At 62, Cyndi Lauper can hardly be called a girl anymore, but she’s still adamant about having fun with her music.
Take her new album Detour, for instance, which sees the singer re-interpretating classic country songs such as Harlan Howard’s Heartaches By The Number, and Wanda Jackson’s Funnel Of Love.
One of those songs, I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart, was chosen because she thought it was “fun”.
“That song was really fun for me because there’s a girl, she wants to be a cowboy’s sweetheart, but after that she says that she never mentions the guy again,” she explains in an interview transcript provided by Warner Music.
“In fact, she said she’d rather ‘lay my pillow under the sleeping herd’. Not next to him. Next to the herd! That just tells me, well, she really doesn’t want to be a cowboy’s sweetheart, she wants to be a cowboy or a cowgirl!”
Lauper recorded Detour in the capital of country music, Nashville in Tennessee, and collaborating other famous country and folk musicians like Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Jewel.
“I just thought, ‘We’ll just be like this giant band’, and we were. We did everything on our feet. It was a great experience really,” she said.
“The production that we did on this album was pretty much live, the same as what I did on (2010 album) Memphis Blues. I kind of saw this album as being the other part of Memphis Blues because it’s in the same time period. And I just feel like if you have to a couple of takes, maybe it’s not the right song,you know? So that’s what we did.”
Another country music icon Lauper worked with on the album was Willie Nelson, whom she duets with on Night Life, a song Nelson himself released back in 1960.
Lauper had previously met Nelson in 1985 during the USA For Africa recording of We Are The World, which also included the likes of Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and other superstars of the time.
Lauper, of course, was one of the soloists featured on that song, and was there by virtue of being one of the biggest female stars during the early 1980s, thanks to hits like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, She Bop and Time After Time.
It was actually Nelson’s producer who made the collaboration happen by sending Lauper an e-mail asking if she would like to record some music with him.
“I was shocked! I thought, ‘Wow, that’d be awesome’, but I had to call up my manager to check if it was real or not…” she remembered.
As it turned out, the offer was genuine, and when the time came for them to meet and record, Lauper said she “literally felt like crying” when she saw Nelson sitting there.
“I didn’t cry, ‘cause I know that’s not professional, so I didn’t. I was very professional,” she said, laughing. “He’s just done so much great stuff and so many great songs … you’re really sitting next to a legend.”
As for her collaboration with Jewel on I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart, that came about because of the yodelling on the track.
“I found this recording by Rosalie Allen and it was really, really great and it made me laugh. Now I know it was recorded by someone else, but I loved Rosalie Allen’s version because she has such a great yodel,” Lauper recalled.
“I am part Swiss, and at first I was gonna yodel … then I thought, ‘Hmm, I could learn how to yodel, but it will never be as good as a really great yodel by somebody who’s been yodeling since they were five’.
“So, I texted Jewel, cause I knew that she yodels. I just thought it’d be really great if I was singing and I said, ‘Take it, Jewel’ and all of a sudden she yodels! It was great, it’s funny, it’s fun, then there’s Jewel yodeling, c’mon!”
Well, sounds like the girls really had fun then, huh?