From the Vault: Anne Murray (1999)
Originally published in the Jan. 26, 1999 issue of Country Weekly featuring Texas country artists on the cover. This story is presented here in its entirety.
The biggest country hit in Anne Murray’s career is 20 years old this month . . . but it’s one she almost didn’t record. She had heard “I Just Fall in Love Again” in the batch of tapes that she and her producer, Jim Ed Norman, went through while looking for new songs. She almost crossed it off her list out of loyalty to her friend, British pop singer Dusty Springfield. “What I remember most about the song was ‘Should I or shouldn’t I?’” Anne says. “Dusty Springfield is a friend of mine, and she had it out. I’m not sure whether it was a single or not, but it was on an album. So I hesitated.”
But the romantic tune kept calling to her . . . and she decided to follow her instincts. “I went ahead and recorded it.” Anne’s decision turned out to be a wise one. Less than two months after its Jan. 27, 1979, debut, “I Just Fall in Love Again” rose to No. 1, where it stayed for three weeks.
“I don’t know how that song came to me,” admits the native of Springhill, Nova Scotia. “But Jim Ed Norman used to bring songs to me and I would bring songs to him. We’d get together and listen, and this was a song that was in the pile. We both agreed we should do it.” Although “I Just Fall In Love Again” wasn’t Anne’s first country No. 1—that distinction belongs to 1974’s “He Thinks I Still Care”—it helped push her career back into a high gear after it had slowed in the mid-’70s while she got married and had the first of her two children.
The song’s success surprised Anne, who didn’t think the classical-sounding piano of “I Just Fall in Love Again” would appeal to country fans. “I was very surprised at the time, because the song doesn’t sound the least bit country to me,” says Anne, who has recorded more than 30 albums in a career that’s spanned three decades. “It’s very much a pop song, but it was one of those things where I was starting to be on a roll. And sometimes I think when you’re on a roll like that, if you put out something Chinese, it’ll hit No. 1.” She laughs. “We used to say that about Kenny Rogers!”
Anne doesn’t remember the exact moment she received the news that “I Just Fall in Love Again” reached the top, but she does recall it wasn’t in front of cheering crowds. “I was at home, and I wasn’t working,” the always plain-spoken singer says. “I was pulled off the road because I was pregnant. I was having a baby in April, so I would have been home with my feet up.” Anne remembers the anxiety felt by her management team as she sat at home, unable to tour, while her popularity was growing by leaps and bounds. “That was the very, very peak of my career,” Anne reminisces. “I was having a baby, and everybody was having a fit. I was more concerned about my family, and you could imagine managers and agents just tearing their hair while I’m sitting at home.” In April 1979 she gave birth to her daughter Dawn. “She was the one they told me I shouldn’t have because I was on a roll,” says Anne. “I thumbed my nose at them.”
Meanwhile, Anne’s status as a fan favorite, on both the country and pop charts, continued to climb. From 1970’s “Snowbird” through 1990’s “Feed This Fire,” she placed 25 hits in the country Top 10, with 10 No. 1s, including “Could I Have This Dance,” “A Little Good News,” “Nobody Loves Me Like You Do” and “Now and Forever (You and Me).”
On the pop side, she’s enjoyed 11 songs in the Top 40. Country music also earned her three of her four Grammys, including Best Country Vocal Performance, Female, in 1974 for her album *Love Song* in 1980 for “Could I Have This Dance” and in 1983 for “A Little Good News.” The only exception was a 1978 Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy for “You Needed Me,” a No. 1 pop hit. “People were all confused,” Anne jokes. “They didn’t know where to put me. The nominating committees for the Grammys always had a terrible time trying to figure out which category to put me into.” In the ‘70s, it was common for artists to enjoy simultaneous success on the country and pop charts.
Anne had crossover company from the likes of Kenny Rogers, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Olivia Newton-John, Crystal Gayle and Eddie Rabbitt. “That was great by me, because I was interested in singing different kinds of songs. I didn’t want to be limited just to country or just to pop. I felt that if I heard a good song that I should be able to do it. So if they wanted to play it on the country charts, thank you very much.” Yet there were many pure country songs that Anne loved and recorded. “I had another bit hit called ‘Somebody’s Always Saying Goodbye,’” she says. “It’s a great country song, one of my favorites. There’s a song called ‘A Stranger in My Place’ that Kenny Rogers wrote that was definitely country. ‘Shadows in the Moonlight’ had a country feel, and ‘Could I Have This Dance’ is out-and-out country, a three-quarter waltz. I’m a sucker for a three-quarter waltz!
“I think I sing a country song as well as anybody,” she says. “If you sing well, you can sing just about anything. My forte is the ballad, but sometimes I just don’t like to sing ballads, so you can’t be stuck. “I record a song because it’s good, not because it’s in one category or another.” The country portion of her career has given Anne some of her warmest memories, she says. “I went to Nashville and I was welcomed with open arms. They always made me feel welcome. I used to go to those CMA Awards shows in the early days and sing with Tom T. Hall and Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn, Glen Campbell . . . we had great times back then.”
Although Anne hasn’t had a hit in a while, she’s no less popular. “I did the same thing this year I’ve done for 30 years—I’ve worked,” says Anne. “I’ve never really taken any time off. Two or three months off here and there. I did 80 dates in ’98. That’s about what I do every year. With albums and television shows and whatnot thrown in, it keeps me pretty busy.”
Her next project is an inspirational album, to be released in the spring. “People have been sort of pushing me in that direction,” she says. “The gospel thing has been talked about for years and years and years. So maybe it’s time. We’re in the embryo stages.” She separated last year from Bill Langstroth, her husband of 23 years, but they still keep in close touch. “We’re doing fine, and we get along great,” Anne says. “It’s a very amicable solution. He lives close by. He and I are good friends. We just couldn’t live together. It was as simple as that. So we’re doing fine.”
Anne has also been breaking new ground with a recent addition to the family: a wolf Highland terrier named Mikey. “He’s a little white ball of fluff, a cute little thing,” says Anne. “I’m so excited. I’ve never had an animal of any kind.” Although reluctant to own a pet in the past, Anne says daughter Dawn—her “I Just Fall in Love Again” baby—finally broke her resolve. “My daughter’s been after me to get one,” Anne laughs. “You talk about somebody who’s determined. My daughter’s been after me since she was 2. She’s now 19, and I’ve held off all this time. But now my son’s away at university, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ “It’s her dog, not mine. But I know what’s going to happen. After a year she’ll go away to school, right, and guess whose dog it’ll be? But I’m ready.”