Protest Songs Cher Should Cover

PoliceA picture that shows how little has changed 50 years later. We're still concerned with police brutality in 2014.

I was thinking recently when listening to Billy Bragg's great anthem, "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward" how Green Day revitalized their career a few years ago with a ppolitically-themed album. Cher’s tweets are unflinchingly political but why should her activism be trapped in Twitter? Would it ever be possible to hear a Cher album of political covers?

Think of all the great, old union songs, Bob Dylan songs, Phil Ochs songs. If Dolly Parton can get away with covering hard-rock songs revamped as bluegrass tunes, why can’t Cher do something interesting with political songs? Her voice is well suited to anthems and she would probably enjoy singing them. She could mine Billy Bragg's catalog alone. "Great Leap" proves you don’t have to go back to a folk sound to present a meaningful modern message. On Pandora I recently heard a very cool version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" covered by Cat Power.

I also recently discovered this unlikely protest song on an old Porter Waggoner show, "Paradise" by country act Jim and Jesse.

I found a few awesome lists of the best political protest songs. Interestingly, "Fortunate Son" was the only song on every one of these lists:



Dear Cher

SexpotOy! So this end-of-year was off the hook! We've had non-stop visitors to Santa Fe. First Mr. Cher Scholar's mom and sister, then my parents, then Mr. Cher Scholar's friend John Lehr (a.k.a. the Geico Caveman) came for a weekend. We visited the forgotten New Mexican ghost town Trementina.

Then Mr. Cher Scholar and I threw a Christmas party to end all Christmas parties. Strung the house with lights inside and out, set up a candle-lit interior and made homemade eggnog punch, cookies, guac and a beef brisket topped with our favorite Kansas City BBQ sauce, Gates. I abstained from eating the cow.

So here it is almost a month later and no Cher posts! Cher scholar Dishy was kind enough to send me the link to the updates from Sonny-and-Cher scholar Rick's Sonny & Cher site: -- the most awesome of which is the postings of Cher's advise column from 16 Magazine issues from the 1960s.

It's called "Dear Cher" and although not as wise and pithy as Cher Scholar's column (more Q&A in the latest Cher Zine), it's a real hoot:

Not that I believe Cher wrote these teen-psychology-attempts anyway. Whoever was the real mentor behind "Dear Cher," they were constantly in a state of despair when teens refused to declare their ages when asking for Cher-advice.

My question for Cher back in the 60s would be this: the pattern to that bathing suit above looks awfully similar to Lady Gaga's infamous Meat that a Meat-bikini?

Happy holidays everyone. I'm looking forward to the new Cher album next year. Although I spent last night listening to Thin Lizzy singing "Fighting My Way Back" wishing Cher would cover that for a future retro-rock album.

If only Santa would listen to my Cher-related Christmas wish list. 


Songs Cher Should Cover: Goodbye by Free

Freechronicles I have too much junk. Moving from house to house really weighs you down with all your crap. So I'm trying to purge some of the trash to garage sales, to charity and to the round filing cabinet in small amounts.

I found I had three boxes of cassettes the other day. I can barely play them. My boombox cassette deck broke and I sold my cassette component three garage sales ago. Alls I have (as they say in Missouri) is one little cassette walkman to play them on and when I play this thing I feel like I'm listening to an old record player with earmuffs on.

But listen like I have earmuffs on is what I have to do because I'm going thru them all, about a zillion mix tapes I made, my friends made, my Dad gave me, to see what is worthy of re-buying on iTunes. Happily, I found some old Free I used to like back in the early 90s (and Free was already 20 years old by then!)

I think their song "Goodbye" is awesome duet material. I used to think it was about a love relationship going sour, but I now believe it's about old friendships coming to an end and sad riffs that hopefully may someday separating, posse members falling away…that melancholy stuff.

The lyrics are great (excerpted below) and the song has a solid late-60s/early-70s rock sound.

Goodbye, I hope we meet again
Is this how it's got to end?
we've come to the end of our road together
Made a stand that's gonna last forever
Brother tell me, what you're gonna do?

Will you take the high road?
Will you take the low road?
Will you take the fast train out of town
To get back home?

We learned a lot from each other
That's how we came to be brothers
Brother won't you tell me what your problem is

Don't waste your time on hate
It can be used in better ways
Remember the time and better days

Will you take the high road?
Will you take the low road?
Oh brother, you're out on your own
Out on your own, out on your own
Out on your own

An American Treasury of Torch Singers

AvettbrothersI've been hearing a  plenty of songs Cher should cover, starting with "Go To Sleep" by The Avett Brothers (who were incidentally on Austin City Limits this week). It's gritty and it's lovely and the lyrics are hard-worn with a bouncy melody.

