In this segment of What's in a Song, Ian Tyson tells of writing his classic folk song "Four Strong Winds." Tyson remembers hearing Bob Dylan singing his new song "Blowin' in The Wind" at a bar called the Kettle of Fish in 1962, and deciding he could write a good song about wind as well.
The early 1960s brought an amazing array of young singers to Greenwich Village in New York City. Among the emerging stars of the folk revival were Bob Dylan, Ian and Sylvia, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul and Mary. Small coffee houses and bars provided a forum for these young singers to try out their new material. Originally from Canada, the folk duo, Ian and Sylvia, moved to Greenwich Village in New York City in the early 1960s where they took the country by storm, becoming one of the top draws in the folk revival.
"Four Strong Winds" has been recorded by many artists including Neil Young (on his 1978 Comes a Time album as well as during the famous The Last Waltz concert when Young was with The Band, and in his 2005 documentary Neil Young: Heart of Gold), Sara McLachlan, Hank Snow, The Seekers, Judy Collins, the Chad Mitchell Trio, Bob Dylan, Marianne Bare, The Brothers Four (in an album of the same name), the Kingston Trio, Trini Lopez, Waylon Jennings, Chad and Jeremy, The Tragically Hip, Joan Baez, Vanity Fare, Johnny Cash, The Carter Family, Schooner Fare and Glenn Yarbrough. It was a hit by Bobby Bare in 1964. It was also a big hit in Norway in 1966 in a Norwegian version: "Mot ukjent sted" by the Vanguards, as well as a big hit in Sweden in 1967 in a Swedish version, "Mot okänt land" recorded by The Hep Stars.
Ian Tyson's journey to the West began in the unlikely city of Victoria, British Columbia, where he rode his dad's horses on weekends and met cowboys in the pages of Will James' books, eventually following his cowboy dream to rodeo competition. Laid up after breaking a leg, Tyson learned the guitar and drifted East, becoming a key songwriter and performer in the folk revival movement. But the West always beckoned, and he later bought a ranch in Alberta, Canada, and found a new voice as the renowned Western Revival singer-songwriter and horseman that he is today. Tyson has recently released both a book "The Long Trail"
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