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Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson

Eric Armstrong 20 Apr 09 - 02:28 PM
Wesley S 20 Apr 09 - 02:47 PM
Willie-O 20 Apr 09 - 02:47 PM
High Hopes (inactive) 20 Apr 09 - 02:52 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 20 Apr 09 - 05:11 PM
pdq 20 Apr 09 - 05:24 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 20 Apr 09 - 05:45 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Apr 09 - 05:55 PM
TRUBRIT 20 Apr 09 - 09:49 PM
sharyn 21 Apr 09 - 12:31 AM
Little Hawk 21 Apr 09 - 01:59 AM
Midchuck 21 Apr 09 - 08:41 AM
mkebenn 21 Apr 09 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,HiLo 21 Apr 09 - 09:12 AM
sharyn 21 Apr 09 - 10:31 AM
mkebenn 21 Apr 09 - 10:24 PM
pdq 21 Apr 09 - 10:40 PM
number 6 21 Apr 09 - 11:44 PM
Little Hawk 22 Apr 09 - 02:31 AM
Willie-O 22 Apr 09 - 05:42 PM
Little Hawk 22 Apr 09 - 06:08 PM
catspaw49 22 Apr 09 - 06:34 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 22 Apr 09 - 06:37 PM
Ed T 22 Apr 09 - 06:44 PM
pdq 22 Apr 09 - 08:02 PM
Lonesome EJ 22 Apr 09 - 08:32 PM
JeffB 22 Apr 09 - 08:56 PM
Midchuck 22 Apr 09 - 09:31 PM
GUEST,Gerry 22 Apr 09 - 10:03 PM
sharyn 22 Apr 09 - 10:36 PM
mkebenn 23 Apr 09 - 09:25 AM
Midchuck 23 Apr 09 - 09:55 AM
meself 23 Apr 09 - 11:58 AM
Little Hawk 23 Apr 09 - 01:25 PM
meself 23 Apr 09 - 11:53 PM
SouthernCelt 24 Apr 09 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,HiLo 24 Apr 09 - 09:09 AM
bankley 24 Apr 09 - 10:48 AM
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Subject: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Eric Armstrong
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 02:28 PM

I find it very interesting that over the last three months three iconic Canadian singer songwriters have performed in Vancouver BC.
Ian Tyson in a local casino,capacity approx 400-500. Gordon Lightfoot at an arts centre Approx 400 (for 2 evenings)
Last night Leonard Cohen performed at the local Hockey Stadium before a reportedly sold out audience of over 18,000.
Although Cohen is a little older than the others they all came to prominence in the same sixties folk revival.
Is this a final public pronounciation upon the three minstrels?
Personally I suspect it is more the results of the efforts of the high powered production team that surrounded Cohen with delectable lady back-up singers, world class 9-piece band and top-gun marketers.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Wesley S
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 02:47 PM

And that a few of his songs have been used in high profile movies of late? And several pop singers have covered him too? It's just a matter of exposure - not quality.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Willie-O
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 02:47 PM

They all sold out their venues, right? I wouldn't be too hard on Leonard. In the sixties Cohen was the one who couldn't really sing, while Lightfoot and Tyson were among the finest male folk voices ever. Now Cohen sounds like he always has, maybe better, but the other two have had severe reverses in technical vocal capability.

Go figure. I've been contemplating that irony for awhile.

But really, Cohen's songs have continued to be sung by every generation of (breathe it softly) pop singers, so ultimately he's got more mystique, and selling power, for the younger folks these days. Kinda like Tom Waits. Doesn't really take anything away from Tyson or Lightfoot--they are still acknowledged masters and icons within their field. Lightfoot sells out Massey Hall and the National Arts Centre in multi-night-shows every year. Even with his voice shot. As I write I look at a lucky token I have stuck on the wall--a ticket stub for a Lightfoot show at the NAC on March 26, 1971. Cost me $2.00. I can recall much of that show like it was this morning. He wrote some great songs after that date (Edmund Fitzgerald), but there's not much else of his later (mid-seventies on) material that's widely covered nowadays--or for that matter, of his earlier stuff, as far as commercial pop singers go.

I play "Early Morning Rain" about every solo gig I do. It's about my favourite song, and that's saying something. I like a lot of songs.

I admire them all, especially for still being on the go. Survivors all, who have contributed greatly to our musical legacy. Three winners in my book--no need to choose one.

W-O


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: High Hopes (inactive)
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 02:52 PM

And several pop singers have covered him too? It's just a matter of exposure - not quality.

and much the same can be said of Bob Dylan I think.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:11 PM

"Is this a final public pronounciation upon the three minstrels?"

I don't know about that...but it's a hell of a parlay (in horse racing parlance.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: pdq
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:24 PM

"Although Cohen is a little older than the others they all came to prominence in the same sixties folk revival."

Actually, Ian Tyson was born in 1933, Cohen in 1934 and Lightfoot in 1938, making him the second oldest of the three.

Cohen lost a great deal of money a couple of years ago and was facing a uncertain retirement. Perhaps the large venues and big produnctions help make back some of the money as quickly as possible.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:45 PM

I got the distinct impression, while viewing Lightfoot's most recent visit to our area last year, that this might be a "swan song" tour. The stagecraft is still there, the songs are still good, but the voice is too weak to carry many of them. I'm sure he'll still find a ready audience in Canada and in parts of the U.S. Unfortunately,
younger folks will only remember the last show they saw and never realize what a performer he was in his prime.

For many 60's icons, staying relevant - chasing a rapidly changing audience - broke some, bastardized the music of others and led to sometimes unfortunate choices in material, instrumentation and production. Touring with re-formed groups, playing the college campus circut, eventually playing secondary and tertiary venues; casinos and fairs took a toll. So did the hard living of earlier years.

Many who stayed true to their roots never really prospered anyway, but worked to support their music and came away more fulfilled, perhaps. How would you want to be remembered?


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 05:55 PM

Tyson and Lightfoot songs should not be compared with the poetry (and songs) of Cohen.
All excellent, all distinctive, but Cohen's compositions are distinctive and original.

See Leonard Cohen's poems; "Collected Poems, 1956-1968," "Stranger Music" (poems and songs), "Dance Me to the End of Music," "Book of Mercy" (a sequence of modern psalms), or in collections such as "Fifteen Canadian Poets," Oxford Press, where his poems appear with those of Michael Ondatje, Margaret Atwood, Irving Layton, etc.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: TRUBRIT
Date: 20 Apr 09 - 09:49 PM

Q -- I totally agree. Cohen's talent never was and never could be his voice. It's the words!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: sharyn
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 12:31 AM

I would say they got their due here. Cohen is endlessly interesting, never stooped to pop music sensibilities in his song length and language use, works very hard to craft lyrical, literate songs, doesn't pander to anyone.

I just read a thread where "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was cited   as one of the worst lyrics ever written and, having actually read the words for the first time (as opposed to kind of hearing some of them sung in a dramatic performance) I have to agree. I also had a few Lightfoot records when I was growing up and most of the songs are catchy and forgettable ("Sundown," anybody?)

In my opinion, Ian Tyson wrote better songs than Lightfoot, but Cohen is my man and Dylan, mentioned above somewhere, is also a masterful songwriter -- just look at something like "What Was It You Wanted?," all in questions, full of nuance. Can any of you write like that?

Sharyn


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 01:59 AM

"Can any of you write like that?"

On the right day? Well, yeah, I think I can now and then, actually, though that doesn't mean I think I'm as good as Bob. I'm not. Anyway...as to Tyson, Cohen, and Lightfoot...

I think all three of them are brilliant songwriters. And Dylan is too, needless to say. So are Joni Mitchell and Mary Chapin Carpenter. By the way, Bob Dylan has the highest opinion of Lightfoot's songwriting. He recently mentioned some of his favorites as being "If You Could Read My Mind", "Shadows", and "Sundown", and he said he can't think of a single Lightfoot song that he doesn't like.

I pretty much agree with Bob's view on that, though I'm not that fond of "That's What You Get (For Lovin' Me)"...still, I'd say it is an effective song, I just don't like it much. I can't identify with the sentiment.

