Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cher - Just ... Cher

I discovered Sonny & Cher in a Grade 7 classroom that was teaching I-don't-know-what, but I clearly remember one of my teachers holding up a magazine and pointing out Sonny & Cher, to make a point to demonstrate what he was teaching.

I forgot what I was supposed to be learning, but I started following Sonny & Cher and never did stop.

I spent hours upon hours singing my heart out in my best 'Cher' impersonation for the bulk of my teen years. I watched her nuances, hair flicks, the way she held the hand that was not holding the mike, her deadpan humor and I 'was' Cher.

I bought every record that I could find and was quite heart broken when Sonny & Cher divorced and their TV variety show went off the air (with no syndicated reruns nor DVD box sets to recapture the magic). They were simply ... gone.

Gone, but never forgotten.

I followed Sonny and Cher throughout the years that followed. I was pleased when Cher did so well on her own. I was disappointed for Sonny when his star started to fade.

As it turned out, Cher ended up being a great role model for me. She lived life-after-divorce out loud and continued down the path she was on and became so much more than "... & Cher".

Cher is glamorous. Without make up, long nails, costumes and all of her fame, she could be is one of us. She did not define beauty (of the skin-deep variety). She defined (for me) all that lies underneath the superficial outer layer. She embodied who we can become if we are brave enough to pursue it.

Cher could have shrivelled up into a memory of one half, of a once-famous duo after their very public divorce. But she didn't. She just kept singing her heart out and pursuing her goals.

That was back in the year 1972. Fast forward to last night. June 21, 2014. I was there. I saw Cher perform in her final, final "Dressed to Kill Tour".

Cyndi Lauper was her opening act (more on Cyndi another day!) and she set the stage in a relatively (only because we did not yet know what was to come) quiet way and took me back a few decades and reminded me of 'where I was' when I heard that song.

Then ... Cher!

You heard her voice but did not know where it was coming from. We had some (very) annoying curtains directly in front of where we were sitting and I just 'knew' that all of the action was going to happen behind that curtain. How could they sell seats when you couldn't even see? My cousin (who, Thank-You-Very-Much, invited me along with her to see Cher) barely uttered the words "I hope to see that curtain drop!" When it did ...

"Woman's World" was the song that set the stage for the next few hours of our life. Cher segued into "Strong Enough" and then sat down and chatted with us for a little while. 

After the crowd sang "Happy Birthday" to Cyndi Lauper (who is 61 years old), age was very much on one's mind. Cher answered the question that most of us wanted to know. "I'm 68! .... this IS my final, final tour ... and here I am standing atop a pedastal (?20?) feet in the air, with a piece of dental floss securing me ..." and she was going to sing and perform for us. "And what is YOUR granny doing tonight?!?" she asked. And she was off!

Just before the show, my cousin and I were talking of work, future goals, what retirement means to us and all-of-the-things-the-working-person seems to chat about. Retirement always seems to be the end goal.

Then, we are witness to two stars who are 61 and 68 years old, singing and dancing their hearts out in front of thousands and thousands of people every few nights. 

I could not help but wonder what Cyndi & Cher talk about amongst themselves when they are sitting in the quiet, away from the public eye. Do you think it would go like this?

Cyndi: I don't know, Cher. This is a tough gig but I really, really need the medical plan coverage. I've got to keep on going for at least one more tour.
Cher: Ya, I know, Cyn. After I finish up this tour, I think that my retirement savings will last me as long as I need. But if not, I could add some more shows to my itinerary...
Cyndi: But Cher, when are we really going to get to pursue our passion and wake up in the morning without all of the politics that go along with this job??
Cher: Gee, don't know, Cyn ... I have been doing what I have to do for so many years, I have forgotten what it is like to follow my dreams... (Big, audible sigh)

I think ... NOT.

At least I hope not. Don't you think that they are still out there performing because they are pursing their passion? 

Money must be a part of the equation, but honestly, the pressure that they are under every few days and the physical rigors of dancing and singing your heart out and be at the top of their game for each and every performance? That takes quite a toll.  The adrenaline rush must be a little bit addictive. The need for public acclimation ... after all of these years? I don't (personally) think so. These two 'girls' strike me as people who  are (or certainly appear to be) pretty okay with who they are.

I think they like us. They really like us ... and they are in it for their fans. Fame is such a flighty and fickle thing. For those who have withstood the test of time, do you think they want to honor those who have helped them become who they are? Or are they in it because they can't yet afford to retire?

Well, Cher? I'd love to sit down and have the type of conversation that I have with my friends with you, so you could shine a little light on my perception.

In the meantime, "I Hope You Find It" (what you are looking for). Thank you for sharing your talents with the world.

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