Yesterday evening, December 10, two of the most iconic vocalists from the ’80s teamed up for an unforgetable cover of one of punk’s finest tracks. Cyndi Lauper held her annual Cyndi Lauper & Friends: Home for the Holidays benefit concert which included a star-studded lineup that included Kesha, Brandi Carlisle, Henry Rollins and more. During the event Lauper and Rollins teamed up to cover one of his former band’s most beloved songs, Black Flag’s middle-finger-to-authority anthem “Rise Above.”
Before perfoming, Rollins introduced the song by saying “I was in a band, and that band had a song,” to cheers and whistles. He was obviously referring to Black Flag, though it wasn’t certain what song he’d perform. He spoke of overcoming unsurmountable odds without fear, knowing you’re going to win because you are right. He said he feels that Black Flag’s Damaged is the perfect soundtrack for the night. Then he brought out Lauper for a duet of the song.
The two singers took turns shouting out the anthemic lyrics, “Jealous cowards try to control / Rise above, we’re gonna rise above / They distort what we say / Rise above, we’re gonna rise above.” For the chorus, the sang together, with the lines that punks have pumped their fists along to for nearly 40 years.
“Rise Above” came out on Damaged in 1981, Black Flag’s debut LP (though they’d released EPs and singles in the years). It was also some of Rollins first music with the band, replacing singers like Keith Morris (who went on the front Circle Jerks and later, one of the Black Flag reunion groups FLAG).
Proceeds for the event went to Lauper’s True Colors United. The organization works to prevent homelessness in the LGBTQ+ youth community.