Cher has always been good at making entrances. Making an exit, however, is another matter because it seems that she never can say goodbye. So it is that 14 years after her previous “Farewell” tour played Raleigh, she’ll be back at PNC Arena Wednesday, with ’80s pop star Cyndi Lauper opening.
Maybe, just maybe, this really will be the last go-round for Cher, who turns 68 later this month (but still looks pretty fabulous). We caught up with her by phone from a tour stop in Philadelphia.
Q: You’ve been doing this a long time, so when do you envision the goodbyes finally winding down?
A: This is it, it really is. I’m not coming back at age 75, and you have to know when it’s time to go. This show would kill a girl of 20; it’s rough and it’s hard, and it has me doing three shows in four days. It just works out that way. It’s hard on Cyndi, too, she puts on an unbelievable show. She never stops running around the stage, either.
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Q: What will you do once you’re off the road?
A: Lots of things. Broadway, directing, acting, charity work. It’s endless. But I have an amazing amount of energy. The other day I was working out, doing butt squeezes on the floor. And I just burst out, ‘Oh my God, I’m old!’ Everyone else in the room was about 40, but I was still holding my own. I always have. In school, I was a tomboy when I met Sonny, played a lot of softball. I’ve always enjoyed running around.
Q: Who’s current that you listen to?
A: Adele, I guess, but I haven’t been listening to anything else since this tour started eight months ago. There’s too much preparing to do. My director and I make up the show, and writing involves so many details. There are a million things to look at, so I don’t have time to listen to or watch anything else.
Q: How much time and effort do you have to put into being, you know, Cher?
A: I can’t work out every day, but I usually do four days a week on the road. That part where I’m doing three shows in four days is like my work week, and those days I’ll do light workouts; maybe an hour and 15 minutes. I don’t follow too much of a diet, I kind of eat what I want to.
Q: What do you think of Miley Cyrus?
A: Well, I didn’t like that thing she did at the VMAs very much. But it was still kind of brilliant in that she was appealing to HER audience, and people keep talking about it. We still are, too. There are things I like about her – her bravery and her voice. So that might not have been her best work, but it was her greatest work, if that makes any sense. So daring.
Q: Do you think songs like your 1970s-vintage hits “Half-Breed” or “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” could get on the radio today?
A: Not even, because they weren’t very good songs. They were part of the formula and people liked them, so they were commercial hits. But Sonny was picking everything back then. I’d go into the studio, record for two or three days and that was an album. It’s different now, for sure. I don’t record all at once and I work with different producers, so it takes more like six months even though I’m quick in the studio and can knock things out. I can stand and sing for two hours and usually have most of it down. But you have to find the songs, get people to write for you. It’s a different process that takes a long time.
Q: What was Phil Spector like back when you and Sonny Bono were part of his “Wall of Sound” productions 50 years ago?
A: He was always weird. I was too young and dumb, without the right temperament to take any of his (expletive), so we had a different relationship than everyone else. Sonny would say, ‘Cher, please, he’s my boss!’ But I wasn’t thinking about the record business and didn’t know how famous he was. He was always kind of crazy. I remember doing his Christmas album and wondering, ‘My God, how is everybody doing this? I’m 17 and it’s killing me.’ What I didn’t know was that everybody else was doing drugs. When it was over, I took Phil to the airport to fly back east. He was terrified of flying and had taken a bunch of drugs, and his plane was canceled and we had to wait for the next one. So he fell asleep in the middle of the airport, and I was a 17-year-old girl trying to maneuver him to the next gate. He could be so much fun, but also really mean. He’d pick on Sonny a lot, but Sonny was patient. But he always treated me well, because I’d tell him to go (expletive) himself.
Q: Raleigh had a controversy last fall about the police cracking down on charities feeding the homeless in a city park, and you weighed in about it on Twitter. Will you make a donation?
A: Yes. This tour, I’m donating to feed people because the government’s not doing a very good job of it. I don’t understand why people were getting threatened with jail after doing that for a long time, and you’re not the only city that’s doing that now. It seems to be the trend. If you don’t want homeless people in certain areas, don’t feed them. But people are struggling.
Q: How did you get into the cause of providing better helmets to the military?
A: My sister sent me a piece from the newspaper and told me to do something about it. So I got in touch and came to the conclusion that nothing was being done about our troops having substandard helmets. The helmets that football players wear are a thousand times more protective. I started buying inserts at $99 each. If you don’t have the proper insert, blasts will make your head clang like a bell, which is one reason why there’s so much head trauma. Lives are in the balance and nothing was being done, which I thought was insane. So I did something.
Q: Is your life now what you imagined it might be back when you were young?
A: When I was young, I could not imagine getting old, so I had no thoughts about it. Then when I turned 40, I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve passed and now I’m old – and I don’t even feel it!’ Work-wise, 40 was the biggest year of my life. Now, being older is not as much fun as being younger, not by a long shot. But it’s what you deal with.