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Thoughts of Why

by Gary Marks


Gary Marks’ ground-breaking album, Thoughts of Why, was recorded and released in 1978, a year and a half after his critically acclaimed recording, Upon Oanda’s Wing.

Thoughts of Why had a distinctly different sound, because a large musical and psychological shift was taking place. Marks was moving from a folk-jazz style to a folk-rock style. And his lyrics were becoming more political, while also seeing the world through a more spiritually aware perspective.

The players on Thoughts of Why included members of the Art Lande band, Rubisa Patrol (ECM Records), including Mark Isham on trumpet, Bill Douglass on bass, and Kurt Wortman on drums, each of whom also played on Marks' Upon Oanda’s Wing.

Thoughts of Why also included the brilliant jazz guitarist, John Scofield, and the virtuoso vibraphone player, David Samuels, both from Gary’s first album, Gathering, as well as oboist Paul McCandless from the band, Oregon, (ECM Records).

During this time Marks also met Catha Rexford, whose voice was so beautiful and unique that Marks asked her to sing harmony parts with him on all the tracks.

The title track, Thoughts of Why, posed the life question most of us come to ask at some point: “Why am I here?” But after Marks asked the question, he realized the album would be incomplete and, in fact, weakened, by not satisfactorily answering the question in another song. This became his challenge during the writing of the album.

So after writing the title track he began to read books on spirituality, philosophy, psychology, and human history, particularly Will Durant’s “The Story of Civilization.”

From this new and exciting perspective he eventually wrote the last song for the album, the final track, The Grace to Be.

After the release of Thoughts of Why Marks did not tour or promote the record, although there were requests for him to do so. His continuing insistence on not wanting to tour anymore would lead him to a seven year experiment with different styles of music, while continuing his study of piano and guitar, and asking himself the next new question, “Where do I want my music to go from here?”

This long journey eventually led him back to his roots, or what he jokingly refers to as “my de-evolution from jazz back to rock.”

The rock genre and its alluringly powerful rhythmic energy, along with a continued focus on social, spiritual, and political lyrics, were the styles and elements that became his new musical path in years to come -- the origin of which emerged from the writing and recording of Thoughts of Why.