Cyndi didn’t write this one, it’s from the team of Tom Kelley and Billy Steinberg, but she sure sings the hell out of it, and she came up with the arrangement – I read here in Wikipedia that it started life as a sort of gospel song. Steinberg liked Cindy’s take better, and found her arrangement “stark and breathtaking”.
Cyndi herself is a bit of an enigma. Her first album, She’s So Unusual, was inordinately huge, almost Thriller huge, with seven top 40 singles on it. You’d swear it was a greatest hits collection. She showed real range too, veering from not-so-silly pop in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun to hard Van Halen style rock in Money Changes Everything, to sensitive love balladry in Time After Time. The album was on the charts all year, sold over 20 million copies, and looked to be the beginning of an amazing career. Conventional wisdom at the time was that this Madonna person was just a flash in the pan, cranking out danceable ephemera, while the real sustainable talent was Cyndi.
True Colours became a sort of anthem for the gay community – it wasn’t written to be, but Cyndi has always said she’s glad they adopted it as their own. It really does sound like a gentle exhortation to come out of the closet, but it’s really about how it ought to be possible for all harmless folk to simply be who they are, unafraid of scorn or disapproval, which just goes to show how all of us are the same, in the same boat, with the same fears. Steinberg actually wrote it for his mother, who must have been a gentle soul.
I sure wish I could have written something so kind and loving for my Mom.