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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The standard desert island question: who would you want on the island with you to provide musical diversion (no electricity) of sufficient variety, professionalism, and musicality to keep you engaged, entertained, involved for all those long years, as the wind blows through the palm fronds and the surf beats upon the shore? I have always been drawn to the music of Canadian duo Ian and Sylvia because of those traits, and also because of their quite distinctive voices. Ian Tyson had a strong and expressive voice with a slight catch in it that added real poignancy and power to songs such as 24 Hours to Tulsa and Brave Wolfe. Sylvia Fricker had a similarly strong voice with a pronounced and unfailing vibrato, evident in songs like Miriam and This Wheel's on Fire. In addition, their harmony singing was impeccable, and could offer a keening, Appalachian sound as in Awake You Drowsy Sleeper. They penned excellent songs, and also covered the songs of others, like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Gordon Lightfoot. So many great songs--So Much for Dreaming, Tenbrooks, Four Rode By, Antelopes, Leave Here Runnin', Joshua, She'll Be Gone......, many more. Part Folk, part Country & Western, part Pop--they did it all so well. Another of Canada's wonderful musical gifts. Here's their reunion concert from 1986, with some guests and some autobiographical commentary. It's just too bad that there wasn't time enough, it seems, for far more songs. And little of their work is available on YouTube. I no longer have their albums (vinyl) but have the best on the iPod and cassette.

 

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It strikes me this 1986 reunion concert must've been the inspiration for the film "A Mighty Wind" with Mitch & Mickey.

If I was stuck on a desert island, I wouldn't choose a washed up folk duet to accompany me. I'd choose a boatbuilder.
 

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And little of their work is available on YouTube. I no longer have their albums (vinyl) but have the best on the iPod and cassette.
Thank you Strange Magic for your tribute to Ian and Sylvia. It is nostalgic for me even though I was too young for Toronto's early-1960's Yorkville coffee-house scene. The Ian Tyson songs the duo sang also include Someday Soon (covered by many, I prefer the one by Suzy Bogguss); Four Strong Winds, now an unofficial Canadian anthem; and Summer Wages, which reflects Tyson's British Columbia youth on the Pacific Coast. Also Sylvia Fricker wrote You Were on My Mind which became a hit by We Five. I always associate Ian and Sylvia with Gordon Lightfoot who emerged shortly after and whose songs and vocals I actually preferred (like the bit in the video where Gord comes on for Early Morning Rain -- wish they'd done the whole song). At my summer camp we sang songs by Bob Dylan, Ian and Sylvia, and Lightfoot shortly after they were released. I never heard the duo live but I heard their rock band Great Speckled Bird in one of the Festival Express concerts in 1970. I won't go on about their subsequent careers, except to say they weren't washed up but became mainstays of Canadian folk, folk-rock, and later country music (Tyson's Alberta years and cowboy songs). Will keep my eyes open for available recordings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Here is a long-lost song by I&S that was available on YouTube years ago on a Russian channel, then was yanked and disappeared. To my joy, Antelope is now restored. This song is one of the most poignant evocations of the loss of wilderness and wildlife that I ever heard (not too many such)--it bring me to tears every time I hear it.

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I don't recall whether I penned a Strange Magic of Peter, Paul, and Mary, but they would be a very close runner-up to Ian and Silvia for the desert island. A similarly wide spectrum of material, and, in a strange way, a link to Gordon Lightfoot in that Gord's Edmund Fitzgerald is matched by P,P&M's Ballad of Spring Hill, twin disaster songs that swap tales across the US-Canada border.
 
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