"Edmund Fitzgerald"? For what it sets out to do, which is to tell an epic story of a shipwreck, it's perfect. It needs no apologies.

One of the things that's really striking about Lightfoot's songs, quite aside from the lyrics which are usually quite good, is this: they are often surprisingly sophisticated in a musical sense, very skillful and imaginative chording and melody lines in some of those songs. He makes a lot of use of suspended chords, for instance, which lends a much more interesting sound than sticking to the standard major and minor chords.

As for Tyson, he's written some of the most classic cowboy songs of all time, plus a few others that really stand out.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Midchuck
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 08:41 AM

In my opinion:

Cohen, at his best, writes lyrics that are as good as Dylan's, and better melodies. He shares with Dylan the characteristic that most of his songs sound better when sung by others than him.

Lightfoot does very little for me, and I can't say why. I like "Pony Man" a lot, but can't get turned on by his songs for grownups. Maybe I just can't see what all the fuss about the God Damned Edmund Fitzgerald is all about. If you want a song about tragedy on the Great Lakes, "White Squall" is so much better...

Ian Tyson is The Man. And nobody in the eastern US understands that because his whole second career as a cowboy singer and songwriter was largely unnoticed. But if you go into any rural bar in the western plains or mountain states (or the equivalent parts of Canada, of course) and say anything derogatory about him whatever, you can experience the thrill of having the s*** kicked out of you by a genuine working cowboy. Or several. I guarantee it.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: mkebenn
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 08:47 AM

I have never really cared for Cohen, too "artsy" for my taste, I've always loved Lightfoot, "Wreck" included, but "Summer Wages" is one of the best songs EVER. IMHO. Mike


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 09:12 AM

I have always enjoyed the music of all three of the above mentioned..however, another Canadian icon is also touring..Niel Young and I believe him to be a much better songwriter than either Tyson or Lightfoot. But the songwriter I like and respect most is Bruce Cockburn, a very undervalued performer.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: sharyn
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 10:31 AM

Good to hear about Tyson's cowboy career, Peter -- I, for one, didn't know about that (and I'm from the Western U.S.)

Not to get too inflammatory, but another Lightfoot lyric just popped into my head:

"Why, me oh my,
Is there a better man than I?
I hope you find your way back home ... etc."

I think the song is called "High and Dry" And it begins,

"With a ladylike devotion she sails the bitter ocean." C'mon now. That could easily make the bathos contest winner.

I'll shut up now.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: mkebenn
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 10:24 PM

She waits by the door

oh, Cotton Jenny, he's sore add point, Sharyn.....


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: pdq
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 10:40 PM

The backup singer on "High and Dry" is Cathy Evelyn Smith, best known for administering the "speedball" that killed John Belushi. She is also the lady being described in "Sundown".


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: number 6
Date: 21 Apr 09 - 11:44 PM

Cathy Evelyn Smith ... she also lived with Lightfoot for a year or two.

biLL


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 02:31 AM

Well, since I have the highest opinion of all three of them...as well as Mr Dylan...and several others I could mention too...I don't have to offend anyone here, do I?

So much the better.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Willie-O
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 05:42 PM

Me too LH. It's not a contest, folks.

Lightfoot just gave a long and very interesting CBC radio interview with Jian Ghomeshi, where he acknowledged that "Sundown" is not the song he'd like to be remembered for. (He cites If You Could Read My Mind, Edmund Fitzgerald, and Beautiful).

Not all of his songs are great, but his catalog is extensive, rich and varied. Canadian Railroad Trilogy isn't a bad little ditty, for a CBC-commissioned work. I really love "Did She Mention My Name", a masterfully subtle romantic-nostalgia lyric.      

As for Cathy Smith, a bit more info: she lived with him for three years, was indeed the "Sundown" femme fatale, and, long after she dumped him and Toronto for the LA fast lane and got herself into a whole lot of trouble, Lightfoot ended up paying a bunch of her legal bills--he helped her when no one else would (and doesn't volunteer this info, it seems). Pretty classy, I think.

And Midchuck, the Edmund Fitzgerald was a God Damned true story that happened the year he wrote the song. Lightfoot wrote a classic shipwreck ballad about a contemporary tragedy, and made millions of people feel the experience that took 29 lives. I think that's what God Damned folksingers are supposed to do, we should all hope to do so well.   

All worthy.
W-O


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 06:08 PM

Right flippin' on, Willie-O. I couldn't agree more.

As for Midchuck's comments about Ian Tyson, I heartily agree with those too. Ian has probably written and performed the finest body of cowboy or "western" songs ever penned, from the album "Cowboyography" on, and it's that period of his work that I find most impressive of all. His early stuff was great too, though. "Summer Wages" and "Four Strong Winds" are among the finest folksongs of the modern era.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 06:34 PM

I haven't bothered to read the entire thread but I'm guessing this is some law firm or something, huh? Not interested myself, as I use Dewey, Cheetham, and Howe, where Midchuck works or more locally, Flywheel, Schuyster, and Flywheel........................................................say what?............songwriters.....oh, yeah......those guys.........I'd say they've done pretty fair...........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 06:37 PM

If I had a nickel for every song we've used, enjoyed and/or performed from these three (or four) gentlemen, I could take you all to lunch at a venue of your choice! Reading these comments and critiques just reminds me that variety is still the spice of life (and music).


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Ed T
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 06:44 PM

My take:
What these three have in common is being Canadian, an influence on music in a shared period in time and excelling in writing their type of music.

Tyson and Lightfood surely had better voices and fresh lyrics (for the time). But,while they were influential, their style of music has evolved into something else..maybe.in another direction. I suspect they are respected as pioneers and song writers. Tyson wrote many songs for other entertainers.

On the otherhand, Cohen had more mystic and his songs are ageless, because of the poetry...much like Dylan. His voice is another matter....some like it others detest it.

Dylan did have a good voice at one time. But, it somehow, or for some reason, got lost (or altered) along the way. There is no comparison betwen Cohen and Dylan in their contribution to music and social movements.

Another influential Canadian of the time was Joni Mitchel, Likely fewer songs, but with a big impact.

I respect them all, their contribution, and have seen each one live...But, not recently.


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Subject: RE: Tyson / Cohen / Lightfoot / Mitchell / Young
From: pdq
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 08:02 PM

Might as well throw in Neil Young too. Young is only two years younger than Joni Mitchell and seven years younger than Gordon Lightfoot.

Of these five Canadian greats, I think Lightfoot wrote more songs that other people can do with ease. Much of Cohen's output is best done by him.

Tony Rice did Lightfoot songs on several albums. That's as good as it gets in guitar playing, song writing and singing.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 08:32 PM

This I know...you can perform any of these songs for people : Satisfied Mind, Someday Soon, Early Morning Rain, Four Strong Winds, If You Could Read my Mind, and people will instantly recognize and begin to sing along with them. They may or may not who wrote the song. You might get the same recognition in doing Suzanne, but it's less likely. So Lightfoot and Tyson win the trophy when it comes to what should matter most to the people in this forum. They have written songs that have passed into the process and achieved the distinction of becoming Folk Songs, and I personally think the size of the venue will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: JeffB
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 08:56 PM

Here in the UK, Lightfoot and Tyson have never been anything like the household names they obviously are in Canada, in fact I'm sorry to say I don't think I've ever heard of Ian Tyson before. No doubt that is very much our loss. Why have they stayed so much on that side of the Atlantic I wonder?

Some years ago I came across "Gord's Gold" which I bought solely because I remembered him as being the author of "Early morning rain". It's a CD I just love to bits. (Later I found "Salute" and didn't really like it at all - it seemed to be from someone else completely.) Am I right in thinking "Gord's Gold" has most of what you might call classic Lightfoot?

