City Winery is thrilled to host Richard Marx for an evening of solo acoustic music. This is his 3rd year at CW, but this is the first time he’s doing two performance nights in a row. Not surprisingly, both shows sold out in advance. Hopefully he’ll be back soon!
1) What was your initial reaction to finding out you’d have your own wine?
How cool, and how many bottles can I get for free.
2) What is your favorite wine, and how do you like to enjoy it best?
It’s hard to choose, because there is a lot of wine I really love. It’s like asking what’s your favorite dark chocolate, they’re all good. I’ve had the privilege of having great, super expensive wines like Opus. But I have also gone crazy over $12 bottles of McManis Petite Sirah which you can’t get anymore. I bought as much of that as I could find online.
I don’t drink much white, but there’s a Sauvignon Blanc I like by Cloudy Bay. I like my reds chilled a little bit more than most people do. I don’t really believe in pairing, I can drink red wine at any time – morning, noon and night.
3) After winning your first Grammy Award, how did you celebrate?
I didn’t really celebrate because Luther Vandross and I won it together. It was about 6 months before he passed, and he had already had a stroke and was in the hospital incapacitated so he couldn’t come. I was grateful to be able to acknowledge him and mention my family and my dad who had passed. If he [Luther] had been there, you would have read about us in the paper the next day – we would have made the paper. I just went out dinner with family and friends and kept it low key. It was bittersweet.
4) Who do you like to enjoy a bottle of wine with the most?
I have two of three sons that are legal, and we were recently in Tuscany for a week, and it was the first time I drank with my sons. We had wine with dinner and a little bit of port after dinner. We sat around and discussed events and life. That’s been the coolest thing ever.
5) What pulled you towards being behind the scenes as a songwriter? Was being a songwriter always the goal, or did it just fall into place?
Songwriting is what started everything, I’ve always been a songwriter first before anything else. I had a some success as a songwriter when I was very young before had a record deal, and had a couple of hit with a couple of artists so I had Then my career kicked in for about 10 years and I did a little bit of writing and producing, but there wasn’t much time between all the touring. After about 10 years I put out a record that while did well, it didn’t do as well as the others. I thought, okay I knew this would happen because I think every artist has peaks and valleys. I was never the kind of artist that was going to reinvent myself in terms of image or do something shocking. It was all about the songs. When I saw that writing on the wall, I sort of deliberately retreated before I put out a record that really tanked. I backed off, stopped touring and stopped being an artist for years and dove into writing and producing for other people. Luckily, there was a line of people that were happy to have me do that.
6) What is the difference between writing a song for yourself and writing on for another artist?
Usually its a matter of how personal it is. If I write something super, super personal lyrically it’s probably not going to relate to the person I’m writing with and vice versa. When I’m writing with another artist my mission is to facilitate what they want to say. I don’t really bring a lot of my personal stuff into it. I just help guide it musically, that’s easy. I help write the music, or if not, completely write the music. Lyrically, lyrics I just sort of push the artist and help them craft it. If I write for me it’s going to be something I want to say.
7) Which do you prefer, performing at large venues or performing at more intimate ones like City Winery? Why?
In America I don’t really have a choice right now. I haven’t been on the touring circuit for so long that I can’t really play big venues anymore, but I still play big venues in Europe and Asia. Getting to do both of them is pretty amazing because in a setting like this, where it’s just my solo acoustic show – this is perfect. I mean, I’ve played some theaters that are 1000 seaters which is also really great for it too. Then I go to SE Asia either alone or with the band and that’s super fun too.
8) What’s your favorite city to perform in? What’s do you like most about performing in NYC?
For a while it was a tie between NY and Detroit for whatever reason. I would play either place and it would be an extraordinary experience. The last couple times I’ve played Detroit it’s been nice, but NY has never let me down, ever. Doesn’t matter if I was playing The Garden or Radio City or City Winery, there’s just something about here. Chicago, where I was born and raised and have lived for the past 15 years, doesn’t really treat me that great. But NYC, they treat me like I’m one of their own.