covers Prince's "When You Were Mine" on her album She's So Unusual.
Lauper receives mixed marks. We applaud her effort to preserve the integrity of several key lyrics, thereby inviting fresh new subtexts to arise. Yet we resoundly spurn instances of carelessly mangled pronouns that virtually erase any possible new subtexts.
Lauper starts off on a worrying note: she leaves out the word girl
in the line, "Oh girl, when you were mine."
However, she makes amends by honoring this original lyric: "I know that you're going with another guy." Because Lauper deliberately declines to identify the subject of her song as a "girl" in the earlier lyric, it's easy to assume she's singing about a guy. The words "another guy" are therefore newly intriguing, as her former boyfriend appears to be either gay or bisexual. Additionally, "another guy" refers back to the speaker, meaning that Lauper associates herself with a masculine identity ("one of the guys").
Lauper's retention of a later lyric, "I used to let you wear all my clothes" preserves the gender-bending of the original Prince recording. Lauper's subject would appear to be a cross-dresser or drag queen.
Lauper falters, however, when she changes he
in the following lyric: "I never was the kind to make a fuss when he was there sleeping in-between the two of us." Her phrase "when you
was sleeping in-between the two of us" is nonsensical at best. Apparently, cross-dressing is okay, but two men in her bed is unthinkable.
Lauper recovers somewhat, retaining the original lyric, "Now I spend my time following him whenever he's with you." But the hemming, hawing, and hedging has left the listener with a blurred picture. Mystery and intrigue are one thing; unfocused muddles are quite another.
P.S. Cyndi, we adore you anyway. ;-)
P.P.S. Thanks to Chris
You have to whip these singers into shape. Otherwise they'll walk all over you.