Showing Her Colors

Categories: Hidden Tracks
Wanna get Cyndi really going? Throw on some zydeco.

Stateside, Cyndi Lauper's never quite gotten the respect she deserves (and gets overseas). Her pink-haired, tattered-clothed flamboyance in those glory days of MTV videos — especially "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" — overshadowed both singing and songwriting talents that can only be described as formidable.

She's a lot like Dolly Parton in that her image and her reality are two completely different things, and in both their cases, time is eroding our superficial impressions and allowing more of us to see more clearly that both of these women are, in fact, geniuses. Songs like Parton's "Coat of Many Colors" and "Jolene" and Lauper's "Time After Time" and "True Colors" will be remembered long after we've forgotten that the former was a busty blonde with a hillbilly accent and the latter a faux-waif with a Big Apple brogue you could cut with a knife.

Lauper hasn't been to Houston for a while, but she has a few ties here, which Houstoned delved into a while back in a phone interview with the singer. One such is David Schnaufer, the LaMarque-bred, Nashville-based dulcimer player (recently profiled here) who passed away last month. Lauper and I have never met, this was my first interview with her, and both of us regarded Schnaufer as a good friend. Since the interview took place the day after his death, that portion of the interview was about as awkward, painful and downright weird a chat as I've ever had.

Lauper sought Schnaufer out in the late '90s and found him thought the auspices of her friend Jan Pulsford, a former member of the Thompson Twins and Bush who took dulcimer lessons from Schnaufer. Lauper later sang on one of Schnaufer's albums and took lessons from him. "He was a great teacher," she says.

Another little-known tie to Houston is her love of zydeco, Houston's only truly indigenous music genre. "I've sung zydeco all my life," Lauper gushes. "I've played with Buckwheat Zydeco and Rockin' Dopsie. It's part of our American heritage. You've gotta listen to it — it's fantastic. Since the hurricane, it seems you've had more of a Louisiana and New Orleans blend in Houston — it seems like your music will probably get really enriched."

Just as it is any night Lauper graces our city with her presence, as she will on Sunday, October 1 at the Cullen Performance Hall. — John Nova Lomax


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