Article

Ian Tyson Remembers Mark Knopfler Fondly; Dylan, Not So Much

Interesting view on Dylan from one of my aging idols (Great Speckled Bird may be foggy in his mind -- perhaps due to his marriage breaking up during that period -- but it should be de rigueur for anyone reading No Depression). Ian in the past has told the story many times about how he sat next to a new kid in town (the Village) who pulled out a guitar and played him a song he'd just written called "Blowin' In the Wind." Ian has credited that moment as the impetus for him going back to his apartment that night and writing "Four Strong Winds." I went up to Toronto and attended a taping of his Ian Tyson Show, the airwaves of which crept over the border here and had a lot to do with my musical leanings. Definitely should be on a Canadian Mt. Rushmore, one of the greatest of all time. (And no not "Americana," and The Canadiana was a ship that took Buffalonians across Lake Erie to Canada's Crystal Beach.)

Great article. I heard somewhere that Tyson turned Dylan on to weed... He's on my list of people I need to see live before it's too late. I did get to see Dave Van Ronk, and that was a memorable experience. I'm surprised he didn't have anything to say about Ramblin' Jack.

From the horse's mouth (not an insult to Ian!): https://youtu.be/8suOYr_GVsE?t=1m25s (stay tuned for more for one of his greatest, "Summer Wages," also off the seminal Great Speckled Bird album.

 

Two anecdotes:

During dinner with Ian a few years ago in Longview the conversation turned to some of his earlier songs, many of which he had completely forgotten. When I mentioned how flattered we were that he graciously lent the name "Summer Wages" to our cedar top guitars he stopped, thought for a moment, and then said "That may be the best song I ever wrote" Personally, I don't know if there's a "best" Tyson song. There's too many great ones to choose, but if it's not the best it certainly ranks near the top.

Whenever the subject of the Festival Express comes up in conversation with those who actually rode the train - Ian included - it's virtually impossibe to get them to give any details about the infamous tour. They'll smile, or shake their heads and admit it was completely nuts but to a person they will tell no tales. Even my friend Trevor Veitch, Tom Rush's guitarist at the time (and a wonderful raconteur) simply says "Your better off not knowing John"

I understand someone not enjoying a loud, all rock style concert - as Dylan typically delivered in 2012 - and I too would prefer to see Dylan return to the acoustic band approach of the later 1990's. But I feel Ian Tyson - an artist whose complete works are in my collection - reflects more poorly on himself by calling another artist an asshole and twerp.

Great article Gary...I probably wouldn't know much about Ian, or Ian and Sylvia, had I not been fascinated with Todd Rundgren at the time, I was in junior high and high school and obsessed with music...I loved Nazz, and then Todd's solo records...I was always a bit amazed by the artists who just did it themselves at home, played all the instruments, produced etc...Todd, Emmitt Rhodes, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around how they did all that...I was obseessed enough with Todd that I bought everything that had his name on it, which is how I came across "Great Speckled Bird", which he produced, as your article notes...backed into it, I guess you'd say...glad I did.

While I can understand "tribute" saying Ian reflects poorly on himself in his Dylan commentary, Ian strikes me as being a guy that we all know, symbolically at least...he ranches, rides horses, is likely familiar with firearms, and he mentioned here, he's been in a fight or two, and he might still get in one at 82...so if he feels strongly enough to refer to Dylan as an "asshole genius", and he actually knew the guy back when Dylan could do no wrong, and was an almost mythical character...that strikes me as an honest rememberance of him at the time...I'm personally appreciative of it...I doubt there are many people who  could have dealt with the adulation Dylan experienced at the time and would have been unaffected somehow...but Tyson is basically saying that he didn't wear it very well...and many others have said similar things.

I guess at 82, he doesn't have to apologize to anyone...he's just calling it the way it was from his perspective...to me, it doesn't reflect badly one way or the other...

I find it interesting that the "asshole" word may be less acceptable language to the FCC and in polite conversation, but it is the word "twerp" that I believe is more offensive and uncalled for from any mature adult.

well...it is name calling, which is sort of an adolescent, testoteroney practice, and our dialogue these days, particularly in the political realm seems to be overloaded with that sort of thing...a "twerp " would be a silly, insignificant (perhaps even contemptible) person...his other comments including asshole genius more or less contradict that...offensive and uncalled for perhaps...he knows him, and I don't, so I don't really know...

That's his memory of those times, and more recent ones,,,sometimes you don't get as much civility as you'd like...sometimes it just comes with age...my in-laws are in their late 80's, and occasionally they say things out loud that they'd never have said 10 years ago...the filter gets thinner the longer you are out there...

Great artist...as with many artists, not a perfect human being...and apparently Dylan isn't either...

 

I'm wondering if there is a difference in the degree of insult between "asshole genius" and "genius asshole".

The term genius asshole applies to a skilled politician.

Good question Hal!  Probably not as long a discussion as who wins a tag team wrestling match with Tweedy and Farrar involved, but worthy of debate...

Farar would take down Tweedy in a matter of seconds, but Tyson could kick both their asses.

Even at 82, I'm sure he would...I'm not messin' with Tyson either...

And there's the "reunion" interview with Ian and Syliva in which the interviewer refers to Woody Guthrie as a cowboy and a singer and Ian jumps on it bluntly so quickly the guy's head is spinning with "No he wasn't."  Ian knowing better than anyone what a cowboy really is and how loosely the term is used. This was middle-age Ian. The guys speaks his mind and agreed Jim he has earned the right to do so (although even that phrase annoys, as if anyone needs to earn the right to speak one's mind). Imo.

I remember that interview Will...

Speaks his mind...I agree he's earned the right, and that the phrase annoys, it's a free country, here and there...you can say what you want if you are willing to wear it, and Ian is...

the stuff my in-laws say...my wife hears them and says things like "they never used to think like that",,,or "that's not what they taught us"...it's hard when you realize that you are getting the real un-filtered stuff...it's like getting to know them all over again...

 

Everyone has a right to speak their mind, and no one has to earn that right. It is just unfortunate that a great artist might diminish himself by denigrating another.

It's just too bad that this off-hand remark over the phone from a disorienting Manhattan has become the focus. Read Gillian's instead. http://nodepression.com/interview/where-have-all-cowboys-gone-lunch-ian-...

Great article by Gillian...

As Ian says, "Old cowboys need love too."  I'm glad he's getting some at 82...I just don't think what he said is a big deal...that's all I meant...

I'm not less of a fan of Dylan because of what Ian said...this is a guy that never said a word to the audience at a concert I went to, which I have never thought was polite, but I went to see him again...Dylan took off on a lot of people at the Musiccares thing a while back...critics, Leiber and Stoller, Tom T. Hall (actually poked some fun at the lyrics to "I Love" and called the song "overcooked", and this is after he said he'd never denigrate another songwriter)...but at the end of that speech he said:

"I probably left out a lot of people and said too much about some. But that's OK. Like the spiritual song, 'I'm still just crossing over Jordan too.' Let's hope we meet again. Sometime. And we will, if, like Hank Williams says, "the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise.""

I give both of them a pass...

Link to the speech is below...probably more said in 30 minutes that Dylan gave us in 50 years prior...

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/read-bob-dylans-complete-riveting-musicares-speech-20150209#ixzz3lMCbrK3Z 
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I have been a great admirer of  Ian's songs for 50 years and have remained so. Ian himself could be a nasty drunk as I witnessed at a performance in Boston about 1970. He was abusive to the audience and taking offense at imagined slights. Very uncomfortable. Around the same time I saw Ramblin' Jack, also drunk, but nicer about it.   I was disappointed in both cases in their lack of respect for the audience, (I could not afford to go to many concerts at the time) but I continue to appreciate their music. 

He's wrong.  I grew up in southwest Colo-ROD-o not Rad-o.  Only since moving to Nebraska have I heard non-natives using Colo-Rad-o.  Or maybe it's a Denver thing.  That's not true Colorado anyway.  Just another rat race city.

Boy, yet another Canadian with a bad case of red-eye. Like Joni Mitchell who is still jealous of Dylan and now this mean-spirited old folk singer.  I suggest you stay up there in your Toronto metropolis on the prairie perhaps since the USA and its artistes don't measure up. I am sure they didn't buy your records either, yawwwwnnnnnnn.