CYNDI LAUPER / “Until You Come Back To Me”

If you only know Cyndi Lauper from the apex of her popularity—bopping and hiccupping her way through neon-lit music videos—her remake of Aretha Franklin’s 1974 #1 R&B hit “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” will come as quite the surprise. Cyndi’s cover is charming and sophisticated, a mature take on a much-loved R&B classic. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised to hear this more grown-up side of Cyndi. She is, after all (are you ready for this?) 52 years old. lauper16498.jpg What I like most about Cyndi’s remake is the (re)arrangement. Listen to the original: the background vocals, the string section and most of all, Aretha’s powerful lead, lend the song a ‘big,’ orchestral feel. The new arrangement is more in line with the sentiment of the lyrics. It’s subtle and understated. There are no background vocalists at all. The musicians—drum, piano, bass and guitar—all play their parts in an open, minimalist style that showcases Cyndi’s voice and the small yet effective changes she makes to the main melody. stevie_wonder(harmonica).jpg During the second half of the song, someone in Cyndi’s band adds a playful, Wonder-esque harmonica to the mix. It’s a nice touch, and not without some irony, given that Stevie Wonder actually wrote the song (along with his mentor Clarence Paul) back in 1967. Then I checked the liner notes and found out that the harmonica player on Cyndi’s version of “Until You Come Back To Me” isn’t doing his best Stevie Wonder impression after all. It is Stevie Wonder! So, in 2003, a pop singer from the Eighties remakes an R&B classic from the Seventies along with the man who originally wrote it in the Sixties. Sounds perfect to me. —Mtume ya Salaam Bonus tracks: Cyndi Lauper – “My Baby Just Cares For Me” from At Last (Sony, 2003) Aretha Franklin – “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” from 30 Greatest Hits (Atlantic, 1990)           Child can not sing          Mtume, this is the kind of stuff that makes me believe that sometimes there is something wrong with your ears! This (52-year-old) child can not sing worth spit. Not only is there no comparison but on top of that, even Stevie Wonder can’t save it. (I immediately thought Stevie when the harmonica came in—I was listening before I read your write up). Stevie’s presence is the one thing that forces me to reconsider for a second…but naw, it still ain’t happening. aretha_franklin.jpg One of the reasons it’s not happening for me, other than the main reason (that I don’t think much of Cyndi Lauper’s vocal work) is that when I was first enjoying the song, I was driving through Southside Chicago in my uncle’s second car. It was a sunny, warm day (which is already a give away that something special was happening), and I was just cruising, going nowhere in particular, just cruising and Aretha was singing…. And I still get that feeling of floating down an avenue every time I hear Aretha. Then here comes this child busting my bubble and blowing my high. nina_simone.jpg And then, Mtume, how insensitive can you be? To add blasphemy to desecration, you drop this child’s mangled take on “My Baby Just Cares For Me,” which has been immortalized by Nina Simone. Now, because of Stevie’s presence, I’m willing to allow that Cyndi’s version of “Come Back To Me” is not a total desecration of something sacred, but there is none, not one, no excuse for what she does to “My Baby.” BTW, although there doesn’t seem to be a chorus on Cyndi’s version, they did multi-track her voice (I guess they couldn’t find no backup singers who wanted this sorry version on their resume). Mtume, what the hell are you smoking out there in Cali? Tell me this is an end of the year joke. Tell me maybe you were having a Katrina flashback. Tell me you’re a sucker for Stevie Wonder harmonica. Just don’t tell me to listen to Cyndi Lauper. —Kalamu ya Salaam             I'm having a little trouble          Baba, I’m having a little trouble writing this, because as I attempt to type, Asante and I are dancing and singing along to Cyndi’s wildly uptempo ska remake of “On The Sunny Side Of The Street.”

If I never made another cent I’d still be rich as Gates-a-feller Gold dust on my feet On the sunny side of the street!
And to answer your first question, I’m not smoking, I’m drinking. I’m drinking the happy juice and I got extra for anybody who wants some. Ha-haaaa!!!!!! emoticon —Mtume ya Salaam

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2006 at 2:57 am and is filed under Cover. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

10 Responses to “CYNDI LAUPER / “Until You Come Back To Me””

Keturah Says:
January 1st, 2006 at 9:27 pm

Okay, sorry to burst your bubble, Kalamu, but I’m with Mtume on this one. I, of course, love Aretha likie any self-respecting black person, but I never really dug her version of the song…even if I didn’t have Cyndi’s new version to compare it to. Not saying that Cyndi blew it out, either, but I find her version more pleasing to my ears. I can see cruising down a sunny street to it.


