Cher Scholar Mix Tape: The Girl Power Songs

Cs-girl-songs-21In the middle of creating this list I realized a lot of these songs were written by men. So I counted it all up and yes there are 35 male writers to just 10 woman writers. Oy. And I kept losing count of all the writers listed for “A Different Kind of Love Song” so this is an undercount.

All I Really Want to Do: Early idea of relationship emancipation when sung by Cher. That’s why her version of this Dylan song is important.

I Walk on Guilded Splinters: The witchy New-Orleans swamper written by a future Dr. John. Mess with this voodoo version of Cher at your own risk. I have never not liked this song.

Hell on Wheels: All the stuff the voodoo princess in the prior song does but this time on roller skates. It’s still dangerous!

Young and Pretty: I worried this song might sound too victim-y. It’s the only Spotify Black Rose song available so it slipped in. I think it’s Cher’s defiant performance of the song that makes me want to include it and her 40-year literal defiance of the lyric (actually giving the words retrospective irony) that makes this one apropos to our mix here today.

Back on the Street Again: I worried about including this one as well. The girl-power part is mostly in the chorus and the way Cher delivers it. This is another example of how a lyric's meaning changes when sung by a woman instead of man, especially a woman who has decided to change “feet” to “street” and “came” to “gave” illustrating some different priorities there.

I Found Someone: Cher’s first Geffen-era kiss-off song. Honestly, it doesn’t sound like what I would image a girl-power song to be but I’ve witnessed girls-of-a-certain-age at Cher concerts who really love reenacting this one to each other while Cher sings it. It taps into something, this one does.

Save Up All Your Tears: Part two of "I Found Someone." Cher doesn’t sing this one in her shows anymore, but I’m assuming the aforementioned girls would do the same re-enactments for this one. This is a fun song to sing with indignation, whether you have cause or not.

Just Begin Again (with Spinal Tap): Because it’s funny and not bad advice. Although Cher belts too much in it. This was the 1990s and I’m glad that whole thing is over.

It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World: The example most people give when Cher’s persona provides a cover song with ironic disobedience.

Believe: Cher’s girl-power incarnation in the new millennium. This song is another surprising girl-anthem since it’s a bit equivocal and vacillating. But the boys and girls disagree. You see them dancing to this one with a look of self-confidence on their faces and have to admit they are digging empowerment out of it. This is a good example of how music and lyric can mix to evoke a stronger message than the literal words indicate. Honestly, I have never loved this song. I know. What can I say? This is the remix I can take (with the happy electronica) and happily this is the version Cher uses to open her shows.

Strong Enough: Post-Believe, Cher is putting more girl-power out there. More overt girl-power than "Believe." And the disco sound lets us pretend Cher sang this one decades earlier.

A Different Kind of Love Song: It’s not all about what girls are reacting against, but what we celebrate too.

You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me: Yes, a good phoenix rising song but like "Believe" I don’t really like it. So I found a remix I did like, a softer, slightly anthemic, less bombastic journey. Undeniably a strong sentiment though. “Times are hard but I was built tough.”

Woman’s World: Written by men. Harrumph! Cher sells the empowerment here though, especially in her shows.

Take it Like a Man: A tongue-in-cheek “we can do better” song for that works well for girls and gay men, which is why there are about 100 zillion dance remixes. “And how does it feel when we do it better?”

Chiquitita: Girl to girl, things will be okay. Great when ABBA sings it. Cher’s version feels very motherly, or fairy-godmotherly. “Love’s a blown out candle….but the sun is still in the sky and shining above you.”

Stop Crying Your Heart Out: My mother has a lot of somewhat harsh pieces of advice we call Estel-igims. When she was sick in the hospital with Covid and hours away from the ventilator, she was still scolding me to “toughen up” and to “do as I say” and I think this sentiment applies here. The song came out right as she was telling me this although at the time I told her I regretted to inform her that I was a cream puff. Sorry not sorry. :-)

Peruse the Girl Power songs on Spotify.


Cher Scholar Mix Tape: The Love Songs

Cs-love-songs-21A month or so ago I was driving to Taos and discovered fan mixes on Spotify for a few other artists and decided it would be fun to create some new-fangled media mixes for Cher.

Sometimes I come across a Cher love song on shuffle and think, huh, a love song. I should make a mix of these but I don’t normally associate Cher with love songs, which is daffy because that was Sonny & Cher's stock-in-trade, two lovebirds singing love songs. But I was like, nope, not enough songs. So I was shocked when compiling this first mix in Spotify last week.

