Foiled by the Farmer’s Song folkie

Murray McLauchlan sings about straw hats and old dirty hankies. And it won me over. I was eight year old when I first saw him play the Farmer's Song. And for months afterwards it went round and round in my head -"Straw hats and old dirty hankies, mopping my face like a shoe. Thanks for the meal, here's a song that is real, from a kid from the city to you ...."

Murray McLauchlan sings about straw hats and old dirty hankies.

And it won me over.

I was eight year old when I first saw him play the Farmer’s Song.

And for months afterwards it went round and round in my head -“Straw hats and old dirty hankies, mopping my face like a shoe. Thanks for the meal, here’s a song that is real, from a kid from the city to you ….”

Now, more than two decades later, I listened to it again on YouTube and the memories and lyrics came flooding back.

McLauchlan is playing the Yukon Arts Centre on Thursday with his group Lunch at Allen’s.

So, after all these years, this childhood fan had a reason to talk to the harmonica-playing guitar folkie.

But McLauchlan never called.

His publicist Cristin Fraser started promising an interview early last week.

But McLauchlan was on the road, and it was tough finding time to talk.

Finally, it was set for Monday at 10 a.m.

First, however, there was an interview with prolific songwriter and Lunch At Allen’s co-musician Marc Jordan.

He was going through a Tim Hortons drive-through in Cochrane, Alberta, when I called.

Jordan’s written songs for the likes of Rod Stewart, Cher, Bonnie Rait and Bette Midler, back when he was living in LA, working for Warner, BMG and Atlantic Records.

It sounds like a tough gig, writing a hit and letting go without getting the chance to record it.

But Jordan loved it.

“The whole idea was to get as many people as possible to hear the songs,” he said.

“And I always wrote the songs as if I was going to record them.

“I never thought, so-and-so needs a song, so I’m going to write it for him.”

Jordan started off writing for himself.

But after losing his record deal in the early ‘80s, he took the staff writer position at Warner.

“And people started cutting my songs,” he said.

Now, playing with McLauchlan, Ian Thomas and Cindy Church in Lunch at Allen’s, Jordan is reappropriating some of his long-lost songs.

And sometimes, they’re better than when he left them.

“In one case, I wrote a song for Amanda Marshall, and she did it so much better than my demo,” he said.

“So when I recorded it, I copied her.”

Lunch at Allen’s came out of a lunch meeting at Allen’s Restaurant in Toronto.

Murray McLauchlan had been asked to put together a songwriters series and approached Jordan, Thomas and Church.

“I said I’ll do it, if you do it with me,” said Jordan.

The show was so successful, an agent in the audience asked the group to do a few more performances.

Eight years later, they’re still touring.

“We became more like a band and dug in and learned each other’s material,” said Jordan.

After getting together at Thomas’ studio, an old barn outside Toronto, the group started putting out CDs – acoustic versions of their individual hits with musicians shuffling from guitar to percussion and piano.

Thomas’ songs are philosophical, said Jordan.

Church’s have an emotional beauty.

And McLauchlan’s songs are photographic -“they have this wonderful sense of time and place.”

McLauchlan was set to call next.

But he never did.

Leaving me to contemplate his “song that is real, from a kid from the city to you ….”

Contact Genesee Keevil at

Just Posted

Northwestel says it is investigating into the cause of the total communications blackout throughout the territory after a power failure in Whitehorse on Wednesday night.
Internet outage prompts criticism on Dempster fibre project delays

The Liberals responded that they have proceeded cautiously to avoid high costs.

A motorcycle with driver pulled over on the right side of the North Klondike Highway whose speed was locked in at 171 kilometres per hour. (Courtesy/Yukon RCMP)
Patrols of Yukon highways find poorly-secured loads, intoxicated drivers

The ongoing patrols which police call ‘Operation Cooridor’ is mainly focused on commercial vehicles.

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

More than 25,000 people have received the firsdt dose of the vaccine, according to the Yukon government. (Black Press file)
Yukon has now vaccinated 76 per cent of eligible adults

The territory has surpassed its goal of 75 per cent as a first step toward ‘herd immunity’

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Most Read