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Stars, they come and go. They come fast they come slow.
They go like the last light of the sun, all in a blaze
And all you see is glory…
‘Stars’ was released April 19, 1975, under David Geffen’s watchful eye. Geffen, of course, being the mastermind who nurtured the likes of Laura Nyro and Joni Mitchell. ‘Stars’ would be Cher’s first record for Warner Bros. and Jimmy Webb produced it. Webb was famous for many lush ‘’60s and ‘70s pop hits, like Art Garfunkel’s “All I Know” ‘and the Fifth Dimension’s “Beautiful Balloon.” Webb also served as musical arranger. David Geffen’s vision was to take Cher’s musical career in a totally different direction. The album would be her very first without Sonny Bono’s influence, and by the time it dropped, her personal relationship with David Geffen was over as well.
When listening to ‘Stars’ today I’m reminded of the change that was happening around me in 1975. The small surrounding county schools of my community consolidated into Pike Central High School. With that sparkling new school came beautiful new friendships. And even though it was far from being a Hallmark card, I was finding a sense of belonging through those friendships. Though it would be years before I’d understand exactly who the true authentic Eddie was, I’d begun the process of shedding the illusion of being a perfect, All-American, Indiana farm boy.
At home my parents’ marriage was nearing its end, and my father and I attempted to co-exist under the same small roof by ignoring each other. As always, my bedroom was my refuge. With my headphones plugged into my stereo, music would take me far away. ‘Stars’ was subtle, something not usually associated with Cher. She was singing with clarity and restraint – creating an ethereal sound before breaking into a falsetto wail. Every song on ‘Stars’ is accompanied with woodwinds, strings, guitars and steel drums. Liner notes reveal a Who’s Who of the era’s finest musicians. Cher did interpretations of a diverse collection of cover songs from Eric Clapton, to Jackson Browne; from Neil Young to Jimmy Webb himself. As with any Cher album, the cover art was crucial and did not disappoint. It is an iconic image – the front shot, a close-up photo by Bill King. Cher is glistening, glamorous, with colored lights strung through her hair. The equally iconic back shot is by Norman Seeff, with Cher in blue jeans and hair blowing. Unfortunately for ‘Stars’ a backlash was brewing. Cher had become overexposed with her image plastered on every tabloid. What is arguably her finest most complete recording work would become a commercial miss. As with any Cher album, I’m reminded that her songs that were ‘Hits’ almost never were my favorites. I smile knowing that those of us who loved ‘Stars’ back in 1975 still consider it her crowning moment in recording. It remains her most sought after album today. Sometimes it takes more than a generation of change to be fully appreciated. Remembering ‘Stars’ and a time when the world was younger….