shaffer yearly rendition (as is tradition).

Sonny & Cher do "Jingle Bells" in 1972.

FestiveThe 1973 show was a big production of festive.  

MidnightCher also did this one both years, I believe: "One Tin Soldier/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"

You can now watch the 1972 show on Amazon Prime.

The 1973 show on Amazon Prime.

Cher, 1975

1975Cher's opening "White Christmas/We Need a Little Christmas" Medley"

1975-2The poinsettia-fest that is "Some Children See Him

The full cast doing the big finale ("I Love the Winter Weather/ I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm/Let It Snow," "Santa Baby," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "Jingle Bells with a Steel Guitar," "Christmas Island," "Christmas in Trinidad," "Silent Night") with Foxx, The Lennon Sisters and The Hudson Brothers.

FinaleThe full show, (the Redd Foxx as an elf is a funny sketch.)

The Sonny & Cher Show (1976)

The Divorced Show also had a Christmas episode.

1976The "Jingle Bells" open

1976-2The kooky medley with Bernadette Peters and Captain Kangaroo which has Elijah's first if not an one very early appearance.

Watch the show on Amazon Prime.

In the 1980s we also had a few Christmas appearances:

PeeweeCher on Pee Wee Christmas

MermaidsxmasThere's a Christmas party scene in Mermaids.

Cher's only official Christmas recording, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" with Rosie O'Donnell.

Have a Cherry Christmas everybody and stay out of trouble. ;-)


Out Here On My Own: Cher, Irene Cara and Karen Carpenter

OutherecherCher is in the process of releasing parts of her 1982 Concert Special A Celebration at Caesars song by song on her YouTube channel. If I hadn’t already seen the show a zillion times, this kind of release scheme would annoy me much, much more.

I often kid (not kidding) that I want to have a big, celebratory, (not a little bit gay) funeral with this show playing on a big screen. I have loved this show since I first watched it on Showtime in 1982. And watching it again recently, I am seeing something really strong and meaningful about the show, especially as it is positioned between her earlier variety show specials and her soon-to-come movie career and power-ballad phase. I’m noticing a lot of new things, which is incredible because as I’ve watched the show a zillion times.

But more about all that when Cher finishes releasing all the songs. Before then I wanted to talk about the song published today, “Out Here on My Own.” For weeks I’ve been eagerly awaiting this particular song release and my enthusiasm has to do, I think, with my identification with the song as it is sung separately by Cher in this concert special and Irene Cara in the movie Fame.

I don’t go to Cher generally to find myself and I don’t go to Cher songs to find myself in the lyrics of those songs. I would make the case even Cher doesn’t even use her own music to see herself therein. Cher’s music does other things that are helpful and meaningful to us. Maybe other Cher fans feel otherwise and do see themselves in her narratives and musical declarations. But all that said, this is a song I do see myself in, so much so that a line in the lyric is in contention with one other song’s line for the eventual tombstone.

OutherecaraI’m always fascinated by how Cher’s versions diverge from other artists’ versions. In this case, Irene Cara whose character Coco, as you may recall, was a tough little New York cookie, self-assured as to her future in entertainment, seemingly more mature than the other students at the Performing Arts High School. However, Coco promptly falls prey to a sexual predator and her bravado tragically crumbles.

In the movie, this song is a moment of honesty for Coco. She has distanced herself from potential friends with all her bravado and although this is a love song, it’s also about reconnecting with the other artists around her in a more honest way. Cara gives the song raw innocence and then summons up a bit of courage at the end to sing “I may not win, but I can’t be thrown, out here on my own.” It’s very moving at the end of the song when Bruno reaches for her hand. 

Cher’s version, on the other hand, is underwritten by Cher’s more experienced persona and the performative bravado of her new 1980s cool-chick self, as opposed to the newly-abandoned Hollywood party-and-glamour girl self, which was a previous shed from her wide-eye, innocent hippie self. This new Cher isn’t shy about singing with power. All the lyrics resonate differently coming from her; but then even so, there’s also a pleading ache in her delivery. She is still full of fear and doubt, wondering where she fits in. But her finale is much more frim. “I may not win, but I won’t be thrown,” (that’s the epitaph, right there). Notice the subtle difference between the words can’t and won’t, an inability and a refusal. Illustrative of what makes the two versions so character-specific.

Superstar-CarpentersIt’s interesting to see similar contrasts with two other songs covered by both Cher and Karen Carpenter. They both sang the Leon Russell songs “Superstar” and “Song for You” around the same time, the Carpenters’ versions were either more successful in the charts or better identified as a Carpenters song.

For years I have felt that Karen Carpenter’s more innocent rendition of “Superstar” was better because it showcased a kind of naivete and had a kind of misplaced crispness.

For the same reason, I’ve always liked Cher’s “Song for You” better (although Leon Russell’s own 1970 version is my favorite) because Cher’s voice contained more jadedness (already in the early Leonrussell1970s) than Karen could manage. Karen’s version seemed saccharine in comparison. Cher’s version seemed more credible.

But lately I’ve come to appreciate Cher’s “Superstar” a bit more with its elevated, knowing pathos. I can now appreciate both versions like with “Out Here On My Own.” (Does there always have to be a best and better?)

Superstar-cherI love Cher’s “Out Here on My Own” and when I hear it, I think, yes, I can see me in here. Maybe this is even a case where Cher herself relates more personally to the song, this being her first major concert tour or residence as an solo act without either Sonny, Gregg Allman or Black Rose.

The fact that Cher’s Broadway musical focused so much on overcoming insurmountable fears and Cher’s fears around those fears (with a Finding-Nemo-like prescription to “just keep swimming”) just makes this song
resonate all the more today.

Carpenters-songSuperstar

Cher’s promotional single, an unreleased Jackson Highway song (1970, did not chart): 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u46SfTDCCuo

TV version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pFeG6IV_aE

Carpenter’s 1971 version (#2 Hot 100, #1 Adult Contemporary):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJmmaIGiGBg

Cher-songforyouSong for You

Foxy Lady album version from 1972, not released as single:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVHLPYIfzVE

TV version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIY0SyyLJ_U

Carpenter’s 1972 version:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQKnpJul8MU

List of lots of other covers:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Song_for_You