Over Analyzing Cher Lyrics by Andrea Grassi

Up until a year ago, I was certain that the proper lyrics to the chorus of Cher’s 1998 hit single “Believe” were: “Do you believe in love after love?” In actual fact, the lyric goes: “Do you believe in life after love”. Once Google had confirmed this fact first posed by a friend of mine I was previously serenading, I could be nothing but grossly disappointed at this revelation.

I had always thought the first (albeit improper) lyric to be a profound commentary on modern love’s ebb and flow. Pitting the singularity of a lover – the “one” the “soul mate” – against a more modern ideal of nowness and a new love, a fashioned love. Further, I thought the use of the word “believe” only reinforced Cher’s genius — as it was supposed by me to be a wink at the dance track’s target audience: the club-dwelling 90s hipster ironically believing in something, but only ever believing that they are their own heroes making their meaning.

But I was wrong. All of this analyses, of course, thrown out the door when I realized I had BELIEVED too much in Cher’s lyrical abilities. The truth is that no one really dies from heartache or a break up. Sure we feel like our hearts have been squeezed and twisted and then sucked out of our chests, but if you want to get specific, I’ve only ever heard of the orgasm described as a kind of death by the French, le petite mort (tiny death). And we should probably stick with the French on this one, because we all know the French are good at sex (um, they invented the blowgie) and looking cool while showing clear signs of substance abuse (smoking, drinking, pastries).

I could give Cher credit and say MAYBE she meant “life after love” in the French way – referring to the “love” as the sexual death and then rebirth of a relationship, the “life”. But I fear Cher only meant it in the American, Billy Ray Cyrus way – “achy breaky heart might blow up and kill its man, wooo oo wooo”.  OK, you could argue that Shakespeare said you could die of a broken heart – in fact a lot of his characters did. But I don’t really think, in retrospect, and deducing from the abundance of glitter and Abercrombie models and Auto-tune present in the video embedded below, that Cher was really trying to affect a literary crowd after all.

Too bad. But anyhow she still looks amazeballz, despite the fact that she is basically a fossil. Am I right?


Andrea Grassi is a writer and blogger based in Toronto. For more musings, click: agrassi.com

This post originally appeared on agrassi.com as part of a series called "Sound vs. Quill: An Exercise In Over Analyzing Song Lyrics"


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