Ian & Sylvia: Summer Wages
Quiz by Sharon Michiko Yoneda
"Years have gambled and gone like summer wages."
"In all the beer parlours all down along Main Street."
"All the big stands of timber just waiting for falling."
"And the hookers standing watchfully waiting by the door."
"So I'll work on the towboats."
"Through the gray fog-bound straits where the cedars stand watching."
artist: Ian & Sylvia
songwriter: Ian Tyson
date released: 1994 by Ian Tyson
Ian Tyson was born and raised in Victoria, B.C. As a young man, he was involved in working the woods and riding the rodeo circuit in Western Canada. Tyson didn't learn the guitar until he was waylaid in a hospital recovering from a rodeo injury. Later in the 50s, he began recording music, moving to the big city of Toronto to expand his career. There he met Sylvia Fricker and formed a duo called Ian and Sylvia. After attaining success in the folk-country music scene, they became husband and wife and co-performers.
Ian and Sylvia's marriage dissolved in divorce, and Tyson moved to Alberta, temporarily retiring from music. He was wooed back to his second love, the raising of horses on a ranch. When he returned to the music industry, he recorded more albums and began touring again. "Summer Wages" was a part of the renaissance, becoming a favourite for those restless roustabouts earning and losing their summer wages as unskilled labourers in the thriving fishing and forest industries of British Columbia in the 1950s.
"Summer Wages" is littered with iconic images of B.C. history: the beer parlours along Main Street, the hookers standing in doorways waiting to take the summer wages of young and freewheeling itinerant workers, big stands of timber in abundant forests, and great fog-bound straits teeming with tugboats. Unfortunately, the forest and fishing industries are no longer what they once were, and modern roustabouts are probably losing their summer wages to the same attractions of the city.