Paying homage to a childhood idol who has now become a guilty pleasure

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, September 24, 2013 12:38 AM

My mother will cringe when she reads this though she will also nod and smile in recognition of the 1970s, a time when hair and fashion were as bad as much of the music. Not all of the music of course. The 1970s gave us James Taylor and Carole King and Jackson Browne and the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt and Elton John. But the 70s also gave us disco. The 1970s were also when I discovered Sonny and Cher and specifically Cher.

I think it started when I would hang out at my friend Jeanie’s house. We were probably in 5th or 6th grade. She had a Sonny and Cher album and one night when I slept over, we watched The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. I hadn’t heard of them before that. It was a riot. From then on I was a fan, not so much of Sonny but of Cher. I thought she was glamorous and funny and I loved to listen to her sing.

Truth time: I still do.

That’s my guilty pleasure. I’ve grown up since those days listening to her heckle her then husband soon to be ex-husband but I still love to listen to her songs, past and present. I mean, come on, Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves was a great song. As was Dark Lady and Half Breed. When I’m listening to music from the 70s and one of her songs comes on, I crank the volume and sing along.

The Way of Love was also a song I enjoyed. She’s not a good singer but she has some sort of presence, and she’s fun.

Cher and I lost touch for a few years. I watched her appear in movies like Silkwood and Mask, The Witches of Eastwick and one of my all time favorite movies to this day, Moonstruck. That was 1987. In 1989, she released an album called Heart of Stone that included the song If I Could Turn Back Time, which I still have on my iPod. I love that song. It’s anthemic in a Cher sort of way.

I suppose that’s the last Cher song I liked. I hated Believe. It was way too 70s for a time that was almost into the 00s. But it was one of her biggest hits. Not bad for someone who started her career in 1963.

This morning, the woman formerly known as Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPiere Bono Allman, was on NBC’s Today. I don’t watch NBC or any network in the morning but NBCNews.com is my home page and they often put up video clips from some of their news shows. This morning there was a clip of Cher so naturally, since I still like Cher, I watched. She’s 67 now. She’s had too much plastic surgery but she’s still got it, whatever “it” is. She had Moonstruck kind of hair again, big and black and curly and she was dressed in what I would call biker chic, all black with accents of silver. She has evidently released a new album called Closer to the Truth. She also announced a new world tour, this after her Living Proof: The Farewell Tour of 2002. I didn’t see it; I won’t see this one. I like Cher but not that much. I won’t buy the new album either because the song I heard this morning did nothing for me. It was still a little disco-ish and as much as I like 70s music, I draw the line at anything with a dance beat. I did however buy The Very Best of Cher in 2003 and yes it does contain Believe.

She was typical Cher this morning. Droll, funny, irreverent. She sang her new song, though I suspect she was lip syncing. And that’s OK. Even nearing 70, she still struts around on the stage, still pulls off a few dance moves.

Cher has staying power. She is or has been a singer-actress-songwriter-music and film producer-film director-comedian-television host-model-fashion designer-dancer-entrepreneur. She’s a diva and makes no excuses for it.

I’ll never be a diva but I love that she continues to make herself relevant in an ever-changing environment. That’s not just a guilty pleasure; that’s a roll model. 

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