Wedding guest dancers to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” be damned, “Time after Time” is Cyndi Lauper’s best work. Such a powerful song, and a great addition to the growing collection of American pop standards. ‘Cause if you ask me, sometimes girls don’t want to have fun, they want to be hopeless romantics. This song says it so well:

lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
and think of you
caught up in circles,
confusion is nothing new
flashback-warm nights-
almost left behind.
suitcases of memories,
time after…

sometimes you picture me,
I’m walking too far ahead.
you’re calling to me, I can’t hear
what you’ve said.
Then you say “go slow”
I fall behind,
the second hand unwinds

if you’re lost and you will find me
time after time
if you fall I will catch you
I’ll be waiting
time after time…
-Cyndi Lauper, “Time After Time”
She’s So Unusual (1983)

The original video for the song is weird and adorable and 80s, though Lauper clutching a plastic dog doesn’t make too much sense. Usually when I’m lovesick I’ve got a cigarette in one hand and the other on a non-ringing telephone. Never did find myself a plastic dog to pass the nights with. Makes me sort of sad I missed out on the 80s, I would have thrived.

Lauper is a fantastic musical icon, I hope to see her place in music history sparkle and bounce as much as she does. I love how she managed fun and flair while still delivering honest, artful songwriting. She made a statement she could sell without selling herself, it seems, and I think that’s quite an accomplishment.

Today I came across a a stunning rendition by jazz singer Cassandra Wilson. It’s her top selling song on iTunes, and it’s no wonder because it’s a great match up. Wilson’s got true jazz pipes–the song gets richer, melodic tones than Lauper performs with. Love you Cyndi, but Wilson is a supreme vocalist, and this song sounds gorgeous in her deep, range. Takes the song from sugary to chcolately, and it’s a deeper, more fulfilling taste.

Lauper’s acoustic version is equally stunning, a chill-inducing moment of reflection.

Other “Time After Time” covers–pick your flavor.

Rob Thomas
(god i hate Matchbox Twenty. that’s all.)

Sarah McLachlan & Cyndi Lauper
(Sarah’s fantastic, she’s got such quiet control which is so nice on this song. Plus, it’s nice to see musicians collaborate like that.)

(Totally remember hearing this on the radio when I was in 4th grade)

Miles Davis
(Even if you’re not a jazz fan, picking up on the bits you recognize makes this a great interpretation. And check out those pants! Miles, you crazy wonderful musician. He’s so cool to watch. And the tension he builds! He really runs with this one, the chorus is hard to find. Really makes it his, almost unrecognizable.)

(This is so unbelievably awful, even as a dance song. i don’t want to dance to this! club music can’t have this many words! weird ass video, too.)

(Doesn’t really do much for me, but it does show the span of musicians this song has reached. There isn’t really a personal style in this one, though. It’s just being sung.)

Eva Cassidy
(Absolutely haunting, she was such an interpreter.)

Cassidy”s version on a Smallville montage. Aww. Love Clark & Lana so much. One of my favorite WB couples from back in the day.

(This cover hit #25 on the American top 40 charts–not bad for what started, supposedly as a punk band. Although very little of this sounds punk at all to me, which is kind of disappointing. Candy pop punk, I guess.)

time after time. Let’s see where else this songs goes.