As a songwriter and singer, Grammy award winner Marc Cohn combines the precision of a brilliant tunesmith with the passion of a great soul man. He's a natural storyteller, balancing the exuberant with the poignant. He similarly finds the emotional essence in the vintage songs he's just recorded, even as he brilliantly reshapes his source material.
Cohn’s career took off in 1990, with the recording of his critically acclaimed, self-titled debut disc, which yielded such classics in their own right as “Walking In Memphis,” “Silver Thunderbird,” and the lovely “True Companion.”
On his new album, Listening Booth:1970, he transforms songs from such artists as Cat Stevens, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Smokey Robinson, Creedence Clearwater Revival and even Bread into tracks that are warm, soulful, more than a little sexy, and full of easy-going charm. These highly personal interpretations say as much about Cohn’s own history – his experiences, his memories, his inspirations – as about the legacy of these songs. They’ve been so creatively and confidently re-imagined, and sung with such feeling, they practically feel brand new.
Listening Booth:1970 ultimately brings Cohn back to where he began-- writing songs like ‘Walking In Memphis’ which spoke so eloquently about the transformative, healing power of music. Like that hit single, Listening Booth:1970 is really the soundtrack to his life. As Cohn reflects, “It seemed like such a natural progression for me to do a record like this because, if you’ve been following my records from my first single, I have been paying tribute to musicians through my writing all along, from Al Green to Elvis to Levon Helm to Charlie Christian…Now I’m just repaying a debt of gratitude to the artists who’ve changed my life and taught me how to do what I do.”
Joan Osborne’s Bring It on Home is a collection of vintage blues, R&B and soul songs from the Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum artist. It’s an apt title—for Osborne, Home marks a return to her musical roots. “I cut my teeth in New York blues clubs singing songs like this,” she remembers. “I’d do three or four one-hour sets per night. That’s where I really learned to sing.”
The challenge for Osborne and her band mates (the same crew she uses in her live show) was to get the song selection right and bring something new to the music. “I didn’t just want to take my set list from 20 years ago – so that’s why most of these songs are ones I had sung never before,” she says. “And it’s a challenge to bring something to a recording that you already know so well and love. The key is, what can do you that’s different but just as satisfying?”
The answer involved mixing a little bit of the old and the new. Osborne tackled vintage songs by Ike and Tina Turner, Sonny Boy Williamson, Ray Charles, Muddy Waters and Al Green (among others), treating them with respect while giving them some interesting twists in tempo, key and feeling
Most of the tracks on Home were recorded live, “in one or two takes,” at the Waterfront Studios in Hudson, New York, with engineer Henry Hirsch, who used a 24-track Studer tape machine to replicate the analog sound of the era.
Guest stars on the album include “Barbecue” Bob Pomeroy on harmonica, Allen Toussaint on piano (playing on his own song “Shoorah! Shoorah!”), Conan O’Brien band director Jimmy Vivino (horn arrangements, electric piano), vocalists the Holmes Brothers and Rufus Thomas’s daughter Vaneese.
Bring It on Home reminded the singer of what music is all about. “These songs, they’re a remedy--they get me out of my head,” she says. “These songs put the music back in my heart and my soul.”