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Non-Prog Interviews

Leigh Marble

Interviewed by Larry Toering

Interview with Leigh Marble from 2012


What is the song “Inebriate Waltz” about?

The idea was to get a bunch of Portland, Oregon songwriters to each write a song about someone buried in this cemetery in S.E. Portland. The cemetery is located between Belmont and Stark ST. at 20th Avenue. So, the one that I wrote about for that was a nineteenth century poet named “Sam L. Simpson.” He was buried there, and I read up a lot on his life story. So, his story was, he wrote a poem called “The Beautiful Willamette.” It was published in papers, as I understand it, across the country and was a bit of a poetry star there, and he kept writing poems but he never got that kind of recognition again in his life, and he just kind of wound up drinking his life away. It's a sad story, a cautionary tale, and I was engaged by that. So I wrote that song on the compilation, and this version is the new recording I did with my band.


How about “Jack Rabbit?”

I'm going to say that is about a mix of different characters, and I've joked about it being about strippers and politicians, but I think it could be about someone who's in a position where they're forced to compromise deeply, but they keep smiling and...going with the situation. It was more of a feeling about that kind of person, and it wasn't about a specific individual, but it could be about a number of different people who find themselves in the position to keep smiling and going with it.


Who would you see as some of your musical influences?

That would be a big list. Boy, on this record I went through a number of phases with different groups. So I was listening to a lot of the band Low and Niko of Velvet Underground's earlier solo records.


Your wife was a big inspiration on this record. Do you want to talk about that?

Yes, this record was written in the following period of her being diagnosed with breast cancer, which happened five years ago. So we went through about a year of different treatments. It was a rocky time, and I think you can hear that in some of the songs, as I read your review and you seem to have your head wrapped around this album, Larry. It was a lot of anger and frustrations on both our parts in having to deal with that at such a young age. One of the things I did to get through it was write about it. Depression, I think is darkness, and it makes interesting subject matter, however, while you're in it, I don't think it encourages creativity in that moment where you're feeling so beat down. You really try to find any way out of it that you can. If you feel that bad about the world it doesn't make you want to express it. You want to just hide away. It would come in waves. On days when I was feeling a little better, those were the times I'd write, or when I had a concert the day before. It was a while and we went through the treatment together and it lasted another year after than and we felt like we had our a**es handed to us. And coming out of that period is when I started to work with those songs more with the band and actually try to have it all gel into a collection. It took a little time before I felt okay about expressing it and playing the songs out. It's one thing to write about it. Writing can be very private, you don't have to share with everyone, but if you are going to write about it, you make that decision to try and express it publicly.


Are you going to be doing more shows, or are you taking that slowly?

Good question. In an ideal world I'd be doing a lot of shows, but things are getting crazy again, so I won't be doing that for the summer.


Any closing thoughts?

Well, I very much do hope to be playing shows again in the fall, and I'm encouraged by the early feedback that I'm getting from people about this record. Some of the songs take time and patience to understand what the songs are about, and time and patience can be a lot to ask. I really hope to continue to connect with a good receptive listening audience for this material, as I feel this record was written and arranged and put forward from the gut. I was more concerned on earlier records about them being pop records and conform to that idea, but this time around I said “screw it, this is not a pop record and it won't do the material any favors to pretend that it is.”


MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at
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You'll find an audio interview of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
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