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Index of Artists

Ian Tyson

Video photography courtesy of Box J Bar Ranch.
Music: Ian Tyson - Old Cheyenne


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Ian Tyson: Musician, rancher, storyteller, and Canadian icon

Canada’s legendary songwriter releases Raven Singer, his first album of new songs in four years. At 78 this man is not slowing down

Ian Tyson walks, stiff-legged, to the centre of the stage. This is a cowboy’s gait; this is the walk of a man who has sustained his share of falls from horses large and small and who knows that the rancher’s life is not the glamorous myth of the old-fashioned western movies.

This is also a preamble to a performance of songs, new ones and old ones, for another audience who reveres an artist who has become an icon — a timeless singer with a bruised voice who tells stories with the unvarnished luster of truth.

That Ian Tyson, at 78, leads two busy, vigorous lives is remarkable enough. Yes, there’s the ranch south of Calgary, in the foothills of the Rockies, with fences to mend, quarter horses to train, cattle to move, land to conserve. And, yes, there are concert stages — from Elko, Nevada to Billings, Montana, from San Francisco to Toronto to New York to Winnipeg and Edmonton and Los Angles and — in any given year — another 30 or 40 cities.

That would seem enough for any one man, but in the first dozen years of the 21st century, he’s released four albums, filmed a music documentary for Canada’s Bravo! television channel (which has earned two international film and television awards), and issued This is My Sky, a two-DVD concert video. Two years ago, he penned a surprising autobiography, The Long Trail: My Life in the West, which continues as a best-seller— it’s sold close to 30,000, copies so far. And he also collaborated with the author of a major book on his early career as half of Canada’s first folk superstar duo, Ian & Sylvia.

And now he’s released his 14th album for his long-time record label, Edmonton-based Stony Plain Records. Raven Singer is a collection of new songs, all but one written over the last three years, that offer yet another clear-eyed example of the singer’s world view, rooted in his life in the West but informed by his travels.

In 2012, Ian Tyson is closing in on nearly six decades of performing. Almost six decades of making recordings of the songs he now writes in the 100-year-old stone building a mile down the gravel road from his ranch house. Six decades of singing stories that tell the real truth about horses and men, love sustained and relationships broken, heroes and heroines and the land and the weather and the Prairie sky.

Ian Tyson’s story is familiar to most. He learned guitar in hospital, recovering from a bad fall in a rodeo, he upped stakes from Vancouver Island and hitchhiked to Toronto, where he met a young singer from small-town Ontario called Sylvia Fricker. As Ian & Sylvia, they were the Canadian stars of the early ’60s folk boom that gave the world Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, the Clancy Brothers and the Kingston Trio.

Married in 1964, the pair made almost a dozen albums — and wrote some of Canada’s best-loved songs, including Ian’s “Four Strong Winds” and “Someday Soon,” and Sylvia’s “You Were on My Mind” — songs that have all been covered countless times by some of the most famous artists of our time, including Dylan, Neil Young, Judy Collins, and a young Canadian singer the couple mentored in his early days, Gordon Lightfoot.

During the British Invasion, Ian and Sylvia evolved into pioneers of country-rock. Their band, Great Speckled Bird, rivaled the Byrds and other groups which helped create modern country, a decade before the Urban Cowboy phase of contemporary “new traditionalists”.

After hosting a national Canadian television music show from 1970 to 1975, Tyson realized his dream of returning to the Canadian West. The music and marriage of Ian and Sylvia had ended and it was now or never. Disillusioned with the Canadian country music scene, Tyson decided the time had come to return to his first love – training horses in the ranch country of southern Alberta.

After three idyllic years cowboying in the Rockies at Pincher Creek, Tyson recorded the album Old Corrals & Sagebrush, consisting of cowboy songs, both traditional and new. “It was a kind of a musical Christmas card for my friends” he recalls. “We weren’t looking for a ‘hit’ or radio play or anything like that.” Unbeknownst to Tyson and his friends, the cowboy renaissance was about to find expression at the inaugural Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1983; a small coterie of saddle makers, rawhide braiders, cowboy poets and pickers discovered one another in a small cow town in northern Nevada. Tyson was invited to perform his “new western music”— and he’s missed only one or two gatherings in the 30 years since.

He has continued to be honoured for his achievements. After numerous Canadian Country Music Awards, membership in the Juno Awards Hall of Fame — one of five such honours with various industry organizations — he has three honorary Doctorates, and is proudly a member of the Order of Canada. “Four Strong Winds,” in 2006, was chosen Canada’s #1 song of the 20th century by CBC listeners.

Life has not been without its difficulties, however. In 2006, he seriously damaged his voice after a particularly tough performance at an outdoor country music festival. ”I fought the sound system and I lost,” he said afterwards. With a virus that took months to pass, his smooth voice was now hoarse, grainy, and had lost much of its resonant bottom end. After briefly entertaining thoughts that he would never sing again, he began relearning and reworking his songs to accommodate his “new voice.”

