Cher: ‘My life seems to be longer than any other human being ever’
The Guardian: Cher thinks she may have just made history. “My life seems to be longer than any other human being ever,” she said. “I feel like I should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for this. And I’m still going!”
In fact, at 77, with a six-decade career behind her, Cher is still finding new ways to express herself. This week she’ll release her first Christmas album, something that has long struck her as a cynical cliche. “Everyone has done one,” she said by phone from her home in Los Angeles with a perceivable eyeroll. “So, when my manager called and said, ‘We’d like you to do this,’ my immediate answer was ‘No!’ He said, ‘Just think about it.’ So, I sat down and thought, ‘What can I do that’s different?’”
The answer, it turned out, is a holiday album “that doesn’t scream ‘Christmas’ every second and isn’t filled with songs you know by name”, she said. In fact, half the songs are new, including the catchy dance track, DJ, Play a Christmas Song, which evokes a night that’s anything but silent. Other cuts on the album are wholly unexpected, like a cover of the Zombies’ rapturous This Will Be Our Year, from their 1968 cult masterpiece Oracle & Odyssey. “More than anything, I wanted this album to be fun,” Cher said.
And why not? Fun has been Cher’s brand ever since she broke through with Sonny on their bubbly 1965 song I Got You Babe. At the same time, fun, for Cher, isn’t just about pleasure. It’s also about survival. During the many dry stretches in her career, and the long years when critics saw her as a joke, Cher always found a way to have the last laugh by embracing the most garish aspects of her career – the over-the-top costumes, the self-satirizing gestures, the songs like Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves – while simultaneously delivering performances of genuine distinction, passion and pluck. In conversation, Cher reflects all those sides. For more than an hour, she spoke about everything from her goofy, 1964 debut single Ringo, I Love You to the sad litany of anti-trans legislation that has been proposed in the United States in the last year.
Even her new album has a deeper context than it may first seem. It finds an emotional high point in a cover of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), which originally appeared on the classic Phil Spector Christmas Album in 1963, with Darlene Love on lead vocals, and a 17-year-old Cher wailing behind. Now, 60 years later, she and Love perform the song as a duet. “I hate it when people say, ‘I remember it like it was yesterday,’” Cher said of the original sessions, “but I actually do. I can see Darlene singing full-tilt boogie right in the room, not even in a booth, and me, Sonny and the other backup singers standing around one mike that was hanging down. It seems so archaic now, but it worked.”