jenga Says:
January 3rd, 2006 at 12:36 pm

i have to agree with Kalamu on this one. And, though i am not one to judge, i must wonder what Mtume was listening to when he decided that Cyndi’s version was “charming andsophisticated.”

first, let me say that i am a Cyndi Lauper fan… at least i am a fan of thefirst half of her very first album. what i liked about Cyndi back then was the wildness in her voice and the fun in her music. this new Cyndi Lauper is sleepy. she doesn’t throw her voice powerfully anymore. she doesn’t make me feel anything with these new songs.

i should mention that i’m usually not a fan of remakes. i think the only remake i ever liked more than original was “Lately” originally by Stevie Wonder, remade by Jodeci. not that i DIDN’T like Stevie’s version, but Jodeci put a more intense spin on it. so i guess Cyndi really didn’t have a fighting chance when i first listened to the song. still, i tried to approach it fairly. i listened and thought, “Would i listen to this of my own volition, if i hadn’t heard the original?” and i had to answer a firm, resounding “NO!” in fact, i really wanted to remove the headphones altogether because the song was boring and annoying.

and that goes for “My Baby Just Cares For Me” too. this is coming from a person (and this may disqualify my opinion altogether, but it’s the truth) who is not a big fan of Nina Simone. i STILL liked her version better than Cyndi’s… and i heard them both for the first time today.

i guess it’s just that, being a Cyndi fan and knowing what her voice is capable of doing, i was just really disappointed in these soft and lazy versions of otherwise perfectly good songs.

that’s my 2 cents.

Qawi Says:
January 3rd, 2006 at 1:36 pm

I cast my vote for Aretha…and someone else who covered this song. Mikki Howard!

Cyndi is good on her own songs…’True Colors’, ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, etc. I’m not typecasting her, but this song just ain’t her best. In the dramatic parts of the song, it just seems that she’s hollering. I mean, when Aretha sings it, it really sounds like she MEANS it. I could almost imagine Aretha outside my window singing it, with her background girls. I mean, when Aretha sings it, I almost feel guilty as a man…I better call her. I’m with the other reviewer too…where are the BACKGROUND VOCALS in Cyndi’s version.

I’m gonna knock on your door (YOUR DOOR!)
Tap on your window pane (TAP ON YOUR WINDOW PANE!)

Y’all probably think, I’m crazy. But if Cyndi was outside my window singing this, I probably would pull the shade and go back to sleep. No disrespect to her talent though. This song just doesn’t work for me. Stevie Wonder’s harmonica still isn’t enough of a presence for me.

Daryl Thompson Says:
January 4th, 2006 at 12:20 pm

I liked it, especially the piano.

Kiini Says:
January 4th, 2006 at 6:58 pm

LOL at all the discussion!

Can’t get my jukebox to work so I can’t weigh in an opinion, but wow! my brother is seriously cracked out on the happy juice.

Shad Small Says:
January 5th, 2006 at 5:27 am

At first blush, I liked it, but I might be slightly psychotic after my school let Texas win the Rose Bowl. The Aretha version still’s solid, though.

Big Man in NOLA Says:
January 5th, 2006 at 9:58 pm

Mtume, I’m with you (and ‘scuse me if I’m white on top of it), because I think the real deal here is Miles’ immortal cover of “Time After Time” … Bad-Ass Miles didn’t just cover a tune ’cause … The track-record he racked up similarly immortalizing corny ballads like “Bye, Bye Blackbird” and “Funny Valentine” are a big part of his legend … And never mind that “Time After Time” was, like, his last great hit, the haunting melodic refrain he left us with … Nope. Miles’ cover of “Time After Time” changes the Cyndi Lauper story entirely, and all for the better … So I’m suggesting that maybe it’s time to add another bonus track! … (Great site, great idea, great exchange, great music … Thanks ….)

Ken Says:
January 7th, 2006 at 11:56 pm

I think the cover’s not bad. I think she was going for a spare sound–maybe in keeping with the album concept (or out of sheer intimidation).
Still gotta go with the original, though.

Is Aretha playing piano on the original?

John Says:
May 2nd, 2006 at 9:21 pm

I like Cyndi’s version much, much better. Her rendtion to this song shows that this woman is one of the most talented artist of this generation. Ms. Lauper is so underrated..sad, as she really has an amazing voice!.She can sing,she can act, she can be funny. Ms. Lauper ..You Rock!

Jenn Says:
May 17th, 2006 at 1:32 pm

I liked the way Cyndi used to sing in the 80’s and I liked her choice of music.. it’s pathetic now

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