Although he's well-known for a track called "Rockin' Around in N.Y.C.," Marshall Crenshaw remains one of this area's favorite rock 'n' roll native sons. Perhaps the closest thing to Buddy Holly that Michigan ever produced, Crenshaw — who recently wrote the title track to Judd Apatow's Walk Hard as well as contributing a track to Tina Fey's recent Baby Mama — returns to the Mitten State this weekend for a festival performance in Mount Clemens.
METRO TIMES: What's your favorite memory of growing up in the Detroit area?
MARSHALL CRENSHAW: If you're talking about musical memories, I used to like listening to WABX back in 1968 through '69, when they used to play Harry Partch, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Pharoah Sanders — all that stuff — alongside the rock groups. During the summer of '69, there were tons of local rock bands playing everywhere and I saw all the great ones, the crappy ones and all the in-between ones. Lately, my favorite old Detroit rock song is "Lost in a Daydream" by the Third Power, which I actually found on iTunes. I used to really like them.
MT: You're thought of by many as Detroit's finest power-popper, yet you toured with the MC3 a few years ago. At what point, do, say, "Kick Out The Jams" and "Cynical Girl" intersect?
CRENSHAW: I like all of the MC5's records a lot. But I guess the one that influenced me most directly was "Back in the U.S.A.," with all the great layered guitar parts. They caught a lot of flack back then for writing those tight, concise pop songs like "American Ruse" and "Teenage Lust." But how great are those songs? They actually set the bar pretty high.
MT: Most major artists on tour skip Detroit altogether these days. Do you think the city can be saved?
CRENSHAW: Are you seriously asking me if the city of Detroit can be saved? That's a huge jaw-dropper of a serious question, don't you think? Watching the news last night about all the levees that are failing along the Mississippi, though, made me think of a related question: Can America save itself? I think the answer to both is that it's possible, at least we all better hope and pray that it's possible. ...
MT: What was the genesis of the cover of Dion's "Donna the Prima Donna" — which never fails to fill me with joy — on your MySpace page?
CRENSHAW: My wife, Ione, asked me to do that for her. This was about 10 years ago, right after we'd been to see Dion at this place out in the woods.
MT: Congratulations on all the cool recent soundtrack work. What's coming up on the horizon?
CRENSHAW: Why, the Stars and Stripes Festival in Mount Clemens this weekend! I hope to see you there!
Saturday, June 28, 10 p.m., at the Stars and Stripes Festival in downtown Mount Clemens. See starsandstripesfest.com for more info.