All Of Me
By Anne Murray with Michael Posner
Knopf Canada, 344 pages, $35
Anne Murray's new memoir blows the lid off her image as the fresh-faced all-Canadian singing sensation.
In a fast-paced and revealing autobiography, the 64-year-old superstar from Springhill, N.S., will surprise some when she announces that she was having an affair with her now ex-husband, Bill Langstroth, while he was still married to his first wife.
Murray also admits that she smoked marijuana -- again, at odds with her long-standing, wholesome, girl-next-door image.
She also admits that she was once so inebriated that she peed on famous composer and jazz trumpeter Herb Alpert's pants while sitting on his lap in a cab in the Bahamas at the start of her show business career.
Born Morna Anne Murray, she had a surgeon for a father and a nurse for a mother. Murray is the only girl among five brothers.
The book was written with the able help of former Winnipegger Michael Posner, an arts journalist with the Globe and Mail in Toronto.
Similar to the star's life on which it's built, it starts out uneventfully. It focuses more on the friends and family in Murray's childhood than on Murray herself.
Murray's childhood was unusually stable. The only childhood bump she appears to have experienced is when her Grade 5 music teacher told her to stop singing in the middle of the first line of a singing test. She gave Murray one of her lowest marks ever, a C.
Once Murray chooses between her successful career as a teacher and pursuing a full-time career as a singer, the story starts to speed along.
At one point she confesses that her three favourite songs are A Million More, You Needed Me and Song for the Mira.
Murray also writes that she escaped from a near sexual assault when she was in her early 20s on a date with a doctor.
She doesn't gloss over a few embarrassing truths, such as the fact that her now ex-husband and Sing-along Jubilee co-star, Langstroth, at the time of their romance, was "still married, almost 15 years my senior and also my boss."
She admits that she was "falling in love, fast, and powerless to do anything about it."
Her narrative also features good introspection, as when she reflects: "Bill was good for me in so many ways. I was reticent and he was a dreamer. He believed that you can make things that seem impossible happen, and he made me believe that too."
She also spurned a young Brian Mulroney because she wasn't attracted to him and she "wasn't interested in anyone except Bill." She also rejected Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias's advances because she was married.
Murray has always attracted a strong lesbian fan base but insists she has never swung that way herself. One of her gay female admirers told her that gay women were looking for strong, independent, approachable women as role models, and "I definitely fit that bill."
Her singing idol was the late Dusty Springfield, who came on to her and then drunkenly scratched Langstroth's face after Anne spurned her.
Murray's daughter, Dawn Langstroth, a singer/songwriter, survived anorexia, and Murray writes poignantly of her struggle. Murray also has a son, Will, university student, and an avid cyclist with musical talent as well.
She discusses the ending of her marriage with characteristic honesty.
Murray's popularity was waning by the late 1980s. In 1992, her longtime label, Capital Records, dropped her. She has sold a total of 50 million albums over her 40-year career, from which she recently announced her retirement.
Filled with affecting anecdotes and intelligent insights, All of Me is a worthwhile read from a Canadian musical icon.
Brenlee Carrington, a Winnipeg lawyer, journalist and mediator, is the Law Society of Manitoba's equity ombudswoman.