MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 88: RICHARD MARX

I’ve often wondered what constitutes a timeless song. A song that is regarded as being legendary in its own right. Something that can tug at your heart, and can invade your innermost being, bringing forth emotions to the surface that you never knew you had. I’ve often wondered if it’s the artist who makes a great song, or if it’s the songwriter. Because usually, the great songs (like the great songs in the 90’s like “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion and “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey), are 9 times out of 10, written by a songwriter, or maybe two or more; and then given to a singer to ‘make famous’. Is a song famous because of the name and reputation of the artist, or because of the reputation or repertoire of the songwriter? Songwriters like Diane Warren, Ashley Gorley, Justin Paul & Benj Pasek, David Garcia, David Foster, Justin Tranter & Julia Michaels, Sia, Ryan Tedder, Toby Gad, Shane McAnally and Ester Dean, are all in high demand; and only some of these are artists. The rest just keep chugging along, ploughing away at their craft, helping to make artists famous by crafting a radio friendly hit song. Many of these songwriters are world renowned and respected by their peers- and so the question needs to be asked as to whether the song lives on in the hearts of all of us because of the artist or the songwriter. I reckon it’s about 50/50 at least, in that the songwriter generally does around about 50% of the work in propelling an artist into stardom. But whether a song lives on in my heart, and then just doesn’t connect in your heart- that’s a different thing altogether. But generally speaking, the big iconic songs that we’ll still be singing in 20-30 years’ time, are because of a symbiotic or sometimes parasitical relationship between the songwriter and the artist. But what happens when an iconic song is written by the artist who has sung it? Does that artist achieve the recognition, the praise, the accolades, before the songwriters who write for other people? If an artist has been going and going and going for a long period of time, writing and singing, and keeping their head down… and they don’t receive any awards because their songs aren’t flashy nor of big production; is that fair? Even if they’ve worked with a wide variety of people and are considered a legend in their field, by their peers?

If you reckon I’m talking about someone specific without mentioning their name yet… well you’re absolutely right. I’ve been glancing through Jon’s and my collective list of 100 Most Influential Artists of all time, and though there are a number of singer/songwriters that we have blogged about, inclusive of John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift (who we’ll certainly blog about later on!), Sarah McLachlan, Adele, Sara Bareilles, Colbie Caillat, Keith Urban, Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian, Sheryl Crow and Alicia Keys (aside from lead singers from bands like Daughtry, OneRepublic, Lady A, Rascal Flatts and Hanson, to name a few); they are all extremely well recognised and popular. At one point or another, these artists put in the hard yards in terms of songwriting, and years of hard work and toil paid off sometime down the track. And there’s no doubt that these singers and songwriters are influential. We’ve written about them and said that they were, so that’s all there is to it. Yet for renowned singer/songwriter and pianist Richard Marx, who penned the massive adult contemporary hit “Right Here Waiting”, success was a brief ten years, and then… virtually nothing much else. He’s still releasing music and has been in the industry for over 30 years. But a look at his Wikipedia discography page reveals a lot of hits in the late 80’s and 90’s, and then songs that haven’t charted since. Richard is a songwriter that early on wrote quite a lot for himself, and then had to pivot later on in his career to write songs for others. And because of this change in how he went about doing his work; does this diminish his influence? If you talk to the common man on the street and say ‘do you know about Richard Marx?’, I reckon they’ll have no idea who you are talking about. Even if you say ‘Hey, have you heard of ‘Right Here Waiting’?’, you may not receive any recognition. If you play the song though for them- then you may see someone say ‘Oh, that song, I’ve heard that one and loved that one for years!’. And that may speak about the power of a song, and that it transcends the songwriter or the artist… but the fact of the matter is that Richard Marx represents a breed of songwriters that have almost died out. The traditional singer/songwriters writing big sweeping ballads, and tracks that sit in the hearts and minds of many, but for some reason are not big now, because of pop dominating the airwaves and the radio. Richard Marx, to me is like the mainstream version of Mark Schultz or Michael W. Smith; artists who are unassuming and who keep plugging away. Richard isn’t flashy in his songs, and perhaps that is his downfall. But let me tell you that though a singer/songwriter, he isn’t in the same category as the other singer/songwriters I’ve mentioned earlier in this blog. For some reason (which I firmly believe you all should rectify very, very soon!), Richard’s prowess still remains but his popularity is non-existent. Hopefully with this blog I hope to be a part of a staunch effort to reinvigorate a love for Richard’s music amongst the people of today- so if any of you are not in the know as to who this underrated singer/songwriter is- well then read on and be amazed as to how Richard has shaped the landscape of adult contemporary music today.

It was 1986. I had just gotten my first record deal and was about to go into the studio. I was obsessed with Peter Gabriel and his “So” album. I was in a restaurant in L.A. when Peter Gabriel walked in. I summoned up the courage to approach his table, and when there was a lull in their conversation, I said, “Mr. Gabriel, I’m so sorry to bother you. I just want to thank you for making music.” He stood up, walked over to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Man, what a nice thing to say.” He spent three minutes making me feel really glad I went up to him. I remember thinking, “That’s the way I want to be.”

I have got so many – somewhere between interesting and hilarious – things that have happened in the background of my career. At the end of the day, I want people to feel the same things I want them to feel about my show – that you feel like you get to know me a little bit.

It was just about 10 years straight where everything I put out had success. And then I put out a record that I joked went double plywood instead of double platinum. It just was like a signal that everything had shifted from me in my career. I remember thinking, ‘What did I do wrong?’. [But then] I started to think, ‘Well, you know what? I had a really great turn for about 10 years. And it’s not my turn now. It’s somebody else’s turn’

A couple of weeks ago, I admitted to you all that Richard Marx was on shaky ground, and I was contemplating getting rid of him in this blog series. Yet since then, Richard’s music has been rotating through my Apple music and Spotify playlists for the past week, and let me say that he’s not on shaky ground anymore. With a vocal and musical style to Michael W. Smith, Richard’s self-titled debut album went triple platinum in 1987 (with 4 singles), and his first single, “Don’t Mean Nothing”, reached number three in the charts. Throughout the span of 7 years, between the years of 1987 and 1994, Richard had 14 top-20 hits, including three number one singles- his first seven singles all reached the top five. Songs written or co-written by Richard have topped the charts within four different decades (80’s, 90’s, 2000’s, 2010’s)… and if that’s not enough facts for you about Richard and his music to grasp and comprehend; let me divulge to you all that “Right Here Waiting” was Richard’s first No. 1 hit on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart as well as his first big hit outside of North America. The track climbed up to No. 1 in several European countries, and gave Richard his first top ten hit in the UK. The song has also been covered numerous times, most notably by Monica and 112 in a 1998 duet, while other covers include John Barrowman and Clay Aiken. Just like Crowded House for “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, Richard’s “Right Here Waiting” has alone catapulted him straight into stardom, and his inclusion on this ever-evolving ‘influential artists of all time’ list seems like a no brainer ever since I’ve been captivated by his music and his heartfelt and emotional melodies. And as we read Richard take on why he isn’t popular that much anymore, we see a man who is humble, who is now writing and releasing songs because he wants to, but because he needs to.

