Colin Macpherson

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Colin Macpherson
Colin Macpherson.jpg
Colin Macpherson recording harmonica track for Synaptic Overflow in 2016
Born (1948-05-14) 14 May 1948 (age 73)
Melbourne, Australia
  • Musician
  • Songwriter
  • Record producer
  • Author
  • Academic
  • Aid worker
Years active1967–present
Maggy Macpherson (m. 1973)
Musical career
Background information
  • Folk rock
  • Alternative folk
  • Contemporary folk
  • Pop music
  • Vocals
  • Guitar
  • Harmonica
  • Bass guitar
  • Mandolin
  • Keyboard

Colin Robert Macpherson is an Australian singer-songwriter and recording artist. Born in 1948, he is also an author – his literary works include three novels, several non-fiction books, and a range of newspaper, magazine, and academic-journal articles. His published music includes six albums and one single. He has also worked as a physicist, farmer, boat-builder, teacher, research fellow, and aid worker.[1] He has a number of tertiary degrees, including a PhD from Monash University in Melbourne Australia – his thesis focusing on the development of particular types of mathematical models. [2] [3]


Macpherson's music has been characterized as alternative folk,[4] but includes styles and genres that range from rap to country music, and folk-rock to instrumental. A number of his songs also have an Eastern feel to them as a result of a droning open-chord instrument that he sometimes uses.[5] Although his songwriting began soon after picking up a guitar as an adolescent – in the early 1960s[6] – his formal entry in the world of published music didn't occur until relatively late in his life – in 2013.

In that year his first album Out of Nowhere was released under his own eponymous, independent label ('Colin Macpherson').[7] Since then, five further albums have been released, the latest being Wire Angel in July 2020.[8] Although the lyrics of his songs focus on many aspects of the human condition, it is concern about the environment that is repeatedly reflected in much of his work.[9]

Macpherson is a total 'loner' in terms of his compositions and recordings,[10] carrying out all the arrangements, playing all the instruments, providing all the backing voices (as well as the lead voice), and performing all the production and recording tasks except for the final mastering stage.[11] Furthermore, as an independent artist, he is also responsible for much of the public information about his work that, for a 'signed' artist, would normally be produced and distributed by a record company. In 2019, for example, the online surfing magazine, SurferToday published an article written by Macpherson where he describes how events in an early period of his life contributed to the writing of a particular song.[12]


  • Out Of Nowhere (2013)
  • 1916 Memorial (single) (2015)
  • Signs Of Corrosion (2015)
  • Close To Zero (2016)
  • Synaptic Overflow (2018)
  • Rare Life (2019)
  • Wire Angel (2020)

Music Videos[14]

  • '1916 Memorial' (April 2020)
  • 'Thin Blue Line' (April 2020)
  • 'What A Game To Play' (July 2020)
  • 'The Bird I Heard' (August 2020)
  • 'The Kingly Ladder' (September 2020)
  • 'Some Consolation' (November 2020)

Literary works


The Tide Turners

First published in 1999, The Tide Turners[15] is: "a story which easily could be true in a world where radical activists have tired of government opting out of saving the Earth; radicals who opt to save the planet their way, even if the human race suffers."[16] The book received plaudits from both environmental- and literary-focused reviewers: "...highly recommended to anyone concerned with the ability of our planet to sustain an ever-growing human population",[17] and "...I found The Tide Turners utterly compelling...Colin Macpherson's message is as relevant today as was that of Aldous Huxley when he wrote Brave New World nearly seventy years ago", [18] and "...a proficient page-turner with an intriguing -- and important -- message."[19] These and other reviews validated Macpherson as a talented new novelist,[20] with the research behind the story being credible enough for the book to be used in a course on 'dark information' at a leading US university.[21]

The Holy Well

Published in 2007, The Holy Well[22] tells the stories of two men – Bren, who lives in Bronze Age Scotland, and James, a 20th century university graduate from Australia. An ancient well in the Scottish Highlands becomes the focus of their lives in their separate times, and leads them to have glimpses of what might be a higher reality. As with Macpherson's first novel, this work received wide praise from a range of reviewers: "...a well-crafted, thoughtful novel..."[23] and "The author does a wonderful job of guiding the reader between the time periods, interspersing tales of early man with modern-day flight and intrigue",[24] and "Powerful, imaginative, action-packed and passionate ... Macpherson's portrayal of life in ancient Britain is vivid, sober, witty and spellbinding".[25] Other reviews were equally positive.[26]

