She’s So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper

Posted: August 17, 2013 by generationgbooks in Music


She changed my life. Chances are, if you were a young girl growing up in the 1980’s, she may have changed yours. Or she may simply have just shown it was alright to be, well, unusual. Chances are, though, that Cyndi Lauper somehow touched your orbit (mind out of gutter, kids) in 1983 and continued to do so for many years. My second record purchase and hunt was for She’s So Unusual, her debut album.

Some background, of course, as those of us at the Hannibal Collector blog usually strive to do. Cyndi Lauper was really my mom’s discovery. I have spoken about my mom’s love of music in previous entries here, and no doubt she is the one I got the penchant for vinyl from. My mom spotted her on American Bandstand. It was March 17, 1984. I remember this because this 11-year old girl really wanted to go to her friend’s St. Patrick’s Day party. My mom said no. I was bad because I had somehow managed to convince my dad to give me extra money for allowance because I wanted to buy an entire plastic container of mint chocolate and milk chocolate Ice Cube candy from Spring Forest, the deli in Willow Springs.


Ice Cubes? What are those? They are (pictured above).  And they are ungodly delicious. Instead of asking her mom to advance her allowance (which she never did, because she knew my brother and I were not above asking for it ahead of time, and then not doing the chores we had to do to receive that allowance. She was wise to our demonic ways.), I hit up my dad and buttered him up (how? I showed him my straight A’s on the report card. It never failed!). I won, but I lost. My mom wouldn’t let me go to the party. I was the only one who didn’t go. But in the end, it worked out great, because I saw Cyndi Lauper on American Bandstand. I was actually trying to rip my brother’s head off his shoulders in some epic battle for control of Skeletor in the He-Man war game we were playing, while my mom was watching the show. She called me in and told me to listen to and watch AB. I did, and the first thing I said was “That song rocks. Who is she?”. The second was “How did she get her hair so orange? Nick Rhodes should be asking for that hair dye tip.”. The third involved how great she was. The people at American Bandstand seemed to enjoy her. Dick Clark seemed entertained. She did “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” and “Time After Time” (one of the saddest and best songs ever – DM)The following Friday, I saw the video for “Girls” on Friday Night Videos and she became my newest musical passion. My mom was determined to hear if the hype that came into our systems was carried throughout the album. I am proud to say that was the case.

The album itself was a little bit of a challenge in obtaining. Mostly because nobody and their butter churner had it in stock. Sound Warehouse, JR’s Music, K-mart, Zayre, Venture, and Rose Records were all out of stock and had it on order. Seems the whole damn country lost their minds over Cyndi, as my mom and I had. I became determined that while we were waiting for it to come in, that I would try to convince my mom to let me dye my hair that color. That didn’t go well. I even tried the old “George and I will have matching hair colors” line (my brother was an orange-y ginger at the time), to no avail. I tried finding duds similar to those that she was sporting in the video. No store in their right mind had duds similar to what she’s wearing in the video (and they should have! It was the 80’s, after all).

Now we know I liked the song Girls Just Want To Have Fun“. “Time After Time” was next up on the single release charts, and I love that much, much more. There’s something so achingly beautiful about that song. The video didn’t help in washing out that wave of sentiment that came along with it. Even now, it still tears me up anytime I hear it; definitely one of her most powerful songs. The next song that I came into contact with was the infamous “She Bop. Now that is likely my favorite from the album. A song about masturbation and an awesomely odd video to match (not pornographic, you pervs!)? Count me in! “All Through the Night” and “Money Changes Everything” were the next songs to hit Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart. I loved “All Through the Night” but was not stunned by the anything of “Money Changes Everything“. In fact, I downright despised that song; I’m still not a fan though I am way more tolerant of it in my old age. Perhaps the fact that my sister got obsessed with it years later and played the 45 to death had something to do with it. (Now I know how she feels about “Goodbye Is Forever” by Arcadia). There’s even a PRINCE song on here! “When You Were Mine” that was originally on his Dirty Mind album. The fact that Prince had no problem letting Cyndi Lauper do his song just sealed her awesomeness for me.  The other couple of songs were just poppy and filler, no great shakes. But overall? Overall it is excellent. A feel-good, pop masterpiece.

I finally did find the album at Sound Warehouse, which is not happily remembered in any vinyl collector’s blog. It was the King Of Suck In vinyl distribution or music distribution in general, but I had to grant them a stay of execution because they finally delivered the goods. My mom and I opened it up, cracked a few Pepsi’s, toasted to John Taylor (The King Of Pepsi), and listened. We both loved it. Thus began my fascination with Cyndi Lauper’s music. She has never let me down over the years. More importantly, she showed the world (and a 11-year old girl who liked to loudly mismatch her clothes and shoes at school, only to be made fun of incessantly) that it was okay to be different in your dress, videos, and overall presentation while still showing off superb vocal chops. You certainly cannot say that for that over-hyped, talentless windbag Sheena Easton or that Miami Chiquita of Lame, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sucks It Machine.  Best yet? Another common musical denominator that my mom and I were able to discover and enjoy together. Those were good days.

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