INTERVIEW: Anne Murray "All Of Me"

Anne Murray stopped at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville on October 27th to sign copies of her new book titled “All Of Me”. I sat down with Anne after she spent time with the long line of fans that turned out to see her and get a copy of the book autographed. We discussed the personal aspect of writing about yourself as well as the good and the bad memories that come out while searching a person’s soul for content to include in the book.

Q: Your new project is titled, “All of Me” Was the title of the book something you struggled with?

Anne: There were several title suggestions on the list but this one is the one that stuck. I think the book is revealing in the sense that it is my life and I talked about it and I hadn’t done anything like that before. I have kind of kept my life to myself. I think it is a good title

Q: What prompted you to do it now and how is it different for you to give a piece of yourself in a book versus giving a piece of yourself in a song?

Anne: I did the book now because I had some time on my hands. I did a tour in 2008, a three and a half month tour of Canada and the US. I thought that was enough. I have been thinking about retirement for a while and at the end of the tour, I proved to myself I could still do it and come out the other end still singing alright. So I thought that was enough of that. In 2007 I did what I think is my last album; I did a duet album. People have been trying to get me to write a book. I have had a couple of publishers after me but I wasn’t ready, it wasn’t time. Now, I thought it was time. I sat down and started to talk and do some research and here we are.

Singing about something is quite different than sitting down and writing and putting it down on paper because you have to re-live your life and some of it you don’t want to re-live. I had put a lot of it behind me and I had to go back down some roads that were not pleasant. In fact it was very painful going down some of those roads, but in order to tell the story properly, I had to do it. There was a time in the middle of it that I didn’t know if I could go on. My daughter said “why are you doing this, you have been so private about this all these years, why do you have to tell all this stuff now”? In Canada, this book would have been written, no question about it, a book would have been written about my life with or without my permission. I wanted it to come from me. I didn’t want anyone else to write it and make stuff up. It is my story, it is my voice and that is why I decided to do it.

Q: How do you put a life such as yours in one document?

Anne: It is hard. There are things you have to leave out. I was working with a writer with the Globe and Mail Newspaper in Toronto. He has done books before and he was good at picking and choosing. We talked for 30 to 40 hrs on tape and used my Mother’s 30-40 scrapbooks. She kept everything, every clipping I ever had, it was all there for us. There were some things he wrote that I just couldn’t allow in the book because I thought those things would hurt people. This book is about me, it is okay for me to tell stories on myself, and I didn’t want to hurt anyone else. In the book, if it sounds like I am telling tales out of school, I have run these stories by these people; I have run it by them to make sure it is okay with them so they wouldn’t come after me afterwards. (laughing)

Q: You mentioned your daughter; she had a working mom, one that traveled away from home. What did she think about it after reading the book?

Anne: Dawn was not all that happy about me doing the book. She didn’t want to share the things about her anorexia that she is trying to put it behind her. She is doing great. What I wrote, I ran by her and she changed a few things and is okay with it. You can understand no book is worth any dissension in a family so I made sure everyone was okay with it before it went to print, especially my family. Some people have said “this is not how it happened” or “that is not how I remember it” and I have told them that this is my story and I have to tell it the way I remember it.

Q: Is there any passages in the book that are your favorite, close to your heart or certain stories that you are really proud of that you really wanted to get out there.

Anne: It is the fun stories I wanted to tell. Everyone’s career has ups and downs, we all know that. There are fun times and there are tragic times and nobody escapes that and I talk about that. In those early days there were lots of drugs and lots of alcohol as there was in the 1970s. I have included some of those stories. The drugs were not fun for me, I didn’t do drugs but the drugs were being done all around me and having to deal with that was hard. But talking about some of the things that happened out on the road was a fun trip down memory lane.

Q: In talking about the CD and the music, while choosing music for the album was it as big a chore as putting your life out there and deciding what to include?

Anne: Music is much easier because you can hide behind the music. It is not as though I wrote the songs because, I didn’t, I was interpreting the songs. As much as I tried to sing about the songs and interpret them the best I could, those were not my words. These are my words and this is my life, for better or worse.

Q: What time span are we talking about with writing the book?

Anne: We started talking about this in January of this year and there was a deadline. I figured if there was a deadline of five years, I would take five years; but they gave me a deadline of six or seven months to write the book so we did nothing but focus on getting it done. Michael Posner would write a chapter and send it to me. I would read it, take a week or ten days, rewrite it to make it sound more like me, make sure all the facts were right and send it back to him. We would send the chapters back and forth. We were on the computer for hours every day, a long tedious process.

Q: Now that you are officially retired and your book tour is done, what are your plans?

Anne: I don’t really know what I am going to do. I am going to play some golf and take some time for me and find a way to not feel guilty for not working. I have worked so hard and for so long and been so busy for so long and I really believe I need some time for myself. The trick is to find that balance of not feeling guilty. I need to find a day and do two Suduko’s and two crossword puzzles, find some time and relax a little, read some books and play some golf.

With the high profile that I have, I have the opportunity to get involved with some charities, do some charity work and help people. I am on the board of a couple of charitable organizations and I have the time to devote to that. I think that would be a good thing.

Q: Thinking about the value of your experience, for the young lady that is aspiring to reach the heights you have, what would you tell her?

Anne: I would have to say you have to be willing to work really, really hard and you have to do an awful lot of things you don’t want to do, but it is all part of being in the business. You have to be prepared to sacrifice a lot to have a career. I think people in these careers are learning how to have families and spend more time with them. I was the bread winner and I had to do it all.

Q: Thank you for giving for so many wonderful years of beautiful music and for sharing “All Of Me” with us.

Anne: It has been my pleasure and you are so welcome. Thank you for visiting with me, I have enjoyed it.

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