Marc Cohn

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Marc Cohn
2016-08-28-Marc Cohn-0209.jpg
Cohn performing in Norfolk, Virginia, in August 2016
Background information
Birth nameMarc Craig Cohn
Born (1959-07-05) July 5, 1959 (age 60)
OriginCleveland, Ohio, United States
GenresFolk rock, alternative country, soft rock[1]
  • Vocals
  • keyboards
  • guitar
Years active1986–present

Marc Craig Cohn (/kn/;[2] born July 5, 1959) is an American folk rock singer-songwriter and musician. He won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1992. Cohn is best known for the song "Walking in Memphis" from his eponymous 1991 album;[3] the song, which was a Top 40 hit,[4] has been described as "an iconic part of the Great American Songbook".[5]


Early life and education[edit]

Cohn was born on July 5, 1959, in Cleveland, Ohio, to a Jewish family.[6] He graduated from Beachwood High School in Beachwood, Ohio,[7] a Cleveland suburb.[8] Cohn learned to play guitar and started writing songs when he was in junior high school, playing and singing with a local band called Doanbrook Hotel.[9][10] While attending Oberlin College, he taught himself to play the piano.[11] He transferred to UCLA and began to perform in Los Angeles-area coffeehouses.[10]


After graduating from UCLA, Cohn moved to New York City [12] and embarked on demoing songs for various writers, including Jimmy Webb, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Working initially as a backup artist in recording sessions, he established secure professional footing after assembling the Supreme Court, a 14-piece cover band, who played at Caroline Kennedy's wedding in 1986. In 1987, Cohn performed two songs ("One Rock and Roll Too Many" and "Pumping Iron") on the Phil Ramone-produced concept album of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express, Music and Songs from Starlight Express. In 1989, Cohn was a backing pianist for singer Tracy Chapman on her second album. The job led to a contract with Atlantic Records in the early 1990s after label executives heard a demo disc featuring Cohn on piano and vocals.

Cohn released his debut solo album, Marc Cohn, in February 1991.[13] The album was successful due to the hit single "Walking in Memphis",[14] which was nominated for Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal at the 34th Annual Grammy Awards.[5] The song is autobiographical,[15] and shares Cohn's experience visiting Memphis, Tennessee, in 1986.[16] "Walking in Memphis" reached number 13 in 1991 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[17] As of 2016, it is the only Top 40 hit for Cohn.[18]

Marc Cohn was certified gold by the RIAA in February 1992 and was certified platinum in 1996.[5] The album featured two other charting singles: "Silver Thunderbird" and "True Companion".[19] The latter, a popular lovers' song, became the soundtrack to a marriage proposal aired on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.[10] Cohn won the 1992 Grammy Award for Best New Artist.[20][5]

In May 1993, Cohn released his second studio album, The Rainy Season, which included notable guest appearances by David Crosby, Graham Nash and Bonnie Raitt.[21] "Walk Through the World" (1993), the first song from that album,[22] reached the Top 30 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart.[23] Cohn released his third solo effort, Burning the Daze, in 1998.[24] The compilation The Very Best of Marc Cohn was released in June 2006.[25] Cohn's track "Dance Back from the Grave", from the album Join the Parade (October 2007), relates to the events of Hurricane Katrina and to the post-traumatic stress Cohn suffered after being shot in the head in an attempted carjacking in August 2005.[26]

Marc Cohn performing in Saratoga, California in July 2005

In 2010, Cohn returned with Listening Booth: 1970, a collection of cover songs that were originally released during the titular year. The album peaked at number 28 on the Billboard 200 album chart. In addition to crossing genres from rock to soul to folk and pop, it featured vocal performances from India.Arie, Jim Lauderdale, Aimee Mann and Kristina Train.[27][28][29][30] As of September 2018, Listening Booth: 1970--which peaked at no. 28—was Cohn's highest-charting album.[23]

In 2014, Cohn released his first original song in more than seven years, “The Coldest Corner in the World”. The song was the title track for the documentary Tree Man.[31]

In 2016, Cohn released the album Careful What You Dream: Lost Songs and Rarities[32] in celebration of the 25th anniversary of his platinum-selling debut album. Cohn simultaneously released a bonus album, Evolution of a Record, which featured never-before-heard songs and demos.[33]

Cohn has collaborated with many artists in recent years. Including David Crosby on Crosby’s 2016 release Lighthouse. In 2017, Cohn worked with William Bell on his Grammy-award winning album This is Where I Live. He co-wrote several tracks on the album, including the opener, “The Three Of Me”. Cohn also collaborated with the Blind Boys of Alabama on their Grammy-nominated song “Let My Mother live”. [34]

In 2017, Cohn embarked on a critically-acclaimed U.S. tour with Michael McDonald.[35]

In 2019, Cohn performed at Carnegie Hall at The Music of Van Morrison show benefiting music education programs for the New York school system. Other notable performers included Patti Smith, Glen Hansard, Bettye Lavette, Blind Boys of Alabama, and Josh Ritter. [36]

Marc Cohn performed “Walking in Memphis” alongside Miley Cyrus at the 2019 Memphis in May Festival as part of the ‘More Together’ Facebook campaign.[37] “Walking in Memphis” was also the center of a national commercial for the ‘More Together’ campaign.[38]

Cohn is set to release a new record, Work to Do, in collaboration with the Blind Boys of Alabama. The album will be released by BMG on August 9th, 2019. [39]

According to the Utica Observer-Dispatch, Cohn's "emotionally stirring compositions, deeply personal yet universal, and his easy, husky voice [have] earned him a devoted following and a reputation as a musician’s musician".[40]

Personal life[edit]

Cohn married Jennifer George on May 20, 1988.[41] Cohn and George had two children.[42]

Cohn and ABC News journalist Elizabeth Vargas married on July 20, 2002. The pair met at the 1999 U.S. Open after Vargas sought an interview with Cohn's friend, Andre Agassi.[42] They have two sons, Zachary (born January 31, 2003) and Samuel (born August 16, 2006).[42] Cohn and Vargas divorced in 2014, days after Vargas came out of rehabilitation for alcoholism for a third time.[43][44]

On August 7, 2005, Cohn was shot in the head during an attempted carjacking in Denver, Colorado,[45][46][47] while on a concert tour with Suzanne Vega.[48] The bullet "barely missed Cohn's eye and lodged near his skull"; Cohn was hospitalized for observation but released after 8 hours, and is quoted as saying, "doctors told me I was the luckiest unlucky guy they had met in a long, long time."[42] A police spokesperson surmised that the car's windshield may have significantly impeded the bullet's force, and added: "Frankly, I can't tell you how he survived".[48] The shooter was sentenced to 36 years in prison.[49]




Title Album details Peak chart
(sales thresholds)
Marc Cohn 38 15 14 27
The Rainy Season
  • Release date: May 25, 1993
  • Label: Atlantic Records
63 46 60 24
Burning the Daze
  • Release date: March 17, 1998
  • Label: Atlantic Records
114 64 153
Marc Cohn Live 04/05
  • Release date: 2005
  • Label: United Musicians
The Very Best of Marc Cohn
  • Release date: June 20, 2006
  • Label: Atlantic/WEA
Join the Parade
Listening Booth: 1970
  • Release date: July 20, 2010
  • Label: Saguaro Road Records
28 81 86
Careful What You Dream: Lost Songs and Rarities
  • Release date: March 25, 2016
  • Label: Marc Cohn
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
1986 "The Heart of the City"[55] Non-album single, Morning Records 1067
1991 "Walking in Memphis" 13 12 7 74 3 5 25 22 Marc Cohn
"Silver Thunderbird" 63 22 31 18 87 54
"True Companion" 80 24
"29 Ways"
1992 "Ghost Train" 74
"Strangers in a Car"
1993 "Walk Through the World" 121 28 26 20 51 37 The Rainy Season
"Paper Walls"
"The Rainy Season"
1995 "Turn on Your Radio" For Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson
1998 "Already Home" Burning the Daze
"Healing Hands"
"Lost You in the Canyon"
2007 "Listening to Levon" Join the Parade
2010 "Look at Me" Listening Booth: 1970
"Wild World"
2014 "The Coldest Corner in the World" Non-album single
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


  • Marc Cohn Live: Limited Edition EP (2005)
  • Rhino Hi-Five: Marc Cohn (2005)
  • Join the Parade Live EP (2008)


  1. ^ Mark Stock. "Bonnie Raitt, Marc Cohn | Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall | Portland, Oregon". Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  2. ^ "Marc Cohn on Ellen. Interview". YouTube. January 6, 2008. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  3. ^ "Marc Cohn". Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  4. ^ "Marc Cohn in Concert".
  5. ^ a b c d SISTI, MARK. "Grammy award winning singer/songwriter Marc Cohn makes appearance in CNY". Uticaod.
  6. ^ "Lyric Of The Week: Marc Cohn, "Walking In Memphis" « American Songwriter". July 13, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  7. ^ Carroll, Ed. "Akron gig long way from 'Walking in Memphis' for Cohn". Cleveland Jewish News.
  8. ^ Sandrick, Bob (June 5, 2015). "Beachwood ranks 17th on Cleveland magazine's Rating the Suburbs list".
  9. ^ Yarborough, Chuck (April 27, 2015). "Marc Cohn returns to his hometown with a new song and new hope".
  10. ^ a b c Editor. "Marc Cohn – More than a Survivor, a True Musical Talent – - International Magazine Kreol".
  11. ^ To, Special (January 9, 2014). "Marc Cohn talks songwriting, Dylan before Palace Theatre show".
  12. ^
  13. ^ Kelly McCartney (July 5, 1959). "Marc Cohn | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  14. ^ Johnson, Kevin C. "Marc Cohn reflects on his 'challenging' debut album in anniversary concert".
  15. ^ Phillips, Tammy. "Cohn returns to Memphis for 25th Anniversary of "Walking in Memphis"". Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  16. ^ Call, Geoff Gehman Of The Morning. ""Walking in Memphis' made Marc Cohen a player in the blues-gospel-soul world". Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  17. ^ Phillips, Tammy. "Cohn returns to Memphis for 25th Anniversary of "Walking in Memphis"". WMCA Action News.
  18. ^ "Grammy-winning songwriter Marc Cohn gets reflective on new tour, plays 11/13". azcentral. November 4, 2016.
  19. ^ Volmers, Eric (January 27, 2018). "Marc Cohn revisits Memphis, and a 30-year career, for Calgary concert". Calgary Herald.
  20. ^
  22. ^ Carlozo, Lou. "Marc CohnThe Rainy Season (Atlantic) (STAR)(STAR)(STAR) 1/2With..."
  23. ^ a b Moser, John J. "Grammy winner Marc Cohn, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes returning to Musikfest Cafe".
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  25. ^ klamp, F. L. Clauss (March 30, 2016). "MARC COHN: 25 años desde Walking in Memphis -".
  26. ^ "A Singer's Second Chance".
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  29. ^ "Marc Cohn Biography". Retrieved April 13, 2013.
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  41. ^ "Jennifer George, a Designer, Is Wed to Marc Cohn". The New York Times. May 21, 1988. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  42. ^ a b c d Dyball, Rennie (2007). "Singer's Second Chance". People (online and print, November 12, archived). 68 (20A). Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  43. ^ "Elizabeth Vargas' husband says they have 'long-standing issues'". Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  44. ^ "Elizabeth Vargas on 'Brutally Difficult' Split from Her Husband Marc Cohn Days After Leaving Rehab". Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  45. ^ "Marc Cohn shot in head during car jacking". August 8, 2005. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  46. ^ "Marc Cohn Shooter Gets 36 Years in Prison". Billboard. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  47. ^ "Singer Marc Cohn Shot in Denver Carjack Attempt – 7NEWS Denver". August 9, 2005. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  48. ^ a b "Police arrest man suspected of shooting Grammy winner". Tyrone Daily Herald. Tyrone, PA. AP. August 9, 2005. Retrieved July 12, 2016 – via open access
  49. ^ "Marc Cohn Shooter Gets 36 Years In Prison". Billboard.
  50. ^ a b NasellaCorrespondent, Paul. "Marc Cohn reinvents classics of the '70s". Montgomery News.
  51. ^ "Rock On The Net: 34th Annual Grammy Awards – 1992". Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  52. ^ HUNT, DENNIS; CROMELIN, RICHARD (January 9, 1992). "THE 34TH ANNUAL GRAMMY NOMINATIONS : Grammys Get 'Religion,' Nominate R.E.M. 7 Times". Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  53. ^ newmusicweekly (March 1, 2010). "2010 NEW MUSIC AWARDS AND THE WINNERS ARE . ." New Music Weekly.
  54. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 186. ISBN 0-89820-188-8.
  55. ^ "Marc Cohn – The Heart Of The City". Discogs.

External links[edit]