Thursday, July 08, 2010

Music Box: Sheena Easton

UPDATE: A good friend informs me that in the '80s, at the height of her fame, Sheena's first husband performed in drag AS HER -- as "Sandi Easton" -- in clubs in England. I can't help but wonder if this was the inspiration for Jane Krakowski's storyline on "30 Rock" everyone keeps telling me about!

In what amounted to an embarrassment standoff, Michael and I took turns quietly singing along to Sheena Easton's "You Could Have Been With Me" the other night in a diner, each waiting for the other one to be the first to admit that he LOVES that song -- or in my case, that lass. The year was 1981, Rick Springfield ruled the airwaves and I was in my fourth year of junior high -- in Michigan our junior high school became middle school the year I entered sixth grade, and then when we moved to Arizona the following year, they still had 9th grade in junior high, better known as hell on earth -- when "Morning Train (9 to 5)" hit the airwaves. The song was an instant smash -- shooting to the top of the American charts -- and I raced out to buy the 45.

Much to my surprise, I liked the follow-up, "Modern Girl," even better (I later found out it was actually her first single in her native Great Britain), and a love affair was born, which included many of the earliest -- and cheesiest -- music videos, countless appearances on "Solid Gold" and a series sizzling of commercials for Vic Tanny and Bally's health centers.

Looking back, Easton is practically considered a one-hit wonder of the '80s, yet the history books show she had an amazing decade-long run after winning the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1981, scoring 15 Top 40 hits -- eight of which made the Top 10 -- including "For Your Eyes Only" (which Blondie turned down), "Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)," "Strut," "Sugar Walls" and "The Lover in Me," plus "We've Got Tonight" with Kenny Rogers and "U Got the Look" with Prince. (How many of today's artists would KILL for numbers like that?) The delightful "So Far So Good" from the "About Last Night" soundtrack just missed the Top 40 in 1986, but should have been a smash, as should have her cover of "Jimmy Mack."

I hadn't thought much about Sheena in the last decade or so until that night in the diner with Michael (I still smile when I think of her total slutformation and her later transition into fitness goddess!). But a recent purchase of "The World of Sheena Easton: The Singles Collection" has reminded me that the babe from Scotland -- whose speaking voice is completely unintelligible yet sings like an angel -- was far more than a footnote on the adult contemporary charts, but one of the most successful singles acts of the era.


Richard Wall said...

Remember how we all thought that Sheena was going to be the next Streisand? (We did think that!) My fav Sheena is "We've Got Tonight" with Kenny Rogers. Yes, I admit it.

Anonymous said... seemed to leave out one small detail about the other night at the diner. You were singing the wrong words all along, and I was not.

You could have been with me
Instead of alone and lonelyyyy


nojarama said...

I admit, like you that I do enjoy me a bit of early Sheena, every so often. Much to poor Julie Brown's dismay... "Oh no! It's SHEENA!!!" He-he!

Ron said...

Wow - thanks for the flashback. But no "Morning Train" video too? (Although I had to listen to the two you did post, of course!)

Late said...

Sugar Walls!

James Greenlee said...

My guilty pleasure Kenny Rogers duet is "Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer" with Kim Carnes. Great harmonies, though Kenny does most of the heavy lifting. Have you done a Kim Carnes post?

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

James: Does a cow moo? Read my Kim Carnes post HERE!