Friday, January 27, 2017

A Look At Songs Written By Cher

Legendary entertainer Cher is one of the best-selling singers and touring acts in music history, has the greatest accolade an actress could hope for and has won numerous top awards for her television career.

She has also been a multi-million-selling doll, multi-million-selling fitness icon, enduring sex symbol, award-winning television producer, film director, video director, award-winning fashion icon, author, model, humanitarian and hit songwriter. However, Cher is given little credit for the very latter.

The Cher Bible, Vol. 1: Essentials dedicates a chapter to "Songs Written By Cher"...

It was after her 1972 separation from first husband Sonny Bono — who had written a good number of the hits of Sonny & Cher, and Cher solo — that Cher began to get serious in the art of songwriting herself.

In 1973, Cher covered an album track called Ruby Jean and Billie Lee by Seals & Crofts. Taken from their US#4 hit album Diamond Girl that year, Cher kept the melody but largely adjusted the lyrics for her own 1973 album, Half-Breed. Cher's reworked version was a tribute to her daughter Chastity, aptly entitled Chastity's Sun. However, despite having changed most of the original composition's lyrics, Cher waived the opportunity to have a songwriting credit.

In 1979, Cher released the appropriately-titled self-penned ballad My Song (Too Far Gone) as the closing track to her Gold-certified 1979 album Take Me Home. Sharing a song writing credit with Mark Hudson who perhaps only contributed the music, the subject of the song was her failed marriage to second — and final — husband Gregg Allman. The song gained further exposure as the B-side of the album's lead single — the Gold-certified US top ten disco title-track Take Me Home - and with a performance on The Mike Douglas Show.

Cher branched her songwriting career further the next year by writing the lyrics to the song Bad Love - a song recorded for inclusion on the February 1980 soundtrack to the film Foxes of that same year. The Donna Summer-style disco song, which had music by none-other-than Summer's oft-collaborator Giorgio Moroder, garnered enough praise to be appointed as an track on the international 2-disc edition of The Very Best of Cher in 2003.

Cher also formed and fronted the band Black Rose in 1980. With the group's lead guitarist Les Dudek writing the music, she wrote the track Don't Trust That Woman — lyrically similar to Hall & Oates late-'82 US#1 Maneater. The song was rumoured to be written for the Black Rose's second album but as their eponymous first album failed to chart, the album — and therefore the song — were shelved. Dudek went on to record it in 1981 for his album Gipsy Ride. In 1986, the song was given a second lease of life, being partially rewritten by none other than global superstar Elton John for inclusion on his album Leather Jackets that year. Unfortunately, the album was one of John's least successful with the man himself ultimately declaring it as his least favourite album of his entire lengthy career. 30 years later, it remained the only Elton John album that had yet to be remastered. 

Luckily, Cher was not put-off songwriting, although she waited all the way until 1994 for a major return to laying lyrics to paper. She wrote the lyrics to a number of songs at a writers' retreat in France that would ultimately end up on the internet-only acoustic-rock studio album, released in 2000. Cher's favourite song on the collection, (The Fall) Kurt's Blues, with additional lyrics by Bruce Roberts, was Cher's tribute to the late rock singer Kurt Cobain — lead singer of Nirvana — who had committed suicide earlier that year. Another song, Fit To Fly, was initially written for her Grandfather who was in the invasion of Normandy in WWII, but was finalised as a song for “All the men and women who have served their country and then somehow been 'kicked to the curb'.”

Pat MacDonald contributed additional lyrics and music to one of the album's tracks, Sisters of Mercy — which Cher wrote for her mother, who was forced to put Cher in a catholic orphanage for several months when she was a baby. MacDonald said about Cher, and the album, “When I worked with Cher, we were doing songs she wrote herself, including all the lyrics. They were poems she wanted to put to music. That was a challenge. Her lyrics were anything but commercial. She said “f**k” in practically every song, just like how she talks. It's her personality coming through.”

Still, which Cher appointed as her “most revealing” lyric; the autobiographical Runnin', with additional lyric by Bruce Roberts; Disaster Cake about an ex-girlfriend of son Chaz; and Our Lady Of San Francisco, about a homeless woman, were all included on the album. Finally, Cher solely provided both lyrics and music for the album's rock ballad With or Without You.

At the same time, Cher wrote the track Lovers Forever which singer-songwriter Shirley Eikhard recorded and released on her own 2005 album, Pop.

Unbeknownst to perhaps most — Cher's most recognisable lyrics came in 1998 on her biggest hit ever — Believe. The star admitted that she was responsible — at least partly — for the song's second verse: “I wrote part of 'Believe' - the second verse. The first verse was about this woman who was sad that this guy was going, and the second verse was saying the same thing, so I changed it on the spot!” However, with at least six songwriters already having credit for writing the soon-to-be worldwide number one smash hit, Cher wasn't given a songwriting credit on the song.

