Kick starting his first national tour in two decades in St. John’s, Canadian icon Corey Hart reflects on the road that brings him back, full circle, to NL
On August 26th, 2017, Corey Hart took to the stage at Centennial Field in Grand Falls-Windsor. It was his first time performing in Newfoundland and Labrador since July of 1985 as part of his Boy in the Box tour and one of only a handful of live performances since returning to live performing after stepping away from music in 2002. Family and fatherhood took precedent over a lucrative record deal and tour royalties.
Ahead of the full circle return to the island over 30 years in the making, Hart allowed The Herald a rare interview where, in acknowledging that his big stage return was as much for his family as it was for him, he remained non-committal on his future.
“Maybe I’ll go back in the studio and make another record and I’ll be able to do my music more full time,” Hart told The Herald in August of 2017.
Fast forward to 2019 and the landscape of the career of the man who popularized Sunglasses at Night and became a teenage heartthrob in the process has shifted dramatically.
He’s a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame – inducted in March of this year at an emotional ceremony at the Junos. His first new album of material in 20 years, Dreaming Time Again, has been released to the masses. And his first cross-Canada tour in two decades is set to kick off right here in St. John’s on May 31st, on his birthday no less.
Dreaming time again
Yes, it is indeed dreaming time again for Hart, who in that candid and open interview in the sultry summer of 2017, could have scarcely conjured up what would unfurl some two years later. History is once again in the making.
Sitting down in The Herald office, Hart pauses to take in everything that has brought him back to The Rock, a journey 34 years in the making.
“I had two dreams as a kid,” he begins. “One was to make music and the other was to be a father. And so I’ve fulfilled both of those dreams. But the music one was, you know, compartmentalized in terms of what I was able to do in the last 20 years. I stopped myself. If ever I got urges to write I would stop myself from writing because I thought there’s no point, it’s just going to frustrate me to write songs when I know I’m not going to record them.
“So Dreaming Time Again, when I write about it in the lyrics I talk about going back on the road and there’s a new adventure. Music’s calling me. It’s very uplifting, joyous, celebratory lyrics and it’s just this season in my life when I can go back and do what I used to do.”
Playing the rock
Tracing the lines from ’85’s sold out engagement at Memorial Stadium, through serenading the masses in Grand-Falls, to kicking off the historic Never Surrender tour in St. John’s, and all parties agree there is something serendipitous about the whole thing. The what and the when are of paramount interest, but the where, too, has great significance.
“It’s a long time,” Hart acknowledges, discussing his relationship with ‘The Rock.’ “We talked about that and it was very important for me to come back … I said, look if I’m doing this tour I want to start it in Newfoundland. The way I started my Boy in the Box tour in July of ’85. I haven’t done a proper tour in 20 years and I haven’t put out an album in 20 years. When we spoke (in 2017) there was no discussion about new music.”
Having teased a special surprise for Newfoundland audiences back in 2017, Hart would go on to debut his version of the Ron Hynes classic Sonny’s Dream at AtlanticFest. Two years later, and Hart has recorded and released the single, featuring none other than Newfoundland’s proud son, Alan Doyle.
“I felt I wanted to have the authenticity of his voice singing those lines. And then we worked out the harmonies for the rest of it,” Hart said of Doyle’s involvement on the emotional cover. “I think I take some liberties with the melody a little bit, even some lyrics … And then that’s kind of what I did when I was on stage and I liked the way it just came out naturally that night. It’s a really special recording for me. I love hearing it.”
Recounting his induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the entire whirlwind experience at the Junos, Hart becomes somewhat emotional. It’s evident that the honour of being recognized for a lifetime of artistry still resonates weeks later.
“It’s just so sweet and surreal, but the whole process before was surreal that this was actually happening and while it was happening it was surreal,” Hart says. “I’ve only watched it a couple of times and every time I watch I start to cry. I can’t help it. It’s just something about the music, they played everything in my heart and then I see my children… even talking about it now I get emotional. It’s just my life. You know it’s hard to explain except that I was just so blessed that I was given that honour. I really never expected that. I was gone for 20 years. There’s a lot of super talented Canadian musicians that deserve to be in the Hall of Fame before me, after me, during me. It’s just an incredible gift that they gave me. For my fans and also for my family to see that, it’s the highlight of my career.”
One thing is evident sitting across from the legendary singer-songwriter; his passion for the business that served as the backdrop for a life and career is as strong now as it was in the beginning. And he’s deadly serious about living up to the expectations of generations worth of fans and followers come show-time.
“I take everything that I do seriously,” he explains. “I take this interview seriously, I take any time that someone’s going to give me their time to talk to me about my music and my career seriously. They’re showing me respect and it’s a reciprocal process. So I take it seriously and take the fans seriously. I want them to have a great time. And that means a lot of massive preparation. We’re still working on it every day. And we’ll probably be tweaking it right up to the last minute.”
As before, Hart remains non-committal on his future post-tour. Admitting he is reluctant to dive “down the rabbit hole” of making records and touring full time. But, he is quick to explain that the fire is back, and it’s burning.
It’s this newest chapter in a story many thought long finished that has the soon to be 57 year old energized. You can see it in his eyes, in his movements. Never Surrender, as a soundtrack, is appropriate. Dreaming Time Again? That’s pure poetry.
“In 2019 I often say if you’re reading a chapter of my book and you started from chapter one, I don’t know where the novel is now, maybe in the third act or close to the fourth act,” he says. “I hope to live to 90 or 100, but these are the greatest chapters in my life right now.”
Tickets to see Corey Hart at Mile One Centre on May 31st available at the box office and online at mileonecentre.com. For more on Hart visit