While recording her upcoming country album in Nashville, Cyndi Lauper‘s hotel featured an inspirational phrase above the artwork. In lights, it said, “What Would Dolly Do?” “She was there, in a way,” Lauper recalls. In honor of Parton’s presence during the sessions for her upcoming LP Detour, Lauper paid homage to the singer by covering “Hard Candy Christmas,” streaming below, from the musical and film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
“It’s very hopeful,” Lauper says of her choice. “As you look around New York City, there’s a lot of people really not doing that well. I just thought that it was one of those songs that can give you strength. Somehow even if you freakin’ put up a candy cane and one little Christmas light, it can make you feel better. It’s such a wonderful song.”
Lauper is a huge fan of Christmas and the holiday season, having collaborated in the past with Frank Sinatra and the Hives on a cover and original tune, respectively. On her Parton cover, the singer remains mostly faithful to the country icon’s version, though she gives it a bit of a pop ballad twist.
Lauper’s “Hard Candy Christmas” will be a more modern addition to her country Detour, which she describes as “an homage to when country and R&B were close together.” Largely pulling from the Fifties and Sixties, Lauper’s choice in covers reflects her roots and what she would listen to growing up. “I heard someone say that sometimes your childhood defines the music or the things you think in your life,” she says. “My childhood was a mixture of things, but if you went by Aunt Gracie’s kitchen, she was playing the country music station. I think it’s a little bit of that in there and that’s what reminds me of her.”
In Nashville, Lauper had the opportunity to not only record an album for her dream label Sire — which has signed many of her favorite artists — but also worked closely with the label’s founder Seymour Stein, who executive produced Detour. For her musicians, she called up the Nashville Cats and got an assist from Tony Brown, who played piano for Elvis Presley and also played with Lauper’s friend Emmylou Harris.
No release date has been set for Detour, but “Hard Candy Christmas” will be available for download on Friday, December 11th.