Time after time, Cyndi Lauper continues to be a vital figure in the pop-culture sphere. Whether it was the time she broke into the national conscience with her 1983 debut album, She’s So Unusual, with its revolutionary single “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” or more recently, such as when she took a country Detour with old-timey covers on her newest record, Lauper remains an emblematic icon, standing for individuality, self-assuredness, strength, inclusivity, and off-beat good humor.
Lauper will come through town on Wednesday, September 28, playing the Arlington Theatre, and this time she will be going back to her roots. Though nominally a departure, her new set of songs actually finds Lauper returning to her earliest musical influences. “I felt like I was going backwards to my rockabilly days,” she said. “The early country artists have always affected me; I wore a Patsy Cline button, right next to a button that said ‘Nearly Famous’ or ‘Almost Famous,’ way before the movie.” She recalls watching the “beautiful ladies in sparkly dresses” on TV as a young girl — “Big clothes, big hair, big everything always attracted me” — and blues, rock, and country were big influences in her musical education.
Though things have changed in many ways since the ’80s, Lauper is still waiting for the day when women experience true equality. “The time hasn’t happened yet. We still don’t get equal pay for equal work, and it’s still very hard for women to get proper childcare for kids,” she said. She sees herself as continuing the many-generation fight by women for greater equality. “All of us as women have been working hard. I stand on the shoulders of the women that came before me and made and paved the way — we stand on the shoulders of the first suffragettes, and all they frickin’ wanted was a vote.”
But Lauper won’t stop fighting, whether for women or the LGBTQ community, even if time after time equality seems once again threatened or thwarted. “I believe in equality for everybody, not just for some,” she said. “You’re born the way you’re born. You are the way you are.”
Cyndi Lauper plays Wednesday, September 28, 8 p.m., at the Arlington Theatre (1317 State St.). For tickets, call (805) 963-4408 or see thearlingtontheatre.com