Friday, 13 July 2012

Cher - The Songwriter

CherSuperstar Cher is predominantly known as a singer, television star, live performer and film actress but she's also dabbled in being an author, director, Broadway actress, designer and songwriter. It's the latter of these that this article details.

It was after her divorce from first husband Sonny Bono - who had written a good number of hits for Sonny & Cher, and for Cher solo - that she began to dabble in the art of songwriting herself.

In 1979, Cher released the appropriately-titled self-penned ballad 'My Song (Too Far Gone)' as the closing track to her Gold-certified 1979 album 'Take Me Home'. Sharing a song writing credit with Mark Hudson who perhaps only contributed the music, the subject of the song was her failed marriage to second - and final - husband Gregg Allman. The song gained further exposure as the B-side of the album's lead single - the Gold-certified US top ten disco title-track 'Take Me Home' - and with a performance on The Mike Douglas Show.

Songwriting credits found on 1979's 'My Song (Too Far Gone) - the B-side of 'Take Me Home'


Cher branched her songwriting career further the next year by writing the lyrics to the song 'Bad Love' - a song recorded for inclusion on the February 1980 soundtrack to the film 'Foxes' of that same year. The Donna Summer-style disco song, which had music by none-other-than Giorgio Moroder, garnered enough praise to be appointed as an album track on the international 2-disc edition of 'The Very Best of Cher' in 2003.

Cher also formed and fronted the band Black Rose in 1980. With the group's lead guitarist Les Dudek writing the music, she wrote the track 'Don't Trust That Woman'. The song was supposedly written for the band's second album but as their eponymous first album failed to chart, the album - and therefore the song - were shelved. Dudek went on to record in 1981 for his album 'Gipsy Ride'. In 1986, the song was given a second lease of life, being partially rewritten by none other than global superstar Elton John for inclusion on his album 'Leather Jackets' that year. Unfortunately, the album was one of John's least successful with the man himself ultimately declaring it as his least favourite album of his entire lengthy career. For now, it remains the only Elton John album that has yet to be remastered.

Cher's 'Not.com.mercial'Luckily, Cher was not put-off songwriting though she waited all the way until 1994 for a major return to laying lyrics to paper. She wrote the lyrics to a number of songs at a writers' retreat in France that would ultimately end up on the internet-only studio album 'Not.com.mercial', released in 2000. One such track was Cher's favourite song on the album, '(The Fall) Kurt's Blues', with additional lyrics by Bruce Roberts. The song was Cher's tribute to the late rock singer Kurt Cobain - lead singer of Nirvana - who committed suicide that year. Another song, 'Fit To Fly', was initially written for her Grandfather who was in the invasion of Normandy in WWII, but was finalised as a song for “All the men and women who have served their country and then somehow been 'kicked to the curb'.”

Pat MacDonald, who contributed additional lyrics and music to one of the album's tracks, 'Sisters of Mercy' – which Cher wrote for her mother who was forced to put Cher in a catholic orphanage for several months when she was a baby – said about Cher, and the album, “When I worked with Cher, we were doing songs she wrote herself, including all the lyrics. They were poems she wanted to put to music. That was a challenge. Her lyrics were anything but commercial. She said “f**k” in practically every song, just like how she talks. It's her personality coming through.”

'Still', which Cher appointed as her “most revealing” lyrics; the autobiographical 'Runnin', with additional lyric by Bruce Roberts'; 'Disaster Cake' about an ex-girlfriend of son Chaz; and 'Our Lady Of San Francisco', about a homeless woman, were all included on the album. Finally, Cher solely provided both lyrics and music for the album's ballad 'With or Without You'.

At the same time, Cher wrote the track 'Lovers Forever' which singer/songwriter Shirley Eikhard recorded and released on her own 2005 album, 'Pop'.

Unbeknownst to perhaps most - Cher's most recognisable lyrics came in 1998 on her biggest hit ever – 'Believe'. The star admitted that she was responsible – at least partly – for the song's second verse. “I wrote part of 'Believe' – the second verse. The first verse was about this woman who was sad that this guy was going, and the second verse was saying the same thing, so I changed it on the spot!” However, with at least six songwriters already having credit for writing the soon-to-be worldwide number one smash hit, Cher wasn't given a songwriting credit for the song.

'Più che puoi' by Eroz Ramazzotti and Cher'Cher did manage to score a songwriting credit on a 2000 duet with Italian singer/songwriter Eros Ramazzotti on the moderately successful 'Più che puoi'. The song, written by Adelio Cogliato, Antonio Galbiati, Cher and Ramazotti, was a hit in many European countries, gaining top 20 positions in Belgium, Switzerland and Ramazzotti's native Italy. The song – which saw Cher and Ramazzotti each sing in both English and Italian – was included on the latter singer's hugely successful album 'Stilelibero' of that same year.

In 2001, Cher released 'Living Proof', a dance album much in the same vein as its predecessor 'Believe'. Cher wrote additional lyrics for one of the album's tracks - in fact, it was the album's lead single throughout most of the globe, and the album's best-selling single – 'The Music's No Good Without You'. Written by James Thomas, Paul Barry, Mark Taylor with additional lyrics by Cher, the single reached the top 30 in over a dozen national charts – including the UK where it reached number 8.

With Cher's seemingly never-ending and unpredictable career, and a brand new studio album on the horizon, let's hope that Cher returns to songwriting soon. 'Not.com.mercial 2' anyone?

4 comments:

  1. Great post! Thanks!

    p.s. she also wrote another Living proof track - Real Love!

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    1. This article was mean't to take a couple of hours to write - it being simply something to post on 'Cher News' whilst there isn't actually any Cher news. However, with one source saying one thing, and another saying something else, it eventually took about SIX HOURS! Whilst looking on the 'net for songs that Cher has written (I already knew the majority), I saw 'Real Love' somewhere. So I double checked by looking in the booklet/inner sleeve in my copy of 'Living Proof' and her name isn't anywhere in that song's writing credits: "Mikkel SE/Rustan/Hermansen".

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    2. Hmm OK, wiki says - Cher, Rustan, Eriksen, Hermansen - so someone should correct that. Maybe she just wrote a couple of lines as in Believe so she didn't get credited...

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  2. First, I'd like to say that this article is great. I enjoy all of your articles, and I love this webpage, because you deliver all the Cher news bright and early!
    I really think that Cher is a very talented songwriter. What bothers me about it is that she does not write a lot of her own music, when clearly, she has a gift for writing lyrics. The entire Not.com.merical album is incredible. I truly think it is one of the best, if not the best completely, of Cher's albums. She can evoke an emotion so hauntingly through her words. Runnin and Fit to Fly are just two examples of such songs.
    I was happy to learn that she lent lyrics to The Music's No Good Without You, so she has been continuing songwriting recently. But I really hope that she has co-written at least one new song off the new album. She needs to show her fellow musicians more of what she is capable of. For example, when she stated on twitter that she would ask Dianne Warren to write a song called RIP, I said to myself: "why don't you write the song yourself Cher? You are a songwriter!"
    Lastly, on my copy of "It's a Man's World," it credits Cher as one of the songwriters for "One by One," but wiki leaves her name out, what gives?

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