Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hurts, scars, wounds, mars

A couple weeks back, I managed to get myself on quite a Cher kick. Part of it was because I wanted to boost her past Kylie Minogue on my overall charts, making her my 4th most listened to artist and also because I had listened to quite a few covers that Cher did in preparation for the covers CD project that I was working on with Matt and Bess back in February.

It is so easy for me to get on a Cher kick, it's not even funny. Pretty much all you have to do is mention the woman's name and I'm all "Oh, I have to go listen to Cher!" I think the reason for this is because Cher's back catalog is just so gargantuan and covers virtually every genre that there is literally a Cher for every mood. Whether it is the "jingle-jangle" music (as Heidi refers to it) of "Gyspies, Tramps & Thieves," the 70s disco of Take Me Home and Prisoner, the new wave of I Paralyze or the dance diva of Believe and Living Proof, Cher's music can find its way in just about any time.

But my favorite of all of Cher's phases is, without a doubt, the faux-metal leather Cher of the late 80s/early 90s. And it is to this era that I most frequently return to. For me, it is the one that feels most like home. It kind of stands to reason because it was during this time that I really got into Cher. My mom had always liked Cher, and I grew up watching Sonny & Cher, but when Cher made an attempt at a music comeback on Geffen Records in the late 80s, I scoffed. Surely this would not work. Cher was an actress now. But then I heard "I Found Someone" and I was hooked. (Years later, my then-3-year-old daughter would have the same reaction. Stop the paternity test.)

Cher recorded three albums for Geffen between 1987 and 1991 - Cher, Heart of Stone, and Love Hurts. Heart of Stone is frequently cited as the best of the three, but for my money, it's Cher and its we-can-talk-it-over-baby-woman-to-man, givin'-our-love-a-fightin-chance Bon Jovi/Desmond Child/Michael Bolton mishmash that gives me the most bang for my buck. There is just something so damn fun about the cheesiness of that album. Plus I love how Cher's then boyfriend Rob Camilleti (the Bagel Boy of tabloid lore) is in all the videos from that album.

If Heart of Stone is the Hero, then Love Hurts is widely regarded as the Goat. Surprisingly, when I was on my Cher kick, I really got into Love Hurts. My friend Jeff famously despises this album. Although he did like the song "Love & Understanding" (which we dubbed "Time, Love, Tenderness & Understanding" because we had initially confused the title with the Michael Bolton song of a similar name), he just couldn't handle the rest of the album. I still have vivid memories of him reading the track list off of the CD at my house that summer of 1991 -"'I'll Never Stop Loving You?' - gag! 'Could've Been You?' - could've been a better song, Cher." He always would say that Love Hurts hurts.

While I will agree that the caliber of the songs on Love Hurts doesn't even come close to the ones on Heart of Stone, it was still a pretty good Cher CD from that time period. She tackles Nazareth on the title track, covers a Kiss song, and there is no Michael Bolton penned song to be found on the entire thing! It does, however, contain Diane Warren schlock, but somehow, Cher legitimizes it. "Save Up All Your Tears" is still one of my favorite Cher songs - and the video is...well, I'll let it speak for itself.

So in the final analysis, the well had kind of run dry for Cher by the time Love Hurts came out, but I still think that the album is unfairly maligned. It was the last of the leather Cher albums, and because of that, it will always look upon it with favor. It was also the last Cher album for something like 5 years - with It's A Man's World bridging the divide to dance diva Cher and the ubersuccess of Believe.

The appeal of Cher is so simple. As Charlotte's not-gay boyfriend said in an episode of Sex & The City - "She's a survivor!" She has been counted out more times than anyone and come back just as many times. I do wish I had the chance to see her in concert out in Vegas this summer, but the timing is all off. I also wish there were plans for a new album. At 62, she's not getting any younger. Since she hasn't recorded anything new since Anna's birth, I'd say it's time. She's one of those artists (along with Madonna and Stevie Nicks) whose passing I will truly mourn.

But in the meantime, what a body of work to enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Do you remember how Anna named the versions of Cher? Black Cher, Red Cher, Green Cher, White Cher? And there was one she thought looked like me.

Dan said...

Black Cher was the "I Found Someone"/"If I Could Turn Back Time" Cher. Green Cher was "Believe." I can't remember what Red and White Cher were, but I remember them!

Anna said that the Cher in the "Save Up All Your Tears" video "looked like Mom."

John said...

I know we've never met, but 80s Cher would have been my pick for your favorite Cher, if for no other reason than she was probably closest to Stevie Nicks at that point in her career. Is that a bizarre observation or what?

chadd said...

Just so you know, CHER did not cover Nazereth, Nazereth covered CHER. She recorded Love Hurts the first time in her 1975 solo album Stars on Warner Brothers records. It was her first post divorce solo album. It is NOT available on cd though So Cher was covering Cher in 1991 when she re-recorded Love Hurts, She's done this a few times with some of her favorite songs like Bang, Bang etc.
If u wanna hear the first version drop me a line i'll hook u up with the track

Dan said...

John - that makes sense although I had never thought of it that way. It was kind of a "rocker chick" persona and that was very attractive!

Chad - I was trying to figure out the chronology of the various covers of "Love Hurts" and I thought I had figured it out but apparently I hadn't! Thanks for the correction. I knew she had done that song in the 70s, but I could have sworn it was after Nazareth did it.

xolondon said...

Ditto what ya'll said. I love the Cher album, which came out freshman yr of college, but the other ones are a bit too of their time.

I particularly like Perfection - which one has the line about a list of lovers looking like a resume.

You should do some betting with Heidi and, if you win, she has to lip sync Main Man to you!

Dan said...

"Perfection" is another of my faves! Nothing's perfect when the love ain't right. That song was performed by a Cher impersonator on the "Heart of Stone" tour, with Cher coming out at the end of the song.

The album is very cheesy, yes, but it worked so well for Cher then that you could really forgive it all the Michael Bolton/Bon Jovi shenanigans.