You know, they told me I could just take my money and leave.
I hope the people on the ground will understand.
I hope the people in the crowd will understand.

Lay back, lay back, go to sleep my man.
Wipe the blood from your face and your hands.
Forgive yourself if you think you can.
Go to sleep, go to sleep a man.

Daniel Merriweather is another new artist I love. Particularly his song with Adele, "Water and a Flame."

But nothing gets me thinking about Cher more than listening to Nina Simone. Simone's torch singingNinaSimone is fiery. She has her own vocal limitations I suppose, a vibrato (but who complains about her vibrato?) and a voice that cracks from time to time. But she evokes a fabulous atmosphere, so much like dramatic costumery and scenery, and she makes you feel, the same feeling Sonny rhapsodized about on many a Cher album liner note of yore.

The most attention-grabbing performance at all is a great torch song.  Riveting. I'm reminded of the way Barbra Streisand used to attack every song like an Oscar performance. I hear Nina Simon sing "I Need Some Sugar in my Bowl" and I think Cher could do that. If she was ever tempted to sing something so erotic and brazen. Torch is the perfect mash up of glitter on gritty.

I just added Cher to the Wikipedia entry for "Torch Song." I hope it sticks.

My Cher Fantasies

Barry-manilow So I don’t have fantasies of hanging out with Cher like most of my other straight female Cher fans (all five of us). Because when I try it, it never ends well. In those types of fantasies Cher and I would disagree over everything, like why we have to go shop for shoes all the time; or I would egregiously bore Cher with my whining about shopping for shoes all the time; or Cher gets cross at me for the lame shoes I’m wearing (pretty much my Keens every day, with flip flops on special occasions). So these hanging-out-with-Cher fantasies are not fantasies that are useful to me in any way.

My fantasies involving Cher, going back to when I was eight years old, do involve Cher doing duets with other people I am celebrity obsessed with. I know this seems like a very narrow type of fantasy situation in terms of possible plots…but it does keep me entertained on rainy days, of which today is one.

My first childhood Cher fantasy, after imagining Sonny & Cher getting back together in dramatic soap opera scenarios, was my fantasy of setting up Cher with Barry Manilow. Now I know what you’re thinking. Spare me, please. I NOW KNOW WHAT A BAD IDEA THIS WAS. Inconceivable (and yet I did conceive it), ridiculous…but you imagined it for a minute, didn’t you. And now you’ll never be able to get that out of your brain’s data bank now.

But let’s move on.

Last week I had a fantasy that Cher and John Waite would unite to record a cover of Elbow’s awesome song “One Day Like This.”

And I just wanted to share that with you.

Jimmydeanpartee sent me his Cher poem he mentioned last week in a comment and I hope he doesn’t kill me for posting it here. But I think this very fine Cher poem goes a long way toward showing that JDP and I are sharing thoughts in some weird way about both Zen Buddhism AND the discomforts involved in hanging out with Cher.


What if we met
on a lone beach
your malibu digs....
And sat on a BIG rock.
Would we
have something
talk about???
I think
we would be
And breathe.

Songs Cher Should Cover (of Lindsey Buckingham)

Buckingham3 Last Saturday, as you may recall, I was melancholy about being a David Foster Wallace fan and his (really) tragic suicide the day before. But I did have a positive fan experience the next day to sort of balance it out. I was able to see the first show of Lindsey Buckingham’s new tour at Royce Hall in support of his new album Gift of Screws.

I’ve seen Buckingham live with Fleetwood Mac and I contend he is ridiculously absent for the top 100 Rolling Stone's list of best guitarists in rock music. Not only are his guitar contributions detailed and inhumanly energetic but his live arrangements and stamina are really jaw dropping to see. The show was unbelievably amazing. I'd put it up there with Prince for single performances (although a Prince show is a much bigger audio-visual affair so it's hard to compare - but if you strip down everything...).

Except for Buckingham's was probably the worst light show I’ve ever seen. First, let me say Buckingham is so good, he simply only requires a spotlight. The spotlights he did have (too many) sat on stage pointing out into the hall, forcing fans in the balcony to squint in discomfort and hold their hands up to block the light. In front of us, audience members moved in significant numbers to find new seats. It almost looked like a mass exodus except they were dancing as they were relocating.

Of his solo hits he sang "Trouble," "Go Insane" and "Don’t Look Down." He did not do "Holiday Road." From his hits of Fleetwood Mac he sang "Go Your Own Way," "Second Hand News," "Never Going Back Again," and "Tusk." From the Gift of Screws album he did "Treason," (a good election song by Buckingham1 accident), "Right Place to Fade" (I think - not sure he did this one), "Love Runs Deeper" and "Time Precious Time."

I downloaded his new album from iTunes and the highlights are "Great Day," "Treason," "Right Place to Fade," and "Love Runs Deeper." "Great Day" he co-wrote with his son.

Gift of Screws is actually a reference in an Emily Dickinson poem dealing with the pain of decay (and the song is basically a jam of the poem):

Essential Oils -- are wrung --
The Attar from the Rose
Be not expressed by Suns -- alone --
It is the gift of Screws --

The General Rose -- decay --
But this -- in Lady's Drawer
Make Summer -- When the Lady lie
In Ceaseless Rosemary –

Cher could do an awesomely rockin version of “Right Place to Fade,” a song written by Buckingham that contains some shades of her recent tour themes (Never Can Say Goodbye and all) and has a playfully rocking guitar at the beginning and end, some fun mini-bridges, bam-bams and whoo hoos Cher could slap down pretty well. It’s in-your-face the way old Fleetwood Mac/Buckingham used to be. Awesomeness.

How long how long
How long we wait
Wait for the light that might light our way
Wait for the right place to fade

Come along, lay down and talk to me
Tell me all your fear will allow
It doesn’t matter who we thought we were
We ain’t got time for it now

He’s under-appreciated, this one.

Sonny & Cher Musicians and Cher in a Movie Alert

Here’s a link to a story on a new documentary about The Wrecking Crew, a gang of studio musicians who for Sinatra, Streisand, S&C and many others and included both a young Glen Campbell and a young Leon Russell.

Coincidentally, I just made Mp3s of three songs from my only Leon Russell album:

  • Tightrope" – which is why I picked up the album in a used record store in St. Louis back in the 80s.

    "I’m up in the spotlight
    Oh does it feel right
    Whoa, the altitude seems to get to me"                        
  • "Stranger in a Strange Land" - which I can actually hear Elijah covering nicely in my head. Or Cher too for that matter.
  • And the oft recorded "Song For You" – Russell wrote this song so I feel this should be the definitive version, not The Carpenters’ or Ray Charles'. However, I do think Cher’s version is great, far better than The Carpenters version because she sounds more experienced to Karen Carpenter’s voice of innocence. I feel the inverse applies to their dual recordings of “Superstar” – the innocence in Karen Carpenters voice here serves the song better. As for versions of “Song For You” I also really like the R&B/rap group City High’s version (I love their song “What Would You Do.” I really do). Actually, I think I take umbrage with the words 'definitive version'. What does that mean anyhow? The version that quintessentially defines the song? What the hell? Is that even possible?

But I digress. There’s this documentary out on The Wrecking Crew:

“The stars, he said, were accommodating, including Cher, Dick Clark and Campbell,” said producer Denny Tedesco, 47-year-old son of Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco. “As big as Cher is, she was very giving. It brought her back to that period when she was 16 years old. It was a wonderful time for her. And it was a lot of fond memories for Glen. He said he missed not having to be 'the guy.' Tedesco, a Woodland Hills resident, grew to admire his father even more after all the research and filming.”

Halblaineglencampbell Visit to find a screening in your town.

Here's another Wrecking Crew interview that includes another S&C musician, Hal Blaine:

As, you may know many S&C band members from the early 70s went on to form the band Toto and as I was starting to convert my vinyl to MP3s recently with my new turn-table, I came across these Chicago liner notes from Chicago 16(yes I bought it for “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” in 1983 when I was 13, I’m not ashamed of it!). I found many familiar names in the liner notes: Steve Lukather guitars; David Paich synthesizer, Steve Porcaro synthesizer programming. And I can’t shake this feeling that I’ve seen Chicago’s own Bill Champlin on a Cher album credit somewhere. Am I crazy? Please don’t answer that. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

