|Single by Cher|
|from the album Half-Breed|
|Released||July 23, 1973|
|Recorded||Larrabee Sound Studios, 1973|
|Cher singles chronology|
"Half-Breed" is a 1973 song recorded by American singer-actress Cher with instrumental backing by L.A. sessions musicians from the Wrecking Crew. Recorded on May 21, 1973 at Larrabee Sound in Los Angeles, it entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 89 on August 4, 1973, and on October 6, 1973, it became Cher's second US solo number 1 hit. The single was certified Gold in the US for the sales of over 1 million copies.
Song information and story
It was the first international release from Cher's album Half-Breed. It was meant to be sold to the American market. It tells the story, in the tradition of the tragic mestizo stock character, of a young woman with one white and one Cherokee parent, and describes the troubles faced by the main character. The song offers a scenario in which whites often called her "Indian squaw" while Native Americans did not accept her as one of their own because she was considered white according to Native law (the Cherokee, like many North American Native tribes, used matrilineal kinship, meaning a child born to a white mother and a Cherokee father, a half-breed or métis, could typically end up in such a limbo, although in the song the character's mother is a Cherokee Indian).
In 1973, "Half-Breed" topped the United States Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, becoming Cher's second solo and third overall Number 1 hit, and second Gold certified solo single for the sales of over 1,000,000 copies. It was a Number 1 hit in Canada and New Zealand, and a Top 10 hit in Australia and Norway, respectively.
Critical reception and composition
Peter Fawthrop wrote that this song has a jingling rhythm and that it is one of the lighter-hearted songs on the album. Rolling Stone recommended it and described Cher's vocals as frantic and the production as supremely commercial.
In 1999, after almost 25 years of not performing the song live, Cher performed the song in her Do You Believe? Tour. In 2002, she performed the song 326 times in her Living Proof: The Farewell Tour. In 2018, she performed the song during her Here We Go Again Tour. She performed it in Oceania but it was dropped after the first leg.
Cher performed the song on the following concert tours:
- Do You Believe? Tour (1999–2000)
- The Farewell Tour (2002–2005)
- Cher at the Colosseum (2008–2011)
- Dressed to Kill Tour (2014)
- Classic Cher (2017–2018)
- Here We Go Again Tour (2018)
The video for "Half-Breed" is a recorded performance of the song on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in 1973. Cher is on a horse while singing in front of a white screen. Props symbolizing Native America were used—wood carvings, a fire, and costumes.
In 2002, a special remix medley was created by Dan-O-Rama for a video montage that was used in Cher's Living Proof: The Farewell Tour. The medley contains the videos of "All I Really Want to Do", "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves", "Half-Breed", and "Dark Lady".
Charts and certifications
In popular culture
- An African-American female impersonator performs the song onstage in the 1999 film Flawless.
- The song appeared in the 2005 film Lords of Dogtown.
- In 2012, the character Shania Clemmons of the TV series The New Normal sang this song during a talent show while impersonating Cher.
- Swedish singers Björn Skifs & Blåblus (Blue Swede) made one of the first covers in 1973. It appeared on their album Pinewood Rally and a compilation entitled Björns Bästa (Bjorn's Best).
- German singer Joy Fleming recorded a German-language version "Halbblut" as a single in 1973. It peaked in the West German charts at no. 38 in February 1974.
- Orchestra leader Ray Conniff recorded it with his singers in November 1973. It remained unissued until 2009 when it appeared on Ray Conniff: The Singles Collection, Volume 3.
- In 1990 it was covered by Shania Twain but it was not released until 2001 on her album The Complete Limelight Sessions.
- It was covered by alternative rock band House of Large Sizes.
- Electronica artist Peaches covered it for youth radio station Triple J's "Like a Version" segment.
- RuPaul covered "Half-Breed" on The RuPaul Show.
- Shania Twain covered "Half-Breed" on her 2001 album The Complete Limelight Sessions recorded between 1989-1990.
- Hartman, Kent (2012). The Wrecking Crew. St. Martin's Griffin. pp. 261–263. ISBN 978-1-250-03046-7.
- "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- Review by P. Fawthrop of Allmusic Retrieved 14 October 2013
- Review by Paul Gambaccini of Rolling Stone Retrieved October 14, 2013
- "Palmarès de la chanson anglophone et allophone au Québec" (in French). BAnQ. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
- Fernando Salaverri (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
- RPM chart archives at Collections Canada for the Cher single Half-Breed.
- "Billboard Top 100 - 1973". Retrieved 2009-09-15.
- "Billboard Year-End Charts 1973" (PDF).
- "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
- "American single certifications – Cher – Half-Breed". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.