He still feels connected to Iowa and the Midwest, and he has deep, fond memories of growing up the youngest of six kids in Waterloo. His boyhood home was on Fletcher Avenue across from Byrnes Park.
But McLaughlin hasn’t been back in many years. “My parents passed away, all of the kids scattered for work and stuff, so I really don’t have family in Waterloo anymore, but we have family in Keokuk, where my parents were originally from.”
Eventually McLaughlin found himself in Nashville, signed to Capitol Records. His debut LP, the self-titled “Pat McLaughlin,” was released in 1988. As a songwriter, his first mainstream success was “Lynda,” a chart-topping country song recorded by Steve Wariner.
Prine and McLaughlin first crossed paths in the late 1970s. Over the years, “we ended up being buddies and friends. We did a lot of hanging out and ending up in situations where we were both holding onto guitars,” McLaughlin recalled, laughing.
He played in Prine’s band and toured with him. They wrote many songs together, often working over the meatloaf special on Tuesdays at Arnold’s Country Kitchen in Nashville.
McLaughlin, who also spent some years in New Orleans, played with Tiny Town and later, Continental Drifters. He still loves being in a band. “We play around Nashville, and I’ve got guys in New Orleans I play with some, and a club in Chicago I like. Those are the three places I will travel to play. But there’s not been much going on since COVID.