I am slowly migrating my book reviews from my music blog to this site, as I will probably discontinue the music blog as soon as I’m eligible for a final Google Ad Sense payout. It could take years for that to happen, but I have about $96 and I need $100 for a payment. The other night, I heard Anne Murray sing a duet with her daughter, Dawn Langstroth, who is also a very good singer. It reminded me that I read and enjoyed Anne’s life story. So here it is, reposted as/is, from my review written in August 2017. Maybe it will give y’all something to read that isn’t as depressing as the news is these days!
She’s had over forty years of experience in the music business, two kids, a divorce, and multiple album sales. She’s also an institution in her native Canada. I am referring to singer Anne Murray, who originally intended to be a physical education teacher and ended up as a huge star.
As a kid, I used to listen to her music. I would describe it as pleasant, comforting, and tasteful. I can’t listen to her 1978 hit, “You Needed Me” and not be reminded of moving back to the United States from three years in England, where my dad was serving in the Air Force. Anne Murray was one artist who never offended and she was one of the few popular singers my dad and I could listen to together.
Although I have pretty broad tastes in music and only have one Anne Murray album in my personal collection, I love a good life story. I just finished reading Murray’s All of Me, which was published in 2009. Given her decision to retire from the music business in 2008, it makes sense that she’d turn to books. This one was written with help from ghost writer Michael Posner, who did an admirable job making the book sound as if it came straight from Ms. Murray’s computer.
Born in Springhill, Nova Scotia on June 20, 1945, Murray was the third of six children and the only daughter of her surgeon father and nurse and housewife mother. Murray and I happen to share a birthday, which makes me feel kind of special… of course, we also share that birthday with Lionel Richie, John Taylor (of Duran Duran), Nicole Kidman, and John Goodman, among others. Although Murray’s father was a Presbyterian, her mother was a devout Catholic and Murray and her brothers were raised Catholic. Murray went to a Catholic college for a short spell, then transferred to the University of New Brunswick which the intention of teaching P.E.
Murray was also an enthusiastic singer growing up, as is one of her brothers. She lasted one year teaching P.E. before she was a bonafide professional musician. Her first big hit was “Snowbird”, which made her a star in 1970.
All of Me is surprisingly interesting, as Murray explains what it was like for her as a woman in the music biz during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. She includes plenty of anecdotes about other people she knew and performed with, funny stories about life on the road, and some interesting trivia. I especially got a kick out of her story about taking part in a bizarre TV special that pitted musicians from the East against musicians from the West. Murray found herself competing with and against the likes of Joan Jett, the Jacksons, Sha Na Na, Boston and ELO! I was only six years old in 1978, when this show aired, but I can promise you I would have loved it.
Murray apparently also got confused for being a lesbian more than a couple of times. One time, a groupie ended up in her bed, thinking Murray was into chicks. She makes it clear that she’s a straight arrow, having married her ex husband Bill Langstroth in 1975. The two were together until 1998, when they divorced after 23 years of marriage and two kids.
One thing I noticed about this book is that Anne Murray comes across as a very down to earth person. She doesn’t seem to have lost her humanity when she became famous. She stays classy and civil and doesn’t cheapen herself with tawdry comments about others. As a fellow musician, I also enjoyed reading about the musical side of her business. I even learned a few things I didn’t know before.
Anyway… although this book is now about eight years old, I really enjoyed reading it. I would recommend it to Murray’s fans, but I would also recommend it to people who enjoy life stories… especially those who were around during Murray’s heyday. I hope she’s enjoying her life now, as an avid golfer and proud mother of two grown kids. And… on a different note… it was nice to read a book that wasn’t very depressing. So bravo to Anne for that!
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