Today – on her 83rd birthday – after a decade lay-off from recording on her own, Sylvia Tyson announces the release on November 3rd, 2023 of her most powerful, and most incisive recording to date, “At The End Of The Day,” on Stony Plain Records – and shares that this will be her final album. You can pre-order it here.
“It was time,” says the beloved Canadian artist, renowned for her independence, intelligence, and songwriting prowess. “It is kind of a gathering of all of the things that I wanted to record, but never got around to. I just felt that it was time to record. I really feel that this may be the best album that I have ever done.”
With her final studio album, the aptly titled recording combines an intensely personal artistry with a broader vision of a public figure at peace with her ordered life as a songwriter, and as an artist. For a woman who has lived a public life for decades, Tyson is the most private of household names.
“It’s the good times I remember at the end of the day,” sings Tyson on the new album, a collection of songs that look back across a life well-lived, while offering advice for those just starting out on their own unique journeys.
Tyson’s impact on popular culture has been immeasurable. A pillar of the Greenwich Village folk scene from the late ’50s through the ’60’s as half of the groundbreaking Ian & Sylvia, the duo headlined NYC’s Carnegie Hall and topped the Billboard charts, all while championing Village contemporaries Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot by being the first popular artists to record their songs. Moreover, Tyson’s own song “You Were On My Mind” and Ian’s “Four Strong Winds” became standards that were covered by dozens of popular artists. Throughout the sixties and early seventies, Ian & Sylvia produced thirteen popular albums and toured extensively in North America and Europe, sharing their manager, Albert Grossman, with such luminaries as Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, The Band, and Janis Joplin. The duo were equally influential in the country genre with their band Great Speckled Bird.
On At The End of The Day, Tyson sings of memories, family histories, and lost loves, while also offering pragmatic how-to’s on handling love and tough times. It mixes the good with the bad, the bitter with the sweet, all topped off with healthy sprinkle of realism, as evidenced on the introspective, waltzing opener “Sweet Agony”:
Come to me, sweet agony
I am ready to fall in love again
If I can have that ecstasy
I’ll take my chances with the pain
The album takes us from warm kitchens to post-war Berlin to rain-slicked streets to bluesy cabarets to lush gardens. It’s a record Tyson could only write now, after a lifetime of honing her craft and studying human nature as a revered songwriter, broadcaster, and author.
“At The End Of The Day” was produced by long-time friend Danny Greenspoon, and recorded at the Canterbury Music Company Studios in Toronto, and mixed at The Audio Truck in Toronto. Backing was provided by Davide DiRenzo (drums), Charles James (bass), Jason Fowler (guitar), John Sheard (piano), Drew Jurecka (violin, mandolin); and Denis Keldie, and Mark Lalama (both on accordion, and B3 organ).
Among Tyson’s circle of co-writers for the album are the late Shirley Eikhard, Joan Besen, Cindy Church, and Chris Whiteley. All long-time friends.
Throughout her career, Tyson has composed numerous enduring songs. Her repertoire includes: “You Were On My Mind” – a cover by the California pop quintet We Five reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965, “River Road”, recorded by Crystal Gayle in 1980, “Yesterday’s Dreams”, recorded by Nana Mouskouri. Ian & Sylvia classics she wrote include “Woman’s World,” “Sleep on My Shoulder,” “Love Is a Fire,” “Same Old Thing,” “Denim Blue Eyes,” “Pepere’s Mill,” and “I Walk These Rails,” songs that have touched and inspired fans, songwriters, and musicians the world over.
Although she enjoyed performing, Tyson admits the romance of the road is gone for her. “I’m not looking for things to do,” she says laughing. “I can’t work at the same kind of intensity as I used to.”
In recognition of her trailblazing solo career, Tyson has been honored with a bevy of prestigious awards. She was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1994. In 2003, Tyson was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2019, Tyson was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Tyson has continued to have a long and successful solo career. She’s recorded 10 albums, written more than 200 songs, and has for the last 20 years also recorded and performed with three other well-known Canadian female singer-songwriters in a group called Quartette. She’s also had a long and distinguished radio and television career, both in music and in documentaries, and inspired a dazzling array of contemporary recording artists, some of whom shared their thoughts about Sylvia and her new album:
There is the sunlight
there is the heartbreak
there is the voice that I’ve known
since the beginning
the night lifts and dawn comes again in the voice of Sylvia
the thread is not broken-
Just what I needed
the poetry from my youth
into this new day
As old as years as light as dawn
As new as inspiration
She is here again to staunch my tears
And it was all worth it
For me a new beginning
The new songs
the wise heart
Thank God for Sylvia Tyson
– Judy Collins
Ian and Sylvia were a big influence on me in the early days of my career. I’m happy to see that Sylvia is still making meaningful music. And I’d like to add that I was knocked out by “I Never Got Over You,” “Leaves in the Storm,” and “Not Quite Rain.” Love those lines from “Leaves”: “We were too old to be innocent, too young to be wise.”
– Linda Ronstadt
Sylvia Tyson’s “At the end Of The Day” is a fine collection of some of the most truthful and touching songs I’ve heard.
– Daniel Lanois
Sylvia and Ian were major influences on early Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in the ’60’s, as their music was always pristine, perfect, and telling of some happy or sad occasion. It was always something ‘worth listening to’ and had to be in your collection, when trying to learn what music was supposed to be. Sylvia’s new album carries that same importance of the earlier albums … and maybe even more so, since it is purported to be her final recording. It is up to her standards, statements, sadness, some happy… give it a listen and put it in your library. The playing is excellent by all, and smooth production that you would expect with such an icon.
– John McEuen of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Sylvia’s new record comes in the door like an old friend, no need for introduction. The soothing voice, the intimate stories and beautiful instrumentation all contribute to a memorable afternoon. She doesn’t disappoint on a single track right down to the final instrumental. Bravo Sylvia.
– Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo
“Sylvia Tyson is one of the first people I ever saw sing Folk music on International Television. But not just any Folk music. She was singing Canadian Folk music about things that were Canadian. Made me feel like I could do the same.”
– Alan Doyle
At The End Of The Day Track Listing:
1 Sweet Agony
2 I Never Got Over You
3 Leaves In The Storm
4 Not Quite Rain
5 Now Tell Me That You’ve Got The Blues
6 Long Chain Of Love
7 Generous Heart
8 Cynical Little Love Song
9 No Crowd No Show
10 Angels In Troubled Times
11 At The End Of The Day
12 Janet’s Garden