Richard Marx Talks Songwriting and New Christmas Album. - Interview

One of the greatest American songwriters in history is back with a new holiday album called “The Christmas EP.” Richard Marx, whose hits include “Hold On to the Nights” and “Right Here Waiting,” has collaborated with some of the biggest names in music. The multi-talented singer and songwriter recently stopped by to talk about his songwriting process, Christmas album and which artist he’d still love to work with.

Q – As a solo artist, you’ve had some of the biggest hits in the ’80-‘90s with songs like “Don’t Mean Nothing,” “Right Here Waiting” and “Hold On to the Nights.” You then stepped away from the spotlight by collaborating with artists such as Josh Groban, Lifehouse and, most recently, Keith Urban. I think you’re one of the greatest song writers ever. Which medium (singing, writing, producing) do you enjoy doing the most and why?

A - Thank you for saying that. I really love all of my musical jobs equally, but for me the most important one is the songwriting. Everything comes from the song.

Q – What I find amazing about your writing ability is that you can write for artists in different genres, whether it be country, pop or R&B. Do you have a certain process when writing songs or does it change from artist to artist, song to song?

A - Again, thank you for that....the multi-genre success is what I'm most proud of. The writing process is always basically the same. I write pieces of music in my head, rarely with an instrument on hand, and then flesh out the rest of the song from there. Starting it all in my head means I'm not limited by any particular instrument, so I can hear the songs forming in my imagination, whether they're rock songs, R&B songs, country, whatever.

Q – Was there a specific artist you enjoyed working with more? What about one that was a challenge for you?

A - I've worked with many, many artists and only have had a couple of experiences that were not fun for me, and I would never tell you who those artists were. Generally, I've had a great time making music with all the artists I've collaborated with, and I've learned something from all of them, from veterans like Barbra Streisand (who I adore as a person as well as an artist) to Chris Daughtry, who's still in the early stages of his career.

Q – How have you evolved as a writer, musician, and producer from when you first came onto the scene almost 25 years ago?

A - Hard for me to assess that. I think I'm a better musician just because of the experience of playing live and in the studio so long, and maybe a better writer from learning to stay personal and specific, and just write the truth.

Q – Are there any artists you haven’t worked with that you’re still hoping to collaborate with? Who are they and why?

A - I'm always way more interested in working with younger, brand new artists because they're more willing to experiment than established acts who are afraid of straying from the formulas that made them famous. For as long as I can remember I've wanted to write for and produce Rod Stewart - and still would love to - but I get the feeling he's not that interested in recording new stuff, and he's all but given up writing songs, which is a shame because he was a good writer.

Q – You released a Christmas album called “The Christmas EP.” Why did you decide to release a holiday record?

A - For about the last seven years my three sons and I have recorded a Christmas song as a gift to my wife, and it made me realize there were songs I felt I'd like to sing and I'd never done a Christmas record because I always felt it was something for an "older" person to do. But I'm forty-eight, I go.

Q – There are only five songs on the EP. How did you determine which songs you were going to record?

A - I went with the songs that I had ideas for now, and because I had the thought of doing a Christmas project so late in the year, we decided to just make it an EP and follow with a full album next year.

Q – In February 2012 a greatest hits album will be released. The album will consist of acoustic versions and original recordings of your hits plus a live DVD. After 25 years in music, which song is your favorite to play and why?

A - Impossible to answer. I like all the songs for different reasons and in different ways.


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at
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