Last night, the pop legend Cher was the final act to perform at the I Will Vote concert. The all-star virtual fundraising event also featured people like John Legend, Pink, and the Black Eyed Peas, and all of them were performing in support of the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris presidential ticket. Cher ended things by tweaking the lyrics to an old Hollywood-musical song, changing the lyrics to turn it into a sort of love song for Joe Biden.
Harold Arlen and Yip Hapburn wrote the song “Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe” for the 1943 musical Cabin In The Sky. It’s one of the few early Hollywood musicals that had an all-Black cast, and Ethel Waters sang the song in the movie. In its original form, “Happiness,” which was nominated for a Best Original Song Oscar, was a simple love song. It still is, more or less. (This would also be a pretty good place to note that Cabin In The Sky is crazy racist! Interesting decision to bring that one back!)
Cher kept some of the song’s original lyrics intact, telling us that Joe Biden has a smile that makes the lilacs want to grow, and that he’s got a way that makes the angels heave a sigh. But she also sang lines like these: “Right now, our country’s gloomy/ Fear is in the air/ But when Joe is president, hope is everywhere/ Troubles fly away, and life is easy go/ Joe will keep us safe, that’s all we need to know.” That’s a very optimistic assessment of a hypothetical Biden presidency! Here’s Cher’s performance from last night.
This morning, Cher released her version of “Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe” as a single. Here it is:
For comparison’s sake, here’s the scene from Cabin In The Sky:
Note: Cher changed every “Little Joe” lyric to “President Joe.”