Cyndi Lauper: To me, rhythm is king; or queen, which ever you prefer. For me, hey, maybe it’s queen. I sang against it and found a new meter; a new life for it … I always thought, if Bruce Springsteen can be the boss, why can’t I?
Good Times: You can. Well, you are.
CL: Well, I don’t really have time for the mundane. Everything in our life is mundane and boring. I think you should stir it up a little and reach for a higher place. Go for it—keep the channel open. Inspire other people; be involved; make mistakes; do it better next time; just try; don’t fuckin’ sit there. Ya know? Take a photograph; take a photograph that somebody would want to put in their book. Don’t just make a boring ass photograph—make something interesting. Make art. It’s in an artistic field, it should be artistic. Not autistic. Artistic. So, you know, for me, this whole process of At Last, and doing the CD and the live shows and the DVDs—At Last seems so much better than ‘It’s About Fuckin’ time.’ I didn’t come to this planet, and I know this will sound very Star Trek, but I didn’t come to this world to be a puppet; not to have a mindset, and not to do what I intuitively know is the right thing to do because that’s what I want to do. I didn’t come here to march through the paces. I came here to make a difference. You know, everything in my life and the whole of my career, and all the songs that I sang, was to make a difference, not just to sing some song.
GT: What do you love most about performing music?
GT: Well, I guess you did in a way.
GT: Actually, you explained that quite clearly. I mean, in the last half hour, you’ve basically told me that performing/making music is what you’ve come here to do, right? As a writer, I can relate to that. That’s what I’m here to do—to communicate through stories.
CL: That’s it. We’re storytellers! You’re a storyteller. You write stories in a paper, in a book; you write stories about people. For me, it’s similar to storytelling, so in that tradition, that’s how I approach things. Because these [songs] are stories. So I think, OK, here’s a group of stories—who’s telling these stories? For At last, I thought, who’s telling these stories? I kept looking at these album covers [for ideas]. And I thought about it and thought about, and then I saw her—I saw a storyteller. She was in a cocktail dress and there was a cityscape behind her at night and she was in the moonlight … and eventually we set it up in New York. I started dancing around, and I started dancing to the Statue of Liberty and we were on this barge and I knew that was eventually going to make it into it. And there I am in this cocktail dress right by a manhole cover and I thought the juxtaposition in that was fascinating.
GT: Quite stellar, actually.
CL: Yeah, right? You know, she’s in profile. There’s the moon, there’s the cityscape and she’s dancing to the statue of liberty and for me, growing up as a female, the fact that the symbol for liberty, and civil liberties, was a woman holding a beacon …
GT: That says a lot.
GT: You know, I was scanning your bio last week …
CL: God only knows what it says …
GT: Well, let me tell you. One of the things it says, is that you’ve sold more than 20 million albums around the world. So, when you hear that, what goes through your mind?
CL: What goes through my mind? Huh—that, internationally, I made a penny a record. (Laughs). No! I don’t know. What goes through my mind? Nothin’ … I think, ‘That’s nice. That’s very nice.’
GT: You’re not someone who’s attached the results, then? You show up, do your work, let go?
CL: Well, I wanna win. (Laughs.) Because I didn’t come here to do mediocre work. I say, ‘Shake it up a little.’ I’m not going to just stand there. And, you know, if there’s no human experience in it, then what the hell are you doing? What are you singing about? For me, I gotta know what I am singing about. And I want to sing about something extraordinary. I don’t want to sing about mediocre. I don’t care about that. I want to do something that I care about. I don’t care if you think it’s a hit song. It sounds like a hit song now, but not a year from now, when the record comes out. You’re just dreamin’! Is it catchy? Well I’ll find out if it’s catchy because I’ll sing it live. I’ll find out tonight, tomorrow night, the day after, the day after that. And I’ll figure out how to make that thing work, and if I can’t, it’s out. Ya know? It’s as easy as that. I’m not going to listen to somebody who sits behind a desk who doesn’t do what I do. I hear the voice of the people and I sing back to them. That’s what I do. I try to communicate with people. I try to find that space between here and there where we can both dance in a different variety. And I guess that’s why I do it; that’s why I love it so much. I’m extraordinarily blessed that I feel that stuff. The good news and bad news of it? The good news is that I am very passionate about everything. The bad news is … I’m very passionate about everything. You probably are too, because you are not going to write about something you don’t care about. And if you do, you’re probably like ‘Oh brother!’
GT: Exactly, and it’s refreshing to actually have somebody to relate to and converse with. Most people …
GT: They’re shut down.
GT: I think a lot of people are numb.
GT: What’s the best advice you’ve been given lately?
GT: No. But I think it’s 1:30 in the morning where you are in Sydney, Australia.
GT: It’s cool. One more question. What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about yourself lately?
GT: Yet you seem very positive and upbeat.
Cyndi Lauper performs at Mountain Winery on Thursday, July 15. Tickets are $35-$55. For more information, call (408) 741-2822. Learn more at gregarcher.com.