Richard Marx could teach a class on hit love songs. The singer-songwriter has notched 29 Billboard Hot 100 hits, the majority of them uber-romantic — from his first No. 1 as an artist, 1988’s “Hold On to the Nights,” to his 2011 Hot Country Songs chart-topper for Keith Urban, “Long Hot Summer.” Marx, now 50 and recently divorced from his longtime wife, actress Cynthia Rhodes, says he writes “what every woman wants to hear and what every man wished he could say.” With “Beautiful Goodbye” (released on Kobalt), his first album in 10 years, starting No. 39 on the Billboard 200 — his best-ever debut and highest-charting set since 1994 — Marx is romancing listeners once again.
Billboard: Did you set out to make an album that doubles as a date-night soundtrack?
Marx: I was influenced by EDM and trance. I love that because it often doesn’t have a lyric to focus on; the music takes you away. It made me listen to Chopin. That is so sexy to me.
The video for “Whatever We Started” shows you looking lonely the morning after. What’s the story behind it?
It’s a dance between two people who have already been intimate but something stopped them short — maybe fear. It’s that feeling of “This is bigger than both of us.”
You’re prolific on Twitter. What’s your take on social media?
I love it, but I also like mystery. I don’t know shit about Peter Gabriel, and few people have impacted me as much. I don’t know what he has for breakfast and I don’t care. I find myself being too accessible. My personal life has always been personal.
That said, it was sad to hear about your divorce.
I appreciate that, but at the same time, I don’t understand it. It was a beautiful 29 years and we brought three amazing men into the world. Somebody said they were sorry my marriage failed. I went, “Really? I think it was a smashing success.”