Entertainment Weekly


Cher Interview

“I am absolutely egotistical,” Cher freely admits. Which may be the reason remains her primary forte. Recording a Cher song may require teams of technicians and ians (six writers are credited for “Believe” — and that’s only the “official” count), but in the end it’s Cher who calls the shots. For instance: “I was singing in the bathtub,” Cher says, recalling her early tinkerings with “Believe.” “And it seemed to me the second verse was too whiny. It kind of peed me off. So I changed it. I toughened it up a bit. I wrote the lyrics ‘I need time to move on, I need love to feel strong, Cause I’ve had time to think it through and maybe I’m too good for you.'”

As it happens, Cher wasn’t too keen on recording the song at all at first. A disco anthem wasn’t what she had in mind — “not very real,” she said, dismissing the genre at the time — but she owed Warner Bros. a hit after her last album, a collection of rock ballads called “It’s a Man’s World,” managed only so-so sales. And her label had big plans for the song. Exec producer Rob Dickens outlines the great expectations: “I thought, every gay guy I know is a huge Cher fan. They just love her as an icon. She has this huge gay following and they love Hi-NRG dance records. So the idea was to repay their faith and loyalty to her over the years, to make a record for them.”

After adding a synthesized stutter to Cher’s voice in the song’s chorus — an afterthought that gave the track its hookiest, most sellable feature — they wound up with a hit for “everybody.” Even Cher, who gave Dickens plenty of hard times during the album’s production (“We argued the whole way through,” he recalls), ultimately came to believe in “Believe.” She’ll be showcasing her new “favorite song” during her first tour in eight years, starting in Phoenix on June 16.

Still, don’t expect Cher’s next album to be “Believe Again” — at least if she gets to release the one she has in mind. It’s an edgier shade of Cher titled “Not Commercial,” a long-finished collection of mostly autobiographical songs that Cher hopes to make available via the Internet, a distribution scheme her label probably won’t be crazy about. “I need to get a release from [Warner Bros.] to do it,” she says, “even though I made the album on my own. It’s totally uncommercial. It’s a part of my personality that never really gets exercised. I just wrote everything the way I felt it. “Like my song about Kurt Cobain,” she says, summoning her assistant to fetch a copy of this unfathomable grunge requiem. “One morning I woke up and heard Courtney Love reading his [suicide] letter on the radio. And so the next morning, at 5 a.m., I just wrote this song all in one sitting. Then I put it to .” Sounds… interesting. The assistant cues up what has the potential to be an excruciatingly embarrassing three minutes — the goddess of glitter pop’s al farewell to the lost soul of Seattle. And then yet another improbable turn of events occurs, even by Cher’s improbability-defying standards: The song, called “The Fall,” ends up being pretty good, a bitter ditty about the demons that lurk in the dark corners of fame. “Our country kills our heroes, we just raise them for the fall,” she sings, her haunting vocals at once instantly recognizable and completely new.

Exactly what kind of song Cobain would have written about Cher’s rise and fall and rise again life… we’ll never know. But given her indestructibility, her in your face iconoclasm, her penchant for casual wear turbans, one Nirvana title does come to mind: “Come as You Are.”

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