LISTENING BOOTH: 1970 By Marc Cohn

Marc Cohn’s 1994 hit, “Walking in Memphis,” achieved classic status. Now, Cohn is back with a album of cover songs from one of his favorite years in music: 1970. Covering classic rock & roll songs and soul songs is a tricky business. Cohn’s strategy is to dial down the pacing. For example, on the classic Paul McCartney “Maybe I’m Amazed,” Cohn mellows the song out. It works. But on a couple of the songs on this CD, it doesn’t. The Boxtops had a hit with “The Letter” and later Joe Cocker turned it into a classic. Cohn’s quiet version lacks the intensity this song needs. But, that being said, I enjoyed almost all the songs on Cohn’s new CD. Give it a listen below! GRADE: B+
1 Wild World 4:14
2 Look At Me 3:05
3 Maybe I’m Amazed 3:17
4 Make it With You 3:50
5 The Letter 2:42
6 The Only Living Boy in New York 4:26
7 After Midnight 2:50
8 The Tears of a Clown 3:47
9 No Matter What 3:41
10 New Speedway Boogie 4:40
11 Into the Mystic 3:13
12 Long As I Can See the Light 3:15
13 Close to You (Bonus Track on Barnes & Noble CDs only) 4:11

12 thoughts on “LISTENING BOOTH: 1970 By Marc Cohn

  1. Jeff Meyerson

    Interesting choice. Jackie is a big fan of “Walking in Memphis” too. In fact, we have a cover version by Lonestar that is pretty much an exact copy of Cohn (who is married to ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas)’s version.

    On this collection, it’s hard to go wrong with Smokey Robinson or Paul Simon, right? I’ll be curious to hear his take on the Grateful Dead song.

    1. george Post author

      I heard Marc Cohn in an interview claiming that LISTENING BOOTH might become a “franchise” concept, Jeff. It sounded like Cohn is planning to bring out one of these cover albums every few years, just with songs from a different year.

  2. Deb

    The problem that I have with this CD (and covers in general) is that if the original is a “classic” (say, “Tears of a Clown” or “The Only Living Boy in New York”) it’s hard to really do something that differentiates it from the original. If the original was just so-so to begin with (for example, “Close to You”–don’t hate me!), then what’s the point in a remake?

    As a side note, “The Only Living Boy in New York” contains a line that sums up the era for me: “I can gather all the news I need from the weather report.” Classic!

    1. george Post author

      I have the same reservations about re-makes of classic songs, Deb. My rule is: if you can’t make it better, or different, then LEAVE THE SONG ALONE! I’m not a big fan of “Close to You,” either, because of song “burn-out.” I think I’ve heard “Close to You” a 1000 times. The radio stations around here played it into the ground when it was a hit years ago. You might like what Cohn did with “Tears of a Clown”: he turns it into a folk-rock song. It worked for me.

  3. Richard Robinson

    This sound – from the clip and your review – like “song stylings”. as in the poster outside the piano bar / lounge that reads something like Featuring the Song Stylings of George Kelley

    I agree with Deb. I’ll pass.

    1. george Post author

      There’s no doubt this is “easy listening” music, Rick. If you’re in the mood, LISTENING BOOTH: 1970 presents classic songs in an appealing manner.

  4. Bill Crider

    Rhapsody doesn’t have this one yet, so I’ll wait until it shows up and listen there.

    As an old guy, I can remember listening booths. I used to spend a bit of time in them 50 years ago or so.

    1. george Post author

      Barnes & Noble has “listening stations” that have zero charm, Bill. Like you, I spent a lot of time in listening booths and buying vinyl.

  5. Todd Mason

    At Ala Moana Mall in Honolulu, next to the Honolulu Book Shop (a small chain) where I picked up my fiction magazines and THE ATLANTIC and such and a fair amount of my new books in the years 1979-1984, there was a reasonably-sized record store that still had listening booths, with quite a large selection of LPs for sampling. Barack Obama mentions this store in his memoirs, as the place where a slightly older young black man introduced him to jazz via those booths. (Ala Moana was also the city bus terminus, where Obama probablly and I certainly caught buses to home after being deposited at the mall by the bus from Punahou, the private high school we didn’t quite overlap at.) Just outside the mall and down the street, before one got to the line of bars and strip clubs, thre was a larger record story (Odyssey Records in 1979, a Tower Records from 1980 onward) that somehow didn’t quite kill the listening booth store, at least not till after I left Oahu, iirc. I must admit the $3.99 (and, brielfly, $2.99) pricepoint on many CBS and Atlantic catalog items at Tower drew mos t of my lunch money purchases in music in those years…the other store was pricier.

    1. george Post author

      Sometimes I’d go to the larger record stores that had listening booths, listen to an album, but buy it at another, small record store that was selling it for less, Todd. You can blame the collapse of the recording industry on my Parsimony.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *