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CYNDI LAUPER


A MEMOIR


By CYNDI LAUPER WITH JANCEE DUNN

 

SIMON AND SCHUSTER

AUGUST 2012

 

 

 

TALES OF A COLOURFUL LIFE

 

 

 

I think the thing I most like about this memoir is the spirit that shines through it. Even from the very first pages where we see a young girl with her fair share of childhood problems, you glimpse a truly strong and persistent spirit that you can both root for and empathise with.  There are also some wonderfully wrought images and themes that are established early on that persist throughout the book, that can only come through the eyes of an artist. Cyndi may always be associated with those two iconic songs ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ and ‘True Colors’ but it’s not a memoir where you find yourself saying ‘get to the bit when you were really famous’; as the story itself is so engaging.

 

 

 

Working through a series of jobs and a number of stints at college Lauper’s story is all about self-belief, tenacity and overcoming the odds. There are some wonderfully colourful passages and recurring angelic images; and despite some hair-raising moments, it is her imagination and humour and self-deprecation that really pull her through.

 

 

 

From those early beginnings in a world of free love and female oppression you can feel her beliefs crystallising early on, but she is never cynical, always looking for the good in almost everyone and every situation. There’s a lot of love and warmth that comes through as well as a great sense of humour which permeates the writing.

 

 

 

We are treated to insights into her driving force and the support of the cause she adopts, and you feel that a lot of that stems from her working class Sicilian upbringing. Her succession of jobs and their demise really does make you feel music was her destiny, and it’s here that her ability to ignore criticism sees her in good stead. In places the book is dark, and her tribulations stand to make her even stronger. She battles through the usual teenage angst but a lot more besides: from the unwelcome attentions of her stepfather, to severe poverty and loneliness, to rape, hepatitis and endometriosis. It’s no surprise when she tells you of severe panic attacks where she closes herself in the cupboard in her bare apartment or contemplates suicide.

 

 

 

As she enters the music scene of course, the world becomes very different, and from starting out in small clubs the journey to international superstardom has its fair share of twists and turns. Nothing is really what you expect it to be after all.

 

 

 

It’s this part in the story of course that will interest most people and there are some great anecdotes: like the label executives playing the latest ‘Jam’ single at the wrong speed and encounters with rock royalty like Springsteen and Dylan. Throughout the book though it’s the humour that carries it and particularly Lauper’s complete and wonderful lack of tact and constantly “saying the wrong things to the right people” as she puts it!

 

 

 

 

She contends with sexism in the industry at the peak of her fame, and it’s really her music, marriage and her causes that pull her through it all. As forthright as Cyndi is, it’s great to read a memoir where the artist’s personality really comes through, and here it does so in some wonderfully quirky asides and distractions.

 

 

 


There is a considerable amount of space in the memoir given over to Cyndi’s causes, there’s also a few digs at those that attempted to reign in her free spirit and sense of personal style. It’s almost as if we are looking through a door half ajar where we get to see a glimpse of the fragile and vibrant soul under the colourful and quirky exterior.  To her it’s not Cyndi but the world which is weird, and you know what reading this you get the feeling she’s probably got a valid point.

 

 

 


While on the outside in the eighties it looked like it was all about freedom and self expression what ‘Cyndi Lauper – A Memoir’ does is show you the pain beneath the surface.

 

 

 

By Mark Diggins