The Top Ten Songs by Cher

In the late 1960’s, when folk-rock music was at its height with groups like Peter, Paul and Mary and the Mamas and the Papas, a new, rather odd-looking duo made their debut and quickly rose to become the top act of the 1970’s. With astonishing record sales, the duo soon graduated to television during the era of musical variety shows.

Salvatore “Sonny” Bono wasn’t much of a singer, but he was a very savvy businessman, songwriter and manager. His wife, Cherilyn LaPierre, however, could sing, with a depth and range that surprised even Sonny. Cher’s waist-length black hair, crooked teeth, tall stature and heavily made-up dark eyes was a stark contrast to Sonny’s Beatle-cut hair, droopy moustache and short stature. Together, this unlikely duo rose not only to the top of the record charts, but also achieved high television ratings.

When Sonny and Cher hit the “big time” on TV, Cher went through a physical metamorphosis. The crooked teeth became straight and white, the heavy 60’s makeup became more subdued and elegant, but still managed to bring out her natural beauty and allure, and she was gowned by the finest designers who revealed her stunning figure.

And then it all ended. The TV show and the marriage disintegrated. Sonny and Cher went their separate ways; Sonny became a successful and effective politician while Cher launched a well-received solo career. After her brief failed marriage to rocker Greg Alman, Cher went on to Hollywood stardom with movies like Mask, The Witches of Eastwick, Mermaids, Silkwood, and Moonstruck for which she won an Academy Award as Best Actress. But Cher never stopped singing and her video of If I Could Turn Back Time dominated MTV’s Top Ten.

Now in her mid-fifties, Cher ended her lengthy touring schedule with “The Farewell Tour.” Every performance was sold-out. But Cher is far from retired; after Canadian diva Celine Dionne wound up her stint in Las Vegas, it was Cher who was booked to take her place. Cher, ever the survivor of personal loss and the grueling Hollywood treadmill, is better than ever. Her Top Ten songs prove that she may have said farewell to touring, but never to her unique combination of high glamour and down-to-earth vocals.

1. “I’ve Got You, Babe.” How could this 60’s ballad not be Cher’s most well-loved song? Written by Sonny Bono, it became the anthem of “The Sonny and Cher Show.” Simple but sweetly romantic, this song is irresistible. After Sonny’s tragic, accidental death, Cher paid tribute to him in her “Farewell Tour” by singing this song as videos of the early years of Sonny and Cher played over her head. “So let them say your hair’s too long – with you I can’t go wrong. I’ve got you, Babe.” There was never a dry eye in the house.

2. “The Way of Love” wasn’t a huge financial success for Cher, but it stands out in her repertoire because it showcases her immense vocal range. Starting soft, slow and plaintive, Cher takes the song to a powerful crescendo, putting all her power into the song’s message. “For the way of love is the way of woe, and the day may come when you see her go. Then what will you do when she sets you free, just the way that you said good-bye to me. That’s the way of love.”

3. “Dark Lady” is “pure Cher.” Glamour, romance, and just a touch of the sinister, Cher tells the story of a black-magic queen, an unfaithful mate, and the revenge of a woman betrayed. The victim became the victor. “Dark Lady laughed and danced and lit the candles one by oneâÂ?¦.she told me more about me than I knew myself.”

4. “Believe” is Cher’s final solo best-seller. With this song, she combines acoustic technology with her still-powerful vocals. An undeniably perfect “farewell” song, Cher asks “Do you believe in life after love? I’ve had time to think it through, and maybe I’m too good for you.”

5. “If I Could Turn Back Time” If Cher’s full-throttle vocals don’t convince us that she’s a diva of the highest quality, the video certainly will. Filmed aboard a Navy ship, Cher is captured on film in all her still-sensual glory. The song is one of regret – of causing pain to her beloved and her fantasy of un-ringing the bell. “If I could turn back time, if I could find a way, I’ll take back those words that hurt you, and you’d stay.”

6. “Half-Breed” is a song only Cher could bring to life. Her own mixed heritage of French Creole and Native American allows her to sing a story of living an out-cast life, of not belonging. “Half-breed -that’s all I ever heard; Half-breed, how I learned to hate the word.” Who hasn’t felt the sting on non-acceptance simply because of a heritage they had no choice in creating?

7. “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” takes up where “Half-Breed” left off. This is a song about stereotypes and prejudice. Although Cher again sings the story of being an outcast, this is also a story about our need for love and acceptance; in this vulnerable state, Cher warns us, there are those who take advantage of our neediness. “I was born in the wagon of a traveling show – my mama had to dance for the money they’d throw.” In the song, her daughter suffers the same fate.

8. “The Shoop-Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)” From Mermaids, this is Cher’s delightful rendition of the 50’s classic. This song is pure fun! Listeners can’t resist tapping their feet and singing along. Cher’s only focus in this song is to entertain; no poignant lyrics, no full-range vocals, just Cher having a good time and inviting us along for the ride. “If you want to know if he loves you so, it’s in his kiss!”

9. “After All” is a duet between Cher and Peter Cetera. Like her pairings with Sonny Bono, Cher’s is the dominant voice in this song. Cetera’s vocals are softer, more passionate, but he is not at all “outdone” by Cher’s vocal strength. The result is a classic rendition of the endurance of love. “Two angels who’ve been rescued from the fallâÂ?¦.after all that we’ve been through, it all comes down to me and youâÂ?¦together, after all.”

10. “I Found Someone” is Cher’s song of triumph and thankfulness. She sings to us about loneliness and the loss of hope. But then her voice turns victorious and evocative of the end of a long struggle to find someone who completes her emotionally. “I found someone to take away the heartache.” Cher knows, by the loss of Sonny Bono and Greg Alman, that pain can be conquered by love.

Is Cher a lonely burned-out former diva? Hardly! Although she never denies that she has made several plastic surgeons wealthy, she still looks as stunning as ever. Far from the over-made-up hippie of the early 70’s, Cher has an innate elegance and grace that comes from talent, ambition and character, not the surgeon’s knife. She’s known for telling it like it is, speaking frankly and sometimes profanely about issues that matter to her such as the criticism of her daughter Chastity’s homosexuality. Cher minds her own business, and vehemently advises others to do the same. Still, like fellow aging diva Tina Turner, Cher delivers an uncompromising and visually stunning live performance, her voice as magnetic as ever.

We’ve got you, Cher.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

two + = 6