Jimmy Dean also alerted me last week of Jerry Wexler’s passing. Wexler was a famous Muscle Shoals Aretha producer for many landmark albums of Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield among many others. The awesome Dusty in Memphis was recorded the same year as Cher's unheralded 1969 album 3614 Jackson Highway which Wexler was one of the producers on. Jimmy Dean also mentioned that no news reported his brief association with Cher. I searched google in vain to find such a reference myself. However, I did find this exert of a bio of David Geffen (scroll down and click the link "The Operator") that claimed Wexler was Geffen’s long-time nemesis. The excerpt covers details of the night Cher met Geffen and the general gist of his involvement and substantial aid to Cher in her time of mid-70s legal crisis, which is quite important in considering where she is today. You could almost say there would be no Sonny & Cher without Sonny and there would be no Cher solo without David Geffen. And possibly no Cher into the 21st century without Cher herself. She’s been svengali-less for decades now!


Songs Cher Should Cover & 18 Things That Happened While I Was On Vacation in New Mexico

Beautiful_freak_the_eels 1.  I became a fan of The Eels. I know, they’ve been around for over ten years. But better late than never, no? I’ve been listening to Essential Eels and in some alternate universe I think it would be good to hear Cher sing “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues” (the one that goes “God damn right - it’s a beautiful day!”) or “That Not Really Funny.”

And that made me wonder about what kind of rock album Cher plans to do next. I mean, what is a rock Cher album in this post-grunge world?

Mespeaking 2.  I gave a speech at my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary and I didn’t cry like my two older brothers did. I think this is because I was the first to give speech and my mother hadn’t started bawling yet, although she had her little travel pouch of tissues ready to start in. Either that or maybe sometimes I do have a heart of stone.

3. My sibs and I gave my parents a Hopi wedding vase as a gift. My first-born brother also gave a speech about family togetherness, which surprised me because we are usually fighting but he did bring up some funny stories, including the one about how they always used to fight over pieces of my mother’s fried chicken, including the livers. My other brother did a video about my parents and their friends which was very good and touching. He and I previously had a fight about who was going to say what about how my parents met (which was the whole subject of my speech). He called "dibsies" on me and I called his dibsies retarded (in a sibling skirmish and not handicapped sense), which pissed him off. Lots of therapy fodder here.

Franz 4.  Our dog Franz Alonzo regressed while we were away and chewed up his nanny’s mattress. He ended up back at the kennel for that. 

Chimayo  5. While visiting the famous church at Chimayo, the Lourdes of America, my car ran over a big rusty-looking object of a very solid nature and from then on my car started making funny sounds. Luckily it was only a bent exhaust pipe hitting a heating shield. Maybe the dirt at Chimayo truly is miraculous and Bluebelle had some of it stuck on her tires. My bf drew out a cartoon drawing of what he remembered the object looking like as we hit it and later my father could only surmise from the cartoon that we must have hit a very small UFO.

Taosclouds  6. Northern New Mexico truly is the land of enchantment. Only there, could majestic rock formations, looming mountains, thousand-year old pueblos and quaint adobe casitas be overshadowed by awesomely choreographed cloud formations.

7. I can drive 12 hours in one day. Needles, California (“I only made it out to Needles” from "Never Been To Spain"/Cher, Foxy Lady, 1972) is hot and gas is expensive there.

Myrelatives 8. At the reunion, my bf was a definite hit with the distant relatives (including two who never usually come up and talk to me but made a point to tell me how much they liked him) as well as with the nuclear family, mostly for making a good gazpacho and steak-sandwich dinner one night at our Santa Fe casita.

Red10 9. I miss New Mexican red sauce already.

10. At my parents’ anniversary party, I spoke to the parents of my first childhood friend (he died of Leukemia when I was about 8). Back in the 1970s, when I would visit him on their ranch, I was always kind of scared of his dad, a tall and skinny cowboy with a big mustache who mostly leaned up against walls and looked like he could kick your ass just for the sport of it. But 30 years later I was surprised to find myself chatting with him and his wife and when they found out my bf and I were engaged, they told us their secret to a long marriage was sleeping in the nude.  Which was possibly TMI but I can top that because, (whisper) to be honest with you, sleeping in the nude makes me itchy.

11. My brother found some of our long lost family friends The Padillas on the Internet and he surprised my parents with them at an anniversary party and it made my mother cry again.

12. The tram from Albuquerque up the Sandia mountains is the world’s longest tram. 

Gorge1 13. There is a big awesome crack in the earth made by the Rio Grande river and you can see it from Taos, New Mexico. Click open the picture to the left and look closely. Then look at it from the Taos Gorge Bridge below.

