Cyndi Lauper doesn’t stop trying until she gets what she wants.
That applies to music, especially her new album of dance music, “Bring Ya to the Brink” (Epic). And it applies to her work on social issues, especially her push, through fundraising on the True Colors Tour, to get equal rights for the gay community.
“It’s everything I envisioned it to be,” Lauper said of the new album, which arrived in stores Tuesday. “I got everyone I wanted to work on it. Usually I don’t like to work with `em when they’re too high and mighty because the high and mighty get to be too much, but I’m very pleased with the people I worked with.”
Lauper traveled the world to work with dance music luminaries Basement Jaxx in England, with Murlyn and Kleerup in Sweden, as well as Rich Morel in Manhattan. “I wanted to go and experience life there,” she explained. “It really helped me as a writer. It’s the first time I’ve taken a sabbatical to write, taking a sabbatical from being a mom and a wife, from this and that. It was just me, living a different life, having a moment for myself. It was extraordinary to me.”
The results support the experience. Aside from “Grab a Hold,” which sounds like it could have come from Lauper’s breakthrough six-times-platinum “She’s So Unusual” album, most of “Bring Ya to the Brink” sounds completely different from anything Lauper has done before, from the bold single “Same Old Story” to the dramatic, experimental “Rocking Chair.”
“I wanted to write the songs in real language that people actually use, like the way the blues uses common language,” she said. “They all mean something, and they’re all catchy.”
Combining meaning with catchiness is the point behind Lauper’s True Colors Tour as well. “It’s a party,” Lauper said of the tour, which includes the B-52s and Rosie O’Donnell. “But it’s also a way for people to gather and speak up for themselves. It’s never my intention to tell people who to vote for, only how to learn how to register to vote.”
The tour is designed not only to raise funds for the Human Rights Commission and Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), but also to raise awareness of the importance of voter registration and voicing views. Comedian Wanda Sykes said she jumped at the chance to join the tour.
“I’m a big fan of Cyndi and the B-52s, and it’s for a good cause because it’s for human rights and I’m all for that,” she said, adding jokingly, “It also gives me a chance to live like a rock star for a while.”
“There are so many people who are giving up, so it’s important to stand together,” Lauper said. “There are a lot of young people who need help, who feel alone and who are being discriminated against.”
And Lauper said it is important for everyone to do their part to stop that discrimination. “What’s happening now and what happened before when I was a kid - I grew up in the civil rights movement - I saw white people stand with black people and say, `No. Discrimination is wrong. Segregation is wrong,”” she continued. “It’s just as wrong today against a different community. You can’t discriminate against anybody if you want to have the land of the free.”
THE GUEST LIST OF LAUPER’S TOURING PARTY
Cyndi Lauper said that for this year’s edition of the True Colors Tour she wanted to build a lineup that was like a party, where different groups come together for the purpose of laughing and having fun. Her selections are certainly built for that:
The B-52s: The new-wave pioneers from Athens, Ga., are one of rock’s most enduring party bands, with songs (“Love Shack” and “Rock Lobster”) that have livened up countless parties and wedding receptions, and a string of hits from “Private Idaho” to the new album “Funplex” that still fill dance floors.
Rosie O’Donnell: She looked completely at ease during last year’s True Colors Tour, doing a stand-up comedy set and playing percussion in Lauper’s backing band, even though they were the first public appearances she made after her stormy departure from “The View.” With all that tension behind her, O’Donnell will be back to play a similar role on this year’s tour.
Indigo Girls: The Atlanta folk-rock duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, best known for their harmonies and their R.E.M.-aided hit “Closer to Fine,” celebrate their 20th anniversary this year, touring to support their 10th album, “Despite Our Differences.”
The Cliks: The Toronto quartet made a huge splash last year with its “Snakehouse” album, which was reminiscent of the Pretenders’ early albums, with straightforward rockers like the catchy “Oh Yeah” and the hard-hitting “Complicated.”