As he approaches 71 on June 30, Murray McLauchlan is not too old for change.
The Canadian singer-songwriter icon, who will play Venables Theatre in Oliver, June 18, gives two examples.
He reworked a lyric in his classic song Down By The Henry Moore, released in 1975, at the request of his wife, broadcast and music executive, and fellow Order of Canada member, Denise Donlon.
“The original line is ‘This fat girl come up and grabbed me.’ Denise said, ‘That line makes me very … uncomfortable,’” said McLauchlan in a phone interview as he prepares for a 10-city tour of B.C. through June. “Body shaming. Political correctness. So I changed it to, ‘This girl came up and grabbed me.’ It’s changed now and forever.”
The other change is in a format to a reporter’s favourite McLauchlan song, Never Did Like That Train. The reporter was curious about the lore behind the song, having grown up about 50 feet from railway tracks.
“My accompanist (Victor Bateman) and I did a rockabilly version of the song and we’ve added that version to the repertoire,” said McLauchlan, to the reporter’s delight. “When I was a little kid growing up in North Toronto, freight trains would be going by in the middle of the night and it made me restless. Later on in life, things that bugged me made me restless and the train became a metaphor for events happening in life.”
Over his 45-year career, McLauchlan has released 19 albums and been awarded 11 Junos. His songs Farmer’s Song, Down by the Henry Moore, Whispering Rain and Sweeping the Spotlight Away are now considered Canadian standards. He’ll be playing those songs—“I love playing them and if I didn’t play them I’d get shot”—as well as selections from his latest album, Love Can’t Tell Time.
His much-loved song, Child’s Song, was featured in the smash NBC TV show This Is Us.
“I love getting up on stage and playing for people,” said McLauchlan on why he keeps touring. “As a songwriter, I know that it’s not enough to sit in your kitchen and write. Your songs need to be heard. Music is a communicative art and if it isn’t brought in front of people there is no way to tell if that end has been met. I like to think of a concert tour as a kind of roving gallery to test your art and your ideas. I try to do my very best to make it worthwhile for folks to be there and to perhaps look at things in a new way when they leave.”
McLauchlan plays at the Venables Theatre June 18. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Reserved seating tickets for An Evening in Concert with Murray McLauchlan are $47.50 at www.venablestheatre.ca and are available at the Venables Theatre box office—open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.