Marc Craig Cohn (born July 5, 1959) is a Grammy Award-winning American folk rock singer-songwriter and musician best known for his song "Walking in Memphis" from his eponymous 1991 album.
Early life and education :
Cohn was born on July 5, 1959, in Cleveland, Ohio, to a Jewish family. He graduated from Beachwood High School in Beachwood, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. Cohn learned to play guitar and started writing songs when he was in junior high school, playing and singing with a local band called Doanbrook Hotel. While attending Oberlin College, he taught himself to play the piano. He transferred to UCLA and began to perform in Los Angeles-area coffeehouses.
Cohn then moved to New York City and embarked on demoing songs for various writers, including Jimmy Webb, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Working initially as a backup artist in recording sessions, he established secure professional footing after assembling the Supreme Court, a 14-piece cover band, who played at Caroline Kennedy's wedding in 1986. In 1987, Cohn performed two songs ("One Rock and Roll Too Many" and "Pumping Iron") on the Phil Ramone-produced concept album of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express, Music and Songs from Starlight Express.
In 1989, Cohn was a backing pianist for singer Tracy Chapman on her second album. The job led to a contract with Atlantic Records in the early 1990s after label executives heard a demo disc featuring Cohn on piano and vocals. Working initially with Chapman producer David Kershenbaum, and collaborating later with engineer Ben Wisch and producer John Leventhal, Cohn released his debut solo album, Marc Cohn, in February 1991. The album was hugely successful, thanks to Cohn's hit song "Walking in Memphis", which was nominated for Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal at the 34th Annual Grammy Awards. The album was certified Gold by the RIAA in February 1992 and certified Platinum in 1996. Another cornerstone was "True Companion", a popular lovers song, which became the soundtrack to a marriage proposal aired on US television's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Cohn won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, besting the notable debuts of Boyz II Men and Seal, among others.
In May 1992, English dance music duo Shut Up and Dance released the single "Raving I'm Raving" which reached No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart. Their song borrowed heavily from Cohn's hit "Walking in Memphis". German dance group Scooter reached No. 33 in 1996 when they covered the track as "I'm Raving".
In May 1993, Cohn released his second studio album, The Rainy Season, which included notable guest appearances by David Crosby, Graham Nash and Bonnie Raitt. The album peaked at number 63 on the album charts. He toured extensively in the early 1990s, including a trip to Australia with headliner Bonnie Raitt, and recommitted himself to find poetry in his life and bring it to his art. Cohn wrote the song "My Great Escape" for the 1995 Peter Horton film The Cure. The song can be heard during the film's opening sequence but was not released on the Dave Grusin soundtrack album.
Cohn was quiet for several years, returning in 1998 with the release of his third solo effort Burning the Daze. For that album, Cohn worked largely with his old colleague Leventhal, adding some cuts coordinated with producer Malcolm Burn. He was joined on the album once again by popular artists, including country music's Rosanne Cash. In support of the album Cohn went on spring and summer tours in 1998. The following year he contributed to Kris Kristofferson's highly collaborative Austin Sessions. He has added vocals to recordings by Roseanne Cash, Shawn Colvin, and Rodney Crowell, and in 2002 was heard on Jackson Browne's "Naked Ride Home". Cohn's original tunes have been recorded by many popular singers, including Susan Anton and John Tesh. In 2005, Cohn compiled and self-released a live album, Live 04-05.
On August 7 of the same year, Cohn was shot in the head during an attempted carjacking in Denver, Colorado, while on a concert tour with Suzanne Vega. Amazingly, the bullet "barely missed Cohn's eye and lodged near his skull;" Cohn was hospitalized for observation but released after 8 hours, and is quoted as saying, "doctors told me I was the luckiest unlucky guy they had met in a long, long time." A police spokesperson surmised that the car's windshield may have significantly impeded the bullet's force, but added: "Frankly, I can't tell you how he survived".
Cohn is reported to have experienced post-traumatic stress following the event, and the question "Why did I come that close?" and the events of Hurricane Katrina contributed to the emotion that he introduced in the track "Dance Back from the Grave," in Join the Parade (October 2007), his fourth studio album. In the interim, the compilation The Very Best of Marc Cohn (June 2006) was also released.
In 2010, Cohn returned with Listening Booth: 1970, a collection of cover songs that were originally released during the titular year. The album peaked at number 28 on the Billboard 200 album chart. In addition to crossing genres from rock to soul to folk and pop, it features vocal performances from India.Arie, Jim Lauderdale, Aimee Mann and Kristina Train on a third of the album's 12 tracks.
In 2016, Marc Cohn released the album Careful What You Dream: Lost Songs and Rarities, a collection of demos written and recorded more than 25 years before. Wide ThumbClearartFanart Banner User Comments