Cyndi Lauper Explains Her Country ‘Detour’ During MusicRow Visit

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Cyndi Lauper may be best known for her sleek ’80s pop classics including “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” and “She Bop,” “Time After Time” and “True Colors,” but before she was pop music’s darling, she was fronting the rockabilly band Blue Angel.

With Detour, her 11th album and first foray into country music, it is clear Lauper hasn’t forgotten those early roots, as she showcases her own unique interpretation of a dozen country classics from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. Lauper tackles songs like “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “Heartaches By The Number,” and “Funnel of Love.”

She spoke with MusicRow about crafting the project in Nashville with legendary producer Tony Brown.

“He kind of knew the lay of the land, and he knew how far he could go,” says Lauper. “I didn’t come to reinvent the wheel. I just wanted to sing these songs and these wonderful stories, and figure out a way to have my voice find the right sound and marry the blues with country.”

Lauper says the sounds of Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Wanda Jackson, Johnny Cash and other country and rockabilly singers filled the air during her early childhood, listening to music in her Aunt Gracie’s kitchen. “I didn’t realize until we were doing the album, that a lot of these songs were very much a part of our lives in pop. These were pop songs.”

“When I was little, Loretta Lynn was it,” Lauper continues. “She was on TV, and it was part of our culture. Loretta Lynn was on television quite a bit. Johnny Cash and June Carter had the TV show they used to do, and Pete Seeger was on, and all these cool people. I think Loretta was on that, too. Anybody who was anybody was. They were like the pre-John and Yoko. They were rebels and singing in jails….”

Lauper welcomes several country luminaries to collaborate on the project. Emmylou Harris collaborates on the title track, while Alison Krauss lends her voice to Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas.” Jewel makes an appearance on “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart.”

Lauper says she insisted on bringing Vince Gill into a session after seeing The Time Jumpers perform locally. He offered his musical talents on two tracks, “Detour” and “You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly.”

“First of all, we are living in a country with the biggest prison population, I think, in the world,” Lauper said of her decision to record the song “Detour.” “Has it become a business? Because in our country, the only things that become big are businesses. I thought to myself, ‘Why not speak to them?’ ‘Detour’ Is perfect for that. I researched the song, and its history. After I saw Vince play in Nashville…I went to Tony [Brown] and said, ‘Let’s get Vince and members of [The Time Jumpers] over, and let’s do ‘Detour.’ So we did ‘Detour’ and ‘You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly.’”

Pictured (L-R): Ingrid Michelson, Cyndi Lauper, and Kelsea Ballerini perform on Skyville Live.

Pictured (L-R): Ingrid Michaelson, Cyndi Lauper, and Kelsea Ballerini perform on Skyville Live.

On Thursday night (Jan. 28), Lauper joined country newcomer Kelsea Ballerini and pop singer Ingrid Michaelson in Nashville to perform as part of online concert series Skyville Live. Lauper launched the episode with Ray Price’s “Heartaches By The Number,” and her set included “Walkin’ After Midnight,” as well as her own pop hits, “True Colors” and “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”

The album’s first radio single will be “Funnel of Love.” Detour releases May 6 on Sire Records.

Pictured (L-R): Troy Stephenson, Craig Shelburne, Eric Parker, Cyndi Lauper, Robert K Oermann, Jessica Nicholson, Sherod Robertson, Molly Hannula

Pictured (L-R): Troy Stephenson, Craig Shelburne, Eric Parker, Cyndi Lauper, Robert K Oermann, Jessica Nicholson, Sherod Robertson, Molly Hannula

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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