Song: “Morning Train (Nine To Five)” by Sheena Easton
Reached #1: May 2, 1981 (her first, 2 weeks)
Sheena Easton’s American debut single wasn’t supposed to be called “Morning Train”. However, when EMI decided to release the song in early 1981, there was a bit of a problem – they really couldn’t call the song “9 to 5” (its UK title) since there was the pesky matter of a song that was on its way to #1 on the charts with the same name. They didn’t want anyone to think this was a cover of Dolly Parton’s song, so Easton’s song got a quick name change.
Sheena Easton’s career, it can be said, was one of the first (if not the first) kickstarted by a reality TV show. In the late ‘70s, the BBC had commissioned a series of documentaries under the title The Big Time. Each one showed a non-performer given access to a professional role in their field, and chronicled the results. Easton was selected as an example of an amateur singer trying to make it big. The Big Time both followed her as she tried to make it and wound up helping her make it. Her first UK single, “Modern Girl” didn’t really make a dent on their pop charts until the documentary aired – and that single pulled “9 to 5” into the top ten as well.
Of course, the fact that, in 1981, Easton was a cute 22-year-old with a fetching Scottish accent didn’t hurt, either…
I don’t think I need to recap the rest of her career, right? From her work with Prince, to a short run on Miami Vice, to her movie, TV, and musical theatre work and her long run as a Vegas casino presence, she’s never really been off the radar.
Here’s a “did you know?” for you: in Canada, “Morning Train” reached #1 the same week that it did in the USA. The song that it replaced as Canada’s #1? You got it, Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”.
Finally, there’s a somewhat bitter irony to the fact that her TV marriage (to Don Johnson’s “Sonny Crockett” on Miami Vice) only lasted 5 episodes. Easton has been married four times (her stage name is actually her first married name) – for a total of about four years.
Tomorrow, a notorious star whose biggest success came after he was gunned down.
Other songs that reached #1 on May 2:
1987 – “(I Just) Died In Your Arms” by the Cutting Crew (their first, 2 weeks)