I’m just filled with gratitude. Let’s just start with saying spending your life doing what you love – how many people get to say that? It’s a pretty small percentage. Then all the other things that surround that with my personal life, I really feel like I’m one of the luckiest people ever heard of. There are people I know who are incredibly talented who are still pushing and trying to find their way and success. Yes, there were several years where I got rejected by every record company, and I had some pretty large brick walls in front of me. In retrospect, I got my first record deal and I had my first hit when I was 23, so I can’t bitch too much about it. When you’re in that time it feels like an eternity and it feels legitimate. It was three or four years of consistent rejection, but I can’t complain about it comparatively.

If I had been in my thirties, I would have maybe understood it better and appreciated it more; it was a little bit of a tornado. One of my only regrets was having not embraced and enjoyed it more; I was just so caught up in trying to sustain it and what was next. The next thing you know you’re responsible for the livelihood of any number of people – it can be a pretty heavy thing for a young person to deal with. I just wish I had enjoyed it the way I enjoy my career now. I don’t think you can really get to that place until you have really lived some life, and get to the place where you have that perspective.

I feel like now every time I get on stage it’s because I want to be there. There is no need to be there: I’m not trying to prove anything anymore. I’m just enjoying the fact that I have an audience who want to come hear the songs. I feel like my skill set is strong, I feel like my voice has never been better, and I’ve never felt as comfortable on stage. I’ve never really enjoyed the interaction with the audience as much as I do these days – that just comes with time and experience.

I’ve been saying this for a long time, but the real job is the 22 hours I’m not on stage. The two hours I’m on stage, give or take, is just joyful. It doesn’t matter how big or small the audience is. I just have this job that’s hard to describe to somebody. I don’t really know anybody who enjoys what they do as much as I do – it’s only gotten more so as time has gone on. I’m really happy at this stage of my life that I’m healthy and have little to no issues with my voice. I feel like sometimes, when I was 25, with the schedule I’m on I would not have handled it as well as I am right now. My voice used to be much more fragile; I didn’t really cancel too many shows but it was painful.

I guess it just comes with time. I’ve found it true with some other artists I know my age or even older. One of my best friends is Fee Waybill from The Tubes; he’s 70 and still out there touring. I asked him, “Is it easier for you to sing than it used to be?” He said, “Oh yeah, absolutely.” I don’t know what that is. It’s like Tony Bennett: he’s 93-years-old and he can still out-sing all of us because he uses his voice all the time.

If you’ve read any quote from Richard above, or even not from this blog, you can tell that he’s a very humble guy. Richard seems like a down to earth person, and one that is very philosophical about life. And with that in mind, as well as the fact that a part of Richard’s ethos is about putting the hard work in, reaping the rewards, and not worrying about other people’s perception of you and your success, but rather comparing your happiness and satisfaction in life with what you yourself believed even a year ago; it’s evident that Richard’s songs are the result of hard work, and therefore we should appreciate them as such. With Richard also reminding us that he’s currently at the stage of his life where he doesn’t care about the audience number, and that he’s performing out of a love and a want, and not a need; we are met with a discography permeated with a love for music, and not just a duty to inspire people. Even if you go into the music industry with the best intentions, I reckon somewhere along the way you may feel unseen pressure, from yourself or from others, to inspire people and to appear to have your life all together. But as Richard has had a pure love for music and creating since the start, the inspiration and positive messages come naturally- and this means that there is no faking, that every song is genuine, truthful and authentic. Each song borne out of real experiences and real feelings, and each song part of a larger discography that demands to be listened to at least once.

But let’s speak about the songs, shall we? And what better song to speak about first than Richard’s biggest hit “Right Here Waiting”? I can’t remember how old I was or where I was when I first heard that song, but I do know that the local radio station I listened to (Hope 103.2) played that song regularly. I didn’t think much of it, until a week ago when I investigated whether Richard had any famous songs or not. And when I heard that “Right Here Waiting” was by him, and when I went back and listened to the song again in a different light, I began to notice the beautiful intricacies and the universal message within the song that is applicable today. A piano only ballad, the song was written as a love letter to his then-wife Cynthia (from 1989-2014), as “[she] was in South Africa shooting for a film. We were not married then and I wanted to meet her because I had not seen her for a few months. But my visa application was rejected and when I came back I wrote this song which was more of a letter from me to her. It was the fastest song I wrote, in barely 20 minutes. And this was the time when there was no Skype and Social networking so I had to ship the track to her. The song was very personal and was not intended to go public. But my friends pursued me to record it.” With Richard only employing acoustic guitars and a piano; the song was poriginally pitched to Barbra Streisand, who had issues with the lyrics and wanted it rewritten. In the end, Richard sung the song himself, and the musically simple and lyrically focused love song was, as of 2013, the most popular love song according to Spotify UK (based on streaming figures from their ‘love songs’ playlist), closely followed by Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is”. As Richard emphatically relays to his then-wife that ‘…wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you, whatever it takes or how my heart breaks, I will be right here waiting for you…’, we hear a song of devotion, commitment and exuberant dedication to the One you want to spend the rest of your life with. And though Richard isn’t married to Cynthia anymore, the sentiment of this track still remains and is pertinent to society today. Love and marriage is a choice, and the track relays that even in hardship and even in the darkest of times, we should want to stay with our partner, for better and for worse. A song that can be used to reaffirm wedding vows or to reinvigorate a want to actively find a future spouse with our values and morals; this song has been a phenomenon over the years, and no doubt has given Richard his time in the spotlight.

