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My Favorite Song by Cher

CherOf all the memorable songs by Cher (e.g., Gypsy Tramps & Thieves; The Way of Love; Believe) my favorite is a rather obscure one from her 1974 album Dark Lady called I Saw a Man & He Danced with His Wife.  September 2014 will mark 40 years since I saw her perform it on her variety show on CBS.  Presented as a mini soap opera of sorts (a very early music video?), it told the story of love lost and regained. 

 

It opens with Cher sitting alone at a club, sipping a glass of wine.  As the band begins playing she spies a former lover getting up to dance with his new wife.  Although she catches his eye, he walks by without acknowledging her.  Then two weeks later he shows up at her door and tells Cher that he left his lover because he realized he loved her more than he ever knew (sigh). 

 

Cher_vogueThis song was very different from Cher's other hits because it had a Big Band feel to it.  (The mid-70s were a time when Bette Midler and the Manhattan Transfer were making 40s-style music popular.)  Not surprisingly, I Saw a Man wasn't a hit, peaking at only #42 on the Billboard Hot 100.  However, based on hearing it this one time, I bought the 45.  Perhaps I liked it because it received no airplay so I never tired of it.  Interestingly, the writer of this song, John Durrill, also wrote her #1 hit Dark Lady.  Double click here to listen to the song.

 

This was the beginning of a fallow period in Cher's music career.  It would be five years before her next hit, Take Me Home, and then another eight years would pass before she came back in a big way with four top-10 hits in the next few years.  (And during this time she would win the Oscar for Best Actress in Moonstruck.)   But it's her little melodrama of a song from 1974 that I treasure the most.

 

Here are some other posts I've written about Cher you may find of interest:

Suitable for Framing: Cher's Classic TIME Magazine Cover

Cher + Elton + Bette + WOW! 

Cher Gives Birth to Chasity 

 


Divas & Gay Icons Who've Made Their Mark at the Super Bowl

Rainbow.football.helmetBefitting an event that attracts more than just the most avid football fans, the Super Bowl has probably drawn its share of gay men with no interest in football due to its organizers' choice of performers, some who sang the National Anthem, others who were part of the halftime show.

 

 

SINGING OF NATIONAL ANTHEM

The National Anthem's ending is a showcase for diva embellishment.  Diana Ross was the first diva to sing it, at Super Bowl XVI in 1982.  Two years later Barry Manilow got the nod.  Then in 1991 Whitney Houston received accolades for her bombastic version in 1997 Luther Vandross joined Barry Manilow as the only other male diva to sing; Cher performed in 1999, Mariah Carey in 2002, Beyonce in 2004, Jennifer Hudson in 2009 and Christina Aguilera in 2011 (she flubbed one of the lines).  And then in 2016, Lady Gaga was handed the microphone.  In my estimation, here are the three best:

 

  • Beyonce - Sung in her hometown of Houston, this is the Super Bowl best remembered for the notorious "Nipplegate" incident at halftime between Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.  I prefer to remember Beyonce's sterling performance instead.

 

Beyonce.superbowl.xxxix

 

  • Cher - Wearing an auburn colored wig, Cher was in the midst of her third or fourth comeback, this one propelled by her auto-tuned hit Believe (which won a Grammy for Best Dance Song).  Her Super Bowl performance, however, was without electronic frills - and quite powerful.

 

Cher.superbowl2

 

  • Jennifer Hudson.  She gave it her all, just three months after her mother, brother and nephew were murdered in Chicago.

 

Jenniferhudson.superbowl

 

  • And although Whitney's performance was powerful, she lost points because of unfortunate choice of attire - a cheesy white warm-up suit suit along with a white head band.

 

Whitney.houston.starspangledbanner

 

  • At 2014's game legendary soprano Rene Fleming sang, the first non-pop singer to do so in nine years.  Still, it should be a thrill for opera queens.

 

Rene.fleming

 

PERFORMING DURING HALFTIME

In the early years of the Super Bowl Carol Channing appeared during halftime at the 1970 game (likely singing Hello Dolly) and again in 1972 (joined by Ella Fitzgerald).  Then there was a long lapse before Diana Ross headlined in 1996.  Hers was most dramatic as she first appeared in a puff of smoke and then later was whisked away by a helicopter at the end of her performance (found at the 10:30 mark of this video clip).  Chakha Khan was one of a group in 1999; Tina Turner, Christina Aguilera and Toni Braxton appeared together in 2000; Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige appeared in 2001; and then eleven years went by before Madonna (in Egyptian headdress); Beyonce (in a Victoria's Secret meets dominatrix outfit);  Katy Perry (getting upstaged by her sharks) and Lady Gaga got the honors in 2012, 2013,  2015 and 2017, respectively.

