Marc Cohn, singer-songwriter, pianist, and acoustic guitarist, is often named among the most personal, most introspective lyricists of his generation. He used his husky voice and distinctive songs to great effect in the 90s when his debut album won the 1991 Grammy for Best New Artist. A turbulent childhood continues to inform much of Cohn's songwriting: his mother died when he was two, and his father remarried when he was 12. Cohn senior worked 7 days a week as a pharmacist but was always in debt. He is recalled as the slightly absurd figure in "Silver Thunderbird," who maintains that car at the cost of all other material comforts.
Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio during the heyday of progressive radio in the early '70s, Marc fell under the influence of WMMS, the major FM outlet, which introduced him to Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, and Jacksone Browne, who remain among his most enduring influences.
The youngest of four boys, Marc was taught to play Ray Charles' "What'd I Say" on the piano by an older brother whose band used to practice in the family basement. One day in junior high, Marc was invited to join Doanbrook Hotel, a cover band, when a classmate heard him singing "Maggie May" in the school corridor. Soon Marc was playing guitar and writing his own songs. During his senior year in high school, he gave a live performance of eleven original songs on WMMS's Coffee Break Concert.
In the years that preceded the release of his new Decca album Join the Parade, Marc Cohn passed through several life-changing events. These events are what enabled him to reconnect with his songwriting muse, and they are in large part, what make Join the Parade an artistic, insightful and soulful statement.
Despite his time away from the recording studio, the acclaimed singer/songwriter, winner of the 1991 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, has continued to perform live and his audiences have remained steadfast. He en-dured the pain of divorce, but in 2002 he married news anchor Elizabeth Vargas. He struggled with writer’s block and sought to break through it with a month-long tour in the summer of 2005. The gigs went great until the night of August 7, 2005. That’s when Marc Cohn was shot in the head during a random attempted carjacking after a concert in Denver.
Even though the bullet was lodged near his left temple, Marc never lost consciousness and walked out of the hospital the next day. Three weeks later, while recovering at home in New York from post-traumatic stress disorder, Cohn watched the city of New Orleans destroyed by flooding in the aftermath of Hurri-cane Katrina.
“I got home a couple of days after being shot,” said Cohn. “And then Hurricane Katrina hit a few weeks later. I’m in the middle of my own crisis, and now I’m watching all these haunting images on television of thousands of people suffering through a far more horrific event. And then something I never could have predicted happened. It was like my song writing receiver got flipped into the on position. Everywhere I turned, in conversations I overheard, even in get well emails I was receiving, song ideas started coming. For several weeks, I’d be working on 2-3 songs simultaneously. And these songs weren’t polite about their sudden presence either; they insisted on being written.”