The songs run the gamut from sweet to crazy. Because this is Spotify, there are songs from four albums we couldn’t add here, like the lovely version of “Love Hurts” from Stars, “I’d Rather Believe in You” from the album of the same name, or any song with Gregg Allman. The mix is also missing the rare b-side “She’s No Better Than Me” and probably one of the most moving songs Cher ever sang for Sonny, Jimmy Webb’s “Didn’t We” from her last recorded torch performance on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in 1974. On purpose I didn’t include Cher’s latter-day "Love Hurts" (too bombastic) and “Bang Bang” (she’s having too much fun in the 1980s remake and the 1966 version feels like it somehow belongs to another mix). I curated these songs out-of-chronological order to indicate their timelessness. 

Here’s the blow-by-blow:

The Way of Love: Easily Cher’s biggest, most-representative torch ballad and the ballad that started off her torch era. It has to go first.

Song for You: Leon Russell’s classic torchy ballad. Strong love song. Cher's version is better than the Carpenter’s version I think. Cher gives a more jaded delivery.

Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You: From Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline album. When I was 8 years old I made my parents sit in the living room and listen to this song on the record player because I thought it was that good. They patiently sat there until the song was over and then excused themselves to go back into the den to finish their cigarettes and whatever TV show I had interrupted them from.

I Wasn’t Ready: Loved this one as a kid too and still like it.

Angels Running: One of Cher’s most bittersweet covers. This version isn’t as good as the rarer, alternate US version, which is simpler and dispenses with the superfluous touches, especially around the bridge(s).

All I Ever Need Is You: Easy listening gold. As perfect a vocal as Sonny could get. Cher perfection.

Needles & Pins: A classic Sonny Bono/Jack Nitzsche song. I prefer Cher’s more more sincere, painful version than all the other silly-sounding pinzah covers. Thanks the Searchers!

You Take It All: Underrated little deep cut. I love the underwater sound of it.

The Man That Got Away: Lots of tragic love songs on Bittersweet White Light. "More Than You Know" is a Cher favorite and good candidate, but her televised and live versions were better than this up-tempo attempt. This song was noted as a good Judy Garland cover recently by The Boston Globe and I can’t deny that might have influenced my choosing it for this list. The song is at turns resigned, bitter, anguished and dismayed.

Let It Be Me: S&C loved the French around this time and two of their Gilbert Bécaud covers made this list.  Sweet and lilting.

Train of Thought: I’ve been thinking about this suicide song and that it was released in May of 1974, eerily one year before Jenny Arness’ suicide in May of 1975 when Gregg Allman left her for Cher. Cher’s smoker’s voice here leads us through a harrowing (very meta) train of thought.

Catch the Wind: Sweet song by Donovan. Cher does a doe-eyed version.

Then He Kissed Me: Not as great as The Crystals version but I’ve always liked this version too. Nice Harold Battiste piano part in this one.

United We Stand: The sonic version of the photograph displayed on the back of their 1971 All I Ever Need Is You album. As true as any S&C love song probably, at least emotionally, if not when they actually divided a few years later. Neither of them did, in fact, fall.

Love & Pain: Cher’s fist belting melodrama. I like that there are non-belting parts here too, unlike the Geffen years full of full-blast ballads.

Stand By Me: I was torn about including this one. Took it out. Then added it back in. The original is so iconic. But this is very Sonny & Cher too, similar to "United We Stand" (lots of standing). I like that Sonny comes in at the very end with his support.

What Now My Love: The second Gilbert Bécaud ("Et Maintenant"). Both of these versions are go-tos when I’m feeling gloomy. The numbness , the becoming unreal, the resignation! Such a sorrowful lyric. As I kid I always loved their cheesy nightclub version better. But this version has grown on me quite a bit.

Somebody: My favorite modest little S&C song.

Just You: I liked this song better when I was younger. It’s kind of a plodding event to me now. But that said, it’s the best, most perfect example of Sonny Bono writing a lyric about his own thoughts and feelings which he sublimates by letting Cher  sing them instead. It’s easy for the audience to read these sentiments as Cher’s (it’s what we wanted to believe about their dynamic) but they truly belong to Sonny. After all, he would sound paternalistic and crass singing them (and why is Cher so jealous? Question for another day.) so giving them to Cher probably felt chivalrous to him. Not without its charm anyway.

Baby Don’t Go: I don’t love their honky version but this is one of the most popular love songs for other artists to cover from the S&C oeuvre. So it seems important to add here. It’s also an easy song to cover well, unlike "I Got You Babe."

After All: Sonically mushy but good slow-dance material. Still popular and still a part of her shows.

It’s The Little Things: My non-Cher-fan-friends (boys or girls) always pick this song as one of their favorite Sonny & Cher songs and it's a deserving favorite. Again Sonny speaking through Cher (remember Sonny told Cher she wasn’t pretty enough to make it without him and they both often joked about how naïve and dumb Cher could be), but more catchy and a happier song than "Just You."  

