Marshall Drew

Marshall Drew

 Clarksdale, Mississippi, USA
BandRockSinger/Songwriter

Timeless folk rock in the tradition of Dylan, Springsteen, Petty and Young with memorable hooks and poignant lyrics.

Biography

“Timeless” is a word used too often when describing music, yet it’s the word that comes to mind again and again when listening to 'A Million Different Shades,' the debut album from singer/songwriter Marshall Drew. The independent release is refreshingly devoid of the trends and gimmicks flooding the airwaves; it is instead shot through with enduring themes and emotions that have always been vital to the human experience. It is an album that would have sounded just as vibrant had it been released 30 years ago, and will no doubt sound just as relevant 30 years from now.

Marshall Drew was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, a town whose contributions to blues music many decades ago sealed its musical legacy. Drew himself became interested in music at a young age, learning his first guitar chords at age 5 and writing his first song at 8.

“I guess I was a fairly normal kid,” Drew says. “The only thing that set me apart was that I really loved music. I’d invite my friends over to play and just put on one of my dad's old Beatles albums! To me, that was a good time, but they were probably bored out of their minds...”

Drew’s dedication to music eventually paid off, and he became a renowned young guitarist around his hometown, playing with several local bands throughout his teens and early twenties. He logged countless miles playing blues music in bars and festivals around the Mississippi Delta. His musical travels led him to exploring the highest echelons of popular songwriting, and it’s these influences that most clearly inform the songs on 'A Million Different Shades.'

“I’m interested in serious songwriters,” Drew says. “Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young – these are the guys that are on my mind the most. I don’t go around looking for the next big thing. I like the classics.”

Musically, Drew’s songs are tightly composed and instantly appealing, with strong melodies and memorable choruses. Drew takes to heart an attitude that he feels many of his peers have discounted – that a good hook is nothing to fear.

“With a lot of young singer-songwriters these days, it’s like they equate catchiness with disposability,” Drew says. “But ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ is as catchy as anything, and it’s certainly no less of an artistic achievement for it. I’ve always loved bands that put a big emphasis on hooks, like The Beatles and Big Star.”

Much like those of his heroes when they were young, Drew’s lyrics seem wise beyond their author’s years. Most of them seem to survey the damage after the collapse of a relationship, and Drew imbues them with a tangible sense of pathos, perceptiveness and wry wit that begs comparison to the classic breakup songs of Dylan himself. Listen, for instance, to “In the End”, where he sings, ‘I still believe that a heart can always be earned,’ before demolishing the sentiment with ‘And that only goes to show how little I’ve learned.’

Then there’s the title track. “A Million Different Shades” (the song) is devastatingly fatalistic. With the sparsest of accompaniment, Drew sings with a cold detachment that is betrayed only by the scars laid bare in the lyrics. ‘You say I wasn’t honest with you, and yeah I guess that’s plain to see,’ he sings. ‘But for every lie I told to you, I told a hundred more to me.’ The song ends with a particularly hard blow: ‘Now the days are endless, and the nights are twice that long/So we should have plenty of time to figure out where we went wrong.’

But it’s not all heartbreak and calamity. “Before the Storm Comes Down” is as potent an example of youthful yearning and aspiration as anything off 'Born to Run.' It’s a song for anyone who’s ever felt trapped but who holds on to hope without guarantees. ‘I’m so tired of just hanging on/Y’know it makes you fierce, but it don’t make you strong,’ Drew sings, perfectly encapsulating the essence of a dead-end existence. But with a spirited ‘Come on, baby!’ he leaps into the chorus, lifting the song into one of optimism and possibility. Likewise, “I Believe In You” is a wonderful love song, told from the perspective of one who has finally embraced devotion without barriers: ‘If you hold me close I won’t let go/I’m finally seeing further than my nose/The road is hard and far to go/And I see no reason to be alone.’

It’s these themes that ultimately define Marshall Drew’s music – themes that are as old as time but, when in the hands of the right songwriter, are made new again. Here we find something that becomes increasingly rare in this day and age – an artist whose work has the potential to endure.

“That’s the thing about writing a song,” Drew says. “It’s not something that’s over with once you finish it. As long as people keep listening, a song can go on forever.”

