Cyndi Lauper once pulled a drive by on me. I had it coming because I started the whole thing, but it was memorable nonetheless.
She was performing at a Fourth of July celebration along the Charles River in Boston. It’s a massive event that the Boston Symphony Orchestra does each year. They always get a celebrity performer and that year, 80s star Cyndi Lauper was performing. While walking on a side street, a van slowly pulled up beside me. I looked in the open window and there she was.
I’m not a huge Lauper fan, but I thought it’d be funny to have a fan go crazy about seeing her, so that’s exactly what I did. I thrust both my arms straight out and kind of did spirit fingers and yelled, “It’s Cyndi Lauper!” as loud as I could.
She locked eyes with me, leaned out the window and did a drive by yell. I prefer to think she screamed “I see your True Colors Jon Acuff!” but my wife disagrees. Then she drove away.
The whole thing took about 3 seconds and was probably one of the nicest things I’ve ever done for Cyndi Lauper. For at least a brief moment she got to relive those crazy days when her song “Girls just wanna have fun” was massive and she was a huge celebrity. But as kind as that was of me that’s nothing compared to us finally claiming her song “True Colors” for Jesus.
I’m not sure how this happens. I don’t know the criteria for taking a song from the 80s, rerecording it and then throwing it on Christian radio. My wife likes to joke that secular songs have a half life of 20 years and that it takes that long to lose the taint of “devil music” before we can claim them. I’m not convinced though.
So instead of trying to come up with a formula, I thought I would suggest a few other 80s songs I would like to see us claim for Jesus:
1. “I want to know what love is” – Foreigner
This one is practically already a praise song. You wouldn’t even need to change the lyrics at all. Look at this chorus – “I want to know what love is, I want you to show me I want to feel what love is, I know you can show me”
2. “Nothing’s Going to Stop us Now” – Starship
You might need to change, “baby” to “Jesus” but it would be worth it to claim this gem from the movie “Mannequin.” After all, “let em say we’re crazy, what they do they know?”
3. “Die without you” – PM Dawn
I don’t think first time authors usually get to do book tours but if I do, I’m going to see if Zondervan will let me take PM Dawn on the road with me. (I promise they’re available even though this song came out in the 90s.) We’ll get a VW Vanagon and tour the country performing this song and reading chapters from the book. They’ll have to rewrite the first verse, but the last verse fits perfectly: “So take every little piece of my heart…Yeah, take every little piece of my soul…Yeah, take every little piece of my mind…’Cause if you’re gone… inside…I’d die without you…” (I’ll probably be in charge of singing the ellipsis)
4. “Never Tear Us Apart” – INXS
Was there anyone cooler than INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence in the 80s? I submit no. I would have Michael Hutchence hair right this second if it were possible. I bought this CD at a yard sale last Saturday for $2.00 but would have paid $20. Does this song sound Christian? Debatable, but these lyrics kind of sound like something from the Message version of the book of Psalms – “I told you, that we could fly, ‘cause we all have wings, but some of us don’t know why”
5. “Standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand” – Primitive Radio Gods
This one shouldn’t be on the list for a lot of reasons. For one, it’s not from the 80s. We’re going to need to change their name or at the bare minimum lower case the “g.” And the lyrics are a little weird too. We might need to rewrite 80% of this one, which I’m fine with as long as we keep the lyric: “If I die before I learn to speak, can money pay for all the days I lived awake, but half asleep?”
I wanted to get a good rap song for this list but I couldn’t find one that didn’t require complete editing and I feared what sort of filter it would need to go through to get approved for Christian radio. I’m leaving rap to people like Lecrae. And I desperately wanted Prince to be on the list but that little 5 foot dynamo of Minnesota funk was just not having it.
What song from the 80s would you claim for Jesus?