But even though this song has wowed us all over the years, there are other songs that I have discovered within the past week that remind us of the prowess Richard has had a singer and as a songwriter. “Don’t Mean Nothing”, for example, is from the debut self-titled album, and is Richard’s first single ever, yet he wrote it about the music industry and his disillusion with it. It’s a song we might expect for someone at the end of his career, but at the beginning? With Richard eloquently and emotionally relaying that ‘…it don’t mean nothing, the words that they say, no, it don’t mean nothing, these games that people play, no, it don’t mean nothing, no victim, no crime, no, it don’t mean nothing till you sign it on the dotted line…’, we are met with a jaded singer who has had a lot of setbacks, with the song being universal enough for us to relate to it, whatever job we’re in. Having a job is something that we all take for granted, and Richard encourages us to pursue the things we want to, and to always keep ourselves grounded in something outside of our job. And as Richard explains, this song is about giving hope to the down-and-outs, and essentially to everybody… and with this heart-warming and confronting song as the first single, where could you go wrong?

I got a lot of people saying, “Dude, you’re 22. How can you be so cynical?” I think cynicism and gratitude can co-exist. And I was very grateful. I moved to L.A. when I was 18, and I definitely spent a lot of time sitting around doing nothing, trying to get something going and nothing was happening. I got rejected by every label multiple times, and I got a lot of doors slammed in my face and more than my share of rejection and all that stuff.

But when things did turn around for me, I was still really young. But it didn’t mean that I hadn’t already been exposed to the jive and the empty promises, and the thing that really makes up the music business in Hollywood and the film business, as well. But my chosen field was music. Guys at record companies telling me, “You’re signed, don’t worry about it,” and then they won’t call you back, and all kinds of stuff that you count on. Right down to people that sent me notes stamped “Hobby” on my demo tape.

So by the time I wrote “Don’t Mean Nothing,” I was pissed off. I definitely had a little chip on my shoulder at that point. While at the same time being aware that at least I was making a living in some way, shape, or form. I was doing music. I didn’t have to work at McDonald’s or the car wash. But I didn’t want it to be all about my situation, so that’s why each verse is slightly different. There’s a verse about an actor and a record producer – I’ve had that experience where a record producer wants to change a syllable of a word and then wants to take a piece of the song.

But I think that what ended up happening, and the two things that made that song a hit, were one, somehow I managed to make the chorus, yes, about me, but pretty universal so that anybody in any field could understand. Anybody that’s ever had frustration in the work place could relate to it. And Joe Walsh playing guitar. Those were the two things that propelled that song into becoming a hit when I was just this completely unknown guy putting out a record in 1987 in the midst of nothing but dance music and hair metal. For “Don’t Mean Nothing,” this simple Southern California rock and roll song to become a big hit, it had to have some fairy dust on it, and I think the Joe Walsh aspect was a huge part of that, too.

If “Don’t Mean Nothing”, the first single from Richard’s first album, created waves, then should it stand to reason that the rest of Richard Marx is full of heavy material as well? “Should’ve Known Better” is a rock song directed to an ex who was married the whole time she was dating Richard, with Richard eloquently and emotionally relaying that he ‘…should’ve known better, than to fall in love with you, now love is just a faded memory, should’ve known better, now I’m a prisoner to this pain, and my heart still aches for you…’, reminding us all that we need to go into relationships with eyes wide open instead of being blinded by our feelings all the time; while the hard-hitting and emotional “Lonely Heart” depicts someone willing to fight for their lover and fight for a relationship that is seemingly broken and in tatters. “Endless Summer Nights”, whereby Richard channels his inner Michael W. Smith, delves into him reminiscing about the good summer nights where he was in a fun relationship back in the day (in essence, lamenting about an ex by thinking about the good times he shared with them); while “Have Mercy”, a rock song that is part religious, part political, speaks about us all not even come close to learning our lesson whenever we ‘passionately’ decide to go off to war; and is confronting as it is moving, and reminds us that it is only God who can save us from ourselves. “Heaven Only Knows” speaks about gratitude for the life you’re in now and the one relationship with your partner that you know was just sent from God; and “Hold Onto The Nights”, speaking about someone in love with someone else who isn’t their spouse, is actually based upon a former friend of Richard’s. This song is actually quite sad, and moving and touching… I don’t know if the track is encouraging people to cheat on their spouse if they think they’ve found something better… but it does give us food for thought and something to discuss at the dinner table- about soulmates, the One, things like that. All in all, Richard Marx is a poignant and impressive debut album, and one that deserves to be listened to, particularly because it’s about a smorgasbord of lyrical topics.

Sometimes, the musical equivalent of [Hold Onto The Nights] is the reason I don’t use an instrument when I write, for the most part. If I’m co-writing I use an instrument, because it’s two guys sitting in a room writing a song, so it’s good to have an instrument. But when I’m writing by myself, I try not to use an instrument, because it limits what I’m able to play.

And lyrically, if I only stick to my own personal experience, I’m limited. So sometimes I put myself in a scenario that’s happened to someone close to me. I’ve even made a first-person story out of a scenario I’ve read in a book or seen in a film. And “Hold On To The Nights” – a friend of mine went through exactly that. There were parts of it that I could really relate to, but this guy just thought that he was in the right situation, but he met somebody else, and he was, “Ohhh…” and the girl was involved with somebody already at the time, and they just never got together. They never made a go of it. I’ve lost touch with this guy over the years, but I remember him thinking, what if I had missed the right one. And all he had left was a brief time where they were hovering around each other and then they both ended up going back to who they were with. I don’t know if they ultimately stayed together. Maybe they even got together years later. I don’t know, because I lost touch with him. But that came through that, came through this guy that I knew and was going through exactly that.

Repeat Offender released in 1989 (the year I was born!), and showcases a more mature and less jaded singer and songwriter at the top of his game. Aside from “Right Here Waiting”, which was from this album, Richard reminds us of his exquisite song writing ability that fails to be cliché, thankfully. “Satisfied” speaks about the fact that we all need to be satisfied in life, and Richard relays in this song that the working man on the street needs to keep working to be satisfied, but perhaps they can get to the point in their career when they can be happy despite their work. And as Richard has relayed to us, we can all take our own meaning from these songs, but what I was trying to say was I was aware of the working man, because I’d been on this long tour and I would find myself in a diner or stopping at a gas station, and I was really aware that I was doing something for a living successfully that was so filled with joy. It certainly had it’s prices and compromises, but it’s a great gig. And I was aware of the working man around me doing s–t that I know they would so rather not be doing. And so it was sort of my homage to them, sort of a sense of if you hang in there, then maybe you get to the point where you’re satisfied with the work that you’ve done and you can also just enjoy your life – it’s not all about punching a clock. When I look back on that lyric, it’s a little vague, but it sure sang well. And I think that sometimes that’s what propels a song up the charts is that people are just singing along and they don’t even know what they’re singing. Most of the people I know, they don’t even know what the lyrics they’re singing along to in the car. They don’t care. It’s just the melody that they care about. “Angelia”, a song about a flight attendant Richard met years ago, is a track about unrequited love (which we probably all have experienced at one point or another); while “Children Of the Night”, one of the rare songs Richard has recorded that is about something other than relationships, was written after learning about the Children Of The Night foundation, which works to help victims of sex trafficking and to help save children forced into prostitution. The song’s proceeds went to help fund the Children Of The Night home- and that, my friends is very admirable, don’t you reckon? “Nothing You Can Do About It” speaks to a former friend who didn’t believe in Richard when he was younger, and who called his dream of being a singer stupid- this song is a diss to that friend, calling him out and saying ‘told you so’; and “Too Late To Say Goodbye” is just a fun, energetic rock song about the sudden end of a relationship, of which this song gives us pause to take stock of our own relationships and where they’re at.

