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Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
#3034762 03/24/20 12:36 AM
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Listening to Jimmy Weaver playing on Facebook. He did ‘Walking In Memphis’.

I love that first Marc Cohn album. Every song was great. I was surprised he didn’t become an Uber-household name. True Companion, Thunderbird, etc ... they all hit me hard. I was on the road at that time. Some of those songs sure made me home sick. On the road working with a little child and a wife at home. I’m lucky she didn’t leave my ass. I’m married to a saint.

I don’t know why I post this shit. Everyone take care and have a good week , or at least the best week you can have.

Last edited by CEB; 03/24/20 12:44 AM.

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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
CEB #3034767 03/24/20 01:30 AM
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Yea, that record was amazing. I'd attribute a lot of that sound to John Leventhal, not to take anything away from Marc Cohn. Next 2 records were OK, but just didn't bring the same magic, probably a lot of reasons for that. I had read somewhere that in the mid-90s he was divorcing from his first wife and being primary care giver to his 2 kids. Then in mid-2000s after marrying Elizabeth Vargas, he was victim of a shooting and then marriage problems a few years later.

Who knows what happened. Maybe those songs from the first record had accumulated over his early years and came from a different place that he never quite got back to. Maybe his drive waned a bit. Also, maybe he was a bit out of place for the times, harkening back to singer-songwriter 70's style. Similar to Bonnie Raitt, who also worked with Leventhal, in those early '90s records. They hit right before grunge took over the world.

Reminds me a bit of how Bruce Hornsby caught lightning with that first record mid-80s. But different guys, Hornsby took things in a different direction and has been quite prolific after his big break and continued development in his own way.

I put that first record back in rotation for a while sometime last year. It's really good, except maybe a bit too much DX7 and other digis in some places. It's the type of record that really wants organic sounding analog instruments. Couple of weak tunes, but doesn't every record have them.


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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
CEB #3034768 03/24/20 01:36 AM
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I agree also - that album is incredible, even ditties like 29 Ways - quality from beginning to end thu

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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
CEB #3034775 03/24/20 04:47 AM
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I don't know what it is about this one that speaks to me so much, but it is unique in that way.



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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
CEB #3034800 03/24/20 11:52 AM
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The consensus was at the time he is a Hornsby want to be. I never got the love for the guy but to each his own.


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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
CEB #3034804 03/24/20 12:15 PM
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Hi,

While I enjoy the first album the most, I might have spun the second one even more times. Those albums have the rare quality that they are great if you just want to pay attention for details and musicianship but they are also great if you are just working and have the music playing on the background. Both are gems for me. Then I lost track of his career.

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Fran

Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
CEB #3034805 03/24/20 12:18 PM
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To each their own, and who am I to criticize or care, but I did try to appreciate Cohn’s lane between the two Bruces, and in the end I kept saying to myself, “If it tastes like chicken, might as well just have chicken.”


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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
Outkaster #3034841 03/24/20 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Outkaster
The consensus was at the time he is a Hornsby want to be. I never got the love for the guy but to each his own.
Consensus? Hmmm... I dunno. I suppose they both play piano. And if your only exposure to Cohn is Walking In Memphis I guess I could see it. But beyond that I don't consider them all that similar.

Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
drawback #3034847 03/24/20 04:29 PM
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Funny about the two Bruces, and I would add a little Billy in there for good measure.

I actually reflect on Cohn sometimes, because I think 1) he made a true and enduring contribution to the pop "canon" with Walking in Memphis, a song so timeless that when it came on a playlist in the house last year my 13-year-old son stopped what he was doing, asked what it was called and who it was by, and now considers it one of his favorite tunes, and 2) that's about his proper limit. The rest of his output was mildly interesting, with a couple moments of cringe too. Some of it was cool, but I personally wouldn't have expected anything else to break or capture the public's attention. Not to knock his talent, but that song being his hit, and the others not breaking through, feels about right.

But what I was thinking was, what a great legacy. If you're going to be a one-hit wonder, wow--have that be your hit. What a treasure. He seemed like a regular front-line guy who wrote a fantastic song and had it break, and that seems like a best-case scenario in a lot of ways.


