Cher Over the Holiday Break
Camille Paglia on Miley Cyrus

Review of The Lowdown CD

LdFor those of you who bought the Lowdown biography CD from 2011, you know by now that half of the product is something you already have, the Maximum Cher biography CD from 1999. What a rip off!

Anyway, I listened to Maximum Cher again while on my trip to Pennsylvania. There are very few Cher audio clips on it (despite the CDs bold promises) and it's mostly a UK-biography told by a female narrator who pronounces her surname funny. The narrator also mistakenly refers to mother Georgia as Georgeanna. The audio biography does tell the stories of Cher’s mother’s almost-abortion, Cher loss of virginity to an Italian neighbor named Jeff and the story shows us a streetwise kid with bad teeth, nose, posture, and complexion and how she created an unapproachable teen persona to hide herself. According to bio, Cher was 7 when she moved to LA. Harold Battiste originally hired Sonny (because he liked his enthusiasm) to do record promotion.

McThe CD does elaborate on the early awkwardness of being unaccomplished performers and how Hollywood looked down on them, seeing Cher as aloof and abrasive and Sonny as a comical and a nasal hippie. The CD details the Princess Margaret Charity Ball fiasco, where Sonny & Cher had to play to the Hollywood elite instead of the teenagers they were used to entertaining and how they experienced sound problems and Cher was amplified too loudly and eventually was cut off. Then Sonny's stand-up routine was seen as bad and offensive. Eventually they were heckled by a drunk and the Hollywood stars laughed at them. It seems traumatic but the narrator remarks how Cher would go on to outshine all of them.

The bio also talks about their The Man from UNCLE appearance, how the script was written for them and how Sonny took a few blows in the fake-fight scene. The bo claims there were 200 guests at Cher's wedding to Gregg Allman. Is that true?

Apparently the Brits loved Mermaids and the “The Shoop Shoop Song” spent five weeks at number one. The album Love Hurts also spent six weeks at number one. The narrator calls the movie Faithful an “excellent film.” Other errors on the CD include the mention that Cher performed the song “Bang Bang” in the movie Good Times, the claim that the Cher show saw its debut mid-1975. The CD makes no mention of Cher's very public affair with Gene Simmons (although it lists her many other lovers, big and small) or anything about her band Black Rose but states that “a friend Jean Simmons offered HER home in NY” to Cher before she found her own apartment. The CD also claims Cher recorded “Many Rivers to Cross” with Beevis & Butthead. The CD calls Cher a “living legend in a two-faced, backstabbing LA” and also “The Queen of Pop.”

Cher The Interview is the second CD in the set and it is a repackaging of various TV interviews going back to the mid-1980s.

