We usually like Cyndi Lauper — except when her website is stealing from us — so we approached her new album, “Memphis Blues,” with both excitement and trepidation. We were excited to see her join Tom Petty and Steve Miller in the release of new Blues albums over the last week; we were trepidatious because, in our experience, the best Blues albums come from those who are musicians first and singers second.
A former co-worker asked me to translate songs for the Deaf into American Sign Language, my native language, for the Gay & Lesbian Pride Rally on Father’s Day, June 21st. I said, “Sure, give me a call.”
When the call actually came, I had no idea I’d have the grandest opportunity to “sing” with Cyndi Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and True Colors Lauper! While I’m neither Gay nor Lesbian nor Trans-Gender whatever, I still felt I could play a support role in contributing to the event by providing a Deaf interpretation of Cyndi’s songs for the Deaf.
The coordinator for the sign language interpreters assigned all three of Cyndi’s songs to me! I was thrilled. I am Deaf and I depend upon vibrations and some hearing in order to perform these artistic interpretations so I really had to practice and I only had one week! I was given an audio cassette of Cyndi’s songs along with a lyric sheet for each song. Using both the tape and the words, I was able to de-construct the song down to its ASL core.
(NOTE: I also interpreted a song from the hit Broadway musical, Rent, but this article will deal only with Cyndi.)
The Interpreting Trick
When people see other people use sign language, it is generally assumed by those not in the know that they are really watching ASL (American Sign Language) when they are actually seeing PSE (Pidgin Signed English). At the rally ASL was used. ASL is a language that has its roots in French with its own unique syntax and rules that are not English.
ASL is a visual language where facial expression and body movements are as important as nouns and verbs in identifying people, place and time. If you happen to see someone signing without very obvious facial expressions, you are not seeing ASL. You are seeing PSE and that isn’t the same as pure ASL.
Pop singer Cyndi Lauper’s “official” website stole an article Janna Sweenie wrote for GO INSIDE Magazine a few years back and republished the article, in full, without our knowledge or even permission to republish the article. You can see the thievery here:
You can see the original article here:
The Blues has lately become a “modern musical ghetto” for non-Blues performers like Cyndi Lauper and Hugh Laurie and their ilk who are bored with their current lot in life and so they take the next easiest route back to feigned admiration by “making a Blues album” as a one-off for fun. Hugh Laurie’s latest musical miasma landed on September 6, 2011 and I am absolutely confounded by his mock singing style and his cynical delivery. The guy cannot loft a tune, so why make an album? Why did Hugh Laurie think we’d want to pay $10.00USD for his musical masturbation in the public square?
John Oates’ new solo album — Mississippi Mile — dropped today, and it is a welcome addition to the brackwater Blues oeuvre we have come to appreciate from established greats like Eric Clapton and Tom Jones, but not Cyndi Lauper. John Oates is the other, guitar playing, half of Hall and Oates and it is so great to see John strike out on his own to sing and play the kind of music that branded him growing up:
One year ago today, we published the first BolesBlues.com article called, rightly enough — “What is BolesBlues.com?” — and that article was quickly followed by, “From Old Cooter to Boles Blues” to help explain the provenance of who we are and what we hoped to become in time.
When we are met with the abject Blues failures of fail-safe luminaries like Eric Clapton and Cyndi Lauper — getting a fresh breath of the Blues with 16-year-old Andy Poxon — is just the tonic we need to keep on skiffling.