”There was a scary night in Eugene, Oregon where a kind audience allowed me to tell some tales in a harsh whisper and gave me a glimpse of the road back through the dark woods. The songs started to come and so did the voice,” Tyson says now. “Slow, so slowly as I floated down the Colorado River, playing on a borrowed guitar with the world’s greatest acoustics to help me, I figured ÌÌhey, I can do this…’”

That first night was a harbinger of the future: To his surprise, audiences now paid rapt attention as he half-spoke, half-sung familiar words, which seemed to reveal new depths for his listeners.

The response to his 2008 album, Yellowhead to Yellowstone, was enthusiastic. Once people got used to the different voice, the new songs resonated in the same way that so many of his classics had.

Now, with the 2012 release of Raven Singer, there are signs that Tyson’s voice is recovering some of its flexibility and range.

Tyson made the record over a three-year period, as he wrote the new songs. His travels have provided the background for two of the 10 remarkable songs — “Under African Skies” and “Back to Baja.” The first is partly travelogue and partly a story of “running from the memories” of a broken relationship. The latter has a distinctly southern Californian feel and is a song that Jimmy Buffett would feel at home singing.

Other songs that maintain his reputation as one of Canada’s most distinctive writers include “Blueberry Susan,” which offers a tribute to the first guitarist he ever heard, and some of the players — Red Shea, Monte Dunn and David Rea — whom he worked with and who passed away since Tyson’s last album. “Charles Goodnight’s Grave” and “Saddle Bronc Girl” are warmly-observed songs of the real West, not the romanticized version shared by weekend cowboys and Nashville “new country” singers. One of the most moving songs on the new CD is a new version of “The Circle is Through” which he originally recorded almost 20 years ago with Nashville singer Suzy Bogguss.
And so his life continues. Tough and a man who does not suffer fools lightly, Tyson stares at the future with clear eyes and weather-worn face. Bring it on, he seems to say. Meanwhile, the songs keep coming and the stories they tell are true.

Ian Tyson is one of a kind: Authentic and durable. And not done yet. Not by a long shot.

All The Good 'Uns Vol. 2 (Greatest Hits)

All The Good
SPCD 1367
Genre: Country
Released: 21 May 2013
Vol. 2 is Ian's second "Best Of" collection and includes 19 songs from 1999 to 2012.
  1. Land Of Shining Mountains (3:10)
  2. Brahmas And Mustangs (3:35)
  3. This Is My Sky (3:31)
  4. Smuggler's Cove (3:50)
  5. Lost Herd (4:17)
  6. Elko Blues - The Roan Mare (3:45)
  7. La Primera (5:21)
  8. Jerry Ambler (4:00)
  9. Bob Fudge (5:01)
  10. Little High Plains Town (4:05)
  11. Blaino's Song (4:18)
  12. Yellowhead To Yellowstone (6:01)
  13. Fiddler Must Be Paid (3:45)
  14. Ross Knox (2:45)
  15. Song In A Dream (3:05)
  16. Charles Goodnight's Grave (3:30)
  17. Road To Las Cruces (4:12)
  18. Love Without End (3:47)
  19. Somewhere Over The Rainbow (3:39)


Elmore Magazine
By Robert Myers

"This is unforgettable songwriting."

Raven Singer

Raven Singer
SPCD 1361
Genre: Country
Released: 29 May 2012

The legendary Canadian songwriter returns at the age of 78, with 10 remarkable songs. From the part-travelogue "Under African Skies" to "Blueberry Susan" that offers a tribute to many of the musicians that touched Tyson, this collection of songs is Tyson rediscovering himself and his "new voice."

The album's Dali-esque cover is by Calgary teacher Paul Rasporich; it depicts a raven's skull. The title of the CD followed a sweat lodge ceremony at the Nakoda First Nation, near Banff Alberta, when Tyson's name - Ka-ree-a-hiatha (Raven that Sings) - was chosen.

  1. Charles Goodnight's Grave (3:31)
  2. The Circle Is Through (3:38)
  3. Rio Colorado (3:08)
  4. Under African Skies (3:38)
  5. Song In A Dream (3:05)
  6. Blueberry Susan (Listen to mp3 clip) (3:51)
    * free full length download *
  7. Back To Baja (2:32)
  8. Saddle Bronc Girl (3:02)
  9. Winterkill (4:31)
  10. The Yellow Dress (3:10)


By Mark S. Tucker
Tyson is as much an elder statesman of folk music north of the Montana line as Bob Dylan is south of it.

