Monday, February 15, 2010

O Canada: Four Strong Winds

Neil Young: Four Strong Winds


Although "Four Strong Winds" has been covered by dozens of artists, I'm most familiar with this version, recorded by Candaian-born Neil Young for his 1978 Comes a Time album. The song was written by Canadian folkie Ian Tyson (of the folk due Ian & Sylvia), and the song prominantly mentions the province of Alberta. Could it get any more Canadian?

Ian & Sylvia's version was a Canadian hit in 1963/64, and one can imagine it resonated with the young Young as he travelled around Canada shedding band members and girlfriends in pursuit of his musical dreams.

But I've often wondered if, when Neil recorded it in the late '70s, he was also thinking about himself and his erstwhile musical partners, Crosby, Stills, & Nash as those Four Strong Winds. Neil's on-again/off-again relationship with CSN neatly matches the narrator's ambivelance towards reuniting with his long-distance lover.

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