I LOVE MARK CURRY! I’m sure there are quite a few of you out there that feel the same way. His music does that to people. There is a deep connection, a cord that when touched, stays with you, holds on and sometimes becomes an addiction…not to a drug but to the sound of his voice and the turn of phrase in his lyrics that can’t be washed off, no matter how hard you try.
When I first heard him it was at a show in Hollywood that I’d been invited to by Kenny Lyon, his bass player. The warm-up band had a few fans present and sparked the usual response from the Hollywood crowd… “I could have done that” or “that could have been better”. Hollywood is filled with the toughest crowds in the world because they’re attended by people who listen to music all day for a living. They are saturated with judgment, soaked in the oil of opinion and there I was soaked and saturated with the best of them. Nothing could move me. It could have been the second coming of Ray Charles and even then I would have churned in my mind how to pick the performance apart and put it back together again. That was my job.
The warm-up band finished and the next band started to get ready to play. Soon the singer, with an enormous blond Gibson J-200 strapped around his neck, muscled up to the microphone wearing a wife beater t-shirt, his hair slicked back. He mumbled some unintelligible words into the mic and then turned to his band and counted off. “One Two Three Four!” and they were off and roaring, following this ball of fire that screamed and crooned and cajoled into the mic, except I wasn’t following where they were going. It was foreign to me. I was lost.
I rarely saw someone display such raw emotion when he performed. I’d seen Axl do it but I don’t think anyone else. The difference between Axl and this guy was Axl was more like rage, this guy was more like pain, palpable pain that I could see and witness. To be honest the experience was so alien to me that I couldn’t get it…but the crowd around me did. They screamed and shouted and sang along with every song. When he held up a beer and toasted the crowd they all did the same. He was the Pied Piper. He could have led them anywhere and in a way he did. It was an emotional journey. A trek to the innermost caverns of his heart. I walked away from the experience willing to take on the task of recording this emotional whirlwind because of the crowd's response. They convinced me. Mark was a genuine, rough and sweaty character after the show but it was them, the audience that sealed the deal for me. They loved him. Women fawned over him, men vied for his attention after the show…you would have thought they had seen Jim Morrison or Robert Plant but no, it was Mark Curry. As one artist that I worked with years later after attending a show of Mark’s declared…"He’s the next big thing"!
The album we worked on became “Let The Wretched Come Home”, an amazing and intense experience. I’m filled with memories that will never dissipate and I’m left with a love for Mark Curry that will never fade. I'm grateful to him for taking me on that journey with him but as the time went on I had to turn to other things and other projects.
Over the years we would hear from Mark every once in a while, just to catch up so we’d know where he was and what he was doing. We knew he’d moved with his girlfriend and daughter to Indiana and he knew I had moved with my wife and children back to Kansas. There were the usual holiday greetings and calls.
But one day a call came from Mark that was different. He wanted to make another record with me. He had a way to pay for it. Kris Jones, a faithful fan and supporter of his and a dear friend of ours had agreed to cover the cost and he was raring to go. Logistics were worked out and he and Ryan Smith, a drummer friend of his from Minnesota soon appeared at our doorstep to record the album. Kris appeared soon afterward and we started to work. We burrowed into Airhouse Recording Studio, the studio I had built with my friend David Lord and began churning out track after track. Soon we had a bunch of new songs of very high quality. This was some of the best work of Mark’s career.
There’s a tendency when artists come back to the music business after being away for a while, they write songs from the perspective with a …“back when I was a successful rock star…” type of narrative. Not Mark. The new songs are as current and dark and emotional as his previous work. We had to get these out to his fans, everywhere.
The music business has changed dramatically in the years since we made “Let The Wretched Come Home”. Gone are the major record labels and big budgets to pay for expensive studios. Instead there are ordinary people making extraordinary music in small towns connected by friendship and love. Mark didn’t turn out to be the next big thing…yet.
He’s waiting for the new album to come out “Right Now”.