Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kate McGarrigle

Kate McGarrigle died today. She wrote some great songs. Mark Ellen likes to say "Heart Like A Wheel" is the best love song ever. He may be right. My personal favourite is called "Matapedia" after a fast-flowing river in Quebec popular with those fishing for salmon. When she was a teenager Kate had an affair with a man. The song describes her and the young man trying to race the river back to its source, just like the salmon.

Many years later when her daughter Martha Wainwright was about the same age she went to the place where her mother had had the affair and met the same man. He was dumbstruck, convinced he was looking at her mother. I love what happens next.
He put his big middle-aged hands upon her shoulders
And he looked her in the eyes
Just like a boy of nineteen would do
I can't recommend the visual resolution of this clip but it's good enough to listen to.


  1. Very sad. The first McGarrigle album has been a favourite since it first came out in (good God) 1975. Last year I found myself in Mendocino, and 'Talk to Me of Mendocino' was running through my head the whole time, driving my travelling buddy crazy, no doubt. 'Complainte pour Ste Catherine' is another keeper - but there isn't a dud on the album. A great lady - and a pretty productive mother too!

  2. I am afraid Rufus may have ruined the whole family for me, I'm wary of listening to anything they may put out for fear foghorn leghorn might pop up and ruin it all. This song thankfully is RW free and good to boot. I will see if spotify can throw up the others mentioned and have a listen.

  3. I know a woman who can't even think about Heart Like A Wheel without welling up. It's a truly lovely song.

  4. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and where Rufus is concerned that's usually love or hate, but I thought his tribute to his Mother on his website was very touching and well-judged.

  5. Geoff I'm sure Rufus is wonderful person and if other people sing his songs they are fine it's the almost out tune nasal whine of his voice that ruins it for me.

  6. Desperately sad news about Kate.

    Heart like a Wheel is one of Anna's and, for my money, as good as it is, it takes second place to "Mendocino". Time and again I find myself wondering how on earth they came up with those dizzying harmonies.

    It's interesting to see the papers today describing Kate as a "folkie". I thought it went wider than that, but it's probably the right call - I've just listened to her and John Tams singing together and it's a perfect fit.

  7. Oh my goodness, that song is wonderful. I am in bits here, Dave, you bugger. More tips on Kate and Anna songs welcome – I know precious few. You can really see where Martha gets it from as well. I urge any of you here to get Martha's first album if you don't have it.

  8. Jude, you really could do a lot worse than get the first album, which is called, imaginatively enough, 'Kate & Anna McGarrigle'...available in the usual places, including amazon for a fiver.