'Pop music might not be the music somebody wants played at their funeral, but it’s something you’re going to be humming when you’re pushing your Walmart cart.' -Sheena EastonSheena Easton performed Friday night at the Parx Casino in Bensalem, Penn. She granted a rare interview to The Times Herald's Mike Morsch. Below is a streamlined take of his article. See the full story here.
In 1981, MTV was in its infancy and Sheena Easton was in her “bad perm” stage. Sounds like the perfect recipe to make a video for a hit record, huh?
“I remember going into EMI in London and (the executive) said, ‘They started this thing in America called MTV, making little films to go with the music,’” said Easton.
The result was a low-budget music video for Easton’s “Morning Train.” That “little film” helped propel the song to No. 1 and kick-start Easton’s pop singing career, despite the fact that the video had virtually no budget, no makeup artist and yes, no hair stylist.
“When I look at that video now, it’s just so horrible,” said Easton is a recent interview from her home in Las Vegas. “But it’s cutely horrible. It was the start of music videos and it sure as heck didn’t hurt the song. It was No. 1 everywhere.”
Now 30 years later, local fans will get a chance to hear Easton belt out “Morning Train” and her other hits at a standing-room-only concert at the Parx Casino’s 360 club in Bensalem. Easton is no stranger to casino gigs. She made a conscious choice several years ago that family was more important than career and she didn’t want to drag her children all over the world. So the Scottish-born singer made Las Vegas her permanent home base.
“It was easier to choose Las Vegas and play eight shows a week in a showroom there,” said Easton, whose two children, a son and a daughter, are now 16 and 15 years old, respectively.
“I did that for a few years until it got old. After a while I decided to work a couple weekends a month. And the easiest way to do that is to travel and do casino gigs.”
Although she’s grown from what she called “an unsophisticated 20-year-old kid” to a woman who “had money to go into stores and buy nice clothes, go to good hairdressers and learn about makeup,” one thing never changed about Sheena Easton: She was a pop singer in the early 1980s and she’s a pop singer now.“If something has universal appeal, like pop music, that’s a good indication you’re going to hear it in elevators for quite some time,” said the now 52-year-old singer. “It might not be the music somebody wants played at their funeral, but it’s something you’re going to be humming when you’re pushing your Walmart cart.”
If that sounds like somewhat of a playful perspective, it is. Easton knows what her fans like. “I’ve never been a believer of doing a concert and your fans going home unhappy because you decided to get all creative and artistic,” she said. “You have to give the audience the hits they paid to come and see. They’re coming to relive memories because they have a real connection to the music."
A two-time Grammy Award-winner, Easton has 13 gold albums and four platinum albums to go along with 15 Top 40 Billboard hits. She has sold more than 4 million albums in the U.S. and 20 million worldwide over the span of her career. “Morning Train” was her first and only No. 1 hit.Over the years, Easton has stayed busy with work on Broadway and in television in addition to casino appearances. In 2004, she was inducted into the Casino Legends Hall of Fame at the Tropicana Resort & Casino.
Easton rose to fame in the early 1980s with hits including “Morning Train," “For Your Eyes Only,” the theme song of the 12th James Bond film of the same name, which was nominated for Best Song of the Year at the 1982 Academy Awards, “Strut,” “Sugar Walls,” “The Lover in Me,” and “U Got the Look.”
And through it all, Easton has stayed true to herself and her goals. “When I work, it’s something I’m choosing to do on my own terms at my own pace,” she said. “It’s not a career, it’s not about having hits, it’s not about going into the studio and recording an album and going out to promote it because it needs to be a hit and the record company needs this and this and this. It’s none of that anymore. This is just about—and it sounds corny to say it—a celebration every time.”