Cyndi Lauper’s Move To Country Music Isn’t a ‘Detour’ Afterall

Cyndi Lauper's debut Country album, 'Detour,' drops this Friday. Here, she discusses her longtime love for the genre. 

Cyndi Lauper’s Move To Country Music Isn’t a ‘Detour’ Afterall
Photo by Chapman Baehler

Pop music icon Cyndi Lauper is known for marching to her own beat. Shes had success with music, television, and Broadway. Now, she releases a new album that is different from any she has ever made – yet one that is very true to the native New Yorkers roots.

Detour hits stores this Friday, and the album reflects her love of classic Country sounds, with covers of performers such as Patsy Cline, Marty Robbins, and Skeeter Davis. To Lauper, she insists that those artists were a huge part of her growing up years.

They were pop artists. In New York, if you hear a voice over the radio that captivates you, they are pop artists. They were like movie stars, like Loretta Lynn. She was on TV. She sang. She wrote. She was on the cover of ‘Newsweek,’ and when youre little, you really dont separate them into genres. Of course, I knew that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were cowboys, and in her case cowgirl. At that time, everything was western. It was on TV, the movies, and the radio. Even the theme song to The Magnificent Seven became a Marlboro commercial, it was everywhere.

Picture this, if you will Lauper playing cowgirl. She says its true. I remember on Saturday mornings, it was a lot of sugar cereal, cap guns, and westerns. I was Dale Evans because she was glamorous, and my sister used to watch The Adventures of Billy Bang Bang and his Brother Butch, which was on every Saturday morning at 8am. We would watch it. We had a brother, Butch, already, so my sister would have to be Billy Bang Bang. Dale Evans had better outfits, she says with a laugh.

Photo courtesy Webster PR

Photo courtesy Webster PR

The music on Detour is firmly entrenched in her family memories growing up, Lauper says. I had so many memories of hearing these songs when I was little. I would watch television with my Aunt, and we watched Arthur Godfreys Talent Scouts. Thats where I first saw Patsy Cline. I didnt remember all of that until I was making this album. I still sang Patsy Cline until I was blue in the face back when I was in Blue Angel, which was a rockabilly band. The songs that I gravitated to were rockabilly and pop songs, I thought. Then, I was introduced to the music of Ray Price, who I had never heard of. Seymour was sending me all kinds of songs, and if he didnt send them, he would sing them to me. That was awesome. Nobody sings to me, they just talk. I also fell in love with Begging To You, an old Marty Robbins song, which was something I definitely could understand. The same story for Heartaches By The Number. You can understand those songs whether youre male or female.

She says that narrowing the list of songs to cover took a while and she had more than a few suggestions from her camp. As soon as people found out I was doing this record, they would come to me and say You should try this one or that one, and my friend Kevin Patrick told me about Youre The Reason. I just started to giggle. I wanted to do I Wouldnt Buy A Used Car From Him, which was an old Norma Jean song, but he said nobody would take that seriously. So, we decided on that one.

Another highlight from the disc is a cover of Youre The Reason Our Kids Are Lucky, a classic duet from the Conway / Loretta catalog that Vince Gill appears on. Vince is so funny, but hes also such a talented guitar player. He also did the solo on Detour, which I knew was definitely something that was in his wheelhouse.

The album also features guest appearances from Jewel, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, and Willie Nelson who appears on Laupers cover of his iconic Night Life. She said she wanted to add her own touch to it, but yet remain faithful to the original. I didnt want to re-invent the thing. As a singer, when you hear that song, your first inkling is to sing bad jazz. You dont need to do that, because the melody has all of that. If you can figure out to sing it simply, it can be magical. Between that and what Dan Dugmore was playing on the steel, I felt like I was in Bikini Bottom on Spongebob. Im under water. It created another world. Every instrument created a sound that creates the environment in which the storyteller stands and is connected. I look at everything as a story. I try to get different voices, keys, and tempos, because I didnt want to do a lot of slow songs that you would have to include razor blades as part of the package, she said with her classic sense of humor.

Detourhitsstores Friday.