(Jan. 22, 1995)
If there’s a way to make Anne Murray indignant, it’s suggesting that her career is anywhere near over.
When the time inevitably came to anthologize her life’s work into a CD box set, spanning from her 1970 breakthrough hit “Snowbird” to the ’78 No. 1 “You Needed Me” and beyond, Murray put her foot down on what to name it.
“They were going to call it ‘The Best of Anne Murray,’ ” she said with a laugh recently from her Toronto office, “but I said, ‘Wait a minute, no you don’t. Call it ‘The Best Up Until Now’ or ‘So Far’ or something.
“At one point when they were telling me about the box set, people were talking like it’s over. I’m not 50 years old, for God’s sake. I’m not done yet.”
Murray, naturally, won the name game, and the 20-cut compilation “The Best … So Far” (SBK/EMI) was born. The single CD, issued last month, is a primer for the 65-track box set, which will be released later this year.
Considering Murray’s chart success – plus several Grammy and CMA awards and her standing as the first Canadian female artist ever to score a gold record in America (with “Snowbird”) – it’s surprising to hear the native of Nova Scotia say that she feared becoming a one-hit wonder in the early ’70s.
“There was about two and a half years between ‘Snowbird’ and ‘Danny Song,’ and there were certainly a lot of times when there were doubts as to whether I could ever have another hit record,” she said.
She especially had her doubts after she lobbied hard for the gospel-tinged “Put Your Hand in the Hand” as the follow-up single to “Snowbird,” but her label then – Capitol – opted for “Sing High, Sing Low,” which promptly fizzled. Then the Canadian pop group Ocean put out its version of “Put Your Hand in the Hand,” and it peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s pop chart.
“I couldn’t believe it, so I got very discouraged at that stage,” Murray said, “because I believed in that song. Of course, it sold 2 million records for Ocean. It took me some time to get back some confidence.”
Good thing she did: Murray, who has a degree in physical education to fall back on (just in case), has since been one of the top-selling female artists in the pop and country fields over the past 25 years.
At her peak, she joked, “I could have probably sung in Chinese and it would’ve been released and been a hit. I say the same thing about Kenny Rogers, when he had a run of hits like that.
“My career has been phenomenal … very long and very endearing. I can still go out and do concerts to full houses, and I don’t know how but I do. I still look over my shoulder sometimes and go, ‘What the hell are all these people doing here?’ “
Among the highlights over those 25 years was a visit from John Lennon backstage at the Grammys in 1974. He told her that her version of “You Won’t See Me” was the best cover of a Beatles song he had ever heard.
“That and being Elvis’ favorite singer,” she said. “I heard it from Linda Thompson, who was his girlfriend at the time he died. She was interviewed after (he died) and said that I was Elvis’ favorite female singer. That was a biggie for me.”
BWF (before we forget): Murray’s self-titled album (on SBK) in 1996 was dedicated to her longtime manager, Leonard T. Rambeau, who died in 1995. … Fans can visit her on the Web @ www.annemurray.com or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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