March is Women’s History Month (in the US).
This is a series of posts about women who have inspired me.
Do you remember the first pop star you followed with the single-minded devotion that only a pre-teen can have? The singer whose posters were all over your walls, whose style you emulated, whose tapes you played over and over and over until they were all stretched out? The pop star you would stay up late to watch on “Video Hits”?
There were a couple vying for the attention of all of the pre-teen girls, and Madonna was one of them. She was edgy, and a little bit slutty, and she kind oozed sex and sass. Her videos were deep and meaningful (yeah, even “Like a Virgin” – it was pretty meaningful for nineteen eighty whatever). Everyone I knew started wearing lacy frilly things and big stupid crosses and they did their hair all up with crimping irons.
I didn’t give a rat’s arse about Madonna.
I dyed my hair bright orange and shaved part of it off and learned how to wear makeup so that I could do this:
Cyndi Lauper had this kickass set of pipes that I’m pretty sure you couldn’t be in the same room with without feeling her voice right in the middle of your sternum. Her music was a little bit punk and a little bit blues and a little bit of a lot of different things. They parodied one of her songs on Sesame Street. She did the main theme song for “The Goonies”. It seriously does not get cooler.
It always seemed to me that Madonna was trying really really hard to say something or to do something or to be noticed, and I think she did a lot for women in music, and I think she did a lot for music videos. But she wasn’t my pop idol. The worst fistfight I got in in elementary school was over whether Madonna or Cyndi Lauper was the better musician/performer/fashion icon.
My very favourite thing abut Cyndi Lauper was her “I’m doing this for ME” attitude.
As I followed her career, I began to appreciate her more and more – the diversity of her skill. The breadth and depth of her musicality, her lyricism. I think she’s one of the few musicians to have received a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy. She has been a vocal advocate for human rights.
…now that I think about it (and re-watch a bunch of Cyndi Lauper videos from the 80s), it occurs to me that she was kind of Pippi Longstockingish too. Perhaps we are kindred spirits. I would have tripped a nun down some stairs for a skirt like Cyndi Lauper’s.
Call me a sentimentalist, but this song still gets me right in, as Smarty Pants would say, “the feels”: