Friday, November 18, 2011

The shadow of who he used to be

When I went to UBC, we hung out in a second hand record store on Georgia Street.
It smelled like old records, and there were records then. They had listening booths so you could preview a record before purchase.

It was owned and ran by a middle aged chap who's name escapes me now. I find this funny as he was an important part of my life at that time.

While hanging around at the record store, I met with the owners cousin. An  up and coming young song writer from Pincher Creek Alberta
He had worked on a float camp in Howe Sound.  After dealing with the hail, snow, rain and inexperience, He decided to go back to his ranch and write songs.

This he did exceedingly well. And performed them in all over the world, but always returned to Pincher

 His name was Ian Tyson, and one day while we were hanging out and drinking coffee, we were looking through one of my books on BC Outlaws.

We were all interested in story about 3 brothers and their cousin who ran a muck in the interior. Three were the Mclean brothers and their cousin Alex Hare. . They were sons of a Scottish Factor married to a Native lady from Pouche Coupe. They were all hung on 23 January 1881
A grandson was decorated for bravery for killing 17 enemy and saving his platoon in 1917. I guess the wildness was channeled in another direction.

Somewhere in that afternoon, we came up with the words to` Four Rode By`. A song featured on Ian and Sylvia,( who was soon to be his wife) On an Album called Northern Journey.

Sylvia Fricker was a fantastic singer in her own right. She had been trained in the classical manner and was the daughter of a music teacher from Ontario.

Ian was a poet. A crafter of words a balladeer who capture the Canadian and America West as it fast disappearing  to the Cow Corporations and big Industry Farming. Like an Artist, he wrote words on paper as an Artist would paint them on canvas. His hero was Cowboy Artist Charlie Russell.

before he made a modest fame, he traveled as a  troubadour, singing and writing from the Arctic to Cheyenne.
He had some lean years, but as he said in Cowboyology.. `I  never sold my saddle``.

He paints pictures with words and yet for all his fame, still a cowboy from Pincher Creek, who fed and mucked out his horses and followed the rodeo circuit riding and singing.

I recently heard his perform at several of the Jamborees in Alberta. It was sad and painful to watch. His once commanding voice had been attacked by a fever he caught on tour in Denver and irrevocably damaged his vocal cords..His painful whisper only reminded me of how important he was in those years of my life.

I sang and played percussion with a group from UBC that performed for extremely low wages at the Arctic club, where we started for Australia;s National Treasure Rolf Harris.

 He was charm energy and enthusiasm. In his company you felt energized, encouraged, and inspired.

When the Arctic Club burned down, our little group were hired by The Cave, where our guardian Izzy would bring us from Acadia Camp on the UBC property and see we were returned..

 Heaven help a customer who tried to get friendly with " his Gurls"

I last saw Rolf Harris at Izzy's funeral in 1970

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