Andy Byatt
Nashville, TN
June, 2009

Lyrics

Further Down the Road

Written By: Marshall Drew

Well I broke down busted in a place that I didn't know
With the world behind and still so far to go
So I held my head and watched the daylight grow
Growing higher, growing tired, growing old

Well now come back baby, don't you know that I wish you could
I know that seeing you wouldn't do me any good
But I'd be done with everything if I could
Done deceiving, done believing, done for good

Now you might hear someone say
You gotta live just for today
And you might see them fall before the wake
And you might feel some hope
But where you'll get it, honey, I don't know
Maybe on a little further down the road

Well I fell out dreaming and I woke in a firing line
You know I've been mistreated, baby I don't mind dyin'
And I've wasted everything I could call mine
Wasted feelin's, wasted reasons, wasted time

Now you might hear someone say
You gotta live just for today
And you might see them fall before the wake
And you might feel some hope
But where you'll get it, honey, I don't know
Maybe on a little further down the road

Before the Storm Comes Down

Written By: Marshall Drew

I'm so restless here tonight
I'm burning inside and I don't know why
Seems like the longer you stay alive
It's just harder to tell what's wrong and what's right

Come on baby, everybody's waiting
I got a car at the edge of town
Come on baby, time can make you crazy
We'll leave here tonight 'fore the storm comes down

Now can we make it alive and whole?
Well if we don't, I guess we'll never know
Don't take nothin' to just let go
When the end of the rope is all you have to hold

Come on baby, everybody's waiting
I got a car at the edge of town
Come on baby, time can make you crazy
We'll leave here tonight 'fore the storm comes down

And then they talk about love, they talk about love
As if it's something anybody ever can trust

Just when you think your trouble's run out
Wait long enough and it comes back around
Got enough money to leave this town
And just enough hope to keep me let down

Come on baby, everybody's waiting
I got a car at the edge of town
Come on baby, time can make you crazy
We'll leave here tonight 'fore the storm comes down

And then they talk about love, they talk about love
As if that's something anybody ever can trust

I'm so tired of just hanging on
You know it makes you fierce, but it don't make you strong
How can a road go so long
And still ain't long enough to get where you belong?

Come on baby, everybody's waiting
I got a car at the edge of town
Come on baby, this life can make you crazy
We'll leave here tonight 'fore the storm comes down

A Million Different Shades

Written By: Marshall Drew

With every mile of the road
A little less is sure
But my time is coming, baby
Just like yours

And it's a hard enough thing
Just to make love last
But how you gonna build a future
When you couldn't build a past

Now you can find someone to walk you home
But it won't be me this time
And you can find someone to carry your load
But it won't be me this time

Now just look around you, babe
There's so much you can miss
This old world has turned for ages
It ain't stoppin' now for this

You say I wasn't honest with you
And yeah I guess that's plain to see
But for every lie I told to you
I told a hundred more to me

Now you can find someone to walk you home
But it won't be me this time
And you can find someone to carry your load
But it won't be me this time

Well I came here, baby
Across a stormy sea
There was nothing true about me
That you wanted to believe

Now I've been trying my best
To see the world in grays
But even black and white
Come in a million different shades

Now you can find someone to walk you home
But it won't be me this time
And you can find someone to carry your load
But it won't be me this time

Now the days are endless
And the nights are twice that long
So we should have plenty of time
To figure out where we went wrong

Now you won't hear me calling
And you won't wait at my door
But you shouldn't let it worry you, babe
It never did before

Now you can find someone to walk you home
But it won't be me this time
And you can find someone to carry your load
But it won't be me this time

Discography

A MILLION DIFFERENT SHADES (LP - 2009)

Set List

Marshall Drew and his band typically perform the ten original songs from 'A Million Different Shades' plus covers from classic artists to round out the night.

A partial cover song list:
(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
All Along the Watchtower - Bob Dylan/The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Atlantic City - Bruce Springsteen
Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Dancing in the Dark - Bruce Springsteen
Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You - Wilson Pickett
Don't Look Back In Anger - Oasis
Free Fallin' - Tom Petty
Hard To Handle - Otis Redding/The Black Crowes
Have You Ever Seen the Rain? - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Heart of Gold - Neil Young
Honky Tonk Women - The Rolling Stones
I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty
Into the Mystic - Van Morrison
Knocking on Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan
Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan
Mary Jane's Last Dance - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Mr. Tambourine Man - Bob Dylan/The Byrds
Proud Mary - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Rainy Day Women #12