The title of Cyndi Lauper’s breakthrough album “She So Unusual” was apt since there was no one quite like the quirky singer from Queens a generation ago. Lauper was funky, stylish and eccentric when she knocked on the mainstream door in 1983.
It was surprising that Lauper crossed over from the New York indie scene to the top of the charts, which was filled with milquetoast, forgettable pop.
Lauper wasn’t just a breath of fresh air. She accomplished something unprecedented.
“She’s So Unusual” was the first female debut album to have four top-five hits. There is the whimsical and anthemic “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” the off-the-wall synth-driven ode to masturbation “She Bop,” the earnest ballad “Time After Time” and the pretty “All Through The Night.”
The album earned Lauper the Best New Artist Grammy in 1985. It’s not surprising that Lauper is looking back fondly at “She’s So Unusual.”
Lauper, 60, is paying tribute to the release. “She’s So Unusual” will be played in its entirety when Lauper returns tonight to Ruth Eckerd Hall. Lauper called from Nashville to look back at the album and what else she might do when she plays Clearwater.
Q: I remember seeing you at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1984, just before your album broke.
A: I remember that Irish band opened for me.
Q: Major Thinkers. It’s hard to believe that you remember that.
A: I’m Sicilian. We remember like elephants. I remember (the Hooters’) Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian (who played on ‘She’s So Unusual’) joined me onstage. I remember every bit of that show.
Q: Do you remember lying onstage with your eyes closed and someone stroking your hair?
A: Was that you?
A: No wonder you seem familiar. But that’s all funny. People have always been into my hair. I’m always changing the color of it except when I’m home. I keep it simple then.
Q: But it was more than your hair. It was the songs. You covered some very well constructed songs. You recorded songs written by such great writers as Jules Shear, who never received the acclaim he deserves, to Prince. What was the song selection process like?
A: I didn’t just want to record catchy songs. I wanted to sing songs I would aspire to write. Those songs still stand up so well. I can easily go on a ‘She’s So Unusual’ tour.
Q: What is the common denominator between the songs?
A: There was something magical about each of them. There was something special about each song.
Q: And then there was your voice. Some great female voices came out of the ’ 80s; there was you, Bjork and Sinead O’Connor, among others.
A: Didn’t Bjork and Sinead O’Connor come out of the ’90s?
Q: Bjork emerged in 1988 with the Sugarcubes and Sinead’s first album, ‘The Lion and the Cobra,’ came out in 1987.
A: I guess I’m thinking of Sinead’s big hit (‘Nothing Compares 2 U.’)
Q: That came out in 1990 and was written by Prince, who also wrote the exceptional ‘When U Were Mine,’ which is part of ‘She’s So Unusual?’
A: Not a hit, but a great song.
Q: You can always tell a Prince song. His fingerprints are all over the song, no matter who sings it. What is it about Prince as a songwriter?
A: That’s absolutely true about Prince. He writes about ordinary situations in a most extraordinary way.
Q: What can fans expect at your show?
A: I’m going to tell stories and have fun. I’m not sure what I’ll do for an encore. We’ll figure it out.
Q: How did it feel to win a Tony Award for best original score for ‘Kinky Boots’?
A: That whole thing was amazing. To have success on Broadway is incredible. I did whatever I could to make the best possible music. It worked out, and so has so much in my career. I have a lot to be thankful for.
When: 7:30 p.m., Nov. 8
Where: Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater
Tickets: 49.50, $60 and $100; (727) 791-7400 and www.rutheckerdhall.com