Cyndi Lauper Still Unusual

ATN columnist Dave Marsh writes: Great compilation albums are supposed to

pull you back to

your youth, I guess, but it's a new day in the life of an old rocker when the

youth a reissue recalls belongs not to you but your children. That's how

Cyndi

Lauper's beautiful 12 Deadly Cyns...And Then Some works, though, at

least for me. It grabbed me by opening with a so-good-it's-scary remake of

Gene Pitney's "I'm Gonna Be Strong," but with the four songs that follow,

from 1983's She's So Unusual, I was returned to the youth of my

children. For my teenagers and for me, songs like "Girls," "Money Changes

Everything" and (I actually don't remember the specific discussion but...)

"She

Bop" provided a chance to talk about what was really important--or maybe not

HAVE to talk about it, but just the opportunity to drive around and agree

about

something for a change. Those who have never raised an adolescent can't have

any idea how liberating that is--for the parent. Cyndi was a role model for

my daughters and a blessing for me. I still think Lauper's debut album is

one of the best ever, and although none of those that followed came close to

it in overall quality, 12 Deadly Cyns reminds me that each had its gem

or two, like her brave cover of "What's Going On" and the pre-AT&T "True

Colors." So does this album. In addition to the dramatic power of "I'm Gonna

Be

Strong," there's "Sally's Pigeons," which Lauper wrote with Mary Chapin

Carpenter. It's a haunting (and for me, haunted) tale about girlhood best

friends, one of whom grows up to become the singer and the other of whom does

not grow up but succumbs to a back alley abortion. It is everything that

great rock 'n' roll ought to be: Simple, direct, passionate, a reminder of a

past we

might forget, a pledge to never ever forget those we love, and why we loved

them, and the injustices that tear us apart. "I had a fool's confidence /

that the world had no boundaries," the song says, "but instincts and common

sense / come in different quantities," and as I hear her sing those words, I

get the joke. It may have been somebody else's youth and innocence but

looking over my shoulder, I can't deny that it was mine too.