When you think about the ’80s and Women in Music it’s near impossible not to think about Cyndi Lauper. Whether it be her unusual style, distinctive voice, or her anthem to women and girls of the world (“Girls Just Want To Have Fun”), she tends to be as iconically ’80s as the dreaded Rubiks Cube. She is far more than that though, musically speaking, as well as attitude, societal impact, and yes, style. You can’t deny her style.
Her music was what meant the most to me in the ’80s though. Her albums She’s So Unusual, True Colors, and A Night To Remember were all favorites of mine, getting obsessive play on my bedroom stereo, as well as the cassette player in my first car. Songs from all three albums still find their way – often – to playlists I make, and music I reach for when I want to feel good – and feel both inspired and motivated. Even the more emotional, melancholic songs make me feel inspired and motivated – and alive. Her music has always unlocked emotion and energy in me – and agency. I appreciate her immensely for that – my younger self especially.
She sang about having fun, about love (and lost love), about masturbation (female masturbation? like Woah, barely anyone talked or sang about GIRLS doing that – oh my stars, I wasn’t the only one? Thank you Cyndi, and Judy Blume’s “Deenie” for that), about fame, infidelity, and authenticity.
One of the things I loved about Cyndi Lauper, as a young woman, was that she was a weirdo, and celebrated the fact that she was. She was uniquely herself (at least from my perspective), and it was hard to not take that in and (at least try) to be uniquely myself, too. She was into wrestling and mismatched, thrift shop looking clothes, and sang songs that I wanted to scream-sing-a-long to, cry to, dance to, and play over and over again.
“When You Were Mine” by Cyndi Lauper
from the album, She’s So Unusual (1983)
Song of the Day
“When you were mine,
you were kinda sorta my best friend,
so I was blind.
I let you fool around.
I never cared.
I never was the kind to make a fuss,
when he was there,
sleepin’ in between the two of us.”
“When You Were Mine“was written and originally released by Prince on his 1980 album, Dirty Mind. Though not released as a single, the song received a promotional 12″ release (which included “Gotta Broken Heart Again” and “Uptown”). “When You Were Mine” was later the B-side for Prince’s “Controversy” single in 1981.
Cyndi Lauper’s version is a mid-tempo ballad, with a synthesizer base. It was on her 1983 debut album, She’s So Unusual. Cyndi did not change the lyrics to “When You Were Mine”, keeping the male perspective of the song intact, which I thought gave the song a unique perspective – making the partner in the song either another woman or a bisexual man.
“When You Were Mine” (live) by Cyndi Lauper
She performed the single at the 1985 American Music Awards (see above – I remember watching it live). It was released exclusively as a promotional single in the United States and received a commercial release in Canada and Japan.