Richard Marx’s Wife Helped Him Unlearn the Rules of Songwriting

Their collaborations have given Marx new life.

Richard Marx doesn’t wait for Valentine’s Day to stoke the fires of romance.

The “Right Here Waiting” singer says every day is a lover’s holiday for him and his wife of four years, Daisy Fuentes. 

“As cliche as this sounds, it’s really true,” says Marx, who released his 12th studio album, Limitless, on Feb. 7 and brings his intimate new show “An Acoustic Evening of Love Songs” to Great American Music Hall on Sunday. “Because of the nature of our relationship, we have a whole bunch of Valentine’s Days all year. We live in a really romantic way and don’t need a day to mark it.” 

To say that the pop-rock legend is enamored with Fuentes — the Cuban-American model and television host, best known as the first Latina spokesperson for Revlon and VJ for MTV — is an understatement.  She has become his muse and even occasionally contributes to his material.

Fuentes inspired the seductive tone of Marx’s 2014 Beautiful Goodbye album, which was penned when the couple was deep in their honeymoon stage, and the pulsating title track was made even more provocative with her input.

At one point, Marx bounced some lyric ideas for a song he was writing off his then-girlfriend. She pushed back on his ideas, suggesting that instead of a more conventional song, he write a song about breakup sex. Finding the concept cool, Marx began writing with Fuentes. He told her not to worry about lyrics and rhyming and to just say simple phrases that they’d polish up later. 

Marx says he found the experience of co-writing the track with her especially liberating because she wasn’t a professional songwriter, weighed down by all the unspoken rules.  That freed the couple up to bang out the tune in a purer, more honest, stream-of-consciousness manner that felt novel and exciting to Marx. 

The singer-songwriter, who had historically written the majority of his material on his own or occasionally with professionals (like Luther Vandross on 2004’s Grammy-winning song “Dance with My Father”) enjoyed writing with Fuentes so much that he co-wrote another track, the mid-tempo pop number, “Let Go,” on his new album with her.  

The song was borne from Fuentes’s burgeoning interest in the Eastern philosophy of detachment — wherein a person attains a more enlightened perspective by letting go of their attachment to people, things, or ways of thinking — which Marx admits initially rubbed him the wrong way. Fuentes, however, convinced Marx that it made sense. 

Marx had fancied Fuentes from afar for decades, first seeing her in cosmetics commercials and introducing the singer’s videos on MTV in the early ’90s. While Fuentes’ beauty and coolness first captured Marx’s attention, something even stronger and deeper kept him riveted   when they finally met. 

“This is going to sound so hippie and touchy-feely, but it was her energy,” Marx says. “When I met her — and it’s the only time it’s happened in my life — I had an immediate feeling that my life was now different. The initial ‘Hello, so nice to meet you,’ was just sheer electricity throughout my body.”

To make his new relationship work, Marx realized he’d have to let go of an old pattern that never served him. This is also the message of the “Let Go” track.

“That the most important thing for me was letting go of expectations and just being in the moment and being very clear about how I feel because the [other person] is beyond my control anyway,” Marx says. “If you can find that sweet spot where you both have no expectations or demands of each other’s affection, then you can be in such great energy all the time.” 

While Limitless also features collaborations with the singer’s son, producer Lucas Marx (“All Along” and “Another One Down”), Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles (“Not In Love”), and Vertical Horizon’s Matt Scannell (“This One”), none of these sums up Marx’s marriage and how it makes him feel like the uplifting title track, which he wrote with American Idol and The Voice finalist Michael Jade. 

Learning from past relationships  — Marx was married to actress-dancer Cynthia Rhodes for 25 years and Fuentes had been married to actor-model Timothy Adams for five years —  the couple shares confidence that they will do better this time around.

“The most normal thing is that [the passion] fades away, but it doesn’t have to,” says Marx. “I’m living proof of that. So what I love about this new record is that there’s still plenty of that and an element of hopefulness and joy in a lot of the songs. That makes sense because I am really happy now and my life is really exciting, fun, and wonderful.” 

Richard Marx, Sunday, March 1, 8 p.m., Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St. $45, slimspresents.com/great-american-music-hall

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