I missed the Kennedy Center Honors on TV, but found it the day after on CBS All Access, to which I subscribe. I don’t know much about Philip Glass or Wayne Shorter. I do know Hamilton and Lin Manuel Miranda, of course. I like Reba McEntire, although I don’t really follow country music. And I adore Cher. I went first to the end of the 90 minute program, to begin with the tribute to her. Whoopi Goldberg gave the lead in. Cindy Lauper sang the iconic “I’ve Got You Babe”, along with Adam Lambert. Lambert also sang “Believe”, and brought Cher to tears. Lauper also did “If I Could Turn Back Time”, and everyone who loved Cher in her prime wishes we could.
Cindy Lauper is 65 years old, for the lord’s sake. I can’t believe it, but then I can hardly believe Cher is 72. When I went to Cher’s final tour concert here in Seattle a couple of years ago, Lauper was the warm up act. Cher can no longer do the dance moves that, along with her costumes, drew her adoring audience of gay men. But Lauper can.
Cher and Sonny Bono recorded “I Got You Babe” in 1965. I never quite understood what the immensely talented Cher was doing with Bono, who couldn’t sing worth a damn. But she apparently loved him. He died in 1998, long after they’d broken up. When Cher was here in Seattle, a big photo of Bono was flashed onto the screen, and she did “I Got You Babe”, her voice live and his recorded. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Here’s the clip of Lauper, and of Lauper and Lambert. There are other clips as well, on YouTube.
Washington D.C. glitterati were all at the event, including incoming House Speaker Pelosi and Chief Justice John Roberts. It’s a classy, elegant evening, a respite from the somberness and chaos that is Washington today. People were up dancing in the aisles.
I still think the classiest moment of all was Aretha Franklin in 2015, singing “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.” Franklin was an old woman by then; she died in 2018. She regained her past glory for the duration of that song, bringing President Obama to tears, Carole King to ecstasy in the presidential box, and the audience cheering to its feet.