The best songwriters are alchemists, wordsmiths whose magic transforms personal experiences into universal truths. For nearly 40 years, Murray McLauchlan has been performing lyrical sleights of hand, taking insights about himself and observations about the world around him and spinning them into songs that are both meaningful and memorable. His sensitive tales of growing up and growing old, his razor-sharp portraits of the downtown and the downtrodden and his wry depictions of love lost and love found are all gathered here. Taken as a whole, these 36 songs, including three previously unreleased tracks, represent a formidable body of work, one that places McLauchlan firmly in the forefront of Canada’s best songwriters.
In 1965, at the age of 17, McLauchlan left his suburban Toronto home and headed for the highway. With guitar in hand, he hitchhiked out to British Columbia, where he worked in sawmills, logging camps, picked fruit and rode freight trains. Upon his return several months later, McLauchlan said goodbye to his parents’ house for good. Instead of a farewell letter, he wrote “Child’s Song,” a coming-of-age number that perfectly captured the mixed emotions of leaving home. The moving ballad also launched his career when American folksinger Tom Rush covered both it and “Old Man’s Song,” McLauchlan’s stark ode to aging, on his critically acclaimed 1970 album.