Yellowhead to Yellowstone and other Love Stories

Yellowhead to Yellowstone and other Love Stories
SPCD 1339
Genre: Country
Released: 11 November 2008
  1. Yellowhead To Yellowstone (6:01)
  2. Fiddler Must Be Paid (3:45)
  3. Lioness (3:24)
  4. Ross Knox (2:44)
  5. Blaino's Song (Listen to mp3 clip) (4:17)
    * free full length download *
  6. Estrangement (3:29)
  7. My Cherry Coloured Rose (Listen to mp3 clip) (3:41)
    * free full length download *
  8. Bill Kane (3:55)
  9. Go This Far (3:48)
  10. Love Never Comes At All (4:54)


Goldmine Magazine
By Lee Zimmerman
If Springsteen and Mellencamp speak to the pulse of the American heartland, Tyson is their Canadian equivalent, equally intrepid, clear-eyed and compelling.

The Gift - A Tribute To Ian Tyson (Various Artists)

The Gift - A Tribute To Ian Tyson (Various Artists)
SPCD 1322
Genre: Country
Released: June 2007
  1. Four Strong Winds - Blue Rodeo (Listen to mp3 clip) (3:44)
  2. M.C. Horses - Corb Lund (Listen to mp3 clip) (3:16)
  3. Blue Mountains Of Mexico - Jennifer Warnes (Listen to mp3 clip) (3:15)
  4. What Does She See - Chris Hillman (3:26)
  5. Red Velvet - Gordon Lightfoot (3:37)
  6. The Gift - David Rea (4:20)
  7. Range Delivery - Cindy Church (3:43)
  8. Smuggler’s Cove - The McDades (Listen to mp3 clip) (5:07)
  9. Some Kind Of Fool - Amos Garrett (3:28)
  10. Old Cheyenne - Tom Russell (4:52)
  11. Someday Soon - The Circus In Flames with Buddy Cage (Listen to mp3 clip) (5:31)
  12. Will James - Ramblin’ Jack Elliott (2:50)
  13. You're Not Alone Anymore - Stewart MacDougall (3:56)
  14. Summer Wages - The Good Brothers (3:07)
  15. Moondancer - Jeff Bradshaw (3:49)
  16. Bonus Track - Interview with Ramblin' Jack Elliott & Buddy Cage (2:09)
    Please note: Ian Tyson does not perform on this album.


Yorkton This Week - 7 Nov 2007
By Calvin Daniels
9.5-out-of-10 This is a great western CD, made even better because of the collection of artists coming together to pay homage to a true star of the Canadian music scene for decades.

Songs From The Gravel Road

Songs From The Gravel Road
SPCD 1305
Genre: Country
Released: 8 February 2005
  1. This is My Sky (Listen to mp3 clip) (3:32)
  2. Land of Shining Mountains (Listen to mp3 clip) (3:10)
  3. The Ambler Saddle (Listen to mp3 clip) (3:02)
  4. Love Without End (3:48)
  5. Silver Bell (3:35)
  6. Road To Las Cruces (4:12)
  7. Range Delivery (3:45)
  8. So No More (3:25)
  9. One Morning In May (3:34)
  10. Always Saying Goodbye (3:33)
  11. Moisture (3:44)
  12. Casey's Gone (2:19)

All The Good 'Uns (Greatest Hits)

All The Good
SPCD 1234
Genre: Cowboy
Released: 23 July 1996
  1. The Wonder Of It All
  2. Alberta's Child
  3. Irving Berlin (is 100 yrs Old Today)
  4. M.C. Horses
  5. Springtime In Alberta
  6. Jaquima To Freno (3:49)
  7. Navajo Rug (2:58)
  8. Claude Dallas (5:02)
  9. Magpie (3:41)
  10. The Steeldust Line (3:51)
  11. Rockies Turn To Rose (3:10)
  12. Alcohol In The bloodstream (3:36)
  13. The Old Double Diamond (5:06)
  14. Barrel Racing Angel (3:22)
  15. Casey Tibbs (3:32)
  16. Will James (3:25)
  17. Fifty Years Ago (3:55)
  18. 'Til The Circle Is Through (3:76)
  19. The Gift (4:15)

Old Corrals And Sagebrush & Other Cowboy Culture Classics

Old Corrals And Sagebrush & Other Cowboy Culture Classics
SPCD 1307
Genre: Country
  1. Gallo de Cielo (Tom Russell) (5:55)
  2. Alberta's Child (Ian Tyson) (3:45)
  3. The Old Double Diamond (Gary McMahany) (5:08)
  4. Windy Bill (traditional) (3:03)
  5. Montana Waltz (Ian Tyson) (3:37)
  6. Whoopee Ti Yi Yo (traditional) (3:12)
  7. Leavin' Cheyenne (traditional) (3:52)
  8. Old Corrals And Sagebrush (Ian Tyson) (2:55)
  9. Old Alberta Moon (Ian Tyson) (3:08)
  10. Night Rider's Lament (Mike Burton) (4:03)
  11. Oklahoma Hills (Jack Guthrie) (2:56)
  12. Tom Blasingame (Ian Tyson) (3:25)
  13. Colorado Trail (traditional) (2:35)
  14. Hot Summer Tears (Ian Tyson) (6:07)
  15. What Does She See (Ian Tyson) (3:25)
  16. Rocks Begin To Roll (Ian Tyson) (4:00)
  17. Will James (Ian Tyson) (4:32)
  18. Murder Street (Ian Tyson) (3:25)

