Friday, March 18, 2005

Rachel notes Cher for Women's History Month

Rachel: I want to note Cher because I love her. I love her don't f**k with me attitude. I love her spirit. She's a survivor and she can crack me up or make me cry.

History since that's the month. Cher started out her singing career as a backup vocalists on recordings by Phil Spector. When America finally discovered her, it was as one half of the folk rock duo Sonny & Cher with the mega hit "I Got You Babe." Sonny & Cher notched up more hits (like "The Beat Goes On") but Cher also had a successful recording career as a solo artist in the sixties with hits like "You Better Sit Down Kids," "Bang Bang" and Bob Dylan's "All I Really Want to Do."

Sonny & Cher were history by the close of the sixties. Thanks to a vareity show in the early seventies, a hit one, they would notch up a few more hits as a duo. Cher would hit number one as a solo artist with "Dark Lady," "Half-Breed," and "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves."

Cher's return was startling. And she'd lost the hip huggers and bell bottoms (which I always liked). The bangs were gone too. She was a sleeker Cher in fashion but she was down to earth in manner. Sonny & Cher divorced, the show ended, Cher went solo (they'd get back together after the divorce for an attempt at another variety show -- after Cher had done her own solo variety show) and she just became this really strong figure to a lot of women my age.

She was just Cher. (She even legally changed her name to just Cher.) And if people were upset that she'd taken up with and married Gregg Allman, who had a drug problem, will get over it.
She's got that attitude of "It's my life and if I make a mistake, I make one. Get over it."

Or "Snap out of it!" as she says in Moonstruck.

Cher came back in the eighties, this time as an actress. Oscar nominated for Silkwood [best supporting actress], she'd win for Moonstruck [best actress]. She also made the wonderfully moving film Mask, the hilarious Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (directed by Robert Altman) and many more. I have a soft spot for The Witches of Eastwick because I love Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jack Nicholson.

At the same time, she reignited her recording career with "I Found Someone" and quickly found other hits: "We All Sleep Alone," "Just Like Jesse James," "After All" [duet with Peter Cetera],
"Save Up All Your Tears" and especially "If I Could Turn Back Time."

The last one found her in a video parading around in a state of semi-dress while sailors whooped it up. Only Cher would so brazenly and bravely flash her tattoos, including one on her rear.

"I just won an Oscar, now check out my ass!" Who else but Cher would do that?

She comes off as pretty much fearless. But you only have to remember her tribute to Sonny after he died to realize how real she is. Or the moment she and Sonny reunited for one song on David Letterman's Late Night show on NBC in the eighties.

She came back again in the nineties with "Believe." And she gave an amazing performance in Tea With Mussolini.

But through all the craziness and wildness, she's never not seemed like a real person and a strong woman to boot.

She's been called the Queen of the Tabloids and to be that and still hold your head up high and still be able to laugh and not try to go the prim and proper route, shows someone who truly lives her life her way.

Cher speaks to a lot of women my age because she's always kept it real even when her own life appeared surreal. And anyone who's gone through a messy break up or a divorce can relate to how amazing that is. The temptation is to keep your head bowed and move on quietly but Cher never slinks away.

We've seen her spread her wings and fly and though some might say, "You're talking about Cher!" - believe me, she speaks to women with her strength, her growth and her survival. I don't just note Cher, I salute her!

If she's going a guest spot on Will & Grace (she's done two) or she's being interviewed, my friends and I will be burning up the phone lines. The first question is always, "What did she wear?" The second, "How did she look?" The third, "What did she say?" And all matter equally because she's Cher and she's given us courage to live our lives as we please and helped us realize you can stand up from a fall, dust yourself off and just keep going. Rock on, Cher!

[Note: This post was done in advance to be posted Friday.]