red lights


Windy city takes a walk in Memphis

Marc Cohn
Park West
Chicago, IL
Dec. 29, 2004
Marc Cohn Marc Cohn

Story and Photos By Andy Argyrakis

No, he wasn't the guy who sang "Jessie" (as that was performed by Joshua Kadison). Nada on being the voice behind "In the House of Stone and Light" (since it was really penned by Martin Page). And strike three if you guessed "I Wonder Why" (which was actually made famous by Curtis Stigers). Though Marc Cohn rose up in the early 90s when one hit wonder adult contemporary signer/songwriters were the rage, his claim to fame was the soulful and spiritual "Walking In Memphis." Though the guitarist/pianist could stylistically and chronologically be placed in the same category as the aforementioned (and has seemed to disappear from public light just as much as the others) he thankfully had a bit more to offer at a pre-New Year engagement at Chicago's Park West.
Besides having a handful of new tracks to debut from the yet to be titled 2005 release (the first hint of new material since 1998's Burning the Daze) the headliner also recalled three prior Atlantic Records releases and some material made famous by other artists. Amongst the standouts were "Ghost Train" and "Walk Through the World," both simple but tightly tuned acoustic pop offerings with narrative lyrical structures. They were followed up with the equally easy to follow "She's Made of Yesterdays" (off the forthcoming disc) which echoed with Cohn's scowling soul singing. Those gathered cheered a bit more bountifully with the announcement of "Saving the Best For Last," clearly an album favorite that could've easily followed in the primary hit's footsteps. Along those same lines, he provided a take on "Silver Thunderbird," a mid-tempoed southern tipped cut about a guy buying his first car. Contemporary country followers may recall Jo Dee Messina's spunky late 90s version, though hearing it from the true source was much more enlightening.
Listening to so many stories unfold across the ninety minute engagement also solidified the props Cohn has received from the illustrious likes of Rosanne Cash, Martin Sexton and David Crosby. Hearing the instantly familiar "Walking In Memphis," accentuated by an intertwining cast of characters and its writer's cozy scruff, was an additional example of his capability despite dwindling public awareness. (It should also be noted that the concert version- much like the studio recording- is light years better than the pathetic covers by farewell fraud Cher and country connoisseurs Lonestar). In the end, it was this reality and Cohn's generally magnetic personality that made the wait for that single moment not only bearable, but also pretty enjoyable.

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