ELDER MUSIC: Ian Tyson
Sunday, 22 November 2009
You never know who you're going to meet on the internet and I came to know Peter Tibbles (bio here) via email over the past couple of years. His extensive knowledge of most genres of music and his excellent taste became apparent only gradually (Peter's not one to toot his horn) but once I understood, I knew he needed his own column at Time Goes By - or, better, that TGB needed his column - which appears here each Sunday. You can find previous Elder Music columns here.
I completely forgot about Ian Tyson when I was compiling the Elder Musicians. I think I still see him as the young folkie I discovered way back.
If you want to be a songwriter you could a lot worse than studying Ian’s songs. There are few to match him - maybe Jesse Winchester, Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot.
That’s interesting, I’ve just surprised myself. Ian’s a Canadian as are Gordie and Jesse (Jesse by naturalization). Bob’s from northern Minnesota which is really Canada, so I guess that means you should also be a Canadian. It must be the cold.
In his youth, Ian was a rodeo rider and when the inevitable happened, he learned the guitar while recovering in hospital. His early songs include the great Four Strong Winds and Some Day Soon. If you took notice of music during the Sixties you will remember him as half of Ian and Sylvia.
Here are Ian and Sylvia performing Four Strong Winds.
Oh, what the hell, let’s do another. I originally had a fine YouTube clip of them singing this song with Emmylou Harris and Albert Lee, but some rotter has removed it, so here’s audio only of Ian and Sylvia with Summer Wages (without Emmy and Albert).
Back to the early days of Ian and Sylvia, this is Salmon in the Sea.
Now, you may have noticed that I haven’t featured any yodeling yet in any of these blog posts. I can hear your cries, “Oh, for a song with some yodeling." Fear not for I’m about to rectify that.
One of the few songs Ian performs that he didn’t write, Night Rider's Lament. For those who don’t yearn for a bit of a yodel, it’s right at the end after the song is pretty much finished.
This is a real elders song, it’s called Fifty Years Ago. It’s a nostalgic look back, but not with too many regrets - more wry than anything. On a personal note, I’ve just realised that the very first short story I contributed to The Elder Storytelling Place was set (at least the last part of it) exactly fifty years ago.
That’s how long I’ve lived in this big smoke (except for times when I haven’t). It’s how long Buddy Holly’s been dead.
This is from Ian's “Cowboyography” album, mandatory for anyone who likes his music (or music in general, really).
To continue on the elders theme and to double that last song, we’re up to a hundred years with Irving Berlin (is 100 years old today).
That’s Ian in the photo, not Irving. Ian turns 76 this year, more than three quarters of the way to Irving, so he’s a definite elder musician.
Oh thank you thank you! Ian Tyson's one of my all time favourites!
And FYI, I heard Randy Bachman (a Canadian musician, of the Guess Who and BTO) talk about the old days in his hometown of Winnipeg (Manitoba, just north of MN) and how he met some kid from Minnesota staying at a friend's place in the 'Peg, Bob Zimmerman. So maybe Dylan got his songwriting skills visitng Canada ;-)
Posted by: Annie | Sunday, 22 November 2009 at 08:00 AM
More great music. I love this column.
Posted by: mary jamison | Sunday, 22 November 2009 at 09:19 AM
Neil Young does a lovely cover of "Four Strong Winds." It's great song. Here's a link to Judy Collins singing "Someday Soon."
Posted by: Citizen K. | Sunday, 22 November 2009 at 09:40 AM
Nice stuff. Thank you.
Posted by: Mage B | Sunday, 22 November 2009 at 10:43 AM
Four strong winds nearly always makes weepy. I love the version you posted.
Posted by: Ageless Don | Sunday, 22 November 2009 at 04:21 PM
"Someday Soon" is one of those songs that stays with a girl right into her old age. Over the years, I've made many mental substitutions to the line "He loves his damned old rodeo.." Just cut and paste: guitar, airplane, stock exchange, marathons, etc. An old blue norther has blown so much away. Thanks for this post. You've brought some of it back for now.
Posted by: Nance | Sunday, 22 November 2009 at 04:34 PM
Oh Ronni! Ian and Sylvia are on my iPod and I can still (literally) see them standing on the stage at John M. Greene Hall at Smith in somewhere around 1966! They were just wonderful and it's great to think of them again.
In somewhat the same vein: Richard and Mimi Frarina?
Posted by: Cynthia Samuels | Thursday, 26 November 2009 at 09:22 AM
Oh Thanks for the great article on "Ol Ian", I am still listening to his wonderful songs and tales after all these years, Sylvia is still singing in Canada with a group called "Quartette",
I recall first seeing them at Central park in the mid sixties at a free concert when they were with the Band" "Great Specked Bird" or something like that.
Wonderful music from our youth!!!
Posted by: nancy campion | Saturday, 28 November 2009 at 03:27 AM