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Ron MacLean on Anne Murray, July Talk and, of course, hockey

Del Cowie

Ahead of the 2017 NHL playoffs, Ron MacLean stopped by The Strombo Show to hang out with host George Stroumboulopoulos and talk about his love of Canadian music — and, of course, hockey.

MacLean traced his ties to music back to his teenage years, and buying his first record: Elton John's "Your Song." He also touched on his admiration for legendary Canadian artists such as Gordon Lightfoot and Anne Murray, the latter whom he referred to as the "Sinatra of female singers."

On Anne Murray

"I was a young disc jockey. I sort of started part-time as a 16-year-old and at the Grammys that year, Anne Murray defeated Olivia Newton-John, Barbara Streisand, Carly Simon and Donna Summer," MacLean told Strombo. "That was a really loaded field. For Anne to win with 'You Needed Me' made me proud. I’ve often fought that nationalism, like the Olympic Games in Sochi when I was anchoring the evening show — we didn’t show the medal standings once. I’m a little terrified of nationalism of pride. We’re one of seven billion, but I did feel that moment of validation. We had Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and we had the Guess Who. It wasn’t like we hadn’t had Paul Anka. Great, great performers, but she started the wave. She became Celine Dion — Anne Murray, I’m talking about. She became Sarah McLachlan and Alanis Morissette and Shania Twain. It exploded after that win in '78."

On July Talk

"The minute that I heard them, it was a collaboration — it was a man and a woman. It was raw. It was brilliant,” said McLean. He also raved about Ottawa singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards: "She’s just, for me, one of the great philosophers. One of the great poets."

On the NHL playoffs

"It has been a good year. Obviously, to have the Canadian teams back in the thick of it and just have the kids. Every Canadian team has something to look to. Carey Price: the best goalie in Montreal. Erik Karlsson, the best defenceman in Ottawa. The kids in Toronto. Johnny Hockey in Calgary. Connor McDavid in Edmonton and even Vancouver, tough year, but they have the prodigal son return: Trevor Linden to sort it out. Every Canadian team has something."

Listen to the full Strombo Show episode here.

For further musical exploration with George Stroumboulopoulos, tune in to The Strombo Show every Sunday night on CBC Radio 2 or CBC Music from 8 to 11 p.m. for three hours of uninterrupted music for music lovers.