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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
MathOfInsects #3034852 03/24/20 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by MathOfInsects
But what I was thinking was, what a great legacy. If you're going to be a one-hit wonder, wow--have that be your hit. What a treasure. He seemed like a regular front-line guy who wrote a fantastic song and had it break, and that seems like a best-case scenario in a lot of ways.
Not to keep bringing up Bruce Hornsby, but I feel like he took advantage of a similar "best-case scenario." He was relatively old for the pop world when his first record with the Range came out, and The Way It Is has certainly outlived his 80s pop career. But I've always respected and enjoyed that he took the influx of money and fame from that big hit to spend the rest of his career doing whatever the hell he wanted, going deep into esoteric improvisational territory, touring with the Dead, and following whatever weird muse spoke to him at any given time. Not everything he does is to my taste, but what *is* to my taste tastes like a fine wine or unusual small-batch spirit, whereas he could have settled for being more of a Diet Coke, you know? He's certainly never phoning it in.

I haven't investigated Cohn's catalogue beyond "Memphis" and "Listening to Levon," so I don't know if he's in a similar boat, but I think it's an interesting topic of discussion.


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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
CEB #3034860 03/24/20 05:25 PM
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The music was sort of secondary for me. I thought he was a great lyricist/ storyteller who just happened to play a bunch of instruments.

Last edited by CEB; 03/24/20 05:25 PM.

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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
CEB #3034874 03/24/20 06:24 PM
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I saw Bruce Hornsby on the range tour. He had a midi'd baby grand in a small theater in town here. In Sept 1986 I woke up hearing the Way it Is and thought I'd never heard a song like that before. I remember I had to see him. I still remember it all these years later because I was a freshman in college. I saw him later in 88 or 89 with Bonnie Raitt but it wasn't that interesting. I lost touch with him after that and didn't think some of his other material was that strong. Sam's right he was older getting into the music business but that one song transcended races and spoke to a lot of people.


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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
Outkaster #3034902 03/24/20 09:31 PM
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Oh man, the Hornsby talk brings me back. I remember how with every album he'd do all these interviews saying this one was different, they all played live, no drum machine, just live vibing off each other, this one was going to be a whole different sound...and then it would come out and I'd buy it and it would sound EXACTLY the same as the previous ones. There was one I remember playing a lot, some time in the 90's, that had some cool writing and playing on it. But it still sounded like the previous three or four, really. Just better material.

Anyway, I COMPLETELY changed my tune on him after seeing him live at the Blue Note some time in the early 2000's. Complete bad-ass, stunning skill, a fluid performance that had the band holding on for (happy) dear life wondering what would come next. I remember him launching off into Giant Steps in the midst of a solo, completely organically, and hearing the band sort of hop on on the fly. It was an amazing show and made me forgot all those sound-alike releases of the 80's and 90s. I was sitting next to NYT critic Jon Pareles and found myself wondering if we were seeing the same show, and then reading his review which was even more gushing than I'm reporting here.


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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
CEB #3034919 03/24/20 10:47 PM
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I've always liked Walking In Memphis. When you analyse it, it's a simple song: a travel diary. (Paul Simon's Gracelands is broadly the same song with a different groove). And it's the classic antidote to writer's block: take a journey. Fingal's Cove by Felix Mendelssohn resulted from exactly the same thing. But Cohn gets the details absolutely right, and his performance is sincere without melismatic nonsense, which turns it into a great song.

The one time I don't like it is when the singers don't know how to count it. In the four-note rising arpeggios (5-1-5-1), the 1s are on the beat, and 5s are off the beat. If the singer incorrectly feels the 5s on the beat, they will think you're rushing.

Originally Posted by drawback
To each their own, and who am I to criticize or care, but I did try to appreciate Cohn’s lane between the two Bruces, and in the end I kept saying to myself, “If it tastes like chicken, might as well just have chicken.”
Yeah, maybe - I would say there's clear space between Bruce and Bruce for an artist to express him/herself. Elton John's probably on that spectrum somewhere.

Originally Posted by CEB
I don’t know why I post this shit. Everyone take care and have a good week , or at least the best week you can have.
Ed, you go ahead and post. Your OP was non-offensive, worthy of consideration, and provoked an interesting and well-mannered debate. Plus at this time, we owe everyone a little slack. So if that's what gets you through the night...

Cheers, Mike.


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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
CEB #3034946 03/25/20 02:45 AM
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CEB, I am glad you were listening last night to my FB Live. Jimmy Weaver I really feel that song because of spending a week in Memphis. I got to sit in with a band on Beale st. and when I walked out on to Beale St that song just hit me and I learned it!!!


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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
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Hey Ed, this is a cool thread with lots of good comments (I especially appreciated what Mills Dude had to say) and that got me on that Bruce/Bruce track. FTR I really liked Walkin In Memphis! But the Hornsby tangent... well yeah, I saw The Range in 1990. Coolness from his old buddy from Ambrosia days, Joe Puerta, the human metronome John Molo, and of course the inimitable breakout for George Marinelli. Perhaps in the top five concerts of my life. I remember the moment I first heard The Way It Is – in my car on the way to a gig. I thought it was Jackson Browne, then no... who? wha? I pulled over, feeling like a guitar player who'd first laid ears on Jimi Hendrix. Tears of joy. No blue notes, ever. He's a bluegrass piano picker. A game changer.