  1. No Regrets! is the Cynthia McFadden primetime interview Cher did in 2002 where she talks about always worrying about money, Sonny being scientologist, the interview where she said, “I was as smart as I was gonna get at 40.” She talks about her depression, and how you “make a hand with cards you’re dealt.” She also voices her support of Hillary Clinton in the election, how she knows Hillary and how Jimmy Carter was done-in by his inexperience and she feared the same would happen with Barak Obama.
  2. So Long, Farewell is an Australian Farewell-era interview where they ask her if this is really her last tour and she says, “It’s got to be. It won’t get any better.”
  3. What a Life is the uncomfortable Living Proof-era phone interview with the nervous guy. You feel sorry for him with all his “ums” and his nervous laugher. They talk about what it feels like to be an underdog and how she’s not trying to save NYC with her song “Song for the Lonely.” Cher insists she gives the most about who she is in interviews (I agree with this). She draws attention to the fact that most of her movie roles are not glamorous. They talk about the NYC dance-clubs she used to frequent and the DJs she liked. She said she would go to Studio 54 a couple of nights a week and that she also loved the club Heartbreak in NY. The interviewer asks if “The Music’s No Good Without You” is a reference to Sonny. No. He asks her “What’s a “cell” for you” and she says “hiding yourself.” She calls the tabloids soulless, Godless trash and tells him that pain isn’t worst thing that can happen to you.
  4. The Fame Game is the Matt Lauer interview from The Today Show around the time of Living Proof. She calls “Song for the Lonely” anthemic and she appreciates its grandeur in strength. She talks about coming up in show business, how in 1964 she and Sonny started out rough-edged. They had no stylists or dance instructors. They sewed their own clothes and were definitely “not polished, not perfect but real.” She says today’s atmosphere allows for no work in progress. She says she would trade for Bruce Sprinsteen’s voice in a minute. She says this is her great last tour, that it’s a really good one, and she “not sure how much longer I can cheat death.”
  5. Elephants Are Very Human is the interview Cher did at the premiere for the movie Elephants & Man, a Litany of Tragedy and she talks about riding the elephant Margie around for 3 weeks in Good Times and how Margie was her best friend in that “terrible movie.” She talks about the elephant Billy and how he needs a family and how the LA Zoo still uses cattle prods and bull hooks.
  6. A Life on Film is some pre-Academy Award show interview around the time of Silkwood. Cher says she spent eight years trying to get into acting work, alternated between giving up and making a living. She talks about being the worst auditioner in the world and that Sandy Dennis said her Jimmy Dean audition was the worst she had ever seen but that she was fascinated by what Cher was doing. They joke about how she says Dolly Pellicker in the movie and how they did the car scene (coming to work with Karen and Drew) a million times. Cher said there was lot of Cher in Dolly but Dolly was not her and that changed her walk for the role, make herself more slumped over with downcast eyes and that she was embarrassed by the cup-with-pinky-at-high-tea airplane scene. She said she was intimidated to look “like a truck driver” with no makeup and she found it interesting that Meryl Streep is accepted for her work alone without any curiosity about her personal life or how she looks or what her image is. We find out Cher was the running favorite that year (1983) in the supporting actress category. Linda Hunt ended up winning for The Year of Living Dangerously.
  7. This is a Cher World  This is the Rosie O’Donnell interview around the time of It’s a Man’s World (1996). This is a very important Cher interview because it was a very clear truce after years of publicly dissing Sonny and it occurred two years prior to his death. When people surmise that Cher was an opportunist at Sonny’s funeral and that she had spoken nothing but negative slurs about him prior to his death, I always point to this interview. Rosie leads Cher to say something negative and she stays positive. They talk about how Cher is recognized everywhere (except maybe Japan), their thoughts on David Letterman, how Sonny & cher cheated to make “I Got You Babe” the pick of the week in 1965. Rosie plays with Sanctuary items, and Rosie asks her about when she used to needlepoint before she left Sonny, when she was losing her mind. She says she doesn’t talk to Sonny much and Rosie takes umbrage with Sonny and how Chastity is also angry with him over politics. But Cher sets the record straight regarding their ongoing and permanent connection with each other, how she will always be S&C, and about her fondness for Sonny. Rosie says Sonny wouldn’t be anywhere with out Cher and Cher insists she wouldn’t be here without him either. This is the interview where Rosie hilariously tells Sonny to "sit and spin."
  8. My Dear Daughter is a British interview on the Parkinson Show that included comments by actor Stephen Fry who was sitting next to Cher. She talks about life after Sonny and how she had no experience making decisions and taking care of money, how she was fine with him being the boss until Chastity was born. She said they were full partners on the TV show and that the show came easy to her. She said she couldn’t live like a child with him but that his death was devastating. She thought they’d always be able to argue. They talk about Chastity’s coming out and how she questioned her motherhood afterwards and feared the press would hound Chaz. She said she discovered what her convictions were and about the book Family Outings where she comes across as “the bad one.” She said she wished she had had a different reaction, but that’s the reaction she lives with.
  9. Sonny’s Funeral Speech  This is her speech in full and I always feel uncomfortable listening to it or watching it, as if I don’t really belong in that private space. Hearing it every once in a long while I notice different elements of it. Cher talks about working on it for 48 hours. She talks about Sonny’s enthusiasm and how it swept everyone up and everyone “just wanted to be there.” She talks about how he was Sonny long before S&C and how he loved his friends and cooking (“not eating, tasting”). The speech is well written and an honest and fitting tribute.
  10. I’m Not a Sell Out This is the old Phil Donahue interview of 1985 where she talks about conserving energy, exercising on the S&C show. She talks here about Sonny being not as good a friend to her as she is to him, but that she will always be there for him; they’re just not good day-to-day friends because he treats like she’s 16 years old and “you can’t disagree with him.” She talks about being more than one person and that selling out to her is being one flat identity. I can’t help but think about Dolly Parton when she says this. I love Dolly but she's so oppresively a caricature of a real person.




Cher & Gregg married in Las Vegas June 30th 1975 - there were not even 50 guests

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