#18: Hard Life Alone by Ray Materick

City: Edmonton, AB
Radio Station: CFRN
Peak Month: November 1972
Peak Position in Edmonton: #2
Peak position in Vancouver ~ did not chart
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube: “Hard Life Alone
Lyrics: N/A

Ray Materick was born in Brantford, Ontario, in 1943. His father was an evangelical preacher, and also had been a dance band leader. Ray Materick tried to learn the guitar at the age of 8, but found it too challenging. In his teens he became proficient at guitar and was in a band called The Chevron Sextet. In his late twenties, he moved to Toronto in 1970. For several years he performed at concerts in the coffee house circuit in the Toronto regional area. In 1972, Materick recorded an album titled Sidestreets. It was hailed as a stellar example of roots-folk. The Toronto Star wrote, “Just remarkable. Ten autobiographical song sketches that make emotional participation mandatory and inescapable.” From the album came a single titled “Season of Plenty”. It was released on Kanata Records 1010, with the B-side, “Goodbye”. But it didn’t chart nationally, though the B-side charted in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Kanata re-released the song on Kanata 1013. At last, “Season of Plenty” began to appear on the Canadian RPM Top Pop Singles Chart on October 7, 1972.

Three weeks later the B-side, “Hard Life Alone” also charted, making the single a double-sided hit.

Hard Life Alone by Ray Materick
Ray Materick wrote “Hard Life Alone”. In the first verse, he goes walking with Sweet Caroline. She’d left her husband and he’s interested to know if they have a connection. He sings, “we looked for each other, but only to find there’s a lot of things changed between hello and goodbye.” In a later verse he laments that a hard life alone leaves one in a circumstance “where no one will notice and no one will care.”  “Hard Life Alone” was released on the Kanata label in Ontario.

“Hard Life Alone” peaked at #2 in Edmonton (AB).

Another track from Sidestreets, “Dear Christine”, was released on Kanata 1016. But it failed to crack the RPM Top Pop Singles chart. As Ray Materick was getting some traction from his album and single releases, his record company folded.

In 1974, Ray Materick got a new record deal with Asylum. He recorded an album titled Neon Rain. In the winter of 1974, he released a single titled “Linda Put The Coffee On”. The single climbed to #9 on CKOC in Hamilton, Ontario, and #21 on the RPM pop chart in early 1975.

In 1976, he released his third studio album titled Best Friend Overnight. From the album came two single releases. The first was “Northbound Plane”, which stalled at #70 on the RPM Top Pop Singles chart in August 1975. The second, “Feelin’ Kinda Lucky Tonight”, nudged up to #57 on the RPM pop chart in April 1976. That year, Ray Materick appeared in concert in Vancouver at the Old Roller Rink on November 9, 1976.

A second studio album in 1976 was released titled Midnight Matinee. The album featured a new musician named Daniel Lanois, who played mandolin. From the album came the single release “Ride Away”. But the single failed to get much attention. In 1978, Materick released Fever in Rio. Daniel Landis was back in the recording studio with Ray Materick on this album as well. Three singles were released titled, “Only A Fool,” “Fever in Rio”, and “What You Want.” But with the singer-songwriter genre fading in the face of the disco craze, these singles got passed over by most DJs.

In 1981, Ray Materick was with a new record label and released a self-titled album. It contained the singles “Bring On The Light” and “Heartbreak.” However, he faced the same reluctance from radio stations to play his singer-songwriter tunes. Even though disco was fading, it was being replaced with new wave and other cutting edge musical styles. In 1981, Ray Materick was passé.

The Canadian Bands website states that Ray Materick “did a few shows around the GTA, but then vanished from the business all together.” In 1993 he reappeared to release the album Harley Bro. But then he vanished again. Suddenly, in 2001, Ray Materick reemerged with two studio album efforts: The Songwriter and Violent Flood.  In 2004 he released his Live at the El Mocombo album made at a concert at the El Mocombo in Toronto. A Christian-themed album in 2006, titled The Book of Love, was his next output. This was followed by Ragged Kingdom late in 2006.

In 2012 Ray Materick released the album Peace on Earth. Most recently, in 2019, Ray Materick recorded a gospel album titled One Man Talkin’. In many ways, Ray Materick has followed in his father’s footsteps, inviting listeners to contemplate things spiritual. In 2019, Materick also released an acoustic album that year titled Common Man Cool. 

November 29, 2023
Ray McGinnis

Ray Materick, Robert Pally, “Ray Materick,” Canadian Bands.com, April 11, 2022.
Ray Materick,” citizen freak.com
Ray Materick — Concert Dates,” setlist.fm.
Ray Materick – Bio,” raymondmaterick.com.

Hard Life Alone by Ray Materick

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