Singer Marc Cohn, known for Grammy hit “Walking in Memphis,” will perform at Stag’s Head Music Hall in Raleigh.
Don’t be afraid to make suggestions when Marc Cohn appears Tuesday at the Stag’s Head Music Hall.
“I’ll be wide open for whatever anyone wants me to play,” Cohn says while calling from his Manhattan apartment. “I’m doing some dates in another part of the country with the Blind Boys of Alabama and so that set will be different than what I’ll do in North Carolina. Those shows won’t be so wide open. I’m looking forward to Raleigh, since anything can happen.”
Expect some new material. The laidback singer-songwriter has been busy writing, and Cohn likes to preview tracks. Cohn will deliver the hits, such as the single “Walking in Memphis,” which was nominated for a Grammy in 1991, and some deep tracks.
“I’m sure I’ll play a cross section of songs,” Cohn says. “I have a plan, an arc for the shows. People will yell out songs and I’ll go for it. If something goes wrong, I’m fine with that since I like when things go wrong – or some wrong notes are played. When you see me, it’ll be real and in the moment.”
Cohn, 58, came of age as a musician during the ’80s when bands such as the Replacements crashed and burned live.
“It was a time when you laid yourself out,” Cohn says. “There was no safety net. You didn’t perform canned material. You walked that high wire (that) sometimes people fell. I still enjoy walking that high wire. It’s exciting to live or die up there.”
Cohn and his longtime producer and collaborator John Leventhal are also working on songs for soul singer-songwriter William Bell, who crafted the classic “Born Under a Bad Sign.”
“William is just like the Blind Boys of Alabama, the last of a dying breed,” Cohn says. “I’m very much into these singers, who are of a certain age, who sing with so much soul. I want to take chances like they do. But you know what? I’m just happy to be here.”
That’s a reference to a horrific episode a dozen years ago when Cohn was shot in the head during a carjacking attempt in Denver. The bullet barely missed Cohn’s eye. Cohn was miraculously only hospitalized for eight hours before he was released.
“I was told I was the luckiest man on the planet,” Cohn says. “It was the truth. If the bullet was a centimeter in another direction, I’m gone. For some reason I survived. If I can survive that I can survive anything.”
The catchy “Dance Back From the Grave” was inspired by his near-death experience. Cohn also bounced back from a 2016 divorce from television news journalist Elizabeth Vargas.
“I’ve dealt with a number of difficult times in my life,” Cohn says. “I prefer to look at the good. I have four children from two different marriages. My oldest is 27, so I’ve spent most of my life being a dad. There’s nothing that makes me happier and more gratified than fatherhood. There’s nothing that makes me more inspired. After all I’ve been through, the personal problems, almost dying, I appreciate things probably more than most people.”
Cohn is looking forward to the release of his forthcoming album and many more years of touring and recording.
“I want to be as productive as possible,” Cohn says. “I was given a second lease on life and I’m in year 12 of it, and I’m going to do as much as I possibly can. Part of that is performing and having as much fun with it as possible.”
When: 7:30 p.m. March 13
Where: Stag’s Head Music Hall, 106 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh
Tickets: $45 and $65
Info: 919-839-6207 or bnpresents.com/stags-head/