Cyndi Lauper – True colors
“True colors” by Cyndi Lauper is really one of those songs born with a destiny that was already written. The song was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, who are among the authors of hits such as “Like a virgin”, “Eternal flame” by the Bangles, and “I drove all night” again by Cyndi Lauper. Steinberg wrote the song with his mother in mind. Lyrics were actually quite different and a little more formal, excluding the verse that will become the heart of the song, but the meaning was already clear: to be able to understand the essence and intimacy of people, the purest and most beautiful part that is inside each of us. And so they decided to keep that verse and rewrite the previous text, which to both authors now sounded less intimate and profound.
And it was not easy, because it seems that Steinberg suffered from writer’s block: he was so convinced of that verse, that it became difficult to find the words which should open the way to the main verse. In any case, they finally completed the song, and proposed it first to a Canadian singer, Anne Murray, and then to Cindy Lauper. The song was actually a kind of gospel ballad, quite different from the hit we know.
Cyndi did not participate in the creation of the song, but immediately understood its depth and decided to include it on her next album. In fact, she decided to include it as the first song and first single (released at the end of August 1986) on her next album. Actually, she decided that the album should be called “True colors” as the song. For British English lovers, in the United Kingdom the song was obviously released with an additional “u”, with the title “True colors”.
Well, Cyndi was living a particular time in her life and had just lost a dear friend who died of AIDS. She couldn’t be further away from the rebel girl of “Girls just wanna have fun”, or from the album “She’s so unusual”, where she had already recorded sweet songs such as “Time after time“. She completely overwrote the arrangements. She made it much sweeter and more intimate, and sang it in a whispered voice, sometimes similar to the children’s voices. But that’s exactly the magic of this song: certainly a sense of melancholy, but very very sweet and intimate. Like when we are in a pain, and someone we love brings us comfort.
The video is unforgettable, absolutely dreamlike, and sees Cyndi go from a beach to a bedroom, then to a pond and finally to a kind of desert, in undefined environments created by the director-choreographer Pat Birch, in the presence of other people and often children, and dressed in elements that have made history, from the chandelier headdress to the skirt made of newspaper clippings.
“True colors” also became an anthem for the rights of LGBT communities over time. Cyndi always showed great attention and activism towards the battles of these communities, and the colors of the title, decades in advance, recall the colors of the flags very well.
Of course it also remained one of the iconic songs of the 80s, an evergreen that gave emotions to all of us.
Cyndi Lauper on Wikipedia