You know, if you even wrote five songs a year, after 50 years you’d have 250, quite a body of work. And if you started going back over them, you just might be able to piece together your life story, or at least a narrative line around which you could elaborate and gain understanding.
Marc Black has written far more than five songs a year, and has taken some and constructed a new show he calls, “Life, One Song at a Time…” which he will perform solo, at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 15 at Upstate Films Woodstock (the former Tinker Street Cinema.)
“I’m experimenting putting my songs in a story context,” he says. “Everybody has a life to bring us to this moment, it’s a history and I just realized that when I told myself the story of my life, the most telling and reliable form that I have to talk to myself is my songs.”
He talks about the shock of hearing Elvis for the first time as a five year old, then falling out of love with music when the army took Elvis. “In High School, I had my own band and we did shows with the Doors, Neil Diamond and The Dave Clark 5 and that really shaped my idea of who I am.”
His years of playing in Woodstock shape the conversation. “It was such a wonderful journey. I was psychedelicized in college and moved to Woodstock and really embraced the Woodstock community, talking to myself and the people in town through the songs I was writing. There are literally hundreds of songs. I don’t know how many songs are in the show, maybe 15, I never counted them…”
“I try to sprinkle through the changes we all go through, being a 20-something know it all, then having a family…that cuts you down a few notches, gives you some humility. Moving to New York, how that felt. You’re just interested in different kinds of songs. At this stage of my life I’ve been really involved in anti-fracking and social justice and environmental justice. It’s just kind of natural. There’s nothing that tells my story or gives me a sense of who I am but my songs.”
“As artists you have that desire to share who you are, especially with folks who have been your friends and who you have been playing for, for 40 years. Playing at Joshua’s with Mike and Betty in 1973, shaking the White Water Depot, what those songs meant to me along the way…
“At a certain point you look at impermanence. The life we’ve chosen. It’s beautiful to me to know that I have these bits of my mind and my heart that are expressed in this way that can be recreated and shared.”
Admission is $10. Advance tickets are available at the Upstate Films box office, 132 Tinker St. Woodstock. Or call 679-6608.