Corey Hart blows my mind

The sheer coincidence of this is kind of ridiculous.

I just spent some time transferring the old magazine articles I had written onto my new blog, “Sound Insights.”  Now that the blog was up and ready, I told a friend I’d write something new when something moved me to write.  One of the slight disadvantages of magazine deadlines was the “assignment” aspect of it – I had to write about X by such-and-such a date.  I like that the blog is more of an “at will” scenario.  I think the posts will be more meaningful.

To that point, few could be more meaningful than this one.  Those of you who read we-got-the-beats facebook page know I posted just a few days ago that I wrote an email to Corey Hart, and he wrote back (within minutes, to my shock.)

I told him when I was a kid, I was a fan of his radio hits (he is best known in the USA as an 80’s artist/synth-pop act) and although I had considered it, I never went out and bought one of his first three full albums (it would have been on cassette at the time.)  The truth is, paper route money didn’t go very far in those days.

I went on to mention a summer at the Jersey Shore, where I would always play the Boardwalk games that let you win music.  I would usually win at least one, and usually for less than the price of going out and buying one.  On this trip, I got it in my head to finally take a chance on a Corey Hart album. 

As luck/fate would have it, they didn’t have any of Corey’s first three albums, with hits like “I Am By Your Side,” “Everything In My  Heart,” “Never Surrender,” etc.  They only had his latest called Young Man Running.  I had seen the first video from YMR on MTV, a song called “In Your Soul.”  I remember thinking, “Where’s the synth?” and other Americans must have thought the same thing, because the song tanked in the US, and that was pretty much the end of Corey’s chart success in the US – although he continued to do well in his native Canada.  (IMO, the album was a few years ahead of its time when everyone started to “unplug” en masse.)

I took YMR home, and the more I listened to it, the more I “got it.”  It became and still is one of the most important I have ever owned and still treasure.  (I have several copies in case anything ever happens to one.  I’ve given some to friends.  I have one in my spouse’s car CD player.)  In my mid-teens, “Young Man Running” – I don’t think there was a better description.  Songs like “Lone Wolf,” “So It Goes,” “No Love Lost,” and “Chase The Sun” totally fit where I was at the time.  His songs were different from a lot of what was on the radio, with intelligent lyrics, and solid musicianship.  It was not what I expected from a Corey Hart album.  It was much more.

I also told Corey that his song, “Truth Will Set You Free” from that album, while I loved it as much as the rest at that time, took on a more significant meaning as I began to wrestle with coming out in the mid-90’s.  I had read on his website recently that there was going to be a remix of it (random?) but was slightly hesitant to tell him exactly how and why I related to it.  I’m not one to ever hide who I am; I’ve come too far for that.  But part of me didn’t want to know if he wasn’t down with it.  It’s very disappointing to have someone you have admired for a long time reveal an anti-gay bias.  And I very consciously boycott artists like Eminem who have bad things to say about gay people.  (I don’t even carry Eminem in my store.)

As I mentioned, minutes later, there was a reply in my inbox:

“got your email tony. thanks for the very kind words. letters like yours makes it all worthwhile.   please check  may 31 on my web site.
i think it will mean a lot to u. one love,  corey hart”
Of course, May 31 (today) was the day Corey was going to release the news about the new remixed version of one of my favorite songs on one of the most important albums I’d ever heard:
‘Truth Will Set U Free’ is about honesty and my philosophic belief that ultimately being true to yourself is the key to happiness. Every individual’s inalienable right to be who they are without fear or recrimination.

But above these universal themes there is a message which in 1988 as a young 26 year old songwriter I obscured in veiled lyrical imagery. I have since rewritten some of those words to lift the veil.

‘Truth will Set U Free’ is also a song composed for those who were born gay. I am a straight man so I do not profess to understand or know what a LGBT person experiences. It is only through my observations that I created the song. But I have relatives, close friends, musical soul mates who are gay. I have often witnessed their plight for acceptance, dignity and recognition. I am not suggesting in any fashion that all gays are victimized. This would be disingenuous. However, Matthew Shepard´s story from Laramie, Wyoming in 1998 was about innocent victimization by cold callous prejudice. His tragic death for me epitomized the senseless cruelty still prevalent in so many small towns or cultured big cities of our society. I hope “Truth Will Set U Free” & 1Love’s story can offer some strength of empowerment for those who at times must journey down life’s harder road.

And there it was.  Nearly 25 years later, validation that I wasn’t just reading my own interpretation into that song, but that it was written for me, and others like me, by someone who “got it” way back in 1988 – even before I did.

And I just happened to stumble onto his website and email him two days prior.  It’s hard to imagine a more meaningful reignition of my music column.

I still haven’t heard the new version, looking forward to finding it and the new lyrics asap!!!

Original lyrics:

Truth will set you free
Stood before the morning’s light
And ask myself am I trapped again
The more I try and see
More the circle follows me
Chasing empty signs of life
There’s something fightin’ me
‘O, ‘O, ‘O
So don’t take away, O-o, I cried
Don’t take away
Let water find it’s own level
So don’t take away, O-o, I cried
Don’t take away
Sometimes I wish the sky would gently
Guide its arm towards me, ‘O no
[No, no]
Think if one could ever really touch
The soul of the earth
No it wouldn’t crumble
Set you free
Set you free
Set you free
Truth will set you free
Don’t take away, O-o, I cried
Don’t take away
Sometimes I wish the sky would gently
Hold its arm towards me
Don’t take away, O-o, I cried
Don’t take away
Truth will set you free
When you can’t look no more
It will set you free
Sometimes I think I can really touch
The soul of the earth.

1 thought on “Corey Hart blows my mind

  1. Ironically, I heard on NPR yesterday that 5/31 was Cory Hart’s 50th birthday! I have a friend who’s a big Cory Hart fan, whom you know. I’m going to rush to post this to her on FB. Great article, Tony!

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