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Pete Cullen Honours Late Will Murdoch With Poignant New Single ‘Take Back 8 Seconds’

10 May 2024 | 11:37 am | Ellie Robinson

“The way Will approached life really inspired me not only in songwriting but in life in general.”

Pete Cullen

Pete Cullen (Facebook)

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Pete Cullen has shared his third new release for 2024, a heartwrenching tune called Take Back 8 Seconds, which comes in tribute to the late Will Murdoch.

Murdoch, who appears on the cover of Cullen’s new single, was 12 when he lost his life in a farming accident. He was a lifelong Rodeo fan, and had won an impressive number of competitions across North Queensland. A true country trooper at heart, the kid even launched his own brand of trucker caps, W.M. Bucking Bulls, and gifted 20 of them to friends and family for Christmas in 2020. After his death just a few months later, in March of 2021, the brand continued to sell hats to raise funds for local charities.

The tragic loss inspired Murdoch’s grandfather, Peter Sheahan, to begin writing bush poetry (taking after his own grandfather Dan, who was famous for the poetry he wrote during and after World War I). Cullen and Sheahan would go on to collaborate for Take Back 8 Seconds, with the lyrics being inspired by the latter’s poetry.

In a press release, Cullen said of the song’s genesis: “Peter approached me after my performance at Groundwater Festival in 2023. I had been battling depression for four months prior, feeling very disillusioned with the music industry. In this time, I made a decision to write songs for me, my family and for people that need a song to help them through a hard time. I couldn’t believe it when Peter told me Will’s story, it was like a lightning strike. When reading Peter’s poetry I felt a real connection to Will.

“The way Will approached life really inspired me not only in songwriting but in life in general. I felt my heart healing and the dark cloud that had been on my mind slowly disappeared.”

It’s also noted that Cullen was asked by Murdoch’s mother, Kelly, to “make the song upbeat” and “something we can run to and celebrate Will’s life” with. After her son passed, Kelly and her friends launched the charity Wheelin’ For Willy, competing in the annual Great Wheelbarrow Race, where they trek over 140 kilometres from Mareeba to Chillagoe.

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Meanwhile, Cullen is gearing up to release his sixth studio album – which is yet to be formally announced – in August of this year. Thus far he’s previewed it with two other singles: Gone Country Again arrived first in January, followed by Disco Cowboy in March. It followed the two standalone singles that arrived in 2023, Heart Of Steel (which hit streaming platforms last February) and Chase The Dream (which followed in October).

Reviewing his set at last year’s Groundwater Country Music Festival, Jess Martyn wrote for Countrytown that “Pete made the best of a small stage, working hard to keep the crowd engaged”.