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The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.

Toronto Songs: Ian Tyson's Marlborough Street Blues

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When Ian Tyson arrived in Toronto in September 1958, the folk music scene didn’t exist. The coffeehouses hadn’t yet appeared in Yorkville. The city’s bohemian district consisted of a few ramshackle cafés and galleries along a tiny stretch of Gerrard Street, near Bay, that attracted colorful personalities and painters like Harold Town. All of that was about to change with the Folk Boom ignited by the Kingston Trio and its massive hit “Tom Dooley.” Tyson had hitchhiked his way East from the West Coast, where he’d graduated from the Vancouver School of Art. He was 25 years old. His life experience at that point largely amounted to riding bareback in rodeos and playing a little guitar in rockabi...
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Music Review: Ian Tyson - Carnero Vaquero

The heart of the Canadian songwriting legend, who gave us classics like “Four Strong Winds” and “Navajo Rug,” lies in the West and its big-sky vistas. Here, he sings of cowboys (“Will James”), ranching (“Colorado Horses”) and tragic romance with his new rendition of the touching “Darcy Farrow,” originally recorded in his Ian & Sylvia days. 
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Liner Notes: Ian & Sylvia – Movin’ On 1967-1968

IanSylviaMovinCatalysts of the folk boom, Canada’s Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker burst onto the scene in the early 1960s with a unique vocal sound. Sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall. Headline appearances at the Newport and Mariposa festivals. Hit songs like the now-classic “Four Strong Winds” and “You Were On My Mind.” A real singing cowboy and a church organist’s daughter, Ian & Sylvia were one of the hottest acts around. But all of that changed in the mid-1960s when The Beatles and the British Invasion landed on North American shores. The folk boom suddenly went bust and everyone—including Ian’s mentor, a scruffy kid named Bob Dylan—began plugging in.

“The Beatles shut us down,” Ian recalled in his 1994 autobiography I Never Sold My Saddle. “It was over. Over! We were the hottest ticket in California for about a year and a half, and then I remember standing in a club, maybe the Troubador in Los Angeles, and the announcer was announcing the upcoming acts, and when he mentioned Ian & Sylvia some of the people booed. That quickly we had gone from the hippest thing around to being booed.”

Time to move on. But rather than follow the pack into pop—something the record label was pushing—Ian & Sylvia gravitated toward country. There had already been hints of it on most of the duo’s Vanguard albums: “Spanish is a Loving Tongue” on Four Strong

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