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Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)

22 Sep 11 - 11:32 PM (#3227509)
Subject: Chord Req: Four rode by
From: GUEST,TheOldMole

Can anyone give me the chords to Ian Tyson's Four Rode By?

09 Apr 12 - 07:35 PM (#3335987)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)

This is a bit of a crude rendering, but I make it:

D               E
Four rode by,
D                     E
Rode through here,
          A                               E             D
Three McLean boys and that wild Alex Hare,
D               E          D          E
They were armed, all were armed,
          A                           E                      A
It was them and I'd have known them anywhere.

During the verses, every line is an ADA progression, so:

A                                                    D                           A
A shepherd known as Kelly saw the wild ones as they passed...

Hope that helps.

09 Apr 12 - 08:52 PM (#3336022)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)
From: Midchuck

John Herald's work on that particular song was, more than any one other thing, what got me to take up the flatpick and walk away from attempts at fancy fingerpicking. That was in '64 or '65. Lately I've decided I'll never be a really good flatpicker, so I'm doing a little with fingers again. I take a while to figure these things out...


09 Apr 12 - 08:55 PM (#3336024)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)
From: pdq

I believe this is the only song on which John Herald, Ian Tyson and Monte Dunn all play together.

20 Jun 12 - 02:29 PM (#3365932)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)

One comment I do have about this great, great song by Ian. I've seen several sets of lyrics where they say "Ussher in those days was keeping order in the district". I am not certain, but I believe that it's not Ussher but, rather, "high sheriff". It's sung pretty quickly, and my ear is not great; but, after puzzling over it many, many years, I have become convinced it is "high sheriff" and not Ushher. Anyone certain about this??

20 Jun 12 - 06:05 PM (#3366000)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)
From: GUEST,999

John Tannatt Ussher farmed (among other things) and also worked for the Hudson Bay Company as a constable. You can read about it at

20 Jun 12 - 06:22 PM (#3366003)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)
From: GUEST,999

McLEAN, ALLAN, horse-breaker and outlaw; b. in 1855 at Thompson's River Post (Kamloops, B.C.), seventh son of Donald McLean* and eldest son of Sophia Grant; d. 31 Jan. 1881, by hanging, in New Westminster, B.C.
      Allan McLean's father, a Hudson's Bay Company chief trader, had taken charge of the company post at Thompson's River in 1855, the year after his marriage to Sophia Grant, a Colville Indian. Following Allan's birth, two daughters and two more sons, Charley and Archie, were born before Donald McLean died in the war against the Chilcotin Indians in 1864. The family was then ranching near the village of Cache Creek. For five years his widow received a small pension, but in 1867 she sold the ranch and later moved to Kamloops. Donald's sister refused to recognize his Indian marriage and claimed his estate, causing legal arguments to continue for years. Meanwhile the young family was thrown on its own resources, belonging to neither the white nor the Indian communities. The boys virtually grew up in the saddle, working at various ranches mainly as horse-breakers and jockeys.
      In the depression of 1877 jobs were scarce in Kamloops; gold fever had abated and surveying for the Canadian Pacific Railway had ceased. The three boys ran wild, joined by Alex, half-breed son of Nicholas Hare, who was in trouble with the authorities for assault and cattle-rustling. Thefts of horses, ammunition, liquor, food, and clothing ensued in the district.
      John Tannatt Ussher was a farmer who also served as gold commissioner, government agent, constable, and jailer; he had little time or incentive to chase wild horsemen who could easily break out of the pathetically insecure jail. With Allan in the lead, the boys' contempt for the law increased with more raids and threats to local dignitaries, including John Andrew Mara*, mla and merchant, who, Charles Augustus Semlin* reported, had seduced their sister, Annie McLean, and fathered her child.
      On 3 Dec. 1879 the outlaws stole a stallion from rancher William Palmer, who promptly reported its loss to Ussher. John Thomas Edwards, jp, issued a warrant for the arrest of the McLeans and Hare, and rewards were posted. With Amni Shumway as guide, Ussher, Palmer, and John McLeod set out to arrest them and surprised the boys drinking at their camp near Long Lake on 8 December. Ussher had not expected violence, but shots were fired and panic reigned. McLeod and Allan were wounded, and Ussher was killed. The McLeans fled to the Nicola Valley Indians, pausing at ranches to steal firearms. During their flight they killed another man, James Kelly. Allan, married to a daughter of Chief Chillihetza, probably hoped to instigate an Indian uprising, but gained no support. The McLeans and Hare then took refuge in a cabin near Douglas Lake.
      The citizens of Kamloops, already fearing a general rebellion over Indian land grievances, felt decisive action was in order. Posses totalling some 70 men soon besieged the cabin and on 13 December, thirsty beyond endurance, the outlaws surrendered and were taken to Kamloops. There a preliminary hearing under Clement Francis Cornwall* committed them to New Westminster jail, charged with the murders of Ussher and Kelly.
      The trial of Allan, Charley, and Archie McLean and of Alex Hare, opened on 13 March 1880 after arguments about venue and authority for this special assize. Judge Henry Pering Pellew Crease* stressed the plight of fatherless half-breeds as outcasts, but the guilty verdict was a foregone conclusion. On 20 March they were sentenced to hang. Yet the legal debate continued, since no proper commission had been issued for the special assize. Eventually the British Columbia Supreme Court decided unanimously on 26 June that the assizes were invalid. The boys endured a second trial on 10 November and were again sentenced to death. They were hanged on 31 Jan. 1881 at New Westminster, apparently repentant.
      Allan left his widow and two children with the Nicola Valley Indians; his son George was decorated in 1917 for exceptional bravery at Vimy Ridge.

