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Marshall Crenshaw

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Biography

The pop-minded singer/songwriter Marshall Crenshaw built up an impressive body of work over the course of his career, showing a fine craft for everything he approached while stubbornly following his own creative muse to reach that end. To call Crenshaw's career "interesting" would be putting things mildly. He starred in several movies and portrayed John Lennon in the road-show version of Beatlemania. His songs were featured on several film soundtracks and covered by such diverse artists as Robert Gordon, Bette Midler, Kelly Willis, Marti Jones, and the Gin Blossoms. He assembled a bunch of like-minded show business acquaintances and issued a book about rock & roll movies entitled Hollywood Rock & Roll. He assembled compilations for record companies (most notably Hillbilly Music...Thank God! for the short-lived Bug Music label) and contributed chapters to books on vintage guitar collecting. In short, Crenshaw is a true rock & roll renaissance man, and his own music remains as commendable as his alternate projects. Born in Detroit and raised in the surrounding area, Marshall played in a number of different bands in high school, eventually landing in his first professional combo, ASTIGAFA (an acronym for "A Splendid Time Is Guaranteed for All," cribbed from the back of Sgt. Pepper's). Although nothing releasable came from this venture, the experience cemented the basic ingredients of Crenshaw's style that would surface full bloom at the dawn of his solo career. According to Crenshaw, "That band really didn't have a high profile in Detroit, but I was using that time, working alone, woodshedding, gathering information. Around '73, I just stopped listening to the radio and just became immersed listening to old 45s from the '50s and early '60s. It seemed to me that there was more immediacy in those records than the stuff that was on the radio at that time." But just as his ears learned to love echoey mono '50s records, his songwriting influences went in an opposite direction: "One batch of stuff that I really feel that I was strongly influenced by was a lot of the R&B-pop kind of stuff that was around in the early '70s. I just love that romantic kind of R&B kind of sound, all those chord changes in those tunes." Unfortunately, Detroit was not a musical hotbed during the late '70s, so Crenshaw responded to an advertisement in Rolling Stone and auditioned for the Broadway musical Beatlemania instead. Hired as a John Lennon understudy, Crenshaw moved to New York City and quickly found himself in a heady, competitive situation. After completing his six-month "Beatle boot camp" training, he appeared in the show for six months in Hollywood and San Francisco, then finished up his remaining six months with the production on the road. Though he found the show creatively stifling, it made him sit down and figure out what kind of music he wanted to create. After buying a four-track recorder, Crenshaw began making demos whenever he was home. Marshall was soon armed with demos galore and began dropping them off to any show business connection who might listen. Additionally, his younger brother was playing drums in Crenshaw's trio, which was starting to plug into New York City's burgeoning new wave club scene. An early fan of the trio's music was local scenester Alan Betrock, who had recently launched his own label, Shake Records. It was Crenshaw's debut single, "Something's Gonna Happen," on Betrock's label that kicked up enough noise to bring major-label interest knocking at his door. Signing with Warner Bros. in 1982, Marshall recorded five well-crafted studio albums before parting ways seven years later to sign with MCA for one album, Life's Too Short. During this flurry of activity, Crenshaw also flexed his acting muscles, portraying a high-school bandleader in Peggy Sue Got Married and Buddy Holly in La Bamba, and making a guest appearance on the Nickelodeon series Pete and Pete. Emerging from a three-year hiatus, Marshall then signed with the independent label Razor & Tie and released a live album, Live: My Truck Is My Home, in 1994. He also penned the Top Ten single "Til I Hear It from You" for the Gin Blossoms, providing the band with its highest-charting single to date. A new studio effort, Miracle of Science, followed in 1996. The 9 Volt Years, a collection of demos and home recordings, appeared in 1998, and a year later Crenshaw returned with a new studio effort, #447. Although Crenshaw's audience had waned considerably since his '80s heyday, his albums still received critical accolades for their power pop prowess, and he was enlisted to write the humorous title track for the film Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story in 2005. Following the movie's release two years later, Crenshaw returned to his own work with 2009's Jagged Land. Growing tired of the album format, in 2012 Crenshaw began releasing a series of 10" vinyl EPs, each of which featured one new song, a cover of one of his personal favorites, and a new version of a tune from his back catalog. Between 2012 and 2015, Crenshaw released six such EPs, and the material from these discs (minus the re-recordings of his catalog songs) were compiled into the album #392: The EP Collection, released by Red River Entertainment. Crenshaw also ramped up his touring schedule, often touring in tandem with other acts who would also serve as his backing band. In 2014 and 2015, Crenshaw toured in this fashion with alt-country heroes the Bottle Rockets, and in 2017 he hit the road with celebrated instrumental group Los Straitjackets. Crenshaw wrote and performed music for the 2016 HBO series Vinyl, produced by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger. An archival release, Live in New York, was issued in 2017, drawn from a 1992 fundraising radio broadcast that found Crenshaw backed by members of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, with guest appearances by Joey Ramone, Jules Shear, and Don Dixon. ~ Cub Koda