“Hazard”, from the third album Rush Street, is unlike anything Richard has ever recorded, and is a pop song written about the fictional story of a man who is being accused of murdering his girlfriend without substantial evidence. It’s weird and quirky, and reminds us all to never judge anyone’s situation without knowing them fully first, and also discouraging us to be keyboard warriors in the confines and safety of our homes. It’s a warning song- and I reckon it’s ironic that it’s called “Hazard”, don’t you think? Later on Richard revealed that this song was dumb and juvenile, but the track did become relatively successful, so… does this show us that we crave to listen to something different and new and cool as opposed to tried and true? “Chains Around My Heart”, speaks about an ex who’s still got a hold of him, and the piano ballad then declares that the girl needs to break the chains around his heart so that he can live free and whole. This is a song that reminds us of the fact that we all need to be in healthy relationships is we want to be satisfied and happy; while Richard walks the line of being a saint and a sinner in the religious themed “Playing With Fire”, a song about being in a relationship he knows he shouldn’t be in- again a warning type song in which we all need to examine all of our earthly relationships to see if they’re toxic or not.

“Now And Forever”, from Richard’s 4th album Paid Vacation, is similar in theme and musical structure to “Right Here Waiting”, and is arguably his most famous song after “Right Here Waiting”, as Richard emphatically proclaims that he will be committed to his wife both now and forever (a sentiment that obviously didn’t last, as he’s now married to someone else). It’s a song that has a generic title, but as Richard explains, the subject matter is immensely unique: I will say that in many years, if it’s a song that I’ve written by myself, the only thing that might be cliché is the title. And that’s always been an interesting thing for me; a title like “Now and Forever” is a great example. “Now and Forever” was a big hit that I wrote in the mid-’90s, and there are probably 600-700 songs in the world called “Now and Forever.” But there’s not one line of lyric in that song that’s like anything else. Because it’s really personal. Even though it became very universal, every line in that song is about me and Cynthia. It’s about me and my wife. It’s as if I sat down and wrote her a letter and just happened to put it to music. So there’s nothing in that song that I’ve heard in any other song, except that the title is generic. So there’s something kind of challenging about that to me, too. I don’t mind a generic title, as long as the lyrics within it are unique. And there are certain lines that you just stay away from – if I hear any other song that says something about taking my breath away, it’s like I just want to kill you. It’s just so easy to write something that’s not been written 50,000 times. “Nothing Left Behind Us”, a 90’s light pop song that could easily be recorded by Smitty, speaks about living life to the fullest, having no regrets with life, and being satisfied with how you’ve lived your life, as Richard eloquently relays to us that ‘…there ain’t nothing left behind us, not a doubt inside us, if the angel calls tomorrow, there’s nothing we haven’t said…’; while “The Way She Loved Me” is a light rock melody, champions the love between two people as being pure, whole and complete. “Take This Heart”, from Rush Street, dives deep into identity and self-worth, and Richard encourages a loved one (or the persona encouraging their partner) that ‘…there ain’t nothing gonna take my heart away…’; and it’s also an allusion and reference to Richard being trustworthy and faithful in whatever relationship they have. People may not open up due to past trauma and hurt, yet this song reassures us all that there are good things that are happening around the corner, if you believe and trust the people already in your corner.

The nearly 7-minute Phil Collins meets Michael W. Smith meets Bee Gees themed guitar led slow ballad “Keep Coming Back”, speaks about the persona always wanting to come back to a toxic relationship because of it being known, familiar and ‘safe’; with Richard further relaying to us that we shouldn’t settle in a relationship that isn’t healthy for us. As he also reminds us that we should always walk out in faith into anything that brings us joy, happiness, hope and peace; no doubt this song will provide comfort and healing to those who feel like they’re stuck relationally in their life. “Silent Scream”, of which the music video was directed by Kiefer Sutherland, has Richard delving into the heartbreaking feeling of loneliness, isolation and depression, as Richard speaks about the dark side of fame and the painful side of having regrets. With the track reminding us all that our friends can turn on us in a minute, this melody is a reminder that we need to surround ourselves with friends that can and will lift us up and will never tear us down. “Whole World To Save”, a rare track exclusive to the UK on the 4th album Paid Vacation, delves deep into the mentality that ‘someone else will step in and change the world’, with Richard commenting that we all need to be the change we want to see in the world we live in, particularly when there is indeed a whole world out there to save; while “Heaven’s Waiting” is a song full of encouragement and inspiration, as Richard eloquently relays to us that we all need to keep on fighting the good fight, and hopefully we can make it to heaven one day. This song, though with screwy theology about who ends up in heaven and who ends up in hell, is a track that can bring about discussion about the meaty topics in life, such as heaven and hell and everything else in between… and hopefully the track can bring people closer to God. If so, then Richard I believe has done his job quite well.

If you were to study closely the discography of Richard Marx, like I have, you’d find that his first four albums were heavily successful on the charts, while the rest of his discography faded away sales-wise. But that certainly doesn’t mean that Richard’s songs aren’t of high calibre, nor does it mean that from the 5th album onwards, he didn’t write anything meaningful. On the contrary. In fact, I reckon that some of the most compelling and moving Richard Marx songs come from his later material. Why was it though that people became sick of Richard Marx around the mid 90’s? I don’t know, maybe it was because there was an oversaturation of one particular person on the radio, and something had to give. However you know how people are fickle-minded and change their preference as many times as the weather? Yep, that’s how they were with Richard, because when he started songwriting for other people, listeners noticed him again, and he started becoming popular again. Weird, am I right?

Flesh And Bone released in 1997, and from that point onwards, until… maybe now, Richard has been in and around, somewhat popular because of his songwriting, but never really dominating the artist charts. Is that fair? No, no way! But sometimes I’d like to think that the best artists are the ones hardly anyone knows about, and that’s certainly the case with Richard and his music. “Until I Find You Again”, a heartbreaking and emotional song, has Richard longing to be reunited with someone who has died. This song can be viewed as a romantic or platonic relationship ending, as we are given hope that even if we cannot see our loved ones in this life, the memories in our hearts can be cherished forever and ever. It’s a song that can bring tears to our eyes (in a sad or happy way, or both!), while other emotional tracks include “My Confession” a raw and brutal confession of love for another person, and “Eternity”, a heart-warming and vibrant song of love to someone who makes him feel like he’s in heaven and living for eternity. “Touch Of Heaven”, a R&B themed melody, has Richard comparing his lover’s touch during physical intimacy as being like a touch of heaven; while “Every Day Of Your Life”, a bonus track of Flesh And Bone exclusively in Japan, speaks about being a shoulder to cry on and being someone that someone can rely on every day of their life (either figuratively or literally). The piano led heartfelt ballad and duet “Surrender To Me” with Lara Fabian is another standout on what is an underrated album, with Lara sounding eerily similar to Celine Dion vocally! The track may be slow melodically, and like a lullaby, however the song is extremely soothing and captivating, and speaks about surrendering to the relationship, and taking the next step in knowing a person inside and out. “Miracle”, a bells chiming Christmas themed song, brings a smile to our faces (or at least to my face!), as Richard dives deep into the spiritual and the religious, and imparts to us all that we all can believe because we’re all little children in our hearts and we’re never too old to pretend. This song could be blasphemous to some- in fact this entire album of Flesh And Bone could be seen as blasphemous to some, or tongue in cheek to the ultra-conservative right; which is why this album may not have done well at all in the charts. But I for one reckon that this project is extremely underrated and that it’s pretty cool that Richard is wrestling with deeper issues on this album. You never know, it’s possible that someone comes to Christ through these songs in particular…

Days In Avalon from 2000 only spawned two singles in the title track and “Straight From My Heart”, The former is a heartfelt piano led ballad, whereby Richard is nearing the end of one chapter of his life, and is reflecting upon his moments with his partner; and as this song has a melancholy tone, we are met with a sad parting of the ways, and the realisation that no good thing in life is meant to last forever. The latter song, another acoustic ballad, speaks about death and the feeling of missing someone so deeply, and was marketed to country radio but failed to chart. And as Richard passionately and earnestly sings out to his loved one that ‘…and I will always be, better for you loving me, better for the times we shared, that travel with me everywhere, and I will always try to hold my head up to the sky, if only just to let you know, that straight from my heart I still miss you so…’; we are met with a death that affected Richard greatly, and a track that was written presumably as therapy and as healing for the pain he felt from seeing someone die. Though it’s not known what this song and the album was about, maybe his dad’s death in 1997; Richard can’t be faulted for the sombre and dark mood of the album- but these songs can only be listened to when you’re in the right frame of mind. They’re heartfelt and inspiring and moving… but they remind you of the transience of life and the fragile nature of something you were so sure about in your twenties. As we get older, we begin to think about our mortality a bit more, and this album puts everything in perspective- that it’s not about the money or the fame. It’s the relationships and the people that count, and if there’s one thing that Days In Avalon teaches me, that this is it- to cherish our loved ones and don’t be afraid to say what you want to say, because you may never have another chance. The synth driven ballad “Edge Of Forever” (whereby Richard and guest vocalist Chely Wright thank God immensely for their partner), the heartbreaking, personal “Almost Everything” (where Richard sings presumably to his dead father, asking him to bring him riches and gold so that the pain of his death can hurt less), and the rare rock song “More Than A Mystery” (where Richard declares he wants to know his partner wholeheartedly and completely) are all standouts on an underrated album that will slip under the radar unless you actively search for it- but let me remind you that this project is not for the faint of hearted who like to hear boppy, poppy material. If you do, then perhaps Justin Bieber or Jonas Brothers will be a better bet for you.

A dichotomous title, My Own Best Enemy is a very thought-provoking concept and album that released in 2004, as Richard delves deep into songs about self and identity. “When You’re Gone”, a mid-tempo rock song similar in theme to Avril Lavigne’s song of the same name, dives deep into a person on death’s door, and someone else proclaiming that they can’t live without them, and asking out ‘…who’s gonna dry my tears when I’m crying? and who’s gonna hold my hand when I’m dying? Who’s gonna set me right when everything is wrong? Yeah, who’s gonna love me when you’re gone?…’. It’s a song that also questions one’s dependence on someone else (can be seen as a good or bad thing) and speaks about a love that’s deeper than anything ever imagined- this is the type of love that we all need to find, the type between two people that lasts a lifetime and then some more. “Nothing Left To Say”, a track that delves deep into someone’s psyche, and the lie that they believe that their best days are behind them, reminds us all that sometimes there is nothing left to say- there’s no defending something that shouldn’t be defended, and there’s really no trying to pretend to be someone that you’re not. The track also divulges into hate of oneself and trying to accept the changes in life that you can’t control- with the self-identity crisis song being one in which we all need to hear, in order to reconcile the fact that we are older and that there are some things we can’t do now than when we were younger, like pull all-nighters and be sane and healthy afterwards. But rather than lament the ‘good days’, let us remember than our best days are yet to come. And if we have that mindset, then we really do have nothing left to say- people will know our mindset from our actions. “Ready To Fly”, the last remaining single from Richard on My Own Best Enemy, is a radio friendly inspirational song similar in theme to Avril Lavigne’s “It Was In Me”. And as Richard looks inwards and speaks about soaring above any adversity because of the power within him, the song could sound new-agey. But I for one instead an captivated by such a song, and I find it one of Richard’s best- as he earnestly encourages us all to reach for the sun and for the stars- that with people by our side, we can be stronger than we think we are. Lyrically, the track is pretty cliché, as Richard emphatically relays to us that ‘…I’m ready to fly over the sun, like a rocket to heaven and I’m ready to soar right through the sky, never dreamed I’d find something to lift me so high, I’ve always had wings but I wasn’t ready to fly…’, however there’s something about this track that makes me want to listen to this heart-warming and soothing ballad again and again and again.

