Discovering Ian and Sylvia

September 19, 2010

I watched the first disc of three of the Hootenany show that was on TV for a year in 1963. So many memories! But much of it was brand new to me. How did I miss Ian and Sylvia? I love the intensity between the two. The couple met in 1959, got married in 1964 and divorced in 1975.  I learned the Ian was a rodeo rider before he was a folk singer. He brings that to his performance. David Crosby’s love for the open fifth (i.e. not major or minor) is foreshadowed here and echoes folk music in the historic British Isles.
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I learned “Old Blue” from Roger McGuinn’s late Byrds rendition. This version is new to me. Their sound here is like a male-female version of the Everly brothers sound, a sound that was to become important to Lennon and McCartney as well as Simon and Garfunkel.
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“Jesus Met the Woman at the Wall” has a momentum like many of the train songs of the period: FAST music. Songs like this are necessary in any evening of “folk” music to up the adrenaline factor a bit.
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A campfire favorite, “Four Strong Winds,” has the danger of going mawkish in the voices of nostalgic boomers. In Ian and Sylvia’s version, there is an intimacy and intensity I had never known.
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Better late than never, don’t you think? Bravo, you two! Your music is as vital today as it was in 1963. We are fortunate to have a video of watching you as well as hearing you.

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