Murray, Canada’s singing sweetheart, won the 1971 top female vocalist Juno award on the strength of that success, and went on to international super-stardom.
Murray had already had a worldwide smash hit with Gene MacLellan’s Snowbird, and she needed a successful follow-up single. Capitol Records chose Sing High as the follow-up, although Murray argued for MacLellan’s Put Your Hand in the Hand. Murray explained in her 2009 autobiography “All Of Me:” “It was Capitol’s U.S. office that balked. They apparently thought that Gene’s song sounded too different from Snowbird…. They insisted we go with Sing High, Sing Low.”
A cut from the album “Anne Murray: Straight, Clean and Simple,” Sing High was arranged and produced by Juno-winner Brian Ahern, with a string arrangement by Rick Wilkins. Capitol released the 45-rpm disc with MacLellan’s Days of the Looking Glass on the B side. On the UK version, the B side was Shirley Eikhardt’s It Takes Time.
Sing High, Sing Low was a double No. 1 hit in Canada. The single entered RPM’s Adult Contemporary chart on November 14, 1970 at No. 16, reaching No. 8 by December 12 and, peaking just in time for Christmas gift-giving, No. 1 by December 26. Sing High simultaneously climbed steadily up the RPM Top 100 Singles chart, topping out at No. 4 on February 20, 1971 behind Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind and the country classic Rose Garden. The following week, Sing High became RPM’s Country No. 1 record, highlighting its successful Canadian run of over two months. Overall the single was RPM’s No. 67 of 1971.
The optimistic Sing High, Sing Low reflects composer Brent Titcomb’s folk-music roots and the mindset of the early 1970s’ social movements. The lyrics espouse harmony, telling us that we may be different (“We can sing high/We can sing low/It’s all the same, you know”) but can find much in common (“Got a feeling in my soul/We can sing a song/That we all know”), while the melody employs the device of word-painting to match the lyrics.
Titcomb told an interviewer in 2006: “I saw that I had a gift of moving people, and I took that very seriously…. My songs are more universal, just because of the way I approach song-writing.”
Subsequent albums featuring the upbeat song include Titcomb’s 1977 “May All Beings Be Happy,” with country-tinged delivery, pared-down guitar accompaniment and a gospel chorus; followed by his “Healing of Her Heart” (1993). It also appears on Murray’s “The Best of Anne Murray,” “There’s a Hippo in My Tub,” and “The Ultimate Collection.” The song has also been published in sheet music and in an Anne Murray songbook. The song was once performed by Murray on the popular Johnny Cash TV show
Folk-singer and song-writer Brent Titcomb (born 1940 in Vancouver, B.C.) was a member of the 1960s’ folk group Three’s a Crowd. A guitarist and percussionist, he was in Anne Murray’s touring band for many years. He also found success as an actor. His songs have been recorded by country star Glen Campbell and others.