Cher on Her First Christmas LP, a New Beau and 25 Years of ‘Believe’

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What’s your relationship to ambition at this point in your life?

Look, I’m working my ass off, so I must be ambitious. If I don’t have the love for it, I wouldn’t do it. But I’m proud of this album, too. And I love everyone on it. I never had people on my albums before, and I didn’t plan to. It kind of started with Cyn [Cyndi Lauper]. I said, I’m going to do this Christmas album, and I’m not even sure what I’m asking, but I just want to know that if I need you, that you’ll be there. She said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, fine.”

And then I did a Stevie song [his rendition of “What Christmas Means to Me”], but there were parts that I just didn’t know how to access. Because it belongs to him, not to me. So I did my version, and I sent it to him. I thought I was going to have to, like, get down on bended knee — but I didn’t. He said, Cher, is it one of my songs? Do you want me to play harmonica on it? When he said yes, my sister and I were in my bedroom and I just ran around and jumped up and down on my bed. I was yelling, “Stevie Wonder is going to be on my album!”

Are you watching other veteran performers now, to see how you might do things differently?

I’m not going to do things differently. If people come to see you, they want you to do things they like. I remember seeing Bob Dylan — I think it was “Blood on the Tracks.” And I went to the first concert and some of the songs I went, “What is this?” He got tired of singing the songs the same way. But people really want to hear their favorite song exactly the same way. It doesn’t make any difference if I’m tired of it. I have to find it inside myself to love it and to love what I’m doing.

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Had you thought much about this stage of your career?

I never thought I would get here. I mean, my age is so frightening. It’s like, the numbers are so big. And I keep thinking, Where did it go? I was busy working. While I was busy being Cher, how did this happen? No one’s given me any info.

I still have a lot of energy and I can still be really excited about things. I live in Malibu. I can see the ocean, and that’s my favorite thing. I love my house. I’m grateful.

How do you celebrate Christmas?

I don’t cook, but everyone ends up at my house. Stragglers, family. We’ve got lots of kids around, and teenagers. Mostly we’re just talking and acting crazy and watching movies and hanging out. We don’t put on really Christmas music, just fun music. But music doesn’t seem to be a large part of it. Everybody’s talking too loud.

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