In 1982, musician Marshall Crenshaw sang, “Someday, someway maybe you’ll understand me.” And maybe we will. All good things take time. “Someday, Someway,” was the tune that lifted Crenshaw up and away from the pack of early 80s rockers in New York City. Rock ‘n’ Roll gleamed in New York then like the shine on the chrome bumper of a brand new pink Cadillac. CBGB was in high gear along with Max’s Kansas City, The Ritz, and literally dozens of other clubs that flourished as the scene expanded, fueling fans to search out and discover so much of the new talent that was mostly drawn to Manhattan’s lower east side. In his exclusive interview for GALO, Crenshaw readily admits how exciting the scene was then, and how much he loved it.

He mentions his lack of pragmatism in those days, but he had, (whether he knew it or not) fine instincts in deciding to drop off a cassette at the office of Alan Betrocks’ nascent record label, Shake Records. It wasn’t long after Marshall dropped off the tape that Betrock made contact with him and they recorded the song “Something’s Gonna Happen.” I happen to love the irony connected with that title, even though Crenshaw says, “it wasn’t deliberate.” Shortly after “Something’s Gonna Happen” was released Crenshaw was able to step up yet, to where most artists only dream about, and signed with Warner Brother’s Records.

Sitting on a front porch, strumming guitars with his cousin circa 1963, while listening to early rock-a-billy, including Elvis and all the soulful R&B records from nearby Detroit, Michigan, was the compass young Crenshaw discovered, and made use of, to lead him down the proverbial road to rock ‘n’ roll.

His latest effort, Jaggedland, was released in 2009 on the 429 Record label. Marshall said that he is looking forward to some dates in New York City come the spring of 2012.

GALO: So was it after you played John Lennon in the Broadway production of Beatlemania that you hooked up with editor and record producer Alan Betrock and recorded your song “Something’s Gonna Happen?”

Marshall Crenshaw: When I came on board (Beatlemania) they had just opened a west coast company, or actually the west coast company was a few months old and then there was a Chicago company that was gonna turn into a touring company, so it was really a kind of a burgeoning thing when I got on board. I’d read about it in Time magazine before I ever got involved with it, and I thought it looked really hideous and stupid, but then I got a chance to be in it, and it turned out to be a real door opener and a real good thing for me. But I quit the show in February of 1980; I kind of had an argument with the production stage manager. He just said, “I can tell you’re marking time, you’re not really into it.” He was mad at me. And so, rather than trying to straighten up and fly right, I just quit.

By that time, I was really excited about the music scene. I just really loved what I was seeing and hearing around me, and reading about and hearing on the radio, and I thought, ‘This was it; I’m ready to jump in.’ I had my mind made up about a direction to go in for the first time in my life. This was when I was about 26-years-old. So I quit Beatlemania and started trying to hustle my stuff. I just started writing a lot of songs. I was in this super enthusiastic, super productive mode, and so I started hustling around in New York and crossed paths with Alan Betrock. And that was great. Alan was super important in my life. He was really gung-ho about working with me and had just started a record label. I saw a full-page ad in the New York Rocker magazine, which was one of my bibles at the time (I still have a bunch of copies in my attic), announcing the launching of Shake Records, Alan Betrock’s new label.

It was a really cool looking ad. The art director for the New York Rocker was this woman named Elizabeth Van Italie and she is still doing her thing — she was the art director on my last album Jaggedland (2009) and I’ve always really loved her style. She did this ad for Alan’s label, and I thought, ‘this is really the coolest,’ so I went up to the office of Shake records and there was one room with a desk and a bunch of cardboard boxes stacked up like the most utterly blank kind of non-descript office you could imagine. Somebody was sitting behind the desk. I don’t remember if she was talking on the phone, or if she was just sitting there staring off into space, but I dropped a cassette off with her like I dropped off hundreds of others all over New York and kind of just ran out the door. Then a little while later, I heard from Alan.

He did my first record. We produced it together. But then the other thing that was really important was he actually worked that record in New York. He hired a really serious radio promo person and then the fortunate thing was right when “Something’s Gonna Happen” came out “Someday, Someway” by Robert Gordon was a big hit on WNEW FM. It was Meg Griffin who had championed that record and, what do you know, she then started playing my record, so I had two records on WNEW FM in heavy rotation at the same time. And they never played indie label stuff on WNEW, but I caught a break with Meg Griffin because she loved Robert Gordon’s version of my song “Someday, Someway,” and so, really got on board with my stuff.

GALO: Did you know Robert Gordon? How did it happen that he recorded your song?

MC: Well, this is one of my oft-told stories, but I dropped tapes off, all over New York City. I used to go into town with my bag of cassettes. I dropped a cassette off at Richard Gottehrer’s apartment building. I left it with the doorman. [Gottehrer] was managing and producing Robert at the time, and so about two to three weeks after I dropped the tape off, I got a message on my answering machine from Robert Gordon himself–which was a mind-blower–but the point is, I just threw the songs out there, just cast them into the wind, so to speak, and they took root. And that kind of happened first. The songs started to make their way in the world, and a little while after that, we started performing around New York City. We started with six people in the club and then the next time there were 50 people and it went like that. The music found its way.

GALO: That’s really great.

MC: I liked it. It was pretty gratifying.

GALO: You didn’t live in New York then?

MC: I came to New York in March of 1978 with my wife. We had been married about two months at that point. I came to be an understudy with Beatlemania. I couldn’t really take an apartment because I was probably going to be sent out on a touring company. It was like I was on call to leave town at any moment. So we had a sublet, a studio apartment on Sutton Place, and we lived there for the first four months. Then we lived in this nasty hotel on 59th Street called The Nassau, which is now torn down, and then finally, I just said, “Fuck it” and got a studio apartment on Fifth Avenue. I never spent one night in that apartment because I got called to the west coast to do the show.

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