Cher did manage to score a songwriting credit on a 2000 duet with Italian singer/songwriter Eros Ramazzotti on the moderately successful PiĆ¹ Che Puoi. The song, written by Adelio Cogliato, Antonio Galbiati, Cher and Ramazzotti, was a hit in many European countries, gaining top 20 positions in Belgium, Switzerland and Ramazzotti's native Italy. The song — which saw Cher and Ramazzotti each sing in both English and Italian — was included on the latter singer's hugely successful album Stilelibero of that same year.

In 2001, Cher released Living Proof, a dance album much in the same vein as its predecessor Believe. Cher wrote additional lyrics for one of the album's tracks — in fact, it was the album's lead single throughout most of the globe, and the album's best-selling single: The Music's No Good Without You. Written by James Thomas, Paul Barry, Mark Taylor with additional lyrics by Cher, the single reached the top 30 in over a dozen national charts — including the UK where it reached number 8.

After a 12-year hiatus, Cher released her next studio album Closer To The Truth in 2013. The album included a dramatic dance-pop version of the aforementioned co-penned Lovers Forever. Also included was a track entitled Dressed To Kill. Written by Mark Taylor and Sam Preston, the song served as a flop single for its latter writer in 2009. The electro-pop song's lyrics were revamped by Cher — and perhaps Taylor — for Cher's album. Cher also earned herself a song-writing credit for the album's Take It Like A Man. Written with Tim Powell, Tebey Ottoh, Mary Leay and Cher, it served as a single in the US, reaching #2 on its Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart.

Chastity's Sun
Written by James Seals & Dash Crofts (Cher uncredited)
Recorded by Cher for Half-Breed, 1973, US#28

My Song (Too Far Gone)
Written by Cher & Mark Hudson
Recorded by Cher for Take Me Home, 1979, US#25

Bad Love
Written by Cher & Giorgio Moroder
Recorded by Cher for Foxes Soundtrack, 1980, Billboard's Dance Club Songs #30

Don't Trust That Woman
Written by Les Dudek & Cher
Recorded by Les Dudek for Gipsy Ride, 1981
Written by Cher & Lady Choc Ice (Elton John)
Recorded by Elton John for Leather Jackets, 1986, US#91, UK#24

Lyrics by Cher, music by Cher, Bruce Roberts & Bob Thiele
Recorded by Cher for, 2000

Sisters Of Mercy
Lyrics by Cher, additional lyrics by Pat MacDonald, music by Cher, Pat Macdonald & Bruce Roberts
Recorded by Cher for, 2000

Lyrics by Cher. Additional lyrics by Bruce Roberts, Music by Pat MacDonald & Bruce Roberts
Recorded by Cher for, 2000

The Fall (Kurt's Blues)
Lyrics by Cher. Additional lyrics by Bruce Roberts, Music by Pat MacDonald & Bruce Roberts
Recorded by Cher for, 2000

With Or Without You
Lyrics & music by Cher
Recorded by Cher for, 2000

Fit To Fly
Lyrics by Cher, music by Cher, Kevin Savigar & Doug Millett
Recorded by Cher for, 2000

Written by Brian Higgins, Paul Barry, Steven Torch, Matthew Gray, Stuart McLennen & Timothy Powell (Cher uncredited)
Recorded by Cher for Believe, 1998, US#4, UK#7
Released as a single by Cher, 2013, US#1, UK#1

Lovers Forever
Written by Cher & Shirley Eikhard
Recorded by Shirley Eikhard on Pop, 2005
Recorded by Cher for Closer To The Truth, 2013, US#3, UK#4

Take It Like A Man
Written by Tim Powell, Tebey Ottoh, Mary Leay & Cher
Recorded by Cher for Closer To The Truth, 2013, US#3, UK#4
Released as a single by Cher, 2013, Billboard's Dance Club Songs #2

Dressed To Kill
Written by Mark Taylor, Sam Preston & Cher
Recorded by Cher for Closer To The Truth, 2013, US#3, UK#4

Short shares:

  • Fast Company have inducted Cher into the Music category of their group of Most Creative People in Business, an exclusive group of influencers in business from across the economy and around the globe.
  • About her upcoming Classic Cher residency, Cher tweeted: "More content in this show, so hard to explain sets. It's classic me, so I'm trying to sing favorite songs, re-create favorite costumes, but different."

READ MORE: Cher's #WomensMarch Highlights -- From Posing With Madonna & Alicia Keys To Being Photobombed by Jesse Jackson


  1. This is a great piece cataloging her contributions to songs. Awesome!

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