Re­mem­ber­ing Lew Murphy’s mu­sic

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - EDITORIAL -

A word about Lew Murphy, who died last week. I was a boy when I saw him on TV, sit­ting on a bar­rel, singing “Oh Shenan­doah, I long to see you...” In the 1950s, we were sur­rounded on ra­dio by wall-to-wall Elvis jumping and moan­ing, by Hanks and Kit­tys whin­ing about their love lives down in Pennsy­tucky. I’d never heard real folk songs be­fore, and sung with in­tel­li­gi­bil­ity, even lungs and open-throated ex­pres­sive­ness.

I fell in love with folk songs and good singing. I hap­pily dis­cov­ered that lit­tle New­found­land has folk songs as great as any and Lew Murphy sang them as well as any. He wasn’t a pop or a coun­try singer and prob­a­bly never sang in bars, ( for money). He was clas­si­cally trained but pre­ferred to give his tal­ents to folk songs.

Once a week for a half hour on Wed­nes­day evening, CJON ra­dio’s “New­found­land Soiree,” played Omar Blon­dell, Lew Murphy, Len Meighen, Harry Lauder, John McCor­mack — any­body but Elvis, Hank and Kitty.

Omar and Lew sang our songs when ev­ery­one else was try­ing to ig­nore and for­get them. To­day we are awash with pro­fes­sional Noofy rock groups, rock­a­billy, Ir­ishy and self­med­i­cat­ing coun­try mu­sic. But most don’t dare sing or record “Let Me Fish of Cape St. Mary’s,” “Two Jinkers,” “Pat Murphy’s Meadow,” “The Spirit Song of George’s Bank,” even “The Bad­ger Drive,” be­cause they wouldn’t like to be com­pared to Lew.

Lew Murphy will be buried to­day in Mount Carmel Ceme­tery. Most New­found­lan­ders don’t know who he was.

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