Sheena Easton: The Morning Train Pulls Into San Diego
During the 1980’s, singer Sheena Easton provided gay audiences with a soundtrack that we could relate to; from heart wrenching ballads like, ‘Almost Over You’ to her ‘heck-a-slammin’ collaboration with Prince, ‘U Got The look.’ She broke big with ‘Morning Train (9 to 5),’ and from that point on there was no stopping the steam her pop catalog locomotive generated. She was tapped to sing the theme for the James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only, at a time when only more ‘seasoned’ artists were doing so. Eventually, the Scottish lass acquired the flair for sass; starting with ‘Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)’ and culminating with ‘Strut,’ ‘Sugar Walls’ and ‘The Lover In Me.’ Easton is the only artist in history to have Top 5 hits on Billboard’s five major charts, Pop, R & B, Country, Adult Contemporary & Dance.
Today, Easton is a single mother of two children, Jake and Skylar, and as she told me during our phone interview, she relishes a life of “picking up the kids, making sure you get the dry cleaning” is balanced with her knack for performing both her hits and in front of the camera.
Easton was very candid about her life, then and now, and if she only had one regret it was this, “I’d like to have my 25 year old ass back, I don’t want my 25 year old life back.”
Easton is slated as one of the performers for “Resolution: The Party,” Friday December 30th from 7-12:30am, which will be a kick off to New Year’s weekend, and held outside under the stars on Fifth Avenue.
Gay & Lesbian Times: Where does your love for music stem from?
Sheena Easton: When I was a kid I was surrounded by pop music, I’m the youngest of six, and all of my brothers and sisters were listening to different things. One brother was listening to Genesis and Yes, and all of those you know, Supertramp, all of the bands, Average White Band, from the 70’s. And, my other sister, she was into James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon. And, of course I had a sister who was into Tom Jones, and all of those guys. My mom was the one that had all of the 1940’s stuff, the Big Band, Glen Miller, Frank Sinatra. I was into, early on, the first album I ever bought was David Bowie Ziggy Stardust.
So, I was surrounded by every form of pop music…I had a very broad, eclectic pop base to draw from, and I used to sing along with everything, and I guess that’s how I, sort of by osmosis, got my repertoire. And that’s how I trained my voice in a way, I never took any kind of lessons, I just used to belt out listening to everybody’s music.
GLT: What is it like to have a strong gay fan base, and why do you feel we have gravitated to you as an artist?
SE: Well, I have a great many gay friends, and most of my friends that are gay love music and love, especially, female singers.
My basic feeling is, you know, especially talking to my friend Phillip, who passed actually two years ago… he said that he believes, and I agree with him, is that most of my gay friends-whether they’re male or female, they have no problem sitting and talking about how they feel.
It’s kind of like, you know, you grow up confronting your emotions and I think that a lot of female artists, that’s what they deal with, they deal with expressing your feelings.
A lot of contemporary rock and roll bands or whatever, there’s political commentary, there’s sort of nihilistic statements; but women will talk about how they feel, unless they’re being fucked over by somebody. Kind of like, ‘I can’t get enough of my man’ and ‘Oh God, my man just shit on me and dumped me again.’
And, I think that’s universal; I think men experience that, women experience that…maybe it’s just the fact that we’re up there singing about what everybody’s experiencing. A gay audience, they’re with you.
GLT: You went from good girl to pop temptress status in the blink of an eye in the 80’s…What do you attribute this change in your material to?
SE: See, I don’t really see that there was really a ‘blink of the eye’ change. Only in the sense that, it’s just like when I’m watching the younger artist coming up in the last few years. It always cracks me up whenever everybody goes, ‘ooh, look at Britney Spears. She went from this cute little thing to this sexy seductress.’ No, she grew up.
The thing about if you’re in the public eye and you’re growing up, everybody sees your growing up process. If you’re still into the same clothes, the same hair, the same music at 17 and 27 and 37, then people should get worried! You know, there’s a natural evolution and one of the things about going from being late teen/early twenties, to even mid-twenties…there’s huge changes…And, as you get older, as you go less from being a girl to woman, without sounding so corny, you get more confidence, you’re older.
You’re not as bashful to express your sensuality or your sexuality. And, also my music didn’t go from ‘Morning Train’ to ‘Sugar Walls.’ There’s that sort of in between stage, where I went from recording in England to recording in The States; and I had ‘Telefone,’ then ‘Strut.’ ‘Strut’ was certainly not shy and retiring, and that was before ‘Sugar Walls’ and ‘U Got The look’ and ‘The Lover In Me.’ So you’ve really got to look at the logical progression.
GLT: How difficult is it being a single mom, plus juggling the duties of life in the entertainment field?
SE: That’s tough, I think it’s rough for anybody who is a single mom and they have a job, that’s hard. For me, obviously, you could say, ‘well you don’t have to work; it’s not a financial consideration.’
And, I did spend a lot of time, and I still do spend the bulk of my time not working. But, there was a time when I took nine months at a time off, ten months, six months. And, what I have now is I think a really balanced life.
You know that I adopted my kids; I made a really conscious decision to become a mom. It wasn’t something that I sort of fell into, or accidentally happened, this was a very well laid out plan for me. And, it was a process, I kind of got out of the rut that I was in; which was record an album, go on tour, promote it, record an album.
When I was somewhere around the age of 30, that’s when I kind of got off of that carousel…I knew that what I was doing wasn’t satisfying me, I knew that for me, it just wasn’t going to work for the rest of my days…and I really looked at my life and saw that I was happier, got on the treadmill-I wasn’t in the public eye everyday and that wasn’t bothering me, that was actually making me happier to have my privacy.
And, I knew that if I wanted to be a mom, I would have to change my life, so I did…so, it’s a mixture of being creative and being a mom, and trying to fit in time to see my boyfriend, and all those things that anybody else has.
GLT: What can audiences expect from Resolution: The Party?
SE: I’m a real believer that if you come and see someone perform, and the only thing that you get is their idea of a wonderful evening that’s got nothing to do with their history or their catalog, that pisses me off. I want to hear the hits, I want to hear something that I’ve been hummin’ in the car, I want to hear something off of the greatest hits CD.
So, I make a point of giving a broad, sort of, selection from the 25 years that I’ve been recording. I definitely will perform a whole bunch of hits, and then I throw in other songs that are important to me, songs that I emotionally connect to.