I Got You Babe, Live at the Westside Room in Century City: Haven’t we all heard enough of their original recording? It’s a classic but this has always been my sentimental favorite version, particularly due to Sonny’s humorous interjections. 

I Got You Babe, Good Times Soundtrack Version: Another sweet cover of their own song. No one covers this song better than S&C did themselves.

Peruse the love songs on Spotify


Cher Streaming Stuff Catchup

DatelineI went to categorize this post as "Television" but I don't even know what the word means anymore. Sigh. 

Anywhere, there's been a ton of Cher content in the last 6 to 9 months. Here's a partial catchup. Last week Cher was on Dateline: White House with Nicolle Wallace. It was a great interview about Celebrity civic action and Cher and Dr. Irwin Redlener's mobile Covid vehicle. 

LonelyCher's documentary Cher and the Loneliest Elephant came out a few months ago on Paramont Streaming/Smithsonian. It's not yet available on other locations but hopefully it will end up on Amazon Prime or DVD eventually.

It was a very moving story, mostly focusing on the trials of Dr. Amir Khalil from the Four Paws animal rescue. Despite the title and trailer, Cher has only a peripheral role in the movie. Which is why it's good to also watch the For your consideration video which is a solid hour of Cher and the film's producer. It's an incredible behind-the-scenes conversation about the many of the challenges both Cher and the filmmakers experienced before cameras started rolling, many challenges not even mentioned in the documentary. You come away thinking it was a miracle the film ever happened at all, let alone the rescue itself. It shows the power of perseverance and Cher's mantra of not taking no for an answer (which is a mantra reiterated in all three video clips here).

Hsn3The lightest appearance was HSN's Beauty Report talking about Cher's 2020-Fifi-award-winning new fragrance. Apparently the Fifis are the Oscars of fragrance. Far from saving the world with COVID vaccines or elephant-rescues, this kitschy girl-fest felt very personal yet still newsworthy. 

In all the clips Cher says she loves the people she works on these projects and she loves making things. They discuss the fragrance's color (Cher doesn't like the whiskey look) and  the notes, the bottle corset with the little baby studs.

The whole thing feels like fun girl-time (no matter your gender preference).  Listening to fragrance nerds talk about smells is funny (and interesting) but funny. They ogle the purse-size's twist-top bottle (so it doesn’t leak in your purse). Then they bring out Theo Spilka from Firmenich Fragrance who says they went through 57 trials and it took 4 years with 2 perfumers working on it. He says Cher knew what she wanted and he Hsn2described her initial conversations about an Istanbul incense she liked and how she "rolled up her sleeves literally." He said Cher is so loved all over world Clement Gavarry (the perfumer) was able to get quality raw ingredients like:

  • Orange flower and jasmine from France
  • Neroli from East Africa
  • Bergamot from Italy
  • Sandalwood from Australia

Spilka says it's hard to verbalize what you want making perfumes, but that this perfume is 150% Cher.

Cher drops hints of some Christmas surprise that doesn't sound like a Christmas album although she admits she would do one. She says her favorite Christmas song is (still?) "O Holy Night." 

Cher says she doesn't plan anything and that she was "talking to Herb Alpert the other night" and they both agreed that luck played a large part in their careers. 

Cher tells a story about how she was told a woman with brown eyes and dark hair would never make the cover of Vogue. As we know, Cher soon afterward was on the cover of many Vogue magazines. She says charity blesses the giver and that she really wants to tour again but she wants people to be safe. She says, "I have as good a time as you do." David, the Cher fan talking to her right then says, "I don’t know about that." They talk about a nail polish bottle Cher helped designed for Deb, her manicurist. They talk about how Cher's mom is still stunning in her 90s.

Cher-stare-kunisCher's biopic was also officially announced recently and people are speculating on who will play Cher. Because Cher is completely inimitable, (as drag queens and impersonators have scientifically proven), this will be a challenge. Talented as she may have been, the Cher cast for the TV movie And the Beat Goes On, (yes, this will be Cher's second biopic), was completely off-the-mark. 

For years I've been thinking Mila Kunis would be a good Cher although I have no idea whether she can sing or move like a groovy coolnick. She's got the comedic sense and she has a similar je-ne-sais-quoi quality, part of which is the deadpan Cher-stare.

 


Stinky Cher Words

Review"It hugs my body and caresses my soul"

This is the subject line of the latest email from Scent Beauty on Cher's Eau de Couture. "It gives me peace and comforts me. It makes me happy and gives me strength."

I'm all for aroma therapy but this ad sounds like we're pitching a magic, superfine, sunshine elixir!

"Now gather round folks. I heard you say you wanna pick-me-up that won't let you down. You're looking for a cure?....It's gotta relieve your sore bones, your aching tones and your runny nose!"

