Anne Murray recalls countless colorful anecdotes in her new autobiography, All of Me, but it’s very likely that fans will still remain curious about two particular aspects of her long and successful career.
“There are two questions I get asked the most. One is, ’When are you doing another Christmas special?’ And the other one is, ’How can you quit now? I haven’t seen you perform live yet.’ I went, ’Well, I gave you a window of opportunity of 40 years! How much time do you need to see me perform live?'” she says with a big laugh.
From 1970 to 1990, the Canadian singer released dozens of Top 10 country hits like “Snowbird,” “Danny’s Song,” “You Needed Me,” “I Just Fall in Love Again,” “Just Another Woman in Love,” “Blessed Are the Believers” and the romantic Urban Cowboy ballad, “Could I Have This Dance.” In 1984, she became the first woman to win a CMA Award for album of the year. The title track, “A Little Good News,” also captured a trophy for single of the year.
Aside from a few photos, the 1993 inductee to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame keeps all of her memorabilia in the Anne Murray Centre in her hometown of Springhill, Nova Scotia.
Here, the retired chanteuse talks about chasing the brass ring, staying in shape and the singing for the “just plain folks” that sustained her career.
CMT: About halfway through the book, you wrote about making a conscious effort to take your career as far as you could. Most people come to town and go for it from the day they get here. What took you so long?
Murray: I don’t think I ever had that kind of confidence then. Once I had my first baby, I felt like I could conquer the world. For some reason, giving birth seemed to empower me. I felt as though I could do anything. That’s when I really went for it. I can’t even explain the feeling because I never had that feeling before. And then all of a sudden — ah! I always wanted children, and when I finally did have a child, I went, “OK, I can relax a little bit.” Of course, when you have one, you need to have two because you can’t just have that one kid, or at least I felt I should have two kids.
What was it about the business side that really attracted you? You were really invested in a variety of platforms with the Balmur company.
Yeah, I know, but I didn’t like any of that. I wasn’t much interested in that. I let other people run that. I learned a lot from that because now if I had it to do over, I would stick with what I know. That’s what I tell my kids: Stick with what you know, and don’t get too diverse. Don’t try to do too much.
You mentioned in the book that you lost millions of dollars.
Millions. I did lose millions, and I deserved to lose millions because I didn’t know what I was doing. I was in over my head, and I was so busy doing other things that I let it get the best of me. I do not lose sleep at night thinking about these things now. They’re in the past. They’re gone, and they happened. But they are like little regrets.
Do you think keeping yourself in shape now gives you a positive attitude?
Oh, absolutely. I’m keeping fit to stay alive and stay moving because I have a very bad back. I do aerobics twice a week. I do yoga once a week. I’m trained once a week and I swim the other days. I’m very, very fit. I’m trying to stay erect and remain agile. There’s nothing like getting up in the morning doing exercise to get you started in the day and getting on with your life. It’s a wonderful thing. And I highly recommend it.
In the book, you refer to your audience in Middle America and Canada — and yourself — as “just plain folks.” Do you feel that audience is too often overlooked?
Absolutely. Those people in Middle America have been the meat and potatoes of my career. Those are the people who have bought my records, and those are the places that I go to perform. My career has never been about performing in New York City. I have performed in New York City. I’ve been in Carnegie Hall, I’ve done Radio City Music Hall, but the thrust of my career has been in theaters in Minot, N.D., in Lincoln, Neb. — in those kinds of places all over the country. Those are the people I’ve been speaking to for all these years.
Toward the end of the book, you listed all the reasons people gave about why you wouldn’t make it. How did you overcome that negativity to keep going?
It was a rollercoaster for me. It didn’t ever stop. I know early on, people said, “Well she’ll never do this, she won’t do that, and she won’t be able to do that.” I didn’t listen to that. I had records to make, I had people to entertain and I didn’t have time to read. I didn’t read a lot of those reviews and a lot of that stuff early on. But I did read it in researching the book. So much of that was 30-something or 40 years old, so it doesn’t affect me the same way now, as you can well imagine.
That was really fun reading all of the press quotes.
Did you know that my mother had 35 to 40 scrapbooks from the very first clipping that was ever written on me in a newspaper? We went through those researching for the book. It was amazing and so well organized. You could go right to the years. It was fantastic.
Are those scrapbooks going into the museum now, or will you hold on to those?
No, I’ll hold on to those.