Gorge2 14. When my bf and I drove my parents to Roy, New Mexico, where my Dad spent his summers with his grandparents and cousins, he told us a story about how his grandfather would drop him off on the ranch with an axe to cut down prickly pear trees all day. My dad said that years later it occurred to him that by cutting down all those trees he had actually been spreading hundreds of prickly pear seeds all over the property. My bf later told me he enjoyed hearing all of my Dad’s funny stories about growing up on the ranch, which is what I love about my bf b/c he likes the same quirky stuff I do.


15. I got stopped by a New Mexico cop for speeding through Cimarron with my bf and my elderly parents in the car.

16. You can eat a gelato in Santa Fe called sage and another called Strawberry Habanera. 

Hopi_pottery_1234xyz 17. My Dad’s former babysitter on the Hopi Indian reservation is now a famous potter named Olive Toney. We tried to find her on our way home through Arizona but were too shy to knock on her door at the first mesa to buy a pot.

18. I am lousy at picking out motels. On our drive back I insisted on a run-down Howard Johnson in Flagstaff to save money and they over-flattered us and then over-charged us for a room right next to the train tracks where trains whistled by all night long. To add insult to injury, its restaurant served inedible french fries, practically a culinary impossiblily. Luckily we were able to eat at our favorite Flagstaff breakfast place the next morning, Let’s Eat.


Danny Boy and the Thirteenth High School Confession

Nyro I'm back from my bittersweet high school reunion. The trip was great. Gave my bf a big hometown tour of me. Don’t worry, he didn’t suffer. There were plenty of river boats, historical re-enactors and pre-historic mounds to keep him happy. Story and pics coming soon.

In the meantime, Cherworld has posted an amazingly unusual Cher interview (it’s European, of course). Give it a looksee. Something about it will relate to my high school reunion story.

For my bf’s birthday last year I gave him two Laura Nyro CDs. He had expressed interest in my Nyro/LaBelle CD which I bought because I love Patty LaBelle. Still, he didn’t like Laura Nyro at all (although since yesterday, I discovered he secretly has been listening to one of them at work) and these two CDs have been on my list of things to listen to for about a year. Two days ago I finally put on Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, her breakout album on the Columbia label with then-manager David Geffen.

First of all, I had placed Nyro in the mid 70s, not late 60s. Knowing this tid-bit unlocked a door for me. I can say I finally get it: her fluid genre-melds are pretty amazing for the time and her lyrics are poeticly playful. I’m still not very fond of her soprano voice. It’s too shrill for me most of the time. But I love “Sweet Blindness” and “Stoned Soul Picnic” and “Poverty Train” has really grown on me. And best of all, I finally see from where came Nelly McKay!

I’m a bit overwhelmed with catching up on Cher news this week but I did join my first Facebook Cher group: If You Don't Love Cher, You Are A Dirty Dirty Communist. Good questions are not really brewing there yet but I did see a good question on the Yahoo!Chergroups list posted by daniel martinez:

What Cher song has the most meaning to you and why?

This is a particularly difficult question for me. I’m not very sentimental about Cher songs. I’m much more academic and cerebral about my love of Cher music. Her albums do notate the timeline of my life but mostly as a background soundtrack. For instance, we used to yell the chorus of “Laugh at Me” before doing belly bombs into our neighborhood pool. I also remember re-enacting the storyline of “Send the Man Over” from Cherished. However, I was only 8 years old and the major sexual innuendos in the song went over my innocent five-foot head. I guess the two songs that tug on my heart-sleeves would be "Somebody" and "Danny Boy."

"Somebody" reminds me of being five or six years old in the mid-70s, listening to Sonny & Cher on my parents phonograph in our front living room – lots of New Mexico sunlight, the jump rope as my microphone. Groovy times. I love Cher’s vocal on that song. And "Danny Boy" always makes me vaclempt. The sadness in her voice. Speaking from beyond the grave. It’s all there. You can read more about my top 10 favorite Cher songs on Cherscholar.



Cohen I’m feeling under the weather this week so I’ll just leave you with just one question. I used to avoid Leonard Cohen songs because I thought he was so Chelsea Hotel. Then I fell in love with Jeff Buckley’s version of "Hallelujah." What was I thinking?

No, that’s not the question. The question is "Hallelujah." Could Cher pull it off? The soaring bird of its melody and its exciting silences. Snuff Garret once said Cher’s voice could cut through a cement orchestra.

Could it stand up to one lone piano?