FFWDing to the Best Part: “I Drove All Night,” Cyndi Lauper (1989)

Why is Cyndi Lauper so unusual? Because she’s just genuinely awesome and universally adored by the world’s good people.  She’s smart, compassionate, philanthropic, sassy, and a consummate professional. One of my favorite recent stories — and by “recent,” I apparently mean nine years ago — was how Cyndi was performing outside, had a bird defecate INTO HER OPEN MOUTH, and just kept right on effing singing.

Those divas in Kings of Leon could stand to learn a lesson or two.

And quite frankly, I don’t think Cyndi is recognized for her sheer vocal talent as much as she should be. Probably because her biggest hit is her stupidest, and was part of every bouquet-tossing spectacle until “Single Ladies” emerged. (Does Cyndi resent Beyonce, or thank her, one wonders.)

Sure, “True Colors” and “Time After Time” get their due commendations, but to me, her pipes have never sounded better than on “I Drove All Night,” from her third studio album. The song was intended originally for Roy Orbison (if he’s considered a crooner, then he’s my favorite crooner of all), so you know there are some challenging vocal runs inherent in the thing.

Best part? 4:13 – 4:38. There are a lot of good demonstrations of Cyndi’s skillz here. The progression out of the final pre-chorus, the sheer octave range from fore and aft, and her controlled dynamics throughout.  But what gives me pause — and a scorching case of envy — is that note she holds into the fade-out.  For a full 25 seconds.  It’s possible that they looped it, but I don’t think Cyndi would have such shenanigans.  Roy would be proud.  Celine Dion would cover it later — OF COURSE SHE WOULD — and well, it sucked in that sterilized but still-very-pretty way that most Celine music tends to do.



2 thoughts on “FFWDing to the Best Part: “I Drove All Night,” Cyndi Lauper (1989)

  1. Musicians talk about the “guitarist’s guitarist.” This is a player whose high degree of skill allows him to perform musical feats of a high degree of difficulty which impress those who have tried to replicate those feats. Yet when the fan plays the CD for his non-musician friends, they can only muster a, “Hm, yes, I suppose that must be difficult to do. Hey, did you see on TV last night where…”

    Perhaps Cyndi Lauper is a “vocalist’s vocalist.” I believe you when you say that this song is difficult to pull off, but I still don’t find the results compelling. Perhaps it’s her staccato delivery of, “cre… pti.. yuroom…” in the chorus. Whatever the reason, I find Celine Dion’s version much more listenable, just as I prefer Phil Collins’ version of “True Colours.” (“Time After Time” is another story, though. Lauper owns that one forever.) The instrumentation is pretty cool, though. That low keyboard keeps hopping around in the stereo mix. Synth bass is so 80s.

    I was not surprised to learn that these lyrics about a booty call were originally written for Roy Orbison to sing; they just sound masculine, and thus jarring from Lauper.

  2. Pingback: FFWDing to the Best Part: “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” Band Aid (1984) | Neurotic City

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