Monday, July 08, 2013
Cher and Cher alike
Cher has had many aspects to her career, which has covered almost five decades. We first saw her as a teenager, paired up with husband Sonny Bono. Their initial popularity was caused by a big hit, “I Got You, Babe.” Cher’s look caught everyone’s attention. She looked hip and cool with her long dark hair and bangs, hip-hugger pants and boots.. At the time I thought Sonny looked kind of clownish. My buddies wondered how he caught her. He got his babe, we said. Bono, by then a music veteran, was 11 years older than his wife.
In 1965 I saw Sonny and Cher at the old Terrace Ballroom in Salt Lake City. After a couple of unremarkable opening bands had left the stage, Sonny and Cher’s bandleader, Harold Battiste, came out with a group of musicians and their instruments. Here’s the show! we thought, as we all crowded around the stage. But it wasn’t. Battiste rehearsed a pick-up band, all local musicians, in all the songs Sonny and Cher would do that night. The whole crowd watched the rehearsal. Since rock shows — even the Beatles — in those days were about 35 minutes long, we didn't think we had long to wait. But we did. The band left the stage and after a long wait — my memory tells me it was more than 30 minutes, but it could have just seemed that long — the band came back, this time with Sonny and Cher. And they did the songs in exactly the same order as Harold Battiste had rehearsed.
A group of college boys were in front of us. They were all wearing hats. When Cher would turn her head in their direction the young men would tip their hats. They did this five or six times before they gave up, because Cher didn’t see them. I don’t think she saw any of us. She looked over our heads to the back of the hall. At the time I thought it was crass. After all, Sonny was funny and engaging with the audience, but now I wonder if it wasn’t nervousness or even fear on her part.
Whatever fear she may have had then she had lost by the time of the seventies Sonny and Cher Show, which was on TV for a few seasons. By then Cher had dropped the hippie look, the long bangs and hip-hugger pants, and gone more glamorous. Why not? Cher had a dark, exotic beauty.
A friend of mine was totally knocked out by Cher. He paid a professional artist to do a pencil portrait of her that he framed and hung on the wall of his bedroom. I’m pretty sure the popular “vamp” numbers got his blood to boil. They were very sexy for the time.
For a time after her divorce from Sonny I didn’t see much of her, just heard some songs on the radio. It was when she began her movie career that I developed an appreciation for Cher. Silkwood, Mermaids, and Moonstruck are all movies that impressed me.
I was reminded of all this the other night when watching at clip on MSNBC. It was Cher talking with CNN host Anderson Cooper. Apparently Cher is some sort of news junkie. Cooper asked her if she was still watching CNN, and she said she split her time between CNN and MSNBC. Cooper did a funny flop out of his chair and onto the floor. When the clip was over and MSNBC’s Chris Mathews commented, he said, “It’s a good idea for an interviewer to know what the answer to his question will be in advance of asking it.” I guess Anderson Cooper was surprised by the candor of the woman who, no matter how shy she may have been when I saw her at the very dawn of her long career, is well over her shyness by now.
As a matter of fact, Cher can be too candid, and talk too much. I read recently that she claimed Tom Cruise was in the “top five” of her lovers. (“Before he got into Scientology,” she said.)
Too much information, Cher. We all know you’ve led the life of a star and had the perks. But I, personally, do not wish to hear about anyone’s favorite lover unless it was — ahem! — me.