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In Praise of Murray McLauchlan

Earlier today I suggested that the iconic Canadian singer-songwriter had perhaps been coasting these past few years, but the release of a new song strongly suggests that he has fire in his bell

In Praise of Murray McLauchlan

By David Farrell

Earlier today I suggested that the iconic Canadian singer-songwriter had perhaps been coasting these past few years, but the release of a new song strongly suggests that he has fire in his belly and something to say about the many ills in society today.


Frank Davies takes me to task in my assessment that McLauchlan has been coasting, and his perspective has made me reassess what I had to say. Frank is first and foremost a song man and a music man. I take his recommendations, and his assessments with great respect. The man knows of what he speaks and his career has proven this to be true, time and again. And as a result, I have listened to the individual songs that he lays out below and I'm gonna have to say, I had it wrong. Maybe some of the later albums hadn't held my attention. Maybe that was my issue. In fairness then, this is what follows.

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What follows is what Davies sent me by e-mail:

David - You certainly don't need to go back to the 70s or 80s to hear the fire in Murray's belly.

While I am thrilled to see some glowing comments about the latest McLauchlan album (can't wait to hear it), I just want to suggest to whoever wrote the piece on Murray today that they either missed or should go back and listen to his two albums Gulliver's Taxi (1996) particularly, and also Modern Age (1990), both recorded during a period when your scribe suggests "his self-confidence went on hiatus in his mid-years." That statement couldn't be further from the truth.

Just consider some of the great Murray songs on these two albums from the 90s:
 
Burned Out Car (co-written with Tom Wilson) about homelessness in our cities, the classic No Change In Me co-written with recent CSHF songwriter inductee Ron Hynes about the hard and difficult living experienced by Newfoundlanders (and all east coasters), Brown-Eyed Man about being a Muslim living in the Western world, I Put Away My Gun (title speaks for its subject),  Disappearing about being 'stuck on an endless freeway going nowhere'  and White Water about trying to find your way and fit into a society that seems to be going in another direction and let's not forget the anthem Let The Good Guys Win expressing hope for those doing the right thing.

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Murray duetted with Tom Cochrane and Paul Hyde on this song - two other artists renowned for their insights and edge and for telling it like it is. Murray even covers Lou Reed's Dirty Boulevard about Hispanics trying to get by in white California,

These were as timely, cutting and insightful social snapshots back then as they still are in 2020. There's nothing 'indifferent' about any of these!

Frank Davies

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