It's a good scent. But it does not exactly 'caress my soul.' In fact, this advance on my soul is not required from my beauty products. 

IMG_20210616_100953__01

My mom recently sent us boxes of keepsakes from our childhood, including art attempts, grades, our birth announcements... all that stuff. I've slowly been working through it. I can only take small amounts of my little-shit self so I have no idea how my mom put up with me. As the budding writer in the family, there are copious amounts of notes requesting sleepovers with Krissy (who lived behind us) and petitions to redress unfairnesses unspecified. 

The above letter was written on clown stationary and I had a vague memory today of covering it with the balloon stickers it came with. The letter starts by introducing myself to my mother (in case she doesn't remember me) and then launching into my Christmas wish list, which includes the overbearing request depicted above for "a sher doll" and a dog and a cat. I go on to concede that a cat is unlikely (some of us were allergic), but this was probably just a negotiating tactic on my part to leave room for bargaining down to the doll and the dog. I proceed to explain to her how much I like her and then attempt to illicit from her some positive feelings toward myself. 

I have to report the scheme worked as I did get 'a sher doll' that year. And Sonny too. But we already had a dog and I didn't get another one. 

Which is all to say I've been a fan since before I could spell Cher, which makes my appreciation almost pre-verbal. Almost. Clearly, I already had a very big mouth. 


Cher, Big Data and Influence

The Cher Hot Sheet below was created as fan art by The Hot Sheet on Twitter. What a great piece of data visualization!

Years ago the visual-data software company Tableau gave a demo to Central New Mexico Community College and included an amazing public interactive visualization of some Beatles data with headings like What Are Most of Their Songs About and Which Songwriter Has the Largest Vocabulary. You can even roll over their cartoon heads with your mouse to see which Beatle wrote which hits. Big data, maps, trees and graphs! Nerdy fun! It was so awesome in fact that CNM couldn't afford it. But I always hoped someday there'd be a Cher Tableau. 

The Cher Hot Sheet below is the next best thing: albeit static, it aggregates the data (which is some kind of objective reality, you have to admit) and continues to beg the question as to why artists with lesser numbers are in the Hall of Fame but not this stealthy trailblazer. 

(click to expand)

Hotsheet

In my mind the relevant numbers are this:

  • Cher ranks 16th on Billboards Top 100 female artists of all time.
  • Cher ranks 47th if you include the boys.
  • Her chart span is 38 years! Including 19 years of actual chart activity.
  • She has spent an accumulated 420 weeks on Billboard charts.
  • She is the oldest female to achieve a #1 hit (still, after 20 years!)
  • Cher also holds the record for longest gap between first and last #1 hits (24 years and 355 days)
  • These numbers don't even include Sonny & Cher's contributions (their act had 18 entries of their own).

Thank you, Twitter Hot Sheet person! This is an invaluable contribution to Cher scholarship.

But rock-and-roll isn't about numbers, Missy. It's not all about sales and breaking records. I hear you.

Then your suggesting it's about another kind of influence metric like inspiring other artists?

To which I would say,

I loved Cher's appearance in this video although I would have preferred she be cast as something on the level of the protective pookie-bear, something short of a God figure, the religiousness of which undercuts the influence argument by being too much worship. And a little less spouse abuse would be nice, although this is probably meant to be a metaphor or hyperbole, both of which are sometimes lost on people unfortunately and are dangerous to use in conjunction with violence.


Updated: Cher and the George Floyd Tweet

PhoneUpdate:

What are the odds that the day I posted this summary of the Floyd tweet,  Cher would get embroiled in another Twitter-snafu (another Twitterfu)?? All you have to do now is google "Cher apologizes" and there you get:

Cher apologizes for confusing Sinema, Gillibrand (The Hill)

Same (CNN)

You kind of think maybe Cher should run all tweets by someone and then you think, nah, this is better. Uncensored Cher is a better thing.


So it’s time to blog about this year’s Cher twitter controversy (or this season’s maybe). I've been putting this off until I could get my thoughts written out. And I was worried I wouldn’t get it right. But this fear of saying the wrong thing can't shut the conversation down so here we go...

