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Corey Hart: Hits, Sunglasses At Night, MTV, Sir Tom Jones, Elvis & More…

Exclusive Interview by “Bad” Brad Berkwitt

“MTV has lost its innocence.” – Corey Hart

In 1984, I was still living down in North Miami Beach, Florida, and as many that were my age back then (16 to be exact), loved Friday Night Videos. I was part of that group. The show aired on NBC from July 29, 1983 through December 30, 2000.

I can remember sometime in 1984, this tune coming on that had the line “I wear my sunglasses at night.” It had a heavy beat, catchy lyrics, and in the video, a 22 year old Corey Hart singing the song, which he wrote. I was hooked along with many of my cronies… It was not that long after the video aired, that the song made it up the US charts to #7 with a bullet.

Everywhere you went in Miami, the song played and many teenagers walked around with Ray Ban Sunglasses on during the night…

Some 27 years later, from that first big hit, Corey sat down with Ringside Report to talk about his music career and his love of family. This interview shows that Hart also has a very humorous side to him as well….

BB: Let’s catch the Ringside Report readers on what you are up to today?

Our oldest daughter India, 16 years old, has had bronchitis with high fever which will not subside. So I am taking her to the doctor in about 10 minutes. I have about 900, well…962 to be precise, of unanswered inbox emails from the new CoreyHart.com website Gmail. So hopefully I can answer a batch.

River, our third daughter, 12 years old, also happens to be a tennis phenomenon, but I can’t be objective, can I? She has a match this evening so I always look forward to watching her play. Her sister, Dante, age 13, is also good at tennis & plays doubles so we will be busy. I hope to squeeze in dinner at our favorite Sichuan Restaurant tonight. We got a second whippet this morning, named him “Monday,” so the children are all excited as it was a surprise. Well, you asked what I was up to today. (Laughs)

BB: I have read music was a very big part of your life from an early age. With that said, what was the first artist and song that you really flipped over?

The first records I bought were 45´s of “Ben” by Michael Jackson and “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart. My pivotal influence with dreams to write and sing in my early teens was Mr. Billy Joel.

BB: At the age of 11, you tried out for a major force in music Sir Tom Jones. What was he like back then and do you still maintain contact with him today?

No, I haven’t had contact with Mr. Jones since I was a kid. He was nice, listened to me sing several songs, called Paul Anka to lend an ear and kept looking at my older sister with flirtatious glances. (Big Laugh)

BB: Sunglasses At Night dominated the Miami radio station airwaves where I grew up on stations like Y100 back in 1984. What was the inspiration for the song?

I also spent a few years growing up in South Florida (Key Biscayne). I also listened to Y100 and Y95.

Before I had the epiphany for “Sunglasses At Night,” I was toying around with a melody that was similar, but the words were: “I keep getting, I keep getting my cigarette all wet.” It’s quite ironic because I never smoked a cigarette a single day of my life, but while I was in the UK recording my first album, it was raining so much that I had this idea about getting “wet.” Thankfully it eventually morphed into a much cooler concept with “Sunglasses at Night.”

The song was recorded in a very small studio called “Revolution,” in an even smaller town near Manchester called “Cheadle Hume.” The legendary comedian Bob Hope and I met; sharing the same elevator in a Minneapolis Hotel after the song was released in America. As we walked into the lobby he said: “Hey, aren’t you the Canadian kid who sings about sunglasses in the dark?” I was thrilled.

BB: Doing research for our interview, I found out that you covered a great song that Elvis made famous named “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.” You did a totally different interpretation of the song, which I enjoyed listening to on Youtube for the first time. What are your thoughts of your recording of this standard?

Thank you for the kind words. I liked the version as well. Cover interpolations – this is quite a sensitive topic for me. I have refused 30 requests or more for interpolation on the song since the year 2000, very often from some of our industry’s most successful recording artists like P. Diddy or Nelly Furtado. It has never been about me not liking their versions, although naturally some were better than others.

It is the overall concept of interpolation that I cannot reconcile with creatively. Someone randomly chopping up the song, or let me rephrase this with a kinder analogy: Someone editing out the parts of the song that they don’t want and replacing them with newly created ones. This process doesn’t feel right for me as a songwriter.

But when I did a cover myself of the Elvis classic “Can’t Help Falling In Love” in 1987, it was a hit record for me around the world reaching #1 in many countries from Canada to Japan. Of course, many people preferred the original version and this is also totally cool, but I didn’t chop the song up. I simply performed it in my own style. Covers are a completely different animal to interpolation. I think if interpreted well, they are simply wonderful. Some of my favorite songs have been covers, like Sheryl Crow’s “First Cut is the Deepest” or Randy Newman’s “Feels Like Home,” covered beautifully by Chantal Kreviazuk.

BB: I can remember when Friday Night Videos a great show of the 80’s ran your song “Sunglasses At Night” and video, which was very popular. How fun was it to shoot the video?

FNV was a terrific show. It really glued most teens in the USA to their TV screens, catching their new favorite artists clip. I really enjoyed shooting my first one. The Director, Rob Quartly, really believed in me. This helped tremendously in making me feel comfortable when cameras started to roll.

BB: You had a chance to make movies, but turned the opportunity down even having a chance to play Marty McFly in “Back To The Future,” a role that put Michael J. Fox on the map. What caused you not to be interested in movies when so many other singers over the years such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis made it to Hollywood?

This is a question I am frequently asked. I really never wanted to be an actor. In retrospect, I probably should have given it a go on one of the offers. After the video for “I Am By Your Side,” which was released in 1986 and aired on Friday Night Videos, I got a call from Sylvester Stallone’s office asking if I was interested in doing some film work with him. He had seen the video on MTV with his then wife Brigitte Nielson. I was understandably very flattered, but never followed up on this. Pretty dumb, huh?!

BB: Why do think MTV is not as popular today as when you first started and was a medium that really sold songs through the videos for many of the artists you came up with?

MTV has lost its innocence. So have music videos. They are less relevant in 2011 than back in the 1980’s when a video really sold a song or broke open radio barriers. It was exciting, innovative, ground-breaking stuff that truly revolutionized the music industry.

BB: If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one CD and one movie, what would you choose?

That’s a very tough, abstract question. I have been recently making compilation CD’s for my children on tennis car drives so they expand their musical horizons.

How about a song from each of the following: Police, Gladys Knight., Beatles, Eagles, Foreigner, Paul Young, Supertramp, Eurythmics, Phil Collins, Alannah Myles, Rod Stewart, Electric Light Orchestra, Jack Johnson, KC and the Sunshine Band, and of course a Corey Hart track for good measure.

One movie…Impossible…. Home videos of all 4 of our children – that’s Oscar to me!

BB: What is one thing you can share with the NewzBreaker readers that has never been heard before?

I memorized every capital in the world from the encyclopedia when I was 10 years old. So all I can say is thank god I found music because that was pretty pathetic.

BB: Finally, what is the saying you live your life by?

“Count your blessings cause it’s in your soul.”

You can visit Corey’s website by clicking here.

(Interview conducted in 2011.)

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