Murray McLauchlan talks racism, privilege, and economic disparity in his new double-single and videos for The One Percent / I Live On A White Cloud — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
“In the aftermath of the public killing of George Floyd in the U.S., a massive wave of revulsion against systemic racism swept the world,” the Canadian Country Music Hall of Famer and 11-time Juno winner says, recalling the inspiration for I Live On A White Cloud. “It prompted many of us, myself included, to look honestly into our hearts and not flinch from what we might find. I remember thinking, ‘well, I’m not to blame!’ But then I thought about my friends who had been stopped for ‘driving while black’… And I thought about the experiences of the First Nations people. And I thought, ‘If I watch all this go down, and shake my head but say nothing, I’m just as guilty as anybody else.’ I recognized my life has been easier — even in its difficulty from time to time — because of what I am.”
Second single The One Percent was also inspired by inequality — the rapidly widening chasm between those with outsized resources and the rest of the world’s population. “A while ago, when Occupy Wall Street demonstrations happened, many people scorned the demonstrators for being unable to articulate what they were there for,” McLauchlan recalls. “I remember thinking, however, ‘This isn’t going away.’ As the accumulation of great wealth has increased for the very few, the vast majority of people have seen the opposite.”
McLauchlan has 19 albums and countless songs, honours, and awards to his credit — including a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, an honorary doctorate and The Order of Canada. The singer-songwriter, painter, author, actor, and radio host has been lauded as one of Canada’s most regarded artists throughout his 48-year career. “I’m just a songwriter,” he says plainly. “That’s the only voice I have, other than my vote. But I do know this: If we can’t find a way to make the world a more equitable place for everyone, our future is in question.”
Watch The One Percent and I Live On A White Cloud above, hear more from Murray McLauchlan below, and keep up with him on his website.