Four Strong Winds: Ian and Sylvia (Hardcover)

Ian and Sylvia

By John Einarson, Ian Tyson (Contribution by), Sylvia Tyson (Contribution by)

McClelland & Stewart, 9780771030383, 336pp.

Publication Date: September 6, 2011



An acclaimed music historian brings us the long-awaited story of Ian & Sylvia - marking the first time that the legendary folk duo has endorsed a biography of their groundbreaking career.
Their classic "Four Strong Winds" is widely considered to be one of the great songs of all time. Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and Joni Mitchell count among their admirers. Their music, including hits like "You Were On My Mind" and "Someday Soon," has been recorded by everyone from Dylan, Joan Baez, and Johnny Cash to Sarah McLachlan and The Tragically Hip. Their influence on music - both in Canada and the United States - has endured over generations and surpassed genres. Yet until now, we have known little of the story behind the folk sensations Ian & Sylvia. In Four Strong Winds, John Einarson takes us back to Ian & Sylvia's early days in Toronto coffeehouses, to their experiences at the heart of the vibrant 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene, and beyond, as their personal and musical partnership continued to change and evolve. Based on Ian and Sylvia Tyson's own personal reflections as well as on the recollections of contemporaries, associates, and admirers, Four Strong Winds is the definitive account of this iconic musical duo and a window on a fascinating period in music history.

About the Author

JOHN EINARSON is a widely-respected rock music historian and author of more than a dozen books including critically-acclaimed biographies of Neil Young, Randy Bachman, Buffalo Springfield and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Several of his books have been ranked among the top ten best music biographies and received award nominations. In addition he has written for Mojo, Uncut, Goldmine, Discoveries, Record Collector, and Classic Rock and is a frequent contributor to the Winnipeg Free Press. John wrote the Juno-nominated Bravo TV documentary Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life as well as CBC TV's The Life & Times of Randy Bachman and hosting several CBC radio series. John lives in Winnipeg where he teaches a popular course on rock 'n' roll history at the University of Winnipeg.

Praise For Four Strong Winds: Ian and Sylvia

“To my principal mentors Ian & Sylvia – I offer my profound respect and admiration.”
—Gordon Lightfoot
“What a time, what a tale! Ian and Sylvia hit the stratosphere in the Sixties with Canadian-tinged folk songs that made them the darlings of the college dorms. Through hits and misses, marriage and divorce, and all the fun in-between, they didn’t miss a thing. A beautifully detailed book that is respectful to the legend and heart-warming in its honesty. A great story well told.”
—Jim Cuddy, Blue Rodeo and Jim Cuddy Band
“John Einarson is one of this country’s premiere cultural writers. He gets right inside the true and remarkable story of Ian & Sylvia’s rise to the elite ranks of folk, country-rock, and cowboy music, extracting the best quotes from the duo with all their humor, insight, sarcasm, and cheekiness intact. You’ll know why these two belong among Canada’s finest music-makers.”
—Bob Mersereau, broadcaster and author, 100 Top Canadian Albums
“Emerging from Bohemian Toronto and New York’s Greenwich Village in the mid-’60s, Ian & Sylvia became major folk stars in the U.S. With historical perspective and his usual love of subject, John Einarson spins an entertaining tale of two enigmatic Canadians who individually continue to create and perform today and whose story is finely woven into the multi-hued tapestry that is contemporary music.”
—Martin Melhuish, author of Oh What a Feeling and Heart of Gold