 

Dianaross.superbowl.helicopter
Diana Ross

 

Beyonce 2013 superbowl
Beyonce



 

Katy perry performing at super bowl with sharks
Katy Perry

 

 

 

 

 


Suitable for Framing: TIME Magazine's Classic Cher Cover

Cher_TimeMag_1101750317_400 Now a single woman, and starring in her own variety show, 29-year-old Cher was in the midst of Version 3 of her career.  (V1 was as a singing duo with Sonny in the mid-1960's; V2 began in 1971 with their CBS variety show).  Her "emancipation" warranted a TIME Magazine cover story* and this glamorous cover from the mid-March 1975 became an instant classic.  (And since then Cher's career has continued its iterations, including Hollywood Cher; Disco Diva Cher; Infomercial Cher; and Retirement Tour Cher.) 

*Cover date of 3/17/75 but on newsstands March 11. 

 

 

EltonJohn_TimeMag_1101750707_400 LizaMinnelli_1101720228_400 LindaRonstadt_TimeMag_1101770228_400 Four months after Cher's TIME cover Elton John would get one of his own as well.  Other gay icons bestowed with covers have included Liza Minnelli (1972)*, Linda Ronstadt (1977), Madonna (1985) and Bette Midler (1987).  But none compare to Cher's in terms of "Wow!" factor (But Rondstadt's sultry cover comes close).

*Surprisingly, while Liza merited a cover story her even more iconic mother never had one.

 

    

 

    

 

 


Cher Gives Birth to Chastity Bono (March 4, 1969)

Chastity-bono-sonny_and_cher Cher was 22 years old when she gave birth to daughter Chastity on March 4, 1969.  Very few children who weren't actors (like Shirley Temple) or the offspring of presidents (e.g., Caroline and John-John Kennedy) received the amount of media attention as did Chastity Bono.  As a toddler she was carried out on stage by her parents to say good night at the end of every telecast of their CBS variety show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour (which began as a summer replacement series in 1971 when Chastity was 2-1/2 years old.)   

 

 

Chastitybono Once the show went off the air in the mid-70s Chastity was able to grow up without the glare of cameras.  However, attention returned when she was a young adult.  First, she started a band named Ceremony and then she came out in the Advocate in 1995.  Her visibility took off upon becoming a guest columnist for the magazine, took a high profile positon with GLAAD and became a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. 

 

 

Chaz_bono Chazbono_dancingwiththestarsAnd then in 2009 Chastity captured more headlines by announcing that she was transitioning to a male and had her name legally changed to Chaz Bono.  A documentary about this transition, titled Becoming Chaz, premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival and in May 2011 had its TV premiere on Oprah Winfrey's new OWN cable network.  Then in the fall of 2011 Chaz was chosen to compete on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.  More recently, Chaz went on a weight loss program and slimmed down, losing nearly 50 pounds by February 2013. 

 

Chaz's story about coming out to his parents (about five years before his public announcement) is told in the 1998 book Family Outing while a second book The End of Innocence: A Memoir, published in 2003, talks about his band and some trying relationships.    


Cher + Bette Midler + Elton John = WOW! (February 12, 1975)

Cher_1975_tvspecial Now this is what a TV special is supposed to be like!  On February 12, 1975, a Wednesday night, CBS pulled off quite a coup when Cher hosted a gala telecast with Bette Midler and Elton John as her guests (comedian Flip Wilson too) - three fledgling superstars, all of them gay icons, together on network TV.  They were all about the same age - Midler was just 29, Cher 28 and Elton was one month from turning 28.  Cher, however, was clearly the veteran as she'd been in the public eye since she and Sonny married and had a #1 song with I Got You Babe ten years earlier. Among the performances, Cher sang Bennie & the Jets with Elton and did a "Trashy Ladies Medley" with the Divine Miss M.  But perhaps the highlight was their medley of Motown hits (e.g. Proud Mary, Ain't No Mountain High Enough) shown in the following clip:   

 

 

 

 

This special was one of the highlights of my senior year in high school.  According to Nielsen the special got a 29.5 household rating/49 share and 40 million tuned in.  (Get Christie Love! was one of the shows that aired opposite it.)   

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Sonny & Cher's Comeback Begins (August 1, 1971)

Sonnyandcher_comedyhourFour years had passed since Sonny & Cher last had a top-40 hit (The Beat Goes On).  And now CBS was giving these "has-beens" (Cher was 25) a summer variety show to air on Sunday night.  The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour debuted on August 1, 1971 and got such a positive reception that the show was picked up by the network for its fall primetime lineup where it became a top-10 hit.  Thus began Sonny & Cher's storied comeback.  In the fall of that year Cher released the single Gypsies Tramps & Thieves and it was a huge hit, going to #1 on Billboard's Hot 100.  In the next three years she, or singing with Sonny, would reach the top-40 a total of nine times.  They were media darlings, helped greatly by their cherubic 2-year old daughter, Chastity, who they brought out at the end of every show.

 

 

 

More ZeitGAYst posts about Cher:

Cher's Classic TIME Magazine Cover

Cher + Elton + Bette = WOW!

Cher Gives Birth to Chastity 


LGBT History Timeline: 1975

1975

Feb 12, 1975 - Elton John and Bette Midler join Cher on her CBS special.

March 11, 1975 - A classic TIME Magazine cover shows Cher posing in a shear Bob Mackie gown.

 

Cher_timemagazine

 

June 30, 1975 - 25-year-old Elton John is featured on the cover of this week's issue of TIME Magazine with the headline, "Rock's Captain Fantastic."