In 2008, Richard Marx did something different that probably no other artist has done in my recent memory. And it is to release two albums in the same year. One exclusive to Amazon (Emotional Remains) and one exclusive to his website (Sundown). As such, not many people have heard his two albums. And that’s inclusive of myself, as Spotify didn’t shuffle to these lesser-known tracks. While for me I should’ve actively searched for these tracks and to see if Emotional Remains and Sundown were available to listen to on Spotify (just checked- they are!), and then actively listen to the songs that way (maybe I didn’t because at this point I might have Richard Marx fatigue- believe me there is such a thing, even though his music is still high quality!); I didn’t (I mean, a week is a short time to be acquainted with an artist, am I right?), and hence I’m flying blind on this part of the blog. So I’ll keep this part short and tell you all that these lesser known albums from Richard are still worth the listen. Even though I haven’t heard much songs from these two albums, the sentiment remains because of Richard’s reputation; and you should check them out however you can. And as Richard has mentioned that “Through My Veins” is very emotional and personal to him (I have heard this song and it’s one of the most heartfelt and inspiring songs he’s ever recorded!), let’s just say that you at least need to listen to that song! Other standouts during my brief time listening to these two albums include “From The Inside”, “Come Running”, “Loved”, “Suddenly” and “Have A Little Faith”. They’re rough around the edges… but they’re still vintage Richard Marx!

A song called “Through My Veins,” [is the song I was most proud of, which was not a hit]; which is a song I wrote around 2007, 2008, for an album I did called Emotional Remains, which was really only available through Amazon. It was a real indie thing. But I have done it live many, many times, and I have had so many people – on social media and right up to my face – that thank me for writing that song, which is about dealing with the grief of losing my father.

I lost my dad in ’97, and I had written a few songs over the years, processing it – the grief of losing him. Because I lost him very suddenly and very tragically, and we were really, really close. The song “Through My Veins” came after these other songs, but it was almost like the other songs were the lead-up to it. That one said exactly what it needed to say, and it was very therapeutic for me and for a lot of other people who have suffered losses similar to that. So “Through My Veins” is the one. 

For over 20 years, Richard Marx has consistently and powerfully made his mark on the music industry. His self-titled debut album kicked off his career as a solo artist in 1987 and went on to sell 3 million copies. His 1989 follow-up became even more successful, selling over 7 million copies worldwide. From 1987 to 1990, he became the first male solo artist in history to have his first 7 singles reach the top 5 on Billboard s singles chart, including countless hits! This feat remains unchallenged.

He was nominated for Grammy awards 3 times and received an American Music Award nomination for favorite male singer. In 1992, he was awarded Best Selling Adult Contemporary Artist at the Billboard Music awards, and received the International Song of the Year Award at the Australian Music awards. In addition to selling over 30 million records, and writing, as of 2009, thirteen #1 songs, he remained a fixture on pop and adult contemporary radio for years, even as he emerged as a top producer working with some of the biggest names in the music business. Among those artists, *NSYNC, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, Vince Gill, 98°, Luther Vandross, Kenny Rogers, Sarah Brightman, Lara Fabian, Sister Hazel, The Tubes and SHeDAISY. More recently, he has written and produced records for Daughtry, Leann Rimes, Katherine Jenkins, Travis Tritt, Emerson Drive, Natalie Cole, Keith Urban, Paulina Rubio, Kenny Loggins, Chris Botti, Michael Bolton, and actor Hugh Jackman.

Why did I include this word for word spiel and quote by Amazon, about the prowess of Richard as a singer and as a songwriter? Well, frankly it was of no reason at all, it was because this blog was a tad long-ish, and I wanted to include something completely different to break things up, for variety, and for you to wake up and take notice. And now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you that Richard’s Christmas album Christmas Spirit released in 2012, and is one of the most soothing, emotive, joyful, hopeful and inspiring Christmas albums I’ve heard in recent memory. It’s too bad Richard hated the lead single “Little Drummer Boy”, but as he mentioned in a Billboard interview, he made lemonade out of lemons pretty quickly: The album was essentially finished. Then my manager reminded me that, ‘Dude, we need bonus tracks, a couple of extra tracks so that different retailers can have their own version of the record. “Little Drummer Boy” was on the short list for consideration, but I just never liked that song. It’s just so monotonous. [But] right before I was ready to just completely scratch it off the list, I thought ‘What would happen if U2 was forced to do ‘LIttle Drummer Boy? What would The Edge play?,’ I came up with this guitar part, totally ripping off the best of The Edge, and I basically borrowed the drum groove from ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for.’ So I tried to approach it like ‘Little Drummer Boy’ circa ‘Joshua Tree’-era U2, and I wrote a bridge section for it and I walked out of the studio thinking, ‘This is one of my favorite things on the record.’ I was surprised but also thrilled that was the go-to track, but it made all the hard work worth it. But for me, this album is pretty seamless, and sounds incredibly inspiring and moving. Favourites of mine are “O Holy Night” (my favourite carol!), and the originals “Christmas Spirit”, “Christmas Mornings” and “Let There Be Peace On Earth”. As a Christian, I love listening to Christmas music at all times of the year, not just Christmas time- there’s never a better time in my opinion than all times of the year to be reminded of the birth of Jesus and everything He’s done for us. But Richard isn’t a Christian (or at least I don’t think he is), and thus, this album, especially since it’s speaking about the birth of Jesus that Richard doesn’t believe in, may seem to be considered insincere and a money grab. And to listeners who aren’t Christians, they may be triggered by this whole experience of listening to a Christmas album full of lyrics that don’t sound true to them. But let me tell you something. The truth is that God works in ways we all can’t imagine. That’s a fact that any of you cannot dispute. You may not like Christmas Spirit. But I cannot recommend it to you enough. If this album changes even one person, Richard should be proud of himself, and if this album creates discussion among the topic of Jesus, his birth and the real reason for the season; then I reckon he ought to be proud. Don’t you think it’s time to celebrate Christmas in July?

