Farmer’s Song, Down by the Henry Moore and Whispering Rain are among his songs that can rightfully be termed Canadian standards. Some of the tunes have earned him a Juno Award — he has 11 of them. But when asked to pinpoint his favourite, the father figure comes out in Murray McLauchlan.
“They’re like your kids,” the 70-year-old singer/songwriter said in an interview before he embarks on a B.C. tour. “What’s satisfying for me, those songs, they keep adding another life.”
Honky Red, for instance, has become a concert and recording hit for Widespread Panic, an American rock band. Another tune, Child Song, was featured on the TV show, This is Us.
Not including live recordings, McLauchlan has nearly 20 albums to his credit. His latest recording, Love Can’t Tell Time, was a result of learning a new language on the guitar while living in Italy for a few months in 2013.
“I love that record,” he said. “They’re (songs) really off the floor. The only sweetening that was done was the string arrangements.
“Every time somebody talks me into making one (record), I always think I’m not going to make another. When I did Human Writes in 2011, I thought that’s about as good as I could get it, as far as the songs are concerned. I think I hit my dinger. And then I went to Italy, and I studied hard. I had this background desire, on my bucket list, I wanted to be able to play guitar like Freddie Green from the Count Basie band. So I had to sit there and learn this whole new way of playing. Once I started doing that, I found out that not only could I play standards, but when I put on Sinatra Live at the Sands with Basie and his orchestra, I could actually play along with it. I was absolutely over the moon.”
Until recently, most of McLauchlan’s touring has been with friends Ian Thomas, Marc Jordan and Cindy Church in Lunch At Allen’s. The band has been performing for more than a decade.
“It started out as an aggregation of friends to do a few concerts, and it grew from there. I like to think we’re like Crosby, Stills, Nash and a girl…There’s an old saying, ‘Your friends are the family you choose.’ And they certainly are.”
McLauchlan is also a painter, an author, an actor and a radio host. He is an Order of Canada recipient, and is a member of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. Last year, he received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.
He also has a love of aviation. In 1986, he flew a Cessna 185 around Canada. He was followed by a film crew, which produced a TV special, Floating Over Canada. The show included various guest stars, including fellow musicians Gordon Lightfoot, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Levon Helm.
“Where we would sit the airplane down, there would be a filming opportunity.”
Reluctantly, McLauchlan penned a biography, Getting Out of Here Alive, which turned out to be written for his children.
“I was asked to do it by Penguin Viking. I didn’t really have any desire to do it. But then I thought about it — I have a son and I have a daughter — and by the time they’re down the line a little bit, I’ll be a doddering old fool, and they’ll never really understand who their old man was when he was full of juice.”
Following concerts in Campbell River and Duncan, McLauchlan performs June 10 in Courtenay. It won’t be his first visit to the Comox Valley. He has fond memories of performing on a grand piano at the 2013 Filberg Festival when Bobbie Blue was music director.
“She was very, very kind to me. God knows where she found it (piano). She went to the wall.”
His Monday, June 10 performance is at the Sid Williams Theatre. Reserved seating tickets are $47.50, available at the Sid box office. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.