Corey Hart Talks ‘New’ Version of ‘Sunglasses at Night,’ Stepping Away From Music + More [Exclusive]
Corey Hart’s debut single ‘Sunglasses at Night’ was a monster hit in the early ’80s. It catapulted the singer to massive superstardom and the song endures, beloved by generations of music fans for its titular hook.
Artists like Diddy and Nelly Furtado have requested permission to use the song and interpolate it. Hart wasn’t interested in anyone chopping up his music and turned ’em all down…flat. Until production collective Papercha$er entered his life.
In 2012, Papercha$er approached Hart, offering him the opp to shape the track on his terms and ‘Night Visions (Sunglasses)’ was born.
Hart, who left active music making to raise his four children, continued to work, writing songs for Celine Dion and other artists. He will take the stage on May 31, 2014 – his birthday — and perform a marathon set at the Bell Centre in Montreal, his hometown. It’ll be his first concert since 2002 and he plans to make it special, commemorating 30 years of music. “I’m gonna try and match Mr. Springsteen’s legendary marathon sets,” Hart said. “It’s been over 12 years since my last concert. I wanna make this one last forever.”
PopCrush nabbed some time with the ’80s icon, who discussed why he finally allowed the song to be re-sculpted, a chance meeting with Bob Hope and some of his best memories from the period when he was atop the pop world.
You put a new spin on a classic song that had a distinct moment in time, one that certainly transported us back to a simpler time in life. What were your emotions after doing this new version of such an iconic track?
‘Sunglasses at Night ‘ was my debut single in November 1983. Man….I was barely 20-years old when I wrote it. The track will always engender visceral emotions because it was my first hit out of the box introducing me to the world stage. I recorded the new vocals for ‘Night Visions’ in Barcelona, Spain. To be honest, this entire project has had an authentic karma-like destiny, as if it were all meant to play out this way some 30 years later. A new beginning for the next generation truly transporting my career full circle.
What was it about Papercha$er’s proposal/version that REALLY got you on board with this, since you were adamant about not letting other artists interpolate the song? By the way, this version really sounds super fresh and current!
Hosh Gureli at Primary Wave Music, who manages Papercha$er, reached out to me over a year ago to explore the idea of doing an EDM version of ‘Sunglasses at Night.’ As you correctly alluded, I have turned down literally hundreds of offers — including some from big music stars — to have the song interpolated. Many versions have also been released on the Internet illegally, but there is little control I can reign in over this kind of piracy.
As a songwriter, I could never reconcile the creative concept of interpolation chop chop. It just never felt right to me. I heard some super remixes Papercha$er had worked on. It was obvious to my ear they were supremely talented in their genre. We all got on the phone to chat. I knew straight off these were nice dudes. I asked them, ‘If we move forward, I’ll need to have the creative freedom to interpolate myself.’
‘Absolutely’ was the reply. Sonically, these guys kill it. No way in the world would I ever have a bloody clue how to replicate or create their amazing sounds. But I was also excited about the possibilities of re-sculpting my original song with new lyrics, new melody lines and hopefully a razor sharp vocal!
For decades, I’ve harbored a Russian motif in the back of my mind. St. Petersburg, Russia where you can truly ‘wear your sunglasses at night’ during white night summer seasons. The sun sets at 3 AM or later!
I also wanted to make a symbolic statement about world solidarity, as I sense we are becoming even more polarized as time marches on. Music is powerful — it has no boundaries. The universe is trying to tell us everybody needs to come together now rejoice solidarity. ‘Antidote is in the venom when a snake bites / All you gotta do is love and stop the fight / Put up your poster shades alright / And always wear your sunglasses at night!’
You have an autobiography coming out next year — can you give us a little scoop or insight on that?
Yes I do. It will be released the night of my concert at the Bell Centre in Montreal May 31, 2014. Scoop eh? Hmm, I’m not a bulls–ter. So the book will be 100% truthful with no cosmetics. It will cover the full scope of my life thus far. Honesty is a fundamental core value which I hold in the highest esteem. I have aways tried to teach a code of ethics to my kids and in turn endeavored to live my life by the same standards. I will not write anything which may hurt or slander another celebrity, although I have seen a lot.
What are some of your favorite memories from when ‘Sunglasess’ was a huge hit? Music and the industry have changed, but what are some of your greatest moments from that era?
My teenage dreams of being a famous singer-songwriter became reality during that wonderful summer of ’84. My life was forever changed. I journeyed from being a relatively unknown opening act for artists like Rick Springfield and Hall and Oates to headlining my own arena tours by the time my second album was released in 1985, with the first single ‘Never Surrender’ topping the Billboard charts.
I was always humbled by my success. I tried my best to keep my feet firmly centered on the ground despite the surreal experiences of being a ‘rock star.’ One of the coolest memories from that era was when per chance I shared an elevator ride in a Minneapolis hotel with the iconic comedian Bob Hope. He looked over to me just as we hit the lobby, putting his arm across my shoulders and with a smile said, ‘You’re the kid with the sunglasses aren’t you?’ Sweet!