The Boatbuilder's Nose

Published in 2009, The Boatbuilder's Nose[27] tells the tale of Derek Saddler, an Australian boatbuilder who injures his head in a work-place fall. He awakens in hospital with a condition known as hyperosmia – an enhanced sense of smell. The story follows the repercussions of Derek's new ability and the issues that arise. Despite being a departure in style compared to Macpherson's previous two novels, this one was equally well received: "It is written in an easy, dare I say 'blokey' manner...simply a good story with down-to-earth enjoyable novel",[28] and "The main character (Derek Saddler) is constantly distracted by his new talent and, besides hampering his social interactions, it brings out some primitive drives as well. In a word: intriguing."[29] At least one reviewer suggested an additional format: "It's the combination of exploring new territory – relieved by tradesman's humour – that makes The Boatbuilder's Nose a candidate for filming."[30]


Books & Software

Prior to his first novel, Macpherson authored a number of commercial products that were mainly aimed at the primary- and secondary-education markets. These included The Great Disasters Database,[31][32] a computer-software and teacher-manual package that, due to its success, was followed by a similarly bundled package, Goodbye Forever? :a database of threatened mammals.[33][34]. (This was an early example of Macpherson's concern about the environment, a concern that revealed itself further in his first two novels and continues through his music). Some years later, after having been an aid worker in the South Pacific, he wrote a textbook entitled Plant protection in the Pacific Islands:a course for senior high school students,[35][36] producing both a student and a teacher version.[37][38]

Academic publications

Macpherson's academic publications have been extensive but a few are cited here:

  • Bias alert! Watch those survey data[39]
  • Virtual reality: What is the state of play in education[40]
  • The DDCE Online Learning Project[41]

Popular-press articles

A range of magazine and newspaper articles have been written by Macpherson – often in a whimsical-but-serious style; several are cited here:

  • Wombats and other subterraneans[42]
  • Right thinkers hogging the road[43]
  • An affordable dream[44]

Whilst and aid worker on the island nation of Western Samoa (now Samoa) between 1989 and 1991, Macpherson created Our World Too,[45] a monthly magazine that was distributed to all secondary-school students in the country. Besides writing and editing articles for the magazine, he also drew many of its cartoons. During this time, other cartoons of his also became a regular feature in the country's national newspaper, the Samoa Observer.[46]


