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Richard Marx
Often called ĎThe King Of Balladsí, singer/songwriter Richard Marx has been in virtual hiding for the last seven years. Only difference is that while he was Ďhidingí he added some pretty famous names to his rťsumť. ĎNSYNC, Barbra Streisand, Vince Gill, 98 Degrees, Luther Vandross, Kenny Rogers, and Michael Bolton have all had hits with Richard Marx penned songs.
He worked as a producer and songwriter in genres ranging from teen pop and country to even semi-classical and jazz. His efforts paid off this year when he was awarded the highest honour a songwriter can get Ė a Grammy Award. And now with My Own Best Enemy, his first solo CD since 1997, it is time for us to hear some Richard Marx songs sung by Richard himself.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with The Record, Richard Marx talks to Sonal DíSilva about his artistic inspiration, why he hates explaining his songs, his biggest regret, and how one fan wondered whether he was a murderer.

TR: Your album is called My Own Best Enemy. Are you your own best enemy?
RM: I think really what Iím saying is that I thrive on adversity. I think I do better when things are a little tougher. When things are too easy I lose interest in them so I find ways to complicate them to get myself interested. Thatís not to say that Iím self destructive because thereís a big difference, but I think that when it comes to my personal life and my career I just seem to thrive on adversity. Ultimately it seems to do well for me, I seem to do better so instead of me being my own worst enemy, Iím my own best enemy I guess. Itís just a phrase that I thought was kind of interesting.

TR: Do you have a favourite song off the new album?
RM: I really donít and I donít know how many years Iíve been making records, 17 years or whatever, I donít think Iíve ever picked a favourite. Because when Iím just finished an album as I have in this case all these songs are so fresh to me and are so new that I canít pick a favourite. Itíd be like picking a favourite son! I really love every song on this record. Maybe a year from now I might be able to point to a song on the album and go ĎThatís my favourite songí but I donít even know. I donít think I could do that on any of my old albums either.

TR: So even while writing your biggest hits, like say 'Right Here Waiting', you didnít know at the time that they would be huge?
RM: Never. Iíve never had that experience. Iíve never written a song that I thought was a hit. Iíve never thought that. I know other people have. I did not even want to put 'Right Here Waiting' on my album! I thought it was too personal. I didnít think anyone else would understand it. It was like a love letter between my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife. So letís put it this way, if you want to know whatís going to be a big hit, donít ask me Ďcause I donít know!

TR: You won your first Grammy this year for the song 'Dance With My Father' with Luther Vandross. Did you think it was your turn this time?
RM: No I think it was Lutherís turn. To be honest with you, Iím very proud to have co-written that song with him. I helped write it musically but lyrically it was all him. It was a tribute to his father, it was a very personal statement that he made that I think people really reacted to with that lyric and I can take no credit for that. I think that the recording academy was really honouring Luther and I was just proud to be his co-writer.
On the night I just wish he could have been with me to accept the award. It was a really weird night because as a songwriter thatís about as good as it gets Ė Song Of The Year at the Grammys. But I couldnít really celebrate [because Luther was away recovering from a debilitating stroke]. It was sad, it felt wrong.

TR: You are known for your meaningful lyrics. Does it put pressure on you that people are listening quite that closely?
RM: Thatís a really good question. I donít think it is pressure but I am aware sometimes, especially on this new album, that people were going to really pay attention. The only thing thatís a little tricky about it is sometimes people assume that if itís a new song, itís a reflection of what youíre feeling or going through now. And itís not necessarily the case. Iím happy, I would say that Iím one of the happiest people I know but Iíve certainly had periods of profound sadness, depression and heartache and those are the kind of things that are interesting to me to write about.
And you know I canít really worry about it. People are going to misinterpret some of these songs and I think thatís kind of cool. I love when people get songs wrong. I love when people take something from a song thatís totally not what I intended!

TR: Whatís the most bizarre interpretation youíve had for one of your songs?
RM: Well Iíve actually had people ask me if 'Hazard' was about me Ė in other words Iíve had people ask me if I murdered a girl or was accused of murdering a girl! And I just look at them like ĎYouíre kidding me right?!í People take songs so literally. Thatís probably the oddest one.

TR: Youíre going to have to put a disclaimer on your albums now.
RM: Exactly! ĎThe following songs are not necessarily truly eventfulí.

You can read the rest of our cover story on Richard Marx in the August 2004 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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