His musicality is pretty well irresistable most of the time here, even on sing-along tracks, but what for me really makes his best songs shine is his use of lyric. OK, as mentioned above sometimes throw-away jingle, but very often quite punchy, often extraordinarily tender. Like an artist who can sketch out a few lines on a piece of paper, and suddenly you see not just a face but a character, Lightfoot can give you a story in four of five bars of song. For instance, a line from "Circle of steel" comes to mind - " 'Deck the Halls' was the song they played in the flat next door where they shout all day ... she tips her gin bottle back til it's gone .. " - and you have the shabby apartment, the thin walls, the constant noise of arguments and TV, the cycle of deprivation. For me, it's a song which is visual as much as aural.

Very sorry to hear his voice has suffered. That must be extremely hard for him to bear.

This thread has given me a few more tracks to look out for. No doubt You Tube has some of Ian Tyson's. Any suggestions as to what his best might be?


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Midchuck
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 09:31 PM

And Midchuck, the Edmund Fitzgerald was a God Damned true story that happened the year he wrote the song. Lightfoot wrote a classic shipwreck ballad about a contemporary tragedy, and made millions of people feel the experience that took 29 lives. I think that's what God Damned folksingers are supposed to do, we should all hope to do so well.

Yeah, but...it sounds like it's all in one chord, even though it isn't.

And it's been overdone. I just got sick of it a long time ago. That's all.

P.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 10:03 PM

JeffB - Ian Tyson's best-known work was from his days as the Ian of Ian and Sylvia. A lot of their work from the 60s is available on CD (and, no doubt, on YouTube). Some of his most-loved songs have been mentioned in this thread - Four Strong Winds, Summer Wages.

I'm not sure why LonesomeEJ mentioned Satisfied Mind - I don't think it was written by any of the three men under discussion.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: sharyn
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 10:36 PM

My comments mainly concerned writing skills, not vocal ability, popularity, or whether average people know all the words. In my experience as a songwriter, many people are likely to remember a melody, a chorus, a tag line or a hook, maybe a riff. Witness my own self, a wordsmith, who had never seen the words to "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" until yesterday -- but I would have recognized the song from the melody, a few words and the singing.

No contests -- just judgments.

Sharyn


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: mkebenn
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 09:25 AM

I remember the first time I heard Tyson sing " Someday Soon" I used to play this with then wife based on Judy's hit version, and I'd become sick of it as it was our most requested number. I still play it as Tyson wrote it, it's a compleatly different song. I'm sure he liked the royalties, though. Mike


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Midchuck
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 09:55 AM

I remember the first time I heard Tyson sing " Someday Soon".... I still play it as Tyson wrote it, it's a compleatly different song. I'm sure he liked the royalties, though.

Saw him in Northampton, MA in '95. When he did that song he introduced it by saying, "This is the one that paid the mortgage on the ranch."

Peter


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: meself
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 11:58 AM

"Navaho Rug" is one of my favourites of Tyson. I was never a big Tyson fan - really, he just wasn't "on my radar screen" - but when you stop and think about it, he wrote a number of great songs. Even when you don't stop and think about it, for that matter ...


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 01:25 PM

Navajo Rug is a beautiful song. Ian co-wrote that one with Tom Russel, another fine writer of cowboy songs.

Here's a link to all of Ian's wonderful albums of western songs:

Old Corrals and Sagebrush, etc.

And here's a link to ian performing "Navajo Rug":

Navajo Rug


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: meself
Date: 23 Apr 09 - 11:53 PM

Thanks, LH. As good as I remembered it ...


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: SouthernCelt
Date: 24 Apr 09 - 08:35 AM

Satisfied Mind wasn't written by any of these three. Names escape me so easily these days but I think it was written by multiple writers who were part of the Nashville scene. I do remember reading once that after it originally came out way back when, it was the most covered song of the folk/country genres for about a decade.

SC


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 24 Apr 09 - 09:09 AM

Satisfied Mind was written by Red Hayes and Jack Rhodes. I believe that the first hit recording of it was done by Porter Waggner(sic) in the late fifties or early sixties.


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Subject: RE: Cohen / Lightfoot / Tyson
From: bankley
Date: 24 Apr 09 - 10:48 AM

Yeah the old Wagon Master himself....

but I really like Tim Hardin's version...


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