As a reminder, here are some of the stories about the tweet that broke Twitter:

Cher divides Twitter wondering if she could’ve prevented George Floyd’s death: ‘Maybe if I’d been there... I could’ve helped’ 

Cher apologizes for 'not appropriate' George Floyd tweet 

And this rough read for a Cher fan: Cher’s George Floyd tweet of white fantasy is part of a dangerous pathology 

During the murder trail of police officer Derek Chauvin, lots of people around the world were expressing horror at the details of George Floyd's gruesome death. Cher herself said this: "Maybe If I'd Been There,...I Could've Helped." Some tweeters (both white and people of color) defended Cher and others expressed disgust and annoyance. Some examples on both sides:

“Oh yay another White person centering themselves around blk ppls pain. I wish I was there to stop you from tweeting this.” (@Iconiecon)

“If I Could Turn Back Time, I would stop Cher from tweeting this.” ( @geeta_minocha)

“I mean — maybe she could’ve helped. We’ll never know. Lots of us wish we could’ve done something to change the outcome. Lots of things to be mad about but this tweet ain’t it.” (@flywithkamala)

“She could have worded it differently but I think her intentions were true. She wishes she could have helped. She’s an ally. People need to let this one go.” (@CDonatac)

As part of the turmoil going on last year, the company I consult for provided us with free LinkedIn inclusivity training. One of the people who really impressed me was corporate trainer Mary-Frances Winters and so I bought her book Inclusive Conversations, which I’m still in the middle of reading. Anyway, she talks about being an ally for your co-workers who feel marginalized and she says being an advocate as a white person means more than silently supporting them, but actually speaking out on their behalf, among other things. And for this to happen, we all have to create a safe space and have patience when people make mistakes while speaking out. If not, advocates won’t speak out and our friends will feel completely or inadequately supported. Allies can't be too afraid to say something wrong.

I feel Cher has always been an objectively strong ally, albeit an imperfect one. She has always braved the trolls on Twitter and spoke out for communities in distress. She makes mistakes yeah. Unfortunately on Twitter, groups on the extreme right and left have a zero-tolerance outlook that makes allyship particularly harrowing. It’s to Cher’s credit that she hasn’t stopped for long. She just apologizes and perseveres.

That’s not to say white savior syndrome isn’t a real thing. Just watch some well-meaning white suburbanites descend on an inner-city school with a list of sure fixes, with no comprehension of the experience of poverty or diverging cultural factors. White saviorism is a thing. It needs to be checked. But there are worse things. Much worse things.

This is also not to say celebrity narcissism isn’t a real thing. Cher has admitted her own narcissistic tendencies and I for one believe she does better in this area than many other celebrities of her stature and iconic, practically mythmaking, category. She was just cast as God in a Pink video. For the love of...

And some of that was probably all in that tweet. But it’s not all white savior celebrity narcissism. They way we can tell is to replace George Floyd in the tweet with an Armenian or a white woman who was murdered. Although this isn't as likely and this scenario is not part of the national crisis, it does happen and we can explore the whole tweetstorm again in this light. 

There is this very human element in play, one not based on race, gender or orientation, a human ideal we’ve all had in the fantasy crisis of our own mythmaking minds, this absolutely firm belief, especially strong when we were young adults, that we will be the kind of person to help a person on the street, a person who would stop for an accident on the road, someone who would rescue all the lost dogs in the neighborhood.

But then decades roll by and you see all the accidents, street dramas and wandering dogs you didn’t help. There are reasons: you once heard a story about that guy who got shot helping a stranded motorist, maybe the dog isn’t lost by a free-roamer, and are you going to get yourself killed doing this Good Samaritan thing? The mind scrambles with doubt when the situations actually present themselves. The hard, cold fact of life is that enough of us don’t stop. We all feel this commitment to stopping but stopping isn’t easy. We need to learn to do this. Bravery needs to be modeled and learned, the same sad way we’re now learning to throw our cell phones at madmen in Active Shooter training.

So I greatly sympathize with Cher’s impulse in the tweet, which ultimately all feels sadly human and heartbreaking.

It goes all the way back to our response to tragic fairy tales like Hans Christian Anderson’s “Little Match Girl.” Surely this girl would not have frozen to death under our feet. I used the Anderson story to process this whole situation in a poem for NaPoWriMo 2021: marymccray.com/napowrimo-2021-by-mary-mccray.html#april7

  


Cher Is Reunited with Scooby-Doo

Scoob1The last time Cher joined the shenanigans of Scooby-Doo and his friends it was October of 1972 and they were solving "The Secret of Shark Island." 

There were a few notable aspects of this adventure. First, it has Sonny, who is a pretty good comic foil for the other characters (with his big ego and grandiosity). 

Scoob2

In this story, Sonny & Cher meet up with the Scooby-Doo gang while on their second honeymoon. Because Sonny is so cheap, he's booked them into a dilapidated, gothic haunted hotel perched precariously on a cliff.

Shark_Island Shark_Island

 

 

 

 

 

This is interestingly similar to their Cliff House sketches on their current hit TV show of 1972.

There's a ghost smuggler shark scaring everybody who turns out to be....well, I won't spoil it for you. But suffice it to say we all should have known something was up when the shark-guy starting running around the wine cellars on back feet.

Cherhips

The way they drew Cher in 1972 she always appears with her hands on her cocked hips because that's the slightly annoyed, yet terminally hip stance she was known for having at the time.