  1. Amazon 'Author Central' site 'About Colin Macpherson'; accessed 20 August 2020
  2. Macpherson, Colin R. (1985). An Investigation Of Two Decision-Consistency Indices When Used With Teacher-Constructed Mastery Tests (PhD). Monash University.
  3. Macpherson, Colin R.; Rowley, Glenn L. (16–20 April 1986). An Empirical Study of the Properties of Two Estimates of Decision-Consistency Used with Two Types of Teacher-Constructed Classroom Tests. Annual Meeting of the National Council on Measurement in Education. San Francisco: Distributed by ERIC Clearinghouse – via National Library of Australia (new catalog).CS1 maint: date format (link)
  4. "Out of Nowhere by Colin Macpherson". Apple Music.
  5. "Colin Macpherson". Spotify.
  6. "Colin Macpherson : About the author".
  7. "Out of Nowhere - Colin Macpherson | Release Info". AllMusic.
  8. Amazon Music site listing Macpherson's albums and songs; accessed 21 July 2020
  9. "'Are you willing to help?' 2019 message to fans on official website; accessed 20 August 2020" (PDF).
  10. "Colin Macpherson - YouTube".
  11. TripleJ 'unearthed' bio from 21 Feb. 2014; accessed 21 July 2020
  12. Macpherson, Colin (3 July 2019). "Apollo Bay: a surf song memoir". SurferToday. Porto, Portugal: Luis M. Pinto. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  13. Colin Macpherson discography at AllMusic
  14. Colin Macpherson - music's channel on YouTube
  15. Macpherson, Colin R (1999). The Tide Turners. Queensland, Australia: Mopoke Publishing. ISBN 0-646381-67-9.
  16. 'Review of The Tide Turners ', Graham Clark in 'The Brisbane Courier Mail', 26 February 2000.
  17. Fred Elbel (7 July 2000). "Book Reviews - Fiction The Tide Turners". Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  18. Phyllida Coombes (December 2000). "Book Review: The Tide Turners". Idiom 23. 13 (1).
  19. Murray Waldren (19 February 2000). "The Australian". Book review:'The Tide Turners'.
  20. Reviews and review references for The Tide Turners on Amazon; accessed 29 August 2020
  21. Denison, R. Ford (2003). "Reading assignment (unconventional bioterrorism)". Defense Against Dark Information. UC Davis. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  22. Macpherson, Colin R (2007). The Holy Well. Queensland, Australia: Mopoke Publishing. ISBN 0-980350-10-7.
  23. George Thomas (1 April 2009). "Two Whole Men". Quadrant Magazine. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  24. Brad Eden. "Review of The Holy Well". Historical Novel Society. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  25. Stephen Davenport (18 October 2007). "Book review:The Holy Well". The Independent Weekly. Adelaide, South Australia.
  26. Further reviews and review references on the Amazon page for The Holy Well; accessed 29 August 2020
  27. Macpherson, Colin R (2009). The Boatbuilder's Nose. Queensland, Australia: Central Queensland University Press. ISBN 1-921274-10-7.
  28. Peter C. Pugsley (14 May 2009). "Book review:The Boatbuilder's Nose". The Independent Weekly. Adelaide, South Australia.
  29. Mary Vernon (23 January 2010). "This smells good". Townsville Bulletin. Queensland.
  30. John Watson (28 August 2009). "Australian tradey has fairly heavy ideas in light-hearted story". Spectator News Magazine. Queensland.
  31. Macpherson, Colin R. (1987). The Great Disasters Database. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Hawthorn Institute of Education. ISBN 0-867912-00-6.
  32. Macpherson, Colin R. (24 November 1987). "The great disasters database". Hawthorn Institute of Education – via National Library of Australia (new catalog).
  33. Macpherson, Colin R. (1989). Goodbye Forever? :a database of threatened mammals. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Hawthorn Institute of Education. ISBN 0-867912-40-5.
  34. Macpherson, Colin R.; Burton, John A. (24 November 1989). "Goodbye forever? a database of threatened mammals". Hawthorn Institute of Education – via National Library of Australia (new catalog).
  35. Macpherson, Colin R. (2000). Plant protection in the Pacific Islands: a course for senior high school students (student edition): draft. Illustrated by John Robinson. Noumea, New Caledonia: Secretariat of the Pacific Community. ISBN 9-822037-53-8.
  36. Macpherson, Colin R. (2000). Plant protection in the Pacific Islands: a course for senior high school students (teacher edition): draft. Illustrated by John Robinson. Noumea, New Caledonia: Secretariat of the Pacific Community. ISBN 9-822037-52-X.
  37. Macpherson, Colin R. (24 November 2000). "Plant protection in the Pacific Islands: a course for senior high school students (student edition): draft". Secretariat of the Pacific Community – via National Library of Australia (new catalog).
  38. Macpherson, Colin R. (24 November 2000). "Plant protection in the Pacific Islands: a course for senior high school students (teacher edition): draft". Secretariat of the Pacific Community – via National Library of Australia (new catalog).
  39. MacPherson, Colin (24 June 1998). "Bias alert! Watch those survey data". Education Research and Perspectives. 25 (1): 116–122. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  40. Macpherson, Colin; Keppell, Mike (1 June 1998). "Virtual reality: What is the state of play in education?". Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. 14 (1). doi:10.14742/ajet.1929. Retrieved 22 December 2020 – via
  41. Macpherson, Colin; Bennett, Susan; Priest, Anne-Marie (7–10 December 1997). The DDCE Online Learning Project. ASCILITE 97. Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia. Retrieved 22 December 2020.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  42. Macpherson, Colin (31 December 2002). "Wombats and other subterraneans". The Australian. Canberra, A.C.T. Retrieved 6 February 2021.Template:Registration required
  43. Macpherson, Colin (17 July 2002). "Right thinkers hogging the road". The Australian. Canberra, A.C.T. Retrieved 6 February 2021.Template:Registration required
  44. Macpherson, Colin (June 1996). "An affordable dream". Practical Boat Owner. No. 354. Farnborough, Hants., UK: IPC Media. pp. 103–104.
  45. Macpherson, Colin, ed. (1989–1991). "[nos. 1-11]". Our World Too. Western Samoa: Department of Education, Samoa.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  46. Template:Cite archive

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