Thursday, 13 May 2021

Marc Cohn


Marc Cohn (1991)

Walking In Memphis/Ghost Train/Silver Thunderbird/Dig Down Deep/Walk On Water/Miles Away/Saving The Best For Last/Strangers In A Car/29 Ways/Perfect Love/True Companion

This was a really impressive debut album from Billy Joel-ish singer-songwriter Marc Cohn. Unfortunately, he didn't do too much more after this, but this stands as one the great, underrated debuts. 

The songs

Walking In Memphis is the first of the album's three classics, for me. It is packed full of atmosphere, great lyrics and a soulful, gospelly power that blows you away. Cohn's voice is great, ideally suited to the song and eminently better than Cher's "walking in MOM-PHOS" appropriation. I love the final verse when Cohn is asked by Muriel "are you a Christian, child?" and he replies "ma'am I am tonight" and the gospel choir kicks in. Love it.

Ghost Train is an appealing, very Paul Simon-esque rhythmic shuffle of a song and then we get to my favourite track of his - the Springsteen-ish Silver Thunderbird, a tale of his father in his pride and joy of a car - "Son you must take my word - if there's a God up in Heaven - he's got a silver thunderbird". Bruce himself could not have penned a better  couple of lines. Once more, the song overflows with atmosphere and perfect characterisation and you can see his father so clearly - I always pictured him as looking something like Lee J. Cobb in Twelve Angry Men. When the last verse begins with just Cohn at the piano it is spine-tinglingly moving. Killer, absolute killer of a song.

The Simon-esque rhythms are back on the deep, bluesy Dig Down Deep. Walk On Water returns to the evocative piano and vocal soul of Silver Thunderbird, featuring more great lyrics. Miles Away ploughs the same furrow, but in a more pounding, drum backed fashion.

Saving The Best For Last, a New York City song is so Paul Simon it may as well be him. Strangers In A Car is another fine piano ballad while shuffling blues rhythms return on a cover of an old blues number in Willie Dixon's 29 Ways. This is a really infectious number.

The album ends on two romantic notes in the gently beautiful and again subtly rhythmic Perfect Love and the simply sublime declaration of soulmate love in True Companion. It is one of the best love songs ever written, for me. A few weeks after buying this album, back in 1991, I met the love of my life who has been my true companion ever since, so there you go. 

"When the years have done irreparable harm, I can see us still walking arm in arm...". We still do, Marc, we still do. 

This was the only album that Marc Cohn was really known for (he did release four more, I think), and if that was unfortunately the case it was a good one to be known for. 

Related posts :-

Billy Joel
Bruce Springsteen
Paul Simon

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