Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Rush StreetReleased: 1991Charted:
is known for songs about relationships, but he will write a story song every now and then. This purely fictional song is set in the small town of Hazard, Nebraska, which is a real place. It tells the story of a man who grows up there and is accused of murder when his girlfriend is found dead by the river. Marx plays the boyfriend/possible killer in the video, which looks like it could be a segment of a TV crime drama. The song and the video were completely different from what we had come to expect from Marx, but it worked; the song became his 8th Top 10 hit in the US.
How did Richard Marx choose Hazard, Nebraska for the setting of this song? When we asked him in our 2012 interview, he explained: "That's the funniest part of the whole song. Because the song was all written except for those two syllables. So I had the opening two lines of 'My mother came to duh-duh,' and the rest of the song was finished except for the Nebraska line. And then the Nebraska line actually came because the syllables of it and the sound of it sang so well: 'and leave this old Nebraska town.' They sang so well to me that I was like, Okay, I'm sold on Nebraska. This is way before the Internet, so what I did was I called the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and got some very nice woman on the phone and I said, 'here's my fax number.' I was in Los Angeles, and I said, 'Can you fax me a list of every town and city and municipality in the state of Nebraska.' So all of a sudden just page after page after page is coming through my fax machine. And I took the pages, I think there were 16, 17 pages worth of tons of names on each page. And I threw them up in the air and picked a random sheet and literally put my finger on the page, and it was Hazard."
In 1992, Marx played a concert in North Platte, Nebraska. The next morning, he and his entourage stopped by Hazard, which had 78 residents at the time. Marx had his picture taken at the post office and by a road sign, and picked up some "Hazard Daze" T-shirts. Only a few of the residents knew he was there, and Marx left after about 30 minutes.
During a performance of this song at New York's P.C. Richards & Sons Theater in June 2011, Marx recalled thinking the fictional murder suspect was the dumbest lyrical plot he'd ever come up with. However, as it sounded different from many of his other songs so he decided to record a rough demo on cassette in his home studio.
As he was singing it, his wife, Dirty Dancing actress Cynthia Rhodes, stopped by and listened. When he had finished, she said, "That's a hit." Marx vehemently disagreed and he confessed to the audience that he included it on Rush Street, "just to prove to her that she was wrong. Isn't that all guys want, just be right once in awhile?"
"Four months later," he said, "'Hazard' was #1 in 13 countries. "And I was pissed."