Cyndi Lauper may be less than a year shy of age 50, but the girl still wants to have fun. Calling from the road in the middle of a tour, she begins singing "I'm just a girl in Little Rock" as her way of telling us where she is. "I've seen seven people. I know there are more, because I've seen cars," she explains.
Lauper will be in town this weekend to open for Cher at the National Car Rental Center, but the don't-miss performance is a Saturday-afternoon show at Borders Books and Music in Fort Lauderdale. Lauper will do a rare acoustic set, for free, in the upstairs section usually reserved for author readings.
Lauper's management was considering the idea of performing at bookstores when the star herself clinched the deal after a concert. "I was sitting backstage with some guys from Borders, but I thought they were fans. I was hanging out with them, talking, and I realized who they were. They love music, and I love music." A handshake and a contract later, Lauper was booked to sing at seven Borders stores around the country. "I'm so excited, because part of this is like when I first started at 15."
Lauper seems more hyped about the bookstore show than the arena gig. "It's so cool because they're sitting so close to you," she says of fans at the Borders gigs. (So far, she's played five of seven shows.) "They've been a blast. You know I was a street singer. It's great to see the people, close up, in the daylight."
Her music has evolved in the three decades she's been playing. So too has her process of creating music. "It's more varied. It may come through playing an instrument or cooking or maybe it comes from playing a flute, or you might look at something or look at someone and remember something they said and it struck you and you write it down," she says, attempting to philosophize. "You have to get out of your own way and allow yourself to be ridiculous. Instead of the sublime to the ridiculous, it often goes from the ridiculous to the sublime."
Lauper takes her song ideas wherever she can get them. "Traveling helps me; looking at water always helps me. I sometimes write from looking at the water. I might get a melody or go into repetitiveness in the melody. I tape it, and then I listen to it and then take bits and pieces of it. However it comes, it comes."
She loves her instruments, but she's not a purist. "I love when my strings are dirty because they have this twangy sound." She'll also take a moment's inspiration or anyone else's good idea and go with it. Asked whether she planned to talk about her work, autograph CDs, or do a question-and-answer session after performing at the bookstore, she responds, "A Q&A? I never thought about that. That sounds like a lot of fun."
Have your questions ready. Maybe Lauper will sing "I'm just a girl in Fort Lauderdale."