To all who know me know that, for a very long time, Cyndi Lauper has been my favorite recording artist. However, some of those who know me may not know she wasn’t always my favorite. I loved Cyndi in the 80s, but back then, Madonna was the Queen – Queen of Pop, Queen of the charts, Queen of the 12” singles in my ever-growing record collection.
Over time, though, my interest in Madonna subsided, and my interest in Cyndi kept escalating. Cyndi was my first BIG interview, back in early July 2002. It was the hottest day of the year, topping out at 100 degrees in Portland (oddly enough, I don’t think it’s reached that since). I made her laugh, she said I was very sweet, and though I missed her performance (opening for Cher) that night in Manchester, New Hampshire, I got to meet her backstage with my friend Travis, and she was really down to earth (and gave a kick-ass hug).
What impresses me most about Cyndi Lauper is that, unlike Madonna, she doesn’t have to prove herself to anyone, and she keeps impressing everyone. The last good album Madonna put out was 2005’s CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR. I had it in my car for a year. I still love Madonna, but sadly, she hasn’t impressed me for a long time. Spanking Ariana Grande and kissing Miley Cyrus on the mouth isn’t impressing me a whole lot. Similar antics that may have been more “commonplace” for her at 34 is a bit embarrassing at 57 years old.
Cyndi, on the other hand, in a 10-year span between 2003 and 2013, put out a standards album of songs she grew up with (AT LAST; with one of THE best album covers ever), a beautiful acoustic album (THE BODY ACOUSTIC), an amazing dance record (BRING YA TO THE BRINK), BILLBOARD magazine’s No. 1 Blues album of 2010, MEMPHIS BLUES (of which nearly nabbed her the Traditional Blues Grammy award), she put out an autobiography, had a reality show, toured for the 30th anniversary of SHE’S SO UNUSUAL, and won a Tony Award for her work on the KINKY BOOTS musical. She also co-founded the True Colors Fund, combating LGBT homeless youth.
Why isn’t this woman in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame already?!?!
Cyndi’s 62 and still going strong – on May 2nd, she’s releasing her first album in 6 years, DETOUR!! And, once again, she’s taking on another genre – it’s a country album on Sire Records (YAY!), produced by Seymour Stein (YAY!) and features legends like Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris (YEE-HAW!). Really looking forward to this!!
Rewinding back to 1989, today’s “song of the day” is “I Drove All Night,” the amazing and powerful first single from Cyndi’s third album, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER. This song was originally meant for Roy Orbison, who actually recorded it in 1987, a year before he sadly passed away at 52. His version was released posthumously in 1992, but it was Cyndi’s version in 1989 that took many parts of the world by storm.
“I Drove All Night” spent a week at No. 6 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early July 1989, and also reached the Top 10 in the U.K., France, Holland, Italy and New Zealand, and was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Cyndi also co-directed the video.
Those who know me know I could sing the praises of Cyndi Lauper all day. I won’t go on all day or drive all night about Cyndi in this forum, though I could. But I will say this: while “I Drove All Night” is, to date, her last big hit in America, Cyndi Lauper is proof positive that she doesn’t need big pop hits to continue, to inspire or to evolve. She’s just an Oscar away from the coveted EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony), but I’d bet my record collection she’s more interested in keeping things the way they are right now – in her own time, and on her own terms.