Mary Balf

Kamloops Museum (Kamloops, B.C.), HBC letters, 1879. In the Supreme Court of British Columbia; the Queen vs. Allan McLean, Archibald McLean, Charles McLean, and Alexander Hare, indicted, found guilty, and sentenced to death for the murder of John Ussher . . . , ed. H. P. P. Crease (Victoria, 1880). Daily British Colonist (Victoria), 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 28 Dec. 1879; 1, 20 Jan., 15, 20 Feb., 11, 14, 16–20 March, 18 May, 1, 8, 9, 13, 27 June, 19 Nov. 1880; 23 Jan., 1 Feb. 1881. Inland Sentinel (Yale, B.C.), 25 Nov. 1880, 3 Feb. 1881. Mel Rothenburger, "We've killed Johnny Ussher!": the story of the wild McLean boys and Alex Hare (Vancouver, 1973). "German killer returns home; Kamloops crowd meets hero of Vimy Ridge who was awarded dmc," Kamloops Telegram (Kamloops, B.C.), 11 Oct. 1917.

20 Jun 12 - 08:19 PM (#3366032)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)
From: Charmion

Another thing: in Canada, a sheriff is a court official, not a police officer.

21 Jun 12 - 11:39 AM (#3366240)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)
From: GUEST,999

Refresh once for the 20 Jun 12 - 02:29 PM poster.

22 Jun 12 - 08:47 AM (#3366603)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)
From: Midchuck

G/999, thanks for posting that write-up. That particular song had a great influence on me when it came out - more on my guitar playing than the singing - and it's nice to have some background, and to know that Ian stuck pretty close to the facts.


22 Jun 12 - 09:22 AM (#3366616)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)
From: GUEST,999

Hey, Peter, glad to be of help. I met Ian only once but he always seemed to get the facts as right as rhyme would allow. He lives out in that area--Alberta side of the Rockies, but close enough to Kamloops for all that. Threads like this are important because way too much song history is being lost. Canada doesn't have as 'large' a history with bad guys as the US does, but we've had our share of characters. Another that comes to mind is The Mad Trapper. I love history, and so I thank you because the story was/is new to me. Keep well.

22 Jun 12 - 09:29 AM (#3366620)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)
From: pdq

Dear Peter Cady,

Do you agree that "Four Rode By" has Ian, John Herold and Monte Dunn all playing on the same song?

Can you name any other numbers that have all of them?

You are the expert.

22 Jun 12 - 10:35 AM (#3366639)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)
From: Midchuck

Do you agree that "Four Rode By" has Ian, John Herold and Monte Dunn all playing on the same song?

Seems as though it doesn't. The song notes on the original vinyl of Northern Journey say "Herald (lead guitar), Ian (2nd guitar), Wiessberg (bass)."

"Some Day Soon" (the song that Ian introduced when he did it when we saw him in concert, in '95, with "This is the one that paid the mortgage on the ranch") is the only one on the album where Dunn and Herald are both listed as playing guitar, although Herald plays guitar and Dunn, mandolin, on "Moonshine Can" and "Green Valley."


22 Jun 12 - 11:02 AM (#3366652)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)
From: pdq

Thank you...

I suspect I will be put these Ian & Sylvia CDs in my play stack tonight.

BTW, there a a few records by Rex Allen such as "Mister Cowboy" where he not only sings great but plays his own guitar...not quite Chet Atkins, but very good.

Also "Arizona Cowboy" is worth getting for the classic Western songs.

In the play stack for tonight's listening is a group of three gals named the Dinning Sisters. Another fine effort by Jasmine to bring classic Western and other types of American music back. They are backed by the great George Barnes on guitar! I am looking gorward to hearing this CD.

17 Feb 13 - 05:52 PM (#3480813)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Four rode by (Ian Tyson)
From: Cluin

Capo it up to the 6th fret, to play along with the record (Ian & Sylvia's "Four Strong Winds" album)

/ C /G7 C/ (x4)
/ C / C / G / G / G / G / G7 / C / G7/ C /

F         G7    F            G7
four rode by... rode through here
       C                  G7       C
three Mclean boys and that wild Alex Hare
F         G7       F       G7
they were armed... all were armed
       C             G7            C
it was them; I'd have known them anywhere

    C               Em             F             C
oh, Willie Palmer's stallion was no twenty dollar cayuse
    C                   Em            F          (G7)    C
and when the wild bunch stole him, he high-tailed it into town
C                Em                F            C
Ussher, in those days, was keeping order in the district
       C                Em                  F         (G7)    C
but, before he'd ridden thirty miles, the McLean boys shot him down

Playing it out of key of C formation makes the fast picking intro a bit easier. And the (G7) in the 2nd & 4th lines of the verses is optional. I like it; it echoes the quick G7 to C single strums in the back-up rhythm guitar during the first part of the intro.