Thursday, January 31, 2013

Childhood “Heroes” Sonny & Cher


When we were young many of us had “heroes” we looked up to. Often times, these “heroes” weren’t really heroes, but entertainers that we looked up to and admired. I had a few of them myself, not many. When I was around ten years old, Sonny and Cher hit the music scene with “Baby Don’t Go,” and “I Got You Babe.” My brother and I loved the songs and all the ones that came after. So, by the time they starred in their own television show, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour in 1971, we were pretty much diehard fans. I loved their show and if there were VCR’s at the time I would have recorded every one of them. Though I loved their music and comedic style, there was something I loved even more, the way they portrayed themselves as a loving couple.

My brother and I loved their hits so much, we got a couple of albums and played them all the time. My brother would even imitate Cher. It was hilarious the hours of fun we had singing their songs. We would switch roles back and forth and knew all the lyrics. Of course, my mother hated Cher. She could not stand her voice. She told us to play the albums when she wasn’t home…which was a rare occurrence. She would complain incessantly that Cher could not sing. That only gave us more pleasure and added to the laughs we had. Thinking back, I can’t blame my mother for feeling the way she did. Her idea of great singers were Doris Day, The Andrew sisters, Connie Francis, Patti Page, Patsy Cline, Judy Garland, all with very beautiful, melodic voices. Cher’s voice was very deep by comparison and her music did not suit my mother’s taste at all. I can tell because she started cursing every time we put a record on.

One day we heard that Sonny and Cher would be performing in New York, not far from where we lived. You would need a car to get there. There was no way for my brother and I to go. We were upset. I would have killed to see them in a live performance. My mother, “hater” that she was, made the supreme sacrifice. She wanted to make my brother and I happy. She couldn’t take us herself, but she called my cousins, who lived near the venue and asked them if they could take me and my brother to the show. She offered to pay for their tickets as well as ours. I was filled with hopeful anticipation. I knew they would do it if they could. I just had to wait for them to get back to my mother. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be because my cousin had to work that day. My dream of seeing my favorite singers/couple, live on stage, was crushed. But then they got their television show and I was delighted. It would be like seeing a live show every week! I loved the opening dialogue where they would playfully tease each other back and forth. Then, at the end, they often brought they baby, Chastity, out on stage to say good night. They looked like the perfect family, or so I thought.

Somehow, it meant more to me to see them as a devoted loving couple than entertainers. That is what I admired most. Maybe because my own parents’ marriage was so turbulent I was seeking proof that happy marriages do in fact exist. I think that was why I invested more than the average fan in Sonny and Cher. When they announced that they were splitting up I wouldn’t believe it. When I realized it was true, it hit me hard. I didn’t even understand it myself, but I felt betrayed. I thought their passing themselves off as having a happy marriage was an act and none of it was real. I felt angry. It was stupid I know, but I really wanted to believe in happily-ever-afters and I pinned my hopes on those existing on them. My opinion of them changed after that. I wasn’t so enthralled with them any more. I still liked their music, but I held a kind of grudge against them for not working things out in their marriage and causing their show to go off the air. There would be no more “I Got You Babe” on stage or off.

After writing this, I’m not even sure I am over it yet…insert chuckle!

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