Ian & Sylvia/Youtube.com

“Four strong winds that blow lonely
Seven seas that run high
All those things that don’t change come what may
But our good times are all gone
And I’m bound for moving on
I’ll look for you if I’m ever back this way…”

Familiar of these words? Yes, of course! Who could ever miss this great classic? An immortal song that could play for years and years to come…

“Four Strong Winds”, written by Canadian singer-songwriter Ian Tyson and recorded with his then soon-to-be wife Sylvia more than 50 years ago, remains one of the most enduring songs of what was then the tail end of North America’s folk music revival.

Four Strong Winds

Originally a member of the influential Canadian folk duo Ian & Sylvia, Ian Tyson penned one of the most influential songs of the folk era. Tyson wrote Four Strong Winds the day after spending an evening with Bob Dylan. Apparently, Tyson came to the conclusion that if Dylan could do it, so could he.

The next day, he went to his manager’s apartment and wrote Four Strong Winds. In addition, Tyson’s first song, which became an immortal classic, is about the seasonal migration of workers across the country, from one harvest to the next, and its effect on a love affair.

After Ian & Sylvia parted ways in the mid-1970s, Tyson returned to Alberta to train horses and write and record music as a solo artist.

Influence

The song was both influenced by and became an influence on, that movement, particularly in the United States.

But it didn’t stop there, because a good song is a good song, and it was recognized as one by several bigger names who went on to record it. Some of these artists changed a word or two, maybe because they didn’t completely understand the singing or remember the lyrics correctly. In doing so, they provided a great example of how changing just a single word can alter or dilute a song’s meaning.

The original “Four Strong Winds,” which opens with a chorus, tells the tale of a relationship that’s on its last legs, saying more about dying love in two verses and three identical choruses than some entire romance novels.

Here are the lyrics of this classic full of meaning and great sense.

Four strong winds that blow lonely
Seven seas that run high
All those things that don’t change come what may
But our good times are all gone
And I’m bound for moving on
I’ll look for you if I’m ever back this way
Think I’ll go out to Alberta
Weather’s good there in the fall
I got some friends that I can go to working for
Still, I wish you’d change your mind
If I asked you one more time
But we’ve been through that a hundred times or more
Four strong winds that blow lonely
Seven seas that run high
All those things that don’t change come what may
But our good times are all gone
And I’m bound for moving on
I’ll look for you if I’m ever back this way
If I get there before the snow flies
And if things are goin’ good
You could meet me if I sent you down the fare
But by then it would be winter
There ain’t too much for you to do
And those winds sure can blow cold way out there
Four strong winds that blow lonely
Seven seas that run high
All those things that don’t change come what may
But our good times are all gone
And I’m bound for moving on
I’ll look for you if I’m ever back this way

Watch Four Strong Winds by Ian & Sylvia.

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