Ol' Eon

SPCD 1295
Genre: Country
  1. Some Kind of Fool (Listen to mp3 clip)
  2. Bad Times Were So Easy (Listen to mp3 clip)
  3. BlueBerry Susan
  4. Sam Bonnifields Saloon
  5. If She Just Helps Me
  6. Lord, Lead Me Home
  7. Great Canadian Tour (Listen to mp3 clip)
  8. She's My Greatest Blessing (Listen to mp3 clip)
  9. Spanish Journey
  10. The Girl Who Turned Me Down
  11. The North Saskatchewan
  12. Love Can Bless The Soul of Anyone

Live At Longview

Live At Longview
SPCD 1282
Genre: Country
  1. Navajo Rug
  2. Ol' Corrals And Sagebrush
  3. Desert Motel
  4. I Outtgrew The Wagon
  5. Herry Ambler
  6. Sorta Together (Listen to mp3 clip)
  7. Fifty Years Ago
  8. Someday Soon
  9. Smugglers Cove
  10. Casey Tibbs
  11. Blue Moon (Listen to mp3 clip)
  12. Somewhere In The Rubies
  13. M.C. Horses
  14. Horsethief Moon
  15. Little High Plains Town (Listen to mp3 clip)
  16. Bob Fudge
  17. Magpie

Lost Herd

Lost Herd
SPCD 1255
Genre: Cowboy
  1. Brahmas And Mustangs
  2. Lost Herd
  3. Summer's Gone
  4. Smuggler's Cove
  5. Blue Mountains Of Mexico
  6. Roll On Owyhee
  7. Legends Of Cutting
  8. La Primera
  9. Elko Blues - The Roan Mare
  10. Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Eighteen Inches Of Rain

Eighteen Inches Of Rain
SPCD 1193
Genre: Country
  1. Horsethief Moon (3:15)
  2. Heartaches Are Stealin' (3:39)
  3. Eighteen Inches Of Rain (3:13)
  4. M.C. Horses (3:32)
  5. Big Horns (4:05)
  6. Rodeo Road (3:50)
  7. Chasin' The Moon (3:14)
  8. Nobody Thought It Would (3:43)
  9. Old House (3:27)
  10. Alcohol In The Bloodstream (3:36)
  11. Old Corrals And Sagebrush (2:51)
  12. 'Til The Circle Is Through (3:16)


Midwest Record
By Chris Spector
The jury is still out on whether we have ultimate or penultimate or what, but this set is still a killer 15 years on.

One Jump Ahead Of The Devil

One Jump Ahead Of The Devil
SPCD 1177
Genre: Country
  1. What Does She See
  2. One Jump Ahead Of The Devil
  3. Beverly
  4. Turning Thirty
  5. Newtonville Waltz
  6. Lone Star And Coors
  7. One Too Many
  8. Texas, I Miss You
  9. Goodness Of Shirley
  10. Freddie Hall
  11. Half Mile Of Hell

And Stood There Amazed

And Stood There Amazed
SPCD 1168
Genre: Country
  1. Black Nights
  2. Lights Of Laramie
  3. Jaquima to Freno
  4. Springtime In Alberta
  5. Non-Pro Song
  6. Milk River Ridge
  7. Rocks Begin To Roll
  8. Jack Link
  9. You're Not Alone
  10. Magpie
  11. Home On The Range

I Outgrew The Wagon

I Outgrew The Wagon
SPCD 1131
Genre: Country
  1. Cowboys Don't Cry
  2. Casey Tibbs
  3. I Outgrew The Wagon
  4. Arms Of Corey Jo
  5. Adelita Rose
  6. Irving Berlin (Is 100 yrs Old Today)
  7. Since The Rain
  8. The Wind In The Wire
  9. Four Strong Winds
  10. The Banks Of The Musselshell
  11. The Steeldust Line


SPCD 1102
Genre: Country
  1. Springtime
  2. Navajo Rug
  3. Summer Wages
  4. Fifty Years Ago
  5. Rockies Turn Rose
  6. Claude Dallas
  7. Own Heart's Delight
  8. The Gift
  9. Cowboy Pride
  10. Old Cheyenne
  11. The Coyote & The Cowboy