Family: Recollections of visiting a country music legend

I first fell in love with the songs of Ian Tyson while languishing in my flower-filled back deck last summer, soaking up the last rays of sunshine that had somehow exploded, setting the western sky on fire with a splendid array of fiery red and yellow flames.

Thanks to these huge speakers our son had given his dad for Father’s Day, our deck was filled not only flowers and sunshine, but music to be enjoyed as the deliciously long, hot days of summer drifted by.

It was quite lovely, actually, sitting there, quietly allowing our senses to absorb the sounds of the haunting music, the smell of the fragrant, blossoming flowers and the gentle warmth of the sun.

And as the lyrics of Four Strong Winds and Navajo Rug came softly through the speakers, I felt like the country music legend stepped right out of those speakers and joined us on our deck.

“I wonder if Ian is still performing?” I said to my husband. “If he is, we should go see him.”

Going to see Ian Tyson seemed very plausible on such a warm summer night while sitting on our deck watching the rest of the world drift by. Anyway, I had already visualized Ian sitting out there with us, sharing his music, so going to see him seemed not only plausible.

It seemed the right thing to do.

As it turned out he was still performing and was to be in Calgary soon.

But, as luck would have it, we couldn’t book reservations for that date and couldn’t get in until the next winter which seemed a very long time away.

We booked our reservations, anyway and promptly forgot we had.

But as the kaleidoscope of seasons slowly turned and summer turned into fall, magnificent and vibrant, and then, turned again to the stark white and black landscape of winter, it was time. Time to go see Ian Tyson.

We set off a little nervously. The last time either of us had been to the big city was a while ago. In fact that last time I had been off my couch at this time of night had been a while ago.

We arrived, momentarily blinded by the big city lights, but we just kept on driving because that’s what you do in the big city. You don’t dare stop, except at a red light, of course.

Ian Tyson was playing at Ironwood Stage and Grill and the place was packed with fans. We found a table with a very nice couple and sat back and enjoyed the show.

As it turned out the young man I had visualized sitting on my deck had aged considerably right along with the rest of us and it was definitely a much older version of Ian that came on stage that night.

His voice was no longer that of a young man, either, but, still, he could make those guitar strings hum and when he performed his old favorites the applause was deafening.

The crowd gave him a standing ovation at the end of the performance, hoping he would come back and give them another song.

He did not.

He had, however, played and sang for the entire length of the show without taking a break, a feat some younger performers would not have even attempted to do.

He had performed, and performed well.

The show is long since over and we have left the big city lights far behind us and come home.

But, for a brief moment in time it was nice to take a trip to the city, listen to a music legend who calls Alberta home and know that we, too, call this province where the soft and lovely wild rose blooms our home.

It was good. And it was good to come home.

In the end, that’s always the best part!

Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review.

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