"Time After Time" is often associated with cheesy prom movies (Napoleon Dynamite anyone?)
But when I looked closer at the lyrics, I realized that they mirror my journey in learning to accept help without shame. Cyndi addresses feeling flawed, something that I relate to as a human being, especially as someone who suffers from mental illness. In "Time After Time," she talks about running and hiding but there’s someone out there, maybe the male voice in the song, who’s “wondering if [she’s] okay.” He is there, “time after time,” to support her. I also spent years trying to fix myself, by myself. I now rely on my partner (who played violin and sang in this cover) to support me and be there. And that's okay.
Why Cyndi Lauper? She is the original weird and quirky (everyone's favourite adjectives when describing me) pop star. She is also an amazing musician with songwriting chops that are underestimated. I remember when I was younger, my friend's mom wouldn't let us listen to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." She thought it was demeaning to women...she understood the song to mean "Girls Only Wanna Have Fun," and as a single mother running her own business, she took offence to this. Because of her opinion, I'd always felt uneasy about the song.
But as a new-found intersectional feminist, I started to question the idea that this song is sexist. Cyndi Lauper is a freaking feminist icon, so there had to be more to the story. I learned that Cyndi took an original song by Robert Hazard and flipped it on its head. The original is about a boy who spends so much time partying with girls that his parents are worried about him. He rejects the idea of totally controlling women and "[hiding] them away from the rest of the world" but still refers to his lovers as "my girls." The girls in his song are flat characters; all he knows about them is that they want to have fun.
Where Hazard's song is about a man doing what he wants to girls, Cyndi's rewrite is about girls doing what they want. In her song she wants "to be the one to walk in the sun." She belongs to no one: not her parents, not men, not her boss. To really understand the female empowerment and solidarity of this song, watch the video. It features women of all shapes, sizes, colours and walks of life dancing together. Girls just wanna have fun...together. Sisterhood and all that.
When I first started writing songs at sixteen, Cyndi Lauper wasn't a big inspiration. She was just some lady from the eighties who wrote sappy pop songs. But as I've grown as a songwriter and a human being, I've come to realize her value and her strength. She is a multi-instrumentalist who writes from the heart, and she’s not afraid to be herself. And while I can only kind of play a couple instruments, I challenge myself to put all of me into my lyrics, not just the parts I think people will like. Thank you, Cyndi, for everything you've done for women in music. And thank you guys for continuing to support me in my own journey.
P.S. The ticking clock you hear in the recording is actually sampled from Justin Bieber's "What Do You Mean." What kind of Canadian would I be if I didn't include a little JB.