Boston Globe - October 5, 1995
Lauper's back with more fun -- And then some
by Steve Morse
Name some of the biggest hits of the '80s and chances are that Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" will be among them. The tune was on every radio lover's lips at one time. Its melody was irresistible. Its lyrics were loony fun. And its singer was pigeonholed for life.
"The happy girl. That's what they called me," says Lauper, who returns to play the Fall Fest on Boston Common this Sunday afternoon with Harry Connick Jr. and other acts.
Life has not always been happy for Lauper, of course, but she's back on the charts with -- you guessed it -- a remake of "Girls," now titled "Hey Now (Girls Just Want to Have Fun)." It's reinvented with a lilting reggae beat and appears on her recent greatest hits album, "Twelve Deadly Cyns ... And Then Some," which has sold 3 million copies around the world.
"The song is really me trying to sing a trumpet line. It has that same kind of air compression," says Lauper. She had been doing the revised version in concert and added it to her greatest hits album at the request of her record label. She also made a CD5 single (a five-song CD) of it, including a dance-hall treatment with Patra and a rap arrangement with Snow, who had the mega-hit "Informer" two years ago.
"Snow started doing a rap that was great because it had a rockabilly lilt to it," says Lauper. "I met him when I went to Jamaica and recorded with Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare. There was this little skinny white kid there and someone said, 'That's Snow.' So we had him try something and it worked. The song has helped me get played on certain rhythm stations. It's nice to go to a radio station and play a dance mix like that."
Lauper has often been ahead of her time, but hasn't always gotten credit because of record-company delays in releasing her music. "I get ahead of the curve, then my music isn't released until after the curve has changed," she says. "It seems I've spent a lot of time in this business struggling to get my music out. There's always been someone at the gate making it hard. Sometimes you get to a point where you want to say to these people: 'Why don't you go see what it's like in the real world, then come back and talk to me.'
"If you didn't have a sense of humor in this business, you'd be chewed up and spit out," she says in a phone interview.
Lauper had a healthy run in the '80s, scoring additional hits "Time After Time," "She Bop", "True Colors", "Money Changes Everything" and "I Drove All Night". She employed lively synthesizer pulses and big-beat drums from Bruce Springsteen's drummer, Max Weinberg. She then made the experimental "Hat Full of Surprises" in 1993 with the poignant song "Sally's Pigeons." It was cowritten with Mary Chapin Carpenter, but didn't get much airplay. "Did you even see it promoted?" she asks.
Lauper has long been viewed as an eccentric because of her kooky clothes and hairstyles, but sees nothing wrong with it. "Look at most of the people in music today. Do you think they dress in suits? No way."
When gates closed on Lauper, she diversified her portfolio. "I would take side jobs, like writing songs for movies or acting in TV," says Lauper. She received an Emmy nomination for playing the role of Mary Ann in the TV series "Mad About You." And she's working on a couple of songs for upcoming movies -- "Unhook the Stars" with Marisa Tomei, and "I Love You, I Love You Not" with Jeanne Moreau. Also, she often writes on a computer. "It helps because I'm dyslexic," she notes.
And just as you shouldn't call "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" a novelty song, please don't call her songwriting a craft.
"I don't look at it as a craft. It's an expression," says Lauper, who includes three previously unreleased songs on her "Greatest Hits" disc. "There are no rules for me now. I followed some songwriting rules before, but I don't care now. It's all about expression. Anything else is contrived."