Since the incomparable Cyndi Lauper is my favorite recording artist, she’s never really far from my mind (sorry Cyndi – I know you love to travel). Such is the case today, as it’s only been a couple of nights since my dear and über-talented friend, Hope, and I saw Cyndi and Culture Club’s Boy George perform at Boston’s amazing Wang Theatre (or, if you prefer – which I don’t – the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre) on Saturday, May 21, 2016.
Cyndi is on tour to support her new album – and first Country album – DETOUR, which was released earlier this month. The tour started, appropriately enough, in Nashville, where the album was recorded with the likes of Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Vince Gill and Jewel.
DETOUR is Cyndi’s eleventh studio album, and also the first album (of many I hope!) with Sire Records, my favorite record label. Cyndi had met with Sire President and co-founder (and Warner Bros. Vice-President) Seymour Stein about doing a covers album, and from that meeting came a conversation about the Golden Age of Country music. And DETOUR was born. This week, it’s the fourth-biggest Country album in America (and No. 1 on the U.K. Country albums chart).
The concert with Cyndi and Boy George was phenomenal, one of the best I’ve ever seen. Cyndi intertwined songs from DETOUR with classics from SHE’S SO UNUSUAL (including her brilliant cover of Prince’s “When You Were Mine”), and other gems like “I Drove All Night” (from 1989’s A NIGHT TO REMEMBER) and one of my Cyndi favorites, “Fearless” (from 1996’s highly-underrated SISTERS OF AVALON album).
Cyndi did 12 songs before Boy George performed (I thought it was classy how she let him close out the show – and returned for a few songs with him later, including a moving cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” to close out the show). She closed her performance with the always acoustic, always emotional “True Colors,” the title track of her second album from 1986.
“True Colors” is one of Cyndi’s signature songs, but I forget it was actually written by songwriters Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, famous for writing songs that include Madonna’s “Like A Virgin,” The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” and “In Your Room,” “Alone” by Heart, “I’ll Stand By You” by The Pretenders, “I Touch Myself” by The Divinyls, and “I Drove All Night.”
Well, Cyndi may not have written the song, but she sure did run away with it and then some. For 2 weeks around Halloween 1986, “True Colors” was No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100. It was Cyndi’s second No. 1 single here and spent 20 weeks total on the chart.
Fans showed their “True Colors” for the song around the globe, too. It spent a week at No. 1 in Canada, and reached the Top 10 in Australia, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden, and the Top 20 in the U.K., Austria, Germany, Holland and Switzerland.
For Cyndi Lauper, “True Colors” has long outlived its singles chart life and has long been a part of her own life, and the lives of many others. In 2008, Cyndi co-founded the True Colors Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated solely for the purpose of educating people on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) issues and to work on ending homeless LGBT youth, and, as part of the True Colors Fund mission statement, “creating a world in which young people can be their true selves.” For more information on the True Colors Fund, and ways to help and show your support, I encourage you find your way to truecolorsfund.org.
If my math is correct, Cyndi last performed in Maine during the TRUE COLORS tour, giving Portlanders and then some a sweet Christmas gift when she performed at the former Cumberland County Civic Center on December 17, 1986. For some reason I can’t remember at this particular moment, I wasn’t able to go.
As much as I’d love for Cyndi to return to the Maine (preferably, Portland’s wonderful Merrill Auditorium), and as much as I know many, many people here would love for her to return to the Pine Tree State, for now, I do what I can to attend her shows close to home, like Saturday night’s unforgettable Boston show, and where I can see Cyndi Lauper’s true colors (of which there are many) shining through and then some…