Time’s Up

It’s April Break for the boys and I dropped them off at science camp the other morning before heading to school. On the ride from the museum to school I turned on the radio and on came “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper.

If you haven’t heard it in a while, take a listen:

The lyrics speak to lovers who can’t quite get in sequence.  They’re out of step – she’s always ahead and he’s always asking her to slow down. This is a love that will not last – she knows that at one point the picture of her will “fade” – but it’s also surprisingly upbeat in that even though they will not stay together she promises that the “darkness will turn to gray” – things will get better for him. And, of course, she articulates and reiterates a solid trust between them: “If you’re lost, you can look/ and you will find me/Time after time./If you fall, I will catch you/I will be waiting/Time after time.”

I don’t know what it says about me, but I’m a sucker for this song and always have been, ever since it came out way back in 1983. “Girl Just Wanna Have Fun” was the first single off of She’s So Unusual, Lauper’s debut album and it was a giant hit, and “Time After Time” was the follow-up single. (To give you a sense of how successful it has been, it’s been covered by over 100 other artists, including Miles Davis and Willie Nelson: thank you Wikipedia!)

Back in 1983, Lauper may have looked like a kook and pushed the wardrobe and the hair as far as she could in terms of achieving a singular style, but one thing no one could ever doubt was her pipes. Man, she could sing.

And this is a beautiful song, meant to show off her voice and nicely written by Lauper and Rob Hyman. Lauper gives a particularly clear and vibrant vocal performance wherein she is both in control of her emotions and surrendering to them through the course of the song. It’s convincing. I also love Hyman’s harmonies. Many of you will recognize his voice – he’s one of the guys from The Hooters, who put out their debut album, Nervous Night, two years after this, in 1985 and became big stars for a while.  You may recall “All You Zombies,” “And We Danced,” and “Where do the Children Go.”  They were so big so quickly that they opened the Philadelphia portion of the Live Aid concert in 1985, the year their album debuted (being from Philly had something to do with this slot, of course).

In fact, “Time After Time” clearly evokes The Hooters’ work – not only through Hyman’s voice but also because Rick Chertoff produced the song and was the lead producer for The Hooters.  The guitar, the drums, the vocal arrangement – all of them have the feel and the sound of The Hooters’ work.  And in this case, I mean that in a good way.

By the way, I purposely didn’t link to Lauper’s video for “Time After Time.” I’d be happy to offer a reading of that video, with its idiosyncratic production values and visual style, but it seemed like a different post…

The semester is starting to rush to its finish, the work of the classes is finishing, the seniors will be graduating. It’s a time of transitions at work.  Endings, beginnings, possibilities. This song captured it for me.

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2 Responses

  1. I’ve always loved this song too, actually, although I went through a little “oh god it’s so corny” stage. Now when it comes on and I’m not where anyone else can listen, I sing along and sometimes even get a little weepy. Those damn kids, you know, growing up and moving on, and then of course, just….life.

  2. I also love this song (I can’t believe I am admitting this forever on the internet!). Thanks for bringing me back to the 80s. I was living in Philly at the time and remember the Hooters fondly. The Hooters were big in philly long before Live Aid and we were so proud of them!

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