A little left behind the tide of Spotify and iTunes, I purchased a couple of years ago a turntable on which to play the records I had collected in the 1060s and 1970s.
Back to the future
What fun I’ve had as I’m flooded by the memories and melodies of those decades – the lyrics full of promise and blind faith that life would always be filled by the sentiments expressed within the tracks. As you can imagine there were a lot of golden oldies. But how I enjoyed the sounds, coloured as they were by the filter of those good old days. (I never thought I’d EVER say that!)
Music changes as the decades pass and newer generations have also marked their special moments with songs of significance. Often it’s the singer not the song that matters. And realising this I embarked on a remarkable journey into the life-story of one of the singers in an album I purchased – Four Strong Winds by Ian and Sylvia Tyson. I wanted to know what became of these singer song writers who were equally at home singing songs penned by Bob Dylan as blue grass and folk.
Early lyrics set their stars
Originally Sylvia Fricker, Sylvia started performing in 1959 and then joined Ian Tyson in the folk duo, Ian and Sylvia. The first song she wrote that gained acclaim was “You Were On My Mind”. It hit the charts in 1962, and three years later it reached #3 on the Billboard chart for a group called We Five, and then rose through the British charts as a hit for Crispian St Peter.
Contemporaries of Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, The Band, and Janis Joplin, the Tysons continued as a duo from the early sixties until 1975 when they broke up(personally and professionally), but both remained active in musical circles. Ian, a longtime rancher and cowboy country singer, still lives on the same south-of-Calgary ranch he bought with royalties from Young’s cover of “Four Strong Winds.” Sylvia became (eventually) a member of Quartette, a collaboration of four women and singer-songwriters.
Quartette formed in the early 90s, and used their distinctive voices to create amazing harmonies in country and folk styles. Click Here for a little sample.
From left: Gwen Swick, Sylvia Tyson, Caitlin Hanford and Cindy Church.
Not surprisingly, in 1994 Quartette won the Canadian Country Music Association‘s award for best vocal collaboration. The following two years the group was nominated in the category of best country group at the Juno Awards.
More than just a songwriter
One of the more unusual outputs from Sylvia Tyson has been the recent release of a novel and related MP3 – Joyner’s Dream. A mixture of folksy strings and guitar with voice thrown in, I can imagine the music being used as background music for a film version of the novel. Maybe that is what Sylvia, now in her seventies, had in mind.