Richard hasn’t been active that much lately over the past ten years or so, having released only 2 full length studio albums (Beautiful Goodbye in 2014 and Limitless in 2020) since his Christmas album. These albums didn’t chart at all, and I don’t even think that the general public knows that they exist. Only if you are a real Richard Marx fan (of which I am quickly becoming) will you know of every album in his discography… but even if you are a casual fan; I guess that’s what this blog is for. For you to be introduced to some old-school rock music and some thought-provoking, confronting and comforting ballads, am I right? “Just Go”, a bonus track from Beautiful Goodbye, is a moving and haunting melody about someone not completely over their ex, and their plea for the both of them to try to start over, to ‘…forget the world we know, baby don’t look back, let’s just go…’. The song also  reminds us all that we ought not to make hasty decisions in life in case it’s the wrong one or we have any regrets, although this song also encourages us to change the things we want to change, now, because it’s not too late; while sensual songs “Whatever We Started” and the title track detail a relationship that the persona can’t stop even if it’s unhealthy and toxic for them- songs which should confront us open up our eyes in how we are acting in the midst of our relationships, and what we need to do to ensure our relationships are solid, beneficial and building others up instead of tearing them down. “Turn Off The Night”, a track in which Richard claims that he cannot get over his ex, is harrowing and emotional, as he details that he longs for the night to be over so that he’s not alone in his thoughts anymore (and is a reminder that healing from broken relationships takes time); while “Have A Little Faith” and “Suddenly”, previously released on Sundown, brighten up an already strong and optimistic track list that celebrates the start of a new relationship and says goodbye to an old one. Released around the same time as Richard’s divorce from Cynthia, the bittersweet album of Beautiful Goodbye reminds us that time doesn’t stop for anyone, and we can choose to wallow in self-pity when adversity occurs, or we can get back up and dust ourselves off. Richard has chosen the latter and what has resulted is a well-rounded and underrated album that all of us can enjoy no matter the state of our relationships.

It’s always something I thought about, but I didn’t really have a burning desire to get back in the studio. I love making albums, but it comes to a point where it starts to become less and less viable to me. … Like,  ‘what’s the point?’ [Thus] I needed to be reminded that the point is that songs still happen to me, they still come through me. I [still] love seeing from a little germ of an idea to the finished product. Once I gave up the thought of trying to write a cohesive record, it really became much more fun. Why can’t I do a couple of songs that are sort of country rock, and then a really beautiful naked piano ballad, and really super modern pop—who says I can’t?

I’m a very music-driven songwriter, so the first thing that happens is the melodies come. Once the music starts to happen in my head, it’s not linear, I already know what the record is going to sound like and whether it’s a pop song, or a rock song, or a country song or an orchestral song.

It’s much easier to put your music out. It’s much harder to have it make a difference. It just gets swallowed up in the white noise. [Case in point is] Coldplay’s album, Everyday Life. It’s obvious how much effort the band put into it, and Coldplay fans ate it up, but as a whole, it quickly seemed to fade to an afterthought once people’s attention spans moved on to the next thing. The things that really poke through and have legs, like Billie Eilish or Halsey; that is a much more difficult thing to accomplish

Limitless released last year just before COVID-19 really ravaged through the world, and these songs, though we all may not have listened to any of them at this point in time, can and probably will provide us comfort, healing and hope, as we try to make sense of the ways in which our world has irrevocably changed yet the ways in which we as a human race are still the same. We still have each other, we still are alive and we still have our hopes and dreams; and though Richard could have given up and just stayed as a songwriter, I’m glad he recorded the musically diverse Limitless as the project overall brings a smile to my face, and reminds us that we are indeed limitless. The title track is a 3 minute acoustic guitar ballad that is also a happy-go-lucky danceable melody (complete with dance and remix effects!!) about having a pure love with someone that is limitless (can be platonic or romantic); while first single “Another One Down” is a pure pop song, whereby Richard eloquently relays to his partner that he feels sad that she has let him go. It’s a song not based in reality (as Richard is now in a happy relationship with Daisy Fuentes) and perhaps it’s based on his son Lucas’s life (as he’s a co-songwriter on this track!); but what is ironic about this song is that the lyrics are pretty depressing yet the song melodically is a pop tune fit for dancing. Can we say that it is deliberately like this in order to grab our attention- pull us in with a pop melody so we can ruminate on the confronting lyrics? Perhaps… “Front Row Seat”, a guitar led mid tempo track about living in the moment and being present in the lives of your loved ones, is a tribute and a homage of sorts to Richard’s songs from the 80’s and 90’s; while “Strong Enough” with Jana Kramer on guest vocals and co-written with Jason Wade of Lifehouse, is a country song that details a heartbreaking scenario of one person not being able to let another person go from the relationship, despite it being over. “This One”, an acoustic guitar led ballad, is just as moving and inspiring as “Right Here Waiting” and “Now And Forever”, as Richard details his love for Daisy, and that she’s the one for him until the day he dies; while “Love Affair That Lasts Forever” also delves into the burgeoning relationship between Richard and Daisy. These songs on Limitless remind us all that a good songwriter is a good songwriter is a good songwriter, no matter which way you slice it. Even if Richard isn’t as popular as a singer, song writing is one thing he can be certain will never leave him at all. Ever.

And now that we’ve got all of the full length albums out of the way (phew, that was a lot of them, don’t you think?)… do you think that that’s all that Richard Marx has contributed to the world of music? No, not by a long shot! Having been discovered in the 80’s by Lionel Richie (Marx was 17 and living in Highland Park, Illinois when a tape of his songs ended up in the hands of Lionel Richie. Richie thought Marx had talent and told the teen, “I can’t promise you anything, but you should come to L.A.); it’s clear that Lionel’s assessment of Richard was spot on. He’s created heartfelt ballads that he has sung himself, while Richard has also written massive songs for everyone else. And as Richard became famous and respected again in the early 2000’s after penning NSYNC’s massive hit “This I Promise You”; he’s also co-written smash hit songs throughout his entire career like “Everybody” and “Better Life” (Keith Urban), “Dance With My Father” (Luther Vandross), “To Where You Are” (Josh Groban), “Find Your Way” and “In My Eyes” (The Afters), “On The Inside” (Daughtry), “The Best Of Me” (Cliff Richard), “What About Me” (Kenny Rogers), “The Only Thing That Matters” (98 Degrees), “Someday” (Vince Gill) and “One Little Miracle” (Hawk Nelson). That’s a lot of songs, don’t you think? You can check out Richard’s extensive discography here, but as we hear these songs (some in full by Richard that he has included in his greatest hits albums)… can we agree unequivocally that Richard is one of the most inspiring songwriters of our generation? Richard’s also a great producer too- don’t you reckon he’s very versatile?