The episode is also notable because it was as close as any one of us would ever get to seeing what Sonny & Cher looked like before they went to bed. I'm taking this very literally until evidence surfaces to show me otherwise.

Cherscoob2The whole thing is an ironic moment of fantasy anyway because Sonny never let them go on a vacation during this time, so busy were they with tv shows, records and concerts. I wonder if it was aggravating for Cher to pretend Sonny & Cher actually took vacations like this, even to dilapidated gothic hotels perched precariously on cliffs.

There have been about 101 manifestations of the Scooby-Doo franchise. I can think of about 4 incarnations in my childhood alone. Honestly, Scrappy worked my last nerve and I really didn't appreciate the watered-down celebrity appearances on a show that was originally a very scary series. I watched the headless horseman episode with the afghan my grandmother crocheted for me stretched over my head (for protection) and I peaked out of the yarn holes. It was great. 

All the big names of the day appeared on the show. like Don Adams, John Astin, Tim Conway, Sandy Duncan, Don Knotts and even Cass Elliot. As I said, I preferred the closed circle of the original five without the hobnobbing riffraff. I actually had no idea Sonny & Cher made an appearance until I saw a rerun in my teens.

Now the episode is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Chersargasso2So flash forward a zillion different Scooby-Doo tv shows and movies later and the latest incarnation is Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? another celebrity filled series. Cher appears in a season 2 episode called "The Sargasso Sea" (which keeps reminding me of the novel Wide Sargasso Sea). For some reason, this episode is not yet available in the U.S. but has been shown in Turkey, Canada and Australia. 

But don't worry because the seasons look like they eventually end up on Amazon Prime and DVD. 

There are copious screenshots already available online and I'd like to review them here.

Chersargaso1 Chersargaso1

 

 

 


First of all, for some reason Cher looks younger in this episode created almost 50 years later. It's a goddamn miracle of science.

Cheryaght Cheryaght

 

 

 

 

Secondly, it appears in this episode Cher apparently owns the yacht depicted above, which feels a bit too much living like the Burtons for someone who helped turned the tide of the new thinner, bohemian woman in the 1960s away from full-figured women like (but especially) Elizabeth Taylor. As a couple, Sonny & Cher were also the anti-Liz & Dick image-wise, their pseudonyms Caesar & Cleo aside (I mean, it wasn't like they were Antony and Cleopatra). 

And you may remember there were scuba-villains in the 1972 episode.

ScubavillainsWell, this episode has both a Scuba-Scooby and a Scuba-Cher!

Scubascoob Scubascoob

 

 

 


This production can't get here fast enough, as far as I'm concerned. 

The celebrities on this series are again a good snapshot of the day, but maybe skewing a bit cooler with stars like Sia, Steve Buscemi, Ricky Gervais, Gigi Hadid and Neil deGrasse Tyson among others.

More information:
https://hanna-barberawiki.com/wiki/Cher,_Scooby,_and_the_Sargasso_Sea!

Watch a clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFIxkTPbwUo

Not only does Cher reunite with the gang but with another Shark-villain (with two feet). Cher even refers to her first appearance, which is a comforting bit of symmetry for Cher scholars out there. 


More Cher in Art and Literature

Cherart2There is so much Cher to catch up on. To paraphrase Jane in Witches of Eastwick, sometimes I just can't face it. 

Now that my projects have calmed down somewhat, I can get back into the swing of things and start blogging again. But if you ever need timely Cher news (and who doesn't?), you'd be well served to follow Cher Team Universe on Twitter. They get the scoop. I've never been a good scooper, sadly. 

Anyway, I'm feeling daunted by the sheer volume of Cher happenings right now. So I felt today it would be good to start with new developments in Cher in art and literature. Then we can move on to the juicy videos, documentaries, biopics, new music....all that stuff.

My friend Mikaela texted me a photo of the following beautiful, beautiful poem by Chen Chen from the 2017 book When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities:

Nature Poem
by Chen Chen

The birds insist on pecking the wooded dark. The wooded dark
pecks back. It is time to show the universe what you are capable of,
says my horoscope, increasingly insistent this month. 
But what I am capable of is staring

at the salt accident on the coffee table & thinking,
What sad salt. I admire my horoscope
for its conviction. I envy its consistency. Every day. Every day,
there is a future to be aggressively vaguer about.