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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
CEB #3034964 03/25/20 07:37 AM
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Interesting topic, thanks! I just reordered and organized my CD collection (the things you only have time to do in quarantine...) and came up with Cohn's first album and it's been on the stereo since that.
I LOVE that record.

Interestingly, here in Italy everybody (at least, everybody over 40 wink ) knows Walking in Memphis, but I bet VERY few people have ever heard of Hornsby.
Btw, who's the other Bruce? Springsteen? Dickinson? Banner?
wink

Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
drawback #3034981 03/25/20 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by drawback
Hey Ed, this is a cool thread with lots of good comments (I especially appreciated what Mills Dude had to say) and that got me on that Bruce/Bruce track. FTR I really liked Walkin In Memphis! But the Hornsby tangent... well yeah, I saw The Range in 1990. Coolness from his old buddy from Ambrosia days, Joe Puerta, the human metronome John Molo, and of course the inimitable breakout for George Marinelli. Perhaps in the top five concerts of my life. I remember the moment I first heard The Way It Is – in my car on the way to a gig. I thought it was Jackson Browne, then no... who? wha? I pulled over, feeling like a guitar player who'd first laid ears on Jimi Hendrix. Tears of joy. No blue notes, ever. He's a bluegrass piano picker. A game changer.


That's how it was when I woke up that morning and heard "The Way it Is". I will still never forget it.


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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
drawback #3034984 03/25/20 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by MathOfInsects
Oh man, the Hornsby talk brings me back. I remember how with every album he'd do all these interviews saying this one was different, they all played live, no drum machine, just live vibing off each other, this one was going to be a whole different sound...and then it would come out and I'd buy it and it would sound EXACTLY the same as the previous ones. There was one I remember playing a lot, some time in the 90's, that had some cool writing and playing on it. But it still sounded like the previous three or four, really. Just better material.

Anyway, I COMPLETELY changed my tune on him after seeing him live at the Blue Note some time in the early 2000's.
Yeah, live Hornsby is my jam; the studio stuff is tougher for me to get into. Even his more modern stuff has an 80s Adult Contemporary aesthetic which has never particularly appealed to me. Even as I've come to appreciate synthesizers more and more, he really likes those mellow Korg pads that just feel antiseptic to me. Much like the other Bruce (that's Springsteen, Spider76, though I'd be interested in what the lane is between Hornbsy and Dickinson....) during his late 80s/90s period... but he got over it eventually.

But the live stuff? There's a killer band taking some RISKS! The live "Here Come the Noisemakers" from the early 2000s is a favorite of mine; I recently bought its follow-up, "Bride of the Noisemakers," and that's cool too.
Originally Posted by drawback
I remember the moment I first heard The Way It Is – in my car on the way to a gig. I thought it was Jackson Browne, then no... who? wha? I pulled over, feeling like a guitar player who'd first laid ears on Jimi Hendrix. Tears of joy. No blue notes, ever. He's a bluegrass piano picker. A game changer.
I've heard Hornsby felt very self-satisfied about how he got a chorus of jazz improvisation into his big Top 10 pop hit. Made him look real good to his fellow University of Miami alums!


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Re: Marc Cohn and stupid personal shit
samuelblupowitz #3034989 03/25/20 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by samuelblupowitz
the other Bruce (that's Springsteen, Spider76, though I'd be interested in what the lane is between Hornbsy and Dickinson....)

ok thanks, I imagined it was Springsteen just because I could come up with no other Bruce musician (Dickinson was a joke, of course). I still don't see the connection between the two, though admittedly I know everything by Springsteen and very little by Hornsby, only The Way it Is and a couple of his other early albums.
Anyway I've never really been moved by him. Incredible musicianship, but it doesn't strike an emotional cord in me. Probably it's that inescapable "80's" sheen that most of you mentioned wink Just my opinion of course.

Back to Cohn, I like a lot his first two records, but I really love a 1992 "Live in New York" which I don't even see listed in his official discography. Just checked, it was an unofficial German release (wow, bootlegs still exist!).
https://www.discogs.com/it/Marc-Cohn-In-New-York/release/6218068
Anyway it's great: barebone production, just him and a guitarist/bassist (possibly the same person? There are no credits, and I don't think any songs had both bass and guitar), great voice and energy, all songs sound much better than in the studio.


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