One Sunday morning in the early '70s, a youngster in Cleveland caught an earful of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks and his life was never to be the same. That kid was Marc Cohn, and soon after that morning, he bought everything Morrison had released to date, along with works by Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne. Soon thereafter, an older brother taught him a Ray Charles tune on the piano, and he joined a cover band, Doanbrook Hotel. He sang with them from junior high school until he left home for Oberlin College. All the while, Cohn learned to play guitar and was dabbling with the craft of songwriting, since the cover band played everything but the kind of songs he loved so dearly.
At Oberlin, Cohn taught himself to play piano and a lasting bond formed. After transferring to UCLA, he hit the Los Angeles coffeehouse circuit. Cohn then made yet another move, this time to New York to be with his fianc+¬e, and he formed the Supreme Court, a 14-piece band complete with horn section. Putting unusual spins on popular tunes, the band gained a following that included Carly Simon, who recommended they play at Caroline Kennedy's wedding. That gig seemed like a good stopping point, and Cohn left the band to focus once again on his own songs.
He sent a piano/vocal demo to Atlantic Records and landed a deal, and from there he co-produced his debut with Ben Wisch with some assistance from John Leventhal. What emerged was a beautifully tasteful and intelligent album that included the hit "Walking in Memphis" and won Cohn a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. The Rainy Season followed in 1993 and was a thematic complement to Cohn's debut. Folks like David Crosby and Graham Nash stepped up to the mike to lend their vocal support to this soulful new talent.
Cohn was quiet for several years, returning in 1998 with the release of Burning the Daze. Another studio hiatus followed, during which he released an independent live compilation. Cohn was also shot in the head when victimized by an attempted carjacking -- thankfully, the musician recovered, and he subsequently released Join the Parade, perhaps his strongest effort to date, in 2007. In 2010, Cohn returned with Listening Booth: 1970, a collection of cover songs that were originally released during the titular year. 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 dozen tracks. ~ Kelly McCartney
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