Monday, March 19, 2012

My Baby Takes the Morning Train (Because He Drives It)

Maybe you’re familiar with the 1980 Sheena Easton hit, “(My Baby Takes the) Morning Train.” I mean, also maybe you’re not. It could be that you only shop at grocery stores that insist on appropriating 90s hits, and you’ve therefore only selected cantaloupes to the soundtrack of Fastball and Third Eye Blind. It happens. But if you do know “Morning Train,” you may be surprised to hear that that title, even minus the parenthetical section, isn’t actually the song’s original name. It’s actually “9 to 5.” Easton’s promoters only switched the title to “Morning Train” to avoid confusion and competition with the Dolly Parton song.

But wait — that’s not the only surprising thing about this song.

So, have you ever seen the video for “Morning Train”? (I’m guessing that you haven’t, because why would you have? What, do you not have anything better to do?) If you had to imagine how a literal interpretation of the lyrics might play out, what might you expect? Perhaps you’d picture Easton happily working at home — maybe singing while vacuuming — while her husband commutes via train into the city for his high-paying job? Or something thereabouts?

Here, just watch the video:

Around the one-minute mark, Sheena in all her sashed, jumpsuited glory, hops into the train’s engine to meet the baby mentioned in the lyrics. He’s the engineer — like, not the mathy kind but the guy operating the gears and cranks that make train go. You have to wonder: Of all the possible interpretations of “My baby takes the morning train,” whose bright idea was it that the baby would do so because that was his job? What unimaginative person seized control of this music video production and said, “Hey, wait if he was a dirty, coal-shoveling engineer? And what if the video had periodic cuts to burning coal, as if to suggest the fiery hell in which these working class characters live? Oh, and also Sheena is rocking a sashed jumpsuit the whole time?”


Of course, what they should have done was to take it even more literal and feature an infant who dresses up in a business suit and toddles into to a commuter train. Surprise! It’s actually about Sheena’s six-month-old, who has a job for some strange reason.

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