Having also recorded a duet with Donna Lewis (“At The Beginning”) for the Anastasia soundtrack, as well as covering Japanese duo Chage & Aska’s hit “Heart Of My Own”, Richard Marx seems to be still plugging along and chugging away at his craft- unassuming, humble and modest, yet still sure and certain in his own ability. With Richard also having helped an unruly passenger on an Air Korean Flight, and having shared the stage with Hugh Jackman in San Francisco, and performing a duet of “Right Here Waiting” with him; Richard also has released a book- Stories To Tell: A Memoir this year- whereby he speaks about the lessons he’s learnt in life and about his biggest hits he’s has throughout his career. Though of late he’s also a social media ‘prick’ if you’d like to call it that. Having called out a lot of political inconsistencies on the left and the right over the past year on Twitter, a look at his timeline reveals a passionate person who is quick to hone in on something he disagrees with. Though his songs are mostly relationship based, his twitter reveals a man who isn’t afraid to say what he thinks, and that’s with colourful and explicit language as well. While Richard’s twitter timeline isn’t for the faint of heart, it does reveal a person who isn’t easily swayed by public opinion; and though you may not agree with his political views… don’t you think it’s admirable that he is taking a stand? After all, Richard is indeed open to changing his mind about his views on politics…

I would say it’s 99 percent futile [engaging on twitter]. What’s more interesting is, the times that I had a respectful discourse with someone on Twitter who sent me an article or a link that was not grossly partisan, where when I did the research and I looked it up, it was like, “Oh, I didn’t know that.” And I responded by saying, “Hey, you’re right about that. I didn’t realize that.” My main point may have still been the same, but it was more information. Maybe there was a part of what I was saying that was factually incorrect.

I always want to be as factually correct as I can be. So, if somebody points something out to me and says, “Hey, that didn’t happen in 2009″ or “That was not an Obama policy.” Right? I want to be accurate. I’m the same on social media as I am in my life, which is I don’t surround myself with people who say exactly the same things that I do about everything, because I don’t think you really learn from that. I have people in my life, as long as it’s all respectful and as long as they are people whose intellect I respect, I can learn a lot from talking to people who disagree with me about things.

I think there are a couple of ways [we can be mindful]. One is to be acutely aware and grateful if your circumstances are particularly good. And, mine are particularly good. And I’m not somebody who’s ever apologized for success. No one ever handed me anything. No one ever did my work for me. I was not a trust fund kid. I earned everything I made. I am completely unapologetic about my success and my wealth. And that said, I think it’s fine for public people to publicize their charitable contributions. It’s just not for me. It’s not something that I feel comfortable doing. It feels disingenuous to me.

So that’s a tricky thing because there are times, especially in this age of social media where you want to defend yourself and there’s a part of you that feels like you want to whip out the receipts and say “Really? Yeah, well beat this.” I’m not going to defend myself in that way because I don’t need to. So, if you are fortunate, and if you have the ability to help other people and it feels right to you, do it. If it doesn’t feel right to you, that’s fine. That’s your choice.

And then the last thing is — and I don’t know how big a factor this is — but something as simple as last night, I tweeted “How are you guys doing?” And my responses were flooded with people who — it sounded like they wanted somebody to ask them that. And if for no other reason to just have a dialogue with people, complete strangers, to hear how they’re managing it and to maybe offer some words of encouragement or connect, “Here’s a phone number” or “Maybe think about it this way” or maybe it’s as simple as somebody who likes what I do hearing back from me saying, “I wish you well. I hope everything works out for you.” I think, all of us in the public eye can do that if we choose to.

I’ve always mentioned time and time again about how an artist is influential based upon their life outside of the spotlight. I think I’ve been like a broken record… because it’s true. Yet for Richard Marx, apart from his twitter rants and his songwriting credits… there isn’t much more that he is doing. And maybe that’s enough. Maybe all of you may not like it that he’s only writing songs and staying in his lane in terms of music, and not being musically diverse enough. But Richard has done what he’s done for a long time, and it works. With the album Limitless the first album Richard has released within his 5th decade (he’s released albums in the 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s, 2010’s and 2020’s!), Richard Marx, though not popular, needs to be an artist you should listen to, and pronto. His songs are sometimes cliché, sometimes a bit indie. But all of them are honest, all are personal and all can and will inspire and impact at least one person. as Richard reveals to us that the way he has evolved as a singer and as a songwriter is quite organic, and lends itself to the new way he is writing and performing his music, how about we let Richard’s career be a testament. If we keep plugging away, if we have our friends and family by our side, and if we trust God’s plan for our lives; then I’m positive that we can and will be ok. Richard’s music reminds us that though songwriters aren’t recognised enough, they need to be congratulated; and while it’s true that early on in this blog I mentioned that the songwriter and the artist both creates a timeless classic… I’d say that without words, a song doesn’t live on and on and on. Therefore Richard is featured in this blog series as a songwriter predominately. I think you might have picked up on that though anyway; and what this blog has taught me, if there’s one takeaway, is that the pop music of today can entertain and can sustain for  a bit… but the music of yesterday and the timeless classics stir the soul, and that’s the type of music I’d want to listen to most of all in the coming years. And that’s the type of music I’d want you all to listen to as well… if only to find new (or old) ways to make it through this pandemic unscathed!

Everyone’s different. There are no two people I have worked with that are alike; the way I work with them is different and the results are different. I really do try to work with people with whom I think I can learn. In fact, when approached to collaborate, I’m much more attracted to writing with someone who you wouldn’t necessarily think I would write with. That is much more interesting to me than something that is a little more obvious. I like that my songwriting and production resume is all over the map – it’s everything from Josh Groban to Keith Urban to The Tubes. That’s the thing I’m actually most proud of in my career: the diversity of the people I’ve written and produced songs with.

I’d like to think they have got something out of it as well, and maybe they’ve learned something. I’ve definitely heard that from some of the artists I’ve worked with. I think I actually learn way more from working with younger artists than working with older ones. That’s why I try to always keep trying to collaborate and write songs with newer, younger artists. And that’s the music I listen to: I don’t really listen to old stuff, I listen to stuff that’s being played now.

I started in Rock radio. “Don’t Mean Nothing” was my first single and there have been a lot of songs that are way heavier than that. Again, I love all different kinds of music, I’ve never stuck to one thing. I do understand some of the ballads were so massively successful on the radio that it leads a casual listener to think, “He’s that guy who sings ballads.” If you haven’t heard the Rock, R&B or other styles of music I’ve recorded, then that’s your perception of me; which is fine, I can’t really control that. I think that’s why when people see me live they go, “Oh, now I get it. Before I thought you were a certain kind of artist, but now that I see you live I get you are much more than that.” I think that’s probably true of any artist.

Does Richard Marx make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Influential Artists of all Time’ list? Is there any song (other than “Right Here Waiting”, “Now And Forever”, “Don’t Mean Nothing”, “Satisfied”, “Hazard”, “Ready To Fly”, “Children Of The Night” and “Hold On To The Nights”) that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far, or even your walk with God? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!

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