Music News

Marc Cohn

Singer-songwriter Marc Cohn admits that his first visit to Colorado since August 2005, when he was shot during an attempted carjacking, has been weighing on him. "I would be lying if I said I didn't have a little bit of anxiety about it," he concedes.

Cohn was returning to his hotel following a concert at the Denver Botanic Gardens when aspiring rapper Joseph Yacteen attempted to commandeer the van in which he was riding. Amid the melee, Yacteen, who received a 36-year stretch last October, fired a bullet that lodged beneath the skin covering Cohn's right temple. At first, "it was really unclear what the damage might be, or if there was going to be any," Cohn notes. "In fact, I remember them not even being certain -- because I was talking and so alert -- if it was actually a bullet that was inside my head."

The incident made headlines across the globe, but Cohn, who's married to ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas, insists that the media furor snuck up on him. "I wasn't aware for several days, until I started getting phone calls from people who never would have known about it if it wasn't for the coverage it got," he says. "Let me tell you, after you've been shot, that's just not what you're thinking about."

Predictably, ABC was among the networks clamoring for a sit-down, and Cohn eventually accepted this invite, as well as one from CNN's Larry King. "I made my own decision, and felt, actually, that it would be part of the healing process for me to talk about it, and so I did -- and I only did it a limited number of times," he points out. Indeed, rather than taking advantage of the most press interest he'd received since the early '90s, when he scored a hit single with "Walking in Memphis" and won a Grammy as Best New Artist, Cohn zipped his lips. "At some point," he notes, "I was like, 'I've told the story. What's the point of retelling it?'"

Maintaining this stance will be difficult in the future. He's just completed his first studio album since 1998 (he hopes it will be released sometime this year on a to-be-determined label), and Yacteen's act inspired some of the material, including songs titled "Live Out the String" and "Life Goes On." As a result, Cohn is prepared for more talk of gunplay. "Like my experiences even before they had anything to do with this record, I'll talk about them until I'm uncomfortable," he says.

In the meantime, Cohn is trying not to dwell on dark possibilities as he prepares for his Colorado comeback. As he puts it, "I know everything's going to be fine -- as much as you can ever know that."

For more of our conversation with Marc Cohn, visit

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts