Richard Marx is back with ‘Songwriter’ and a career spanning show at Northern Quest
Fri., Feb. 3, 2023
“Songwriter” is an apt moniker for the latest Richard Marx album. It’s always been about the song for the veteran pop-rocker. Marx has written hits with such icons as Luther Vandross, Kenny Rogers and Keith Urban. And then there are the solo hits Marx has penned, such as “Don’t Mean Nothing,” “Hold On to the Nights” and “Right Here Waiting.”
“It all starts with a song and that’s what I’ve been so passionate about during my career,” Marx said. “My songs either go with other artists and sometimes they stay with me.”
Marx, 59, decided to not follow any parameters when he began crafting “Songwriter.”
“Fortunately, everything fell in place in organic fashion,” Marx said while calling from Miami. “I enjoy writing songs in so many styles. It hit me. Why am I adhering to a set of rules? The world is not waiting with bated breath for my next album. So I decided to do what I wanted to do. The worst that could happen was people who don’t like me will continue not to like me.”
So Marx crafted the most eclectic album of his career. Rock follows country after ballads. “I love all of those styles of music,” Marx said. “I love songs that are harder and songs that are beautiful, and I enjoy writing the country stuff so I just dove in with this project.”
Marx has always been about collaborations, and he worked with a number of notable songwriters on his latest project.
“Always,” co-written by Burt Bacharach, is the prettiest song on “Songwriter.”
“And I’ve been searching for you
Long before I ever saw your face
And this love I found with you
Is the love I’ll hold on to
“It was interesting working with Burt since he writes music to lyrics and I do the opposite,” Marx said. “Burt asked me to come up with some words. I gave him a poem I wrote and asked if he needed anything else and he said he doesn’t need any help writing music and that’s damn true. When I heard what he came up with, I did all that I could to not weep since it’s so beautiful. It’s great having the song with him but the real home run was becoming friends with him.”
There were a few co-writes that fell between the cracks for other artists, such as Darius Rucker. “Breaking my Heart” didn’t work for the Hootie and the Blowfish frontman. “Darius really likes the song but he said that it is just too rangy for him,” Marx said. “He said, ‘This is a great song but there’s no way I can sing it.’ He didn’t want to change the song and compromise it. I thought I would give the song a shot and it worked.”
“One Day Longer” sounds like a nice fit for Urban. Marx wrote it in Urban’s voice. The Aussie was all about the song, but he ended up changing his tune. “Keith went from loving the song to one day telling me that he just wasn’t feeling it,” Marx said. “I recorded it since I never fell out of love with it.”
Marx co-wrote the rocker “Shame on You” with his son, Jesse Marx. “Jesse is really good at drum programming, but the song needed a real drummer,” Marx said. “I decided to ask Taylor Hawkins if he would play on it.”
The Foo Fighters’ late drummer agreed. “We met a few years ago and Taylor said, ‘We should work together someday,’ ” Marx said. “Taylor was one of those rare people who retained this childlike excitement about music that I lost when I was about 18. I remember him saying that Jesse had to be at the session. You couldn’t help but smile when you were around Taylor. You can see why everybody loved him and you can see how they felt when he died. It was so tragic. I wish we had more time together, but at least I’ll always have the experience of recording that piece of music with him.”
Marx will showcase a few songs from “Songwriter” when he performs Thursday at Northern Quest Resort and Casino. “I’ll play some songs from the new album but not too many,” Marx said. “I don’t like going to shows when there are too many songs I’m unfamiliar with.”
The hits will be delivered since Marx isn’t one of those artists who is tired of his songs. “I’ll play the hits,” Marx said. “I have so much gratitude. I’ll never get tired of playing those early songs. So I’ll play my songs that landed on the chart, some new tunes, and I’m fortunate enough to have a wealth of songs to choose from. I’ll just have to figure out how much time I want to stay behind the piano or standing with the guitar. I’ll touch on every album.”
That’s impressive considering that Marx has released 13 albums. Marx’s first album, an eponymous release, dropped in 1987. However, Marx was a session vocalist-musician during the ’80s.
“That period gets some grief and there is some cringy dance music, but that was also the decade with Steve Winwood’s ‘Higher Love’ and Peter Gabriel’s ‘So.’ Some of my favorite music came from that era. It was a great time for me since I remember being in a studio laying down some backing vocals and who comes in the studio but Rod Stewart asking if someone can come in and play guitar on a track.”
The Grammy Award-winner added background vocals for Madonna. “I was an in-demand background singer and I was hired by Madonna and I’ll never forget that session,” Marx said. “I hoped she wouldn’t be there since I heard nothing but horror stories about Madonna. I walked in and I saw her sitting in the control room and I thought, ‘Oh no.’ But the session was amazing. She and I were having this banter and it worked out really well. I misjudged her. She knew what she was doing since she was producing the session and I was taken aback by how absolutely gorgeous she is. I left with this big crush on this girl that was all over MTV.”
Marx didn’t hook up with that MTV darling, but he married a former star of the Music Television network – Daisy Fuentes, the first Latina VJ and the host of the popular “House of Style.”
“It’s been pretty great being married to Daisy and having this career,” Marx said. “The music is just part of what’s great. The really amazing part is all of the friends I’ve made. I wouldn’t trade what I’ve experienced for anything.”
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