Aug 18, 1975 - Released today, the album art of Hall & Oates second album (silver cover) has somewhat of a homoerotic look to it.

 

Hall_and_oates_1975

 

Sept 3, 1975 - This week's TIME Magazine cover story is titled "I Am a Homosexual" and tells the story of gay serviceman Lieutenant Leonard Matlovich.

Sept 6, 1975 - Martina Navratilova requests political asylum in the U.S. while competing in the U.S. Open. 

Sept 26, 1975 - The Rocky Horror Picture Show opens in theaters.

 

Rocky_horror

 

Oct 8, 1975 - The movie Mahogany opens in theaters, starring Diana Ross in the title role.  It features the song Mahogany's Theme (Do You Know Where You're Going To?), which was nominated for an Oscar (but lost to I'm Easy from Nashville).

Oct 19, 1975 - A Chorus Line opens.

Dec 9, 1975 - Former NFL player Dave Kopay comes out in an interview in the Washington Star, one of the first pro athletes to do so.

 

Dave_kopay

 

(If you'd like to read about gay milestones from other years, double click here.)


Carol Channing Provides Halftime Entertainment at Super Bowl IV (January 11, 1970)

Carol_channing Known for her starring roles on Broadway in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Hello Dolly!, Carol Channing was the featured peformer in one of the earliest Super Bowls, Super Bowl IV, which was played on January 11, 1970.  In these early years the game hadn't yet become a mega media event/spectacle so "edginess" wasn't a prerequisite when considering which performers to choose (e.g., for a number of years the squeaky-clean group "Up With People!"was tapped to perform.)  And two years later Channing performed at the game again.  

 

 

Since those primitive times a long line of divas have been invited to sing the National Anthem at the start of the game, including Diana Ross in 1982; Cher in 1999; and Beyonce in 2004.  Whitney Houston's rendition before the 1991 game was so well received it was released as a single.  (Before she became notorious for her anti-gay campaign in 1977 Anita Bryant sang at 1969's Super Bowl.) 

 

Beyonce_sings_superbowl

 

Madonna_superbowl Beyonce_superbowlIn addition to her duties at the 1982 game, Diana Ross was the halftime entertainment in 1996, and when her performance was over she departed by helicopter - hanging from a ladder as she was lifted off!  Madonna, at long last, was tapped to provide the halftime entertainment at Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, and the following year Beyonce held court at the 50-yard-line.  Hats off to Super Bowl organizers for continuing to plan an event with something for everybody! 

 

Getting back to Carol Channing, she was the subject of a documentary titled Carol Channing: Larger Than Life. It made the rounds at gay film festivals in 2011 and opened in "select" cities (i.e., very few) in the latter half of January 2012.  (Ms. Channing died in January 2019, a few weeks shy of her 98th birthday).

 

Carol_channing_larger_than_life

 

 

 


Looking at LGBT History: 1971

1971

Feb 9, 1971 - On tonight's episode of All in the Family Archie discovers that one of his bar buddies, an ex-football player, is gay. 

March 1, 1971 - The film version of Thomas Mann's 1912 novel "Death in Venice" opens in US theaters.

July 20, 1971 - In the comic strip "Peanuts" Marcie addresses Peppermint Patty as "sir" for the first time.

Peppermint_patty_marcie

 

Sept 2, 1971 - Liberace wears red, white & blue sequined hot pants during a Labor Day performance in Minneapolis.

Liberace_hotpants.

 

(To read about gay milestones from other years, double click here.)


Looking Back at LGBT History: 1969

 

1969

 

March 4, 1969 - 22-year-old Cher gives birth to a daughter that she and husband, Sonny Bono, name Chastity.

May 23 - In an editorial in Screw Magazine, the word "homophobia" is used for the first time , referring to straight men who fear others might think they are gay.

June 22, 1969 - Judy Garland dies in London at the age of 47.

 

Judy_Garland_Death_NYTimes

 

June 28, 1969 - In the wee hours of the morning, and resuming later in the day on Saturday evening, The Stonewall riot in New York's Greenwich Village marks the beginning of the gay liberation movement.

Sept 12, 1969 - The Gay Liberation Front organizes a protest at the offices of the Village Voice to oppose the alternative paper's policy of allowing reporters to refer to homosexuals as "fags".

Oct 5, 1969 - Peggy Lee's camp classic Is That All There Is? enters the top-40 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.  

Oct 5, 1969 - The Washington Blade, DC's weekly gay newspaper (originally called The Gay Blade), publishes its first issue.  

Oct 24, 1969 - This week's TIME Magazine cover story is "The Homosexual in America."

 

Time_HomosexualInAmerica

 

Dec 18, 1969 - The musical Coco, starring Katharine Hepburn, opens on Broadway. 

Dec 21, 1969 - The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) is formed in New York City by dissatisfied members of the Gay Liberation Front and would thrive in the first half of the 1970s.

Dec 21, 1969 - Diana Ross makes her final TV appearance with The Supremes on The Ed Sullivan Show.

 

To read about gay history and pop culture milestones from other years, double click here.