I have more Ian & Sylvia than one might expect. I am a big fan of two of their mid-period recordings: Nashville and Full Circle but am sort of indifferent to their other work. There was a moment when they were to be Canada’s Sonny & Cher but Ian Tyson & Sylvia Fricker were musicians first & never became pop personalities.
They started as a sweet tradition folk duo on albums such as Four Strong Winds 64; Early Morning Rain 65. These consist of songs like Nancy Whisky, The Greenwood Sidie – given good but standard performances elevated by their harmonies. Their success inspired many folk groups in Cape Breton. On Lovin’ Sound 67 – they step into a slightly more pop sound & some original material – even some Dylan covers. They were stepping out of the narrow folk scene.
On Nashville 67 & Full Circle 68 they come into their own as writers & vocalists. I can hear some of these songs without having to listen to them 🙂 Ian’s voice is vulnerable, passionate and emotional on songs like Ballad of the Ugly Man, The Renegade, I Learned From Leah. Sylvia is amazing on Women’s World, London Life.
These two albums, to me, are underrated & forgotten masterpieces. The harmonies are sometimes slightly off-kilter in the best way. The work is labelled country-rock ,like the Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo, but they are not as slick, smooth or commercial. If you aren’t familiar with them, Four Strong Winds is a good intro to their early traditional work. Nashville is stunning. Full Circle is nearly as good & so either of them are worth hearing & owning.
The Blessing of Presents
The other event on the week-end that I had the great pleasure in attending was the Blessing of Presents at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral. That Blessing combined with the Lighting of the Trees is a sure sign that the festive season has broken loose upon us full force.
The most reverend Vicar Father Frank started the sacrament with a sermon on the Exulting Power of Wrap – he explained how the wrap of the gift is often more important than the gift it self, and that no matter how lowly a gift may be, it can be elevated by the wrapping.
There’s a lesson I wish I could bring into my own life – on those days when I, yes even I, your willing reporter, feels like the proverbial bed of broken pigs, she finds it hard to even raise her head from the pillow let alone wrap herself in a joyful raiment that would disguise the inner emotionlessness and despair she feels.
The Vicar went on to say that we shouldn’t allow the wrap to keep us from the gift, and that he finds many are so enamoured of that wrap they never get to the true treasure inside. He sort of lost me there, but that didn’t diminish my pleasure at the vast array of beautiful gifts that were brought up, one at a time to receive the sacramental dash of pine needles and moose ashes.
Like the gifts brought on that first Noel, we were brought into the constant and endless circle of presents that was started on that wondrous night.
The ribbon of history reached out and twined its tinselled ends around the hearts & necks of each us, as the children’s stuttering choir of St. Sufferer’s sang several holiday favourites. “Oh Burning Tree,” “The Ribbon and the Manger,” “The Tinsel and the Camel” – to name just a few.
After the ceremony I was privileged to take a ride through the snowy wood with Hank Grebly in the parade of midnight runners. Skiers, families in sleds and even some on elephants were seen tracking through the wooded glens around our small town. Lanterns aloft and bearing gifts for neighbours. The true savour of the season was felt.
By the time I returned home I was too exhausted to even remove my boots (thanks Hank) and slept as soundly as I have ever slept. Disjointed dreams of a clown’s childhood danced through my head till I woke in the morning. The windows were covered in reddish swirls of frost and the fresh jar of ashes on my mantle sweetened my dreams.
January 10, Thursday: 8 p.m. Hot Damn! Its’ a Queer Slam – Buddies in Bad Times Theatre: feature Regie Cabico
returning every Tuesday 2019
June – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. capfireslam.org