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Someday, Someway
  3.   Take Me With U
  4.   Little Wild One
  5.   Hey Delilah
  6.   Bad Luck
  7.   There She Goes Again
  8.   Someplace Where Love Can't Find Me
  9.   Man with Money
  10.   West of Bald Knob
  11.   I'll Do Anything
  12.   Silver Wings
  13.   First Love
  14.   Stay Fabulous
  15.   Vague Memory
  16.   Monday Morning Rock
  17.   Cynical Girl
  18.   Better Back Off
  19.   Like a Vague Memory
  20.   Yvonne
  21.   Blues Is King
  22.   That's It, I Quit, I'm Movin' On
  23.   Something's Gonna Happen
  24.   Someone Told Me
  25.   You Said What??
  26.   All I Know Right Now
  27.   Delilah
  28.   Run Back to You
  29.   Right There in Front of Me
  30.   Calling Out for Love (At Crying Time)
  31.   Eydie's Tune
  32.   Face of Fashion
  33.   The Usual Thing
  34.   Lesson Number One
  35.   Try
  36.   (We're Gonna) Shake Up Their Minds
  37.   Girls
  38.   Ready Right Now
  39.   I'm Barely Hangin' on to Me
  40.   Starting Tomorrow
  41.   Hold It
  42.   You Should've Been There
  43.   Front Page News
  44.   Move Now
  45.   You Better Back Off
  46.   Right Here Now
  47.   Red Wine
  48.   Driving and Dreaming
  49.   (They Long to Be) Close to You
  50.   Stranger and Stranger
  51.   No Time
  52.   Sunday Blues
  53.   Right on Time
  54.   Passing Through
  55.   Never Coming Down
  56.   Long Hard Road
  57.   Live and Learn
  58.   Just Snap Your Fingers
  59.   Jaggedland
  60.   Eventually
  61.   What Do You Dream Of
  62.   AKA "A Big Heavy Hot Dog"
  63.   Alone in a Room
  64.   I'd Rather Be With You
  65.   Long and Complicated
  66.   A Few Thousand Days Ago
  67.   The Spell Is Broken
  68.   Despite the Sun
  69.   From Now Until Then
  70.   Where Home Used to Be
  71.   Will We Ever?
  72.   T.M.D.
  73.   Tell Me About It
  74.   Glad Goodbye
  75.   Television Light
  76.   Dime a Dozen Guy
  77.   Soldier of Love
  78.   Mary Anne
  79.   One Day With You
  80.   They Will Never Know
  81.   'Til That Moment
  82.   Steel Strings
  83.   Mary Jean
  84.   This Street
  85.   This Is Easy
  86.   Somewhere Down the Line
  87.   Stop Doing That
  88.   Rockin' Around in N.Y.C.
  89.   Bruce Is King
  90.   For Her Love
  91.   Seven Miles an Hour
  92.   Who Stole That Train
  93.   Have You Seen Her Face
  94.   Twine Time
  95.   Tonight
  96.   Wanda and Duane
  97.   Fantastic Planet of Love
  98.   You're My Favorite Waste of Time
  99.   Somebody Crying
  100.   Whenever You're on My Mind
  101.   Don't Disappear Now
  102.   Right Now
  103.   The Distance Between
  104.   She Hates to Go Home
  105.   She Can't Dance
  106.   Julie
  107.   Wild Abandon
  108.   Knowing Me, Knowing You
  109.   The Thrill of the Fight
  110.   Whatever Way the Wind Blows
  111.   A Wonderous Place
  112.   Grab the Next Train
  113.   I Don't See You Laughing Now
  114.   Live It Up
  115.   Valerie
  116.   A Hundred Dollars
  117.   Opening
  118.   Some Hearts
  119.   On the Run
  120.   Rock On
  121.   The "In" Crowd
  122.   Gasoline Baby
  123.   Theme From "Flaregun"
  124.   Let Her Dance
  125.   Only an Hour Ago
  126.   Made My Bed, Gonna Lie in It
  127.   Not for Me
  128.   Radio Girl
  129.   Introduction/Brand New Lover
  130.   She's Not You
  131.   Are You Experienced?
  132.   Walkin' Around
  133.   Move It
  134.   Crying, Waiting, Hoping
  135.   Everything's the Truth
  136.   Everyone's in Love with You
  137.   Our Town
  138.   Terrifying Love
  139.   Out of Nowhere by Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks
  140.   Brand New Lover
  141.   Misty Dreamer
  142.   What Time Is It?
  143.   Never to Be Forgotten
  144.   One More Reason
  145.   Laughter
  146.   Stormy River
  147.   L.W.O. Karaoke
  148.   Soundbite
  149.   Jungle Rock
  150.   What the Hell I Got
  151.   Never Gonna See You Again
  152.   There and Back Again
  153.   Didn't Want to Have to Do It
  154.   I'm Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee)
  155.   You Should Have Been There
  156.   Starless Summer Sky
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