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Women Just Want to Have Fun

Cyndi Lauper is experiencing a midlife crisis, and that’s fine by
her. The effervescent, jangly redhead who totally spazzed on MTV
fifteen years ago is now — gulp! — forty-five years old and the
mother of an eleven-month-old baby boy. She’s also, as of last
month, a willing refugee from Sony Records.

Merry Christmas. . . Have a Nice Life! is my last CD
for Sony, hence the title. Now I’m gonna have a nice life,” Lauper
says with a cackle. “I want to find different people to work with
that I feel are adventurous and that I feel I could have fun with.
A lot of times you get thrown into one situation after another
where you don’t have that chemistry, you don’t relax and it’s not
always your best work.”

With that statement Lauper seems to acknowledge the thundering
chart flops of her last two studio albums, A Hat Full of
Stars
(1992) and Sisters of Avalon (1997), which sold
less than 200,000 copies combined. Late last year, however,
Lauper’s life became so crowded with rattles, diapers and other
baby stuff that she could barely make room for recording rituals
and studio stress.

In an effort to soothe both her wailing child and her fussy
record label, Lauper proposed the very hands-on, low-maintenance
Merry Christmas . . . Have a Nice Life!. After penning a
handful of festive yuletide ditties and soft lullabies with writing
partner Jan Pulsford, Lauper recorded most of the album at home
with her infant son, Declyn, who is heard cooing on “New Year’s
Baby (First Lullaby).”

A Sesame Street-like album designed for restless
children and weary parents alike, Merry Christmas rumbles
into risque territory on “Minnie and Santa” and “Christmas Conga,”
then gets downright adorable on “Early Christmas Morning.” Though
“traditional” has never been a Lauper adjective, she does tip her
hat to Christmas convention with songs like “In the Bleak
Midwinter” and “Silent Night.”

“‘Silent Night’ was a track I had done with my friend
[keyboardist] Peter Wood before he passed away,” Lauper says. “I
always thought heaven and birth and death were very close. They say
if you want to see heaven, you have to look into a child’s eyes. I
thought with the birth of my child, having children singing in the
background of ‘Silent Night’ would be very special.”

Motherhood has reawakened Lauper’s adventuresome spirit. It was
the birth of Declyn last November that convinced her to finally
leave Sony and begin another career-affirming stanza elsewhere.
Declyn also pushed mommy into an acting career that began with a
cameo on Mad About You several seasons ago and may erupt
into Lauper’s very own NBC sitcom next year.

Yet, even as Lauper learns to abandon her former persona, that
endearing, punky redhead of 1984 keeps poking her head up into the
charts. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” was recently heard in the
trailer to the Dreamworks film Antz, Phil Collins has
tacked a cover of “True Colors” onto his just released
…Hits compilation, and urban chanteuse Inoj’s take on
“Time After Time” has spent time hovering near the Top Ten on the
singles charts.

“It’s an odd time because just as I’m starting again, a song
that I wrote years ago is going up the charts, and may peak at
number one,” Lauper says. “It’s funny — I’m not there, but I
am.”

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