Earlier today, outside the cabin, the sudden deer were a supreme
headache of beauty. Don’t they know I am trying to be alone
& at peace? In theory I am alone & really I am hidden,
which is a fine temporary substitute for peace, except I still

have email, which is how I receive my horoscope, & even here
in the wooded dark I receive yet another email mistaking me
for another Chen. I add this to a folder, which also includes
emails sent to my address but addressed to Chang,

Chin, Cheung. Once, in a Starbucks, the cashier
was convinced I was Chad. Once, in a Starbucks, the cashier
did not quite finish the n on my Chen, & when my tall mocha was ready,
they called out for Cher. I preferred this by far, but began to think

the problem was Starbucks. Why can’t you see me? Why can’t I stop
needing you to see me? For someone who looks like you
to look at me, even as the coffee accident
is happening to my second favorite shirt?

In my wooded dark, I try insisting on a supremely tall,
never-lonely someone. But every kind of someone needs
someone else to insist with. I need. If not the you
I have memorized & recited & mistaken

for the universe—another you.    

Buy the book.

Then later I was reading the thesis on Cher by Orquidea da Conceição and there's a poem referenced and included in the back appendices called "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Cher" by Margaret McCarthy from the 2015 book Notebooks From Mystery School." The poem is really about aging and the loss of relevance and I feel it misses the cubist focus on its  purported subject that is so interesting in Wallace Stevens' "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." This poem is really 13 ways of looking about aging instead of contemplating Cher's struggle with same, but there are interesting ideas here about protection by transformation and the avoidance of looking old (the dogs yowling one way or another). Although this is part of Cher's craft, it's not all of her craft. Also good meditations on creating versus re-creating, an interesting switch from the blackbird to a raven, and the reference to Sisyphus (which always reminds me of Cher's 1972 song "Down, Down, Down").  Although I've never written very good Cher poems, this makes me want to do a 13 Ways Cher poem, too. Let's all do one.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Cher
by Margaret McCarthy

I

Why can't she just accept
it
the gravity
of the situation, the downward tug then spiral?

II

The raven black hair easy
to transform.
The smooth, hard sheen
of protection, her craft.

III

A miracle!
But now we know the nature of the cell is immortal.
She knew this first;
the raven heart told her.

IV

60 years can be called
miss. Is this
what 60 looks like?

V

I do not know which to prefer, creation or transformation; what I make in this world,
or the re-making of myself.

VI

Upkeep's ceaseless effort, Sisyphus
rolling back over
gray time,
over and over.

VII

The mirror's incisor lines, Imagination
flies forward and back

VIII

I know the pressure
of the rock bearing down, and I know that bird vision is involved in what I push.

IX

The dogs yowl
at imperfection;
the dogs yap
at perfection's attempt.
The sweet bird flies
above the noise of beasts.

X

Must the crone die?
Is the perpetual maiden the proper keeper of spirit's wisdom?

XI

The shadow of each equinox casts fear.
She thought the nature of cycles impossible.
Is balance possible?

XII

Is it culture's rock or time's?
The bird's eye sees time's river moving around rock and our desire
to transcend 
rock and river.

XIII

The bird's shaman heart understands
evening is going to cast its shadow all afternoon. Matter
has been brought or bought
to match spirit.
In my raven heart I know
she's right.

Buy the book.

The pop-art piece above is available from https://artandhue.com/shop/cher/.


Cher, Elizabeth Taylor and Helen Hardin

IMG_20210315_193844 Notice the caption in the image to the left ("anticipates Cher") from an Elizabeth Taylor biography. 

I'm doing a poetry/story HTML project right now for a class on Digital Literature and I needed to beef up on the subject of Elizabeth Taylor for it. I was never a huge fan because (a) this was my mother's era and (b) Taylor was on somewhat of downward slide when I first learned about her in the late 1970s. But I've gained a lot of respect for both Taylor and Richard Burton since reading more about them.

CleolikeSo it's come as a bit of surprise to see some natural parallels between Cher and Elizabeth Taylor, especially considering Cher doesn't call out Taylor as a major inspiration like she does Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn, aside from the obvious references to the movie Cleopatra: Cher's eyeliner methods and Sonny & Cher first calling themselves Caesar and Cleo.

But there are a few other connections I:

  1. Elizabeth Taylor loved to make big entrances in shows and in life. Many times in books, people mention her "big entrances." This might go back to the biggest entrance of all in Cleopatra.

  2. She pushed some fashion envelopes. See above. The big headdress screamed Cher when I saw it in one book. The second book I picked up even calls it out. 2.b Costume Changes: apparently Taylor broke a record for most costume changes in a movie with Cleopatra, a record eventually broken by Julie Andrews.

  3. Elizabeth Taylor embraced the good and the bad about being famous and was able to cope with it. Cher often expresses the same kind of ambivalence but not bitterness about having to deal with mobs and the wheels of show biz.

Cherliz
I didn't find a lot of Cher-Taylor mashups online but Cher did appear at Taylor's televised 68th birthday bash.  See the photo below of Taylor and Michael Jackson clapping to Cher's comments.

