Proudly Canadian: Murray McLauchlan

Murray McLauchlan.jpg

Submitted by Cashbox Canada

There are many names that are so identifiable with Canadian treasures and Murray McLauchlan sits firmly in that list of our musical peers.

Murray McLauchlan was actually born in Renfrewshire, Scotland and when he was just five years old. At the tender age of 17 he started playing in the famous Yorkville area of Toronto, known for discovering so many talents in the coffee houses of the 1960’s era. McLauchlan had actually attended Central Tech before deciding that music was to be his life.

After playing at major music festivals, such as The Philadelphia Folk Festival, where he appeared alongside Jim Croce and John Prine, and Mariposa where he gave up half of his concert time so Joni Mitchell could play, he began to attract wider attention on the club circuit, playing such well known rooms as The Riverboat in Toronto, The Bitter End in New York, The Main Point in Philadelphia, and the famous Earl of Old Town in Chicago.

Before McLauchlan had actually recorded an album of his own, his “Child’s Song” was already well known after being recorded by American folk star Tom Rush. Live versions of his song “Honky Red” were performed by Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Bobby Neuwirth. He received early song cuts by country music star George Hamilton IV.

He first broke into the chart hits with ‘Farmer’s Song’ a single release from his album on the then fledgling label, True North, and then ‘Down By the Henry Moore’ which was about a sculpture in front of Toronto’s City Hall building, where students were known to congregate in the '60s and early 1970s.

McLauchlan has had major success in the pop, adult contemporary, country, and folk-music fields, with such songs as "Child's Song," "Farmer's Song" won a Juno Award (1973), "Hurricane of Change" (also 1973), "Do You Dream of Being Somebody" (1975), and "Whispering Rain" (1979). In 1987, McLauchlan appeared on the children's television show, Sharon, Lois & Bram's Elephant Show singing his Juno-Award-Winning Farmer's Song. He appeared in Season 4 of The Elephant Show on the "Urban Cowboy" episode.

McLauchlan has won 10 Juno Awards throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and been nominated for a total of 23 Juno awards. Always extremely proud of his Canadian roots in 1993 he was amazed to be made a Member of the Order of Canada.  He still firmly believes that many others deserve it more and his only regret was that his mom and dad didn’t live to see the ceremony.

In 1998 the release of Murray’s book, a memoir titled “Getting Out of Here Alive” on Penguin/Viking. It had taken a year and a half to write it and provided a very well-lit snapshot of the early days of the Toronto music scene as well as some hard looks at its inhabitants.

True North Days Murray McLauchlanTrue North Days Murray McLauchlanAt the dawn of the millennium, Murray began work on a stage musical called Eddie. It’s the story of a Sinatra-like singer who has as much trouble with his demons as his women. The songs are all written with respect, in the style of the greats--Porter, Arlen, Cahn etc. The musical was staged for the first time in Quebec in 2004 and recently, Capitol/EMI has released a record of the songs recorded and sung by Murray with a stellar jazz band and strings.  The disc is called “The Songbook, New Arrivals” and it certainly surprised some people who thought they had a handle on what Murray could do.

Murray has made major trips to explore his other great love – painting. Since being re-united with his teacher from art school days, Doris McCarthy - one of Canada’s great landscape painters - Murray has been more active publicly with his paintings. They are now hanging on the walls of EMI and Pamela Wallin’s home, and recently one of Murray’s donated works was auctioned off to raise money for The Nature Conservancy.

In 2004 McLauchlan helped form a group known as "Lunch At Allen's" featuring McLauchlan, Marc Jordan, Cindy Church and Ian Thomas. Formed as a result of meeting in Toronto for lunch at Allen's restaurant after McLauchlan's heart bypass surgery. Three CDs have been released as a result of this collaboration: Lunch at Allens (2004), Catch the Moon (2007) and More Lunch at Allens (2010).

McLauchlan has won 10 Juno Awards throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and been nominated for a total of 23 Juno awards.In 1993, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 1998, Pengiun (Viking Books) released his autobiography The Ballad of Murray McLauchlan: Getting Out of Here Alive.

A little known fact is McLauchlan holds a commercial licence with instrument rating and endorsements for multi-engine aircraft and seaplanes. In the late 1990s, McLauchlan was flying commercial airplanes as a "bush pilot" in Northern Canada. He starred in a television special called Floating over Canada, in which he piloted a Cessna 185 float plane across Canada. This special was broadcast on U.S. public television on PBS, as well as in Canada on CBC.

Notably, his “No Change in Me” was a featured song in the musical Needfire, as well as being recorded by John McDermott, (who also recorded The Old Tin Star on his Christmas CD) and The Ennis sisters. Murray’s co-write with Tom Wilson, “Burned Out Car”, became a duet on the Junkhouse album featuring Sarah McLachlan and Tom, and won the JUNO Award for Video of the Year in 1997. Murray co-wrote “You Should be Havin’ Fun” with Barney Bentall, and “Bad Girl” with Lorraine Segato of Parachute Club.  Bentall, incidentally, produced McLauchlan’s 1996 album “Gullivers Taxi”, which featured The Odds from Vancouver, Billy Cowsill, Tom Wilson from Junkhouse and a whole lot of collaborations with some great songwriters.

There are artists, there are singers and sometimes very special singer/songwriters all searching for that great success. Murray McLauchlan has always seemed comfortable being a storyteller in song. For over 40 years he has taken his melodies and weaving the stories and poems inside them for all to enjoy.
“Each album I’ve released comes from a very personal, creative space. Sometimes your fans connect and join you in that space, and sometimes, unfortunately, they don’t,” says McLauchlan.

Murray is also very active on the business side and was for a number of years a board member at SOCAN, the Canadian songwriters/publishers collective, championing the cause of author’s rights and copyright reform. He currently sits on the board of the SOCAN Foundation.

1973 - RPM Gold Leaf, Composer of the Year
1973 - RPM Gold Leaf, Country Single
1973 - RPM Gold Leaf, Folk Singer of the Year
1974 - JUNO Award, Best Songwriter
1974 - JUNO Award, Best Single
1976 - JUNO Award, Country Male Vocalist of the Year
1977 - JUNO Award, Country Male Vocalist of the Year
1979 - JUNO Award, Folk Singer of the Year
1980 - JUNO Award, Country Male Vocalist of the Year
1984/5 - JUNO Award, Country Male Vocalist of the Year
1985 - RPM Big Country, Male Vocalist of the Year
1986 - JUNO Award, Country Male Vocalist of the Year
1986 - RPM Big Country, Male Vocalist of the Year
1989 - JUNO Award, Country Male Vocalist of the Year

He is happily married to Denise Donlon and they have a son so Murray continues with what he thinks is his most important job: being a Dad.
Farmer’s Song Murray McLauchlan

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