Song of the Day #390: ‘Time After Time’ – Cyndi Lauper

lauper20 Best Songs of the 80s ā€“ #14

Cyndi Lauper is one of the few artists on this list who went on to do great things after the 80s — at least creatively. Unfortunately she never again achieved commercial success anywhere close to her peak in that decade.

But in the 80s, she was the bomb. ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun,’ ‘She Bop,’ ‘All Through the Night,’ ‘True Colors’ and today’s song were ubiquitous and her quirky fashion sense and cutesy demeanor made her an MTV favorite.

All of her later albums (eight of them since 1989, including one just last year) received critical acclaim but none made a dent on the charts. She went from being the first artist to score four top-five singles from the same album to a respected artist who can’t buy a hit.

Why is that? Was she treated as a gimmick by the masses because of her appearance? Did her music become less commercial over time (I don’t know much of her post-80s output)? Or maybe it’s just that most artists have a shelf life, commercially. Bands like U2, who top the charts and pack arenas decades after first hitting it big, are rare. Most artists, if they’re lucky enough, have their moment in the sun and then settle into a holding pattern. I suppose that’s where Lauper has been for the last 20 years.

Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick and think of you
Caught up in circles, confusion is nothing new
Flash back, warm nights, almost left behind
Suitcase of memories
Time after…
Sometimes you picture me
I’m walking too far ahead
You’re callin’ to me
I can’t hear what you’ve said
Then you say, “Go slow”
I fall behind
The second hand unwinds

If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you, I’ll be waiting
Time after time

After my picture fades
And darkness has turned to grey
Watching through windows
You’re wondering if I’m OK
Secrets stolen from deep inside
The drum beats out of time

If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you, I’ll be waiting
Time after time

You said, “Go slow, I fall behind”
The second hand unwinds

If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you, I’ll be waiting
Time after time
Time after time

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #390: ‘Time After Time’ – Cyndi Lauper

  1. Amy says:

    The only one of those 8 albums I own is Hat Full of Stars, which came out in 1993 and I’ve always thought is a very good album. Of course, her work with Billy Joel on “Code of Silence” remains one of my favorite songs she has ever co-written or performed.

    While I’m sure the intensity of her popularity coupled with the whole “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” aura did make it challenging for her to break out of a particular mold with some potential fans, I like to think she’s making exactly the kind of music she wants to make and having exactly the kind of career she wants to have.

    This cover she did of Joni Mitchell’s “Carey” is what made me fall in love with that song and go on a quest to become more familiar with Mitchell’s music. The fact that I found it this morning just thrills me!

    and makes up for the fact that I couldn’t find the wonderful duet she did with Allison Iraheta on the finale of American Idol this year. Their stripped down performance of today’s song, complete with Cyndi playing a bongo, was just gorgeous. And the crowd there went crazy for her.

    As I write this, I’m realizing she may be my very favorite thing that came out of the 80’s. Well, her and The Breakfast Club šŸ™‚

  2. pegclifton says:

    I’ve always enjoyed her voice and music, and this is one of my favorites. I remember jumping around in aerobics to “Girls just want to have fun” Fun to remember those days, thanks!

  3. pegclifton says:

    Oh, and I love the video and song Amy shared

  4. Dana says:

    I agree that Lauper is a great talent, a talent which may have been hard to discern from just hearing Girls Just Want to Have Fun, much in the way that someone might have written off Madonna after only hearing Lucky Star or Holiday. And, in a way, Madonna and Lauper offer an interesting case study as to what becomes of a career. There was arguably a time in the early to mid 80’s that Lauper was as popular as Madonna, yet Madonna sustained and, for at least some time into the 90’s intensified, her popularity while Lauper faded.

    So what’s the difference between them? I say it comes down to this–marketing to youth. Lauper matured in her music, and sought to reach an ever aging audience, but that audience is never going to be what makes you a star. Madonna, by contrast, continued to court youth–continued to make dance and club music–and added to her stardom through her dating exploits and adoption of Malawi babies:)

    Basically, if you want to maintain big star status, sell lots of records and put asses in the stadium seats, you need to somehow appeal to the 13-25 year old crowd. Otherwise, you are playing free concerts at the race track (see Huey Lewis, Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, and an array of other huge 80’s stars). U2, which you mentioned, continues to somehow appeal to younger crowds, and has brilliantly marketed themselves through their ITunes, Blackberry, etc ads as simultaneously being legen…(wait for it) dary and relevant.

  5. Kerrie Rueda says:

    I agree with Dana 100% on the explanation for Cyndi Lauper’s failure to endure (for lack of a better way to put it) in the same way as someone like Madonna. It’s all about marketing! I always enjoyed C.L. – even her little foray into acting with appearances on Mad About You as Ira’s ex (I won’t mention the one awful movie she did with Jeff Goldblum…).

    She has continued to turn out good music, but since it is now more likely found on the Adult Contemporary charts instead of the Pop charts, she doesn’t get much press. Thanks for dusting off a lovely song that, like some of your other featured songs, doesn’t feel dated at all but somehow still represents the 80s perfectly.

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