Liz-mj-clapcher

And here's a link to a 60s-era photo of Sonny, Cher and Taylor

Interestingly, the tabloids were also trying to get rumors going about an affair between Cher and Richard Burton, which seems funny in retrospect.

Cherliz2

1714750Also, I finally came across this picture of artist Helen Hardin on the cover of New Mexico Magazine with her late 60s wings. This photo always reminds me of Cher's wings in 1968:

Wings

And in 1969:

Wings3


More Moonstruck, Bobbleheads, Biden and Interviews

Mooneyes

Another good Moonstruck review appeared in The New Yorker while I was away.

B.D. McClay admits this movie’s “selling points have always been a problem" and then delves into the psychology of our inner wolf-ness. Huh. Something just dawned on me. Anyway, many characters in the movie, McClay notices, are “torn between who [they are] and who [they believe] themselves to be.” Loretta can’t “admit that she is a wolf, too” and “her coverup is a form of agency, ” her “own wish to feel in control, just as nothing is driving her father’s affair but his refusal to admit to his wife that he fears death.” Interesting.

McClay also interestingly notes that Ronny’s exasperation of Loretta in his line “I ain’t no freakin’ monument to justice!’ is ultimately ironic because he has indeed become a monument to his own pain. McClay also feels the idea of family is almost more important in this story than the escapades of the couple, “being a member of a family, you assume a kind of doubleness among people who have known you for a long time, which is part of what makes trying to be somebody else appealing.”

“You could flip over the table and see what happens” McClay says about taking life risks and compares the movie to Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, especially As You Like It. The movie “shares the same spirit. It’s a comedy, but it’s deeply obsessed with death, to the point that it opening a funeral parlor.”

Not many reviews and pieces for Boobleheads came out and they were ultimately unsatisfying anyway. People Magazine interviewed Cher.  She says, “No one has ever asked me to do voice-overs” and called her voice “a strange voice.” She also states, “This is a film for young people. Little kids don’t know who I am.” I wonder if little kids believe Cher is simply just another a character or bobbledom.  “For me, it was a story about being yourself…[a movie] that sends a good message.”

When asked, she admits she does have a bobblehead of herself (I’m assuming custom made) and says she “might be a little bit old [for them].” Well, not me sister. For some reason this movie has made me feel insatiable with the desire to own a Cher bobblehead. There's also a mention in Entertainment Weekly and Exclaim for some reason only reviewed the trailer. Dude, we can all watch the trailer. What purpose do these trailer reviews serve?

CookiecherThere were also some bigger general interviews:

Good Housekeeping

Kayla Keegan notes Cher’s “fearless devotion to being herself” and catalogues all of her public activities of 2020 and summarizes her life a bit. Most interesting was Cher's memory of the first book she actually enjoyed reading (after struggling with dyslexia), a book given to her by Sonny called The Saracen Blade

The Guardian

Simon Hattenstone elicits some good comments in this Guardian interview. He notes on the outfit that made such a splash in London in December, the “two-tone black-and-white beret, matching jacket, skinny jeans, black boots, black mask, and an elephant-shaped knuckle-duster.” They discuss  Trump and Biden, Kaavan the elephant, her Free the Wild and Cher Cares charities, the California fires that burned the side of her house, the price-tag for her Vegas show (an estimated $60 million a year but she defends that this supports 100 staff…Hattenstone also notes her estimated worth of $360 million). Sonny is referenced as her “Svengali and lover” and they talk about her feelings about him after he took all their shared earnings and then some. She talks briefly about Camilletti and Allmas as well.

Hittenstone notes that Cher “has a touch of Mae West about her” and “a surprising stillness.” He calls her a “serious, understated actor” but also notes her recent “gloriously camp cameo” in Mama Mia. (You could say that about all her recent roles.) He says she’s “never quite received the acclaim she deserves” and that “very few women have been so empowering for other women” due to her independence, longevity, chutzpah and level-headedness. He also remarks on her “steadfast” sobriety despite her very public dramas.

He mentions that in his experience other “megastars are evasive, talk in soundbites or reel off anecdotes on autopilot. Cher answers fully, as if considering every question for the first time. She doesn’t pretend to be your friend or feign intimacy.”

Although she refuses to accept his linking her past plastic surgeries to the current trend of teenage girls going under the knife. Hittenstone calls her “freakishly fit” which seems like only something you would only say in 2021.

She mentions in the piece that she’s working on saving a gorilla and another elephant now.

CNN

Oscar Holland at CNN talks to Cher about gay men, her son Chaz, Kaavan and Biden and the recent news that she may be directing a movie soon, tangentially related to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She’s also working on a new album, which begs the question of where the ABBA2 album got off to. Maybe it succumbed to Covid-19. Hopefully not.