As a kid, I loved the “Island of Misfit Toys” in the Christmas classic, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”.
When I was a teenager, I was captivated by the originality of Top 40 pop music newcomer Cyndi Lauper, with her crazy clothes, her bizarre hair styles and hair colors, and that unmistakable voice.
She was so unusual and in her autobiography, “Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir”, she admits to being a “misfit” and mentions “Rudolph” and the “island”.
While reading the book, I realized why, other than her music and her style, I was so mesmerized by her in the 1980s and, even, today.
This summer, Cyndi turns 61-years-old.
While she’s only eleven years older than me and eleven years younger than my mother, her approach to life reminds me so much of my late mother, Dessie. My mother could have been Cyndi’s big sister if Cyndi was a southern woman!
Cyndi tells people the way it is and she takes no bull. My mother was the same way.
Without giving away too many details of the book since I think you should read it, it was interesting to learn more about Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper before she became “Cyndi Lauper”.
She had a rough childhood with a creepy stepfather, school problems, keeping a job, losing a baby, sexual assault by former band members, and several health issues.
It was interesting hearing her take on the music business in her bands before she made it big with her #2 Billboard Hot 100 smash, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”.
The follow-up, “Time After Time”, became her first chart-topper.
It was followed by the #3 hit, “She Bop”, the #5 “All Through The Night” and one of my all-time favorites, “Money Changes Everything”, which was only a modest radio hit reaching #27 in 1985.
Her debut solo album, “She’s So Unusual”, from 1983, would go on to sell 16 million copies worldwide. Six million of those were in the United States.
My favorite Cyndi Lauper performance has always been and is still “When You Were Mine”, the Prince classic, on 1985’s “American Music Awards”. It was so captivating to me almost thirty years ago and it still takes my breath away today!
Cyndi was also part of the historic, “We Are The World” charity recording by USA For Africa that topped the chart in 1985 and she scored her first Top Ten hit movie theme, “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough”.
Illness, surgery, and turmoil with the record company delayed the release of the follow-up album, “True Colors” until 1986.
However, it turned out to be another success selling more than 7 million copies worldwide. More than 2 million of those were sold in the U.S.
The title track became Cyndi’s second #1 hit (third counting her contribution to USA For Africa). “True Colors” also became an anthem for the LGBT community and for her friends that were dying from AIDS.
While radio changed in the late 1980s and 1990s and stop playing Cyndi with her last hit, “I Drove All Night”, which hit #6 in 1989, she kept recording albums and touring and scored 9 more Billboard Dance hits after her radio days. Five of those reached #1 or #2.
In all, Cyndi has picked up 15 Grammy nominations over the past thirty years. In addition to her Grammy Awards, she’s also won MTV Video Music Awards, American Music Awards, an Emmy Award for her acting on the NBC hit, “Mad About You”, and a Tony Award for “Kinky Boots”.
In the past twenty years, Cyndi has become a leading force in the fight for equality for her LGBT friends. While the gay community fights very hard, it’s always encouraging when our straight brothers and sisters like Cyndi, Cher, Madonna, and Lady Gaga reach out and fight hard for our rights.
In 2007, Cyndi started the “True Colors Tour”, the “True Colors Fund” in 2010, and the “Forty to None Project” in 2012, which brings to light the fact that about 10% of youth in America is LGBT, but that small group makes up about 40% of the homeless youth in the U.S. Cyndi and her organization want that number to drop to zero.
If you’re looking for an interesting, fun, ballsy book to read this spring or summer, you definitely have to check out “Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir”. It’ll take you back thirty years to remind you why you loved Cyndi Lauper so much in the 1980s and you’ll learn so much more about her.
I find it hilarious that she’s not afraid to set people straight and then tell us about it. Bob Dylan, are you listening?
On April 1, 2014, Cyndi will be releasing “She’s So Unusual: A 30th Anniversary Celebration”, a two-disc deluxe set featuring many songs from that hugely successful 1983 album, plus old and new remixes, early demos, and rehearsals. It’s a must for die-hard Lauper fans.
Cyndi is also working on a new studio album and she’s heading out on tour again this spring with Cher on the “Dressed To Kill Tour”.
I saw Cyndi and Cher in concert about ten years ago in Chicago and the show was incredible.
I’ll be seeing Cher and Cyndi for the second time in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on June 6th.
Cyndi, I know you won’t notice me in the crowds, but I’ll be screaming for you and singing along to your music. Thank you for sharing your music, your humor, your strength, and your commitment with us over the past 30 years.