CALGARY - Canadian country music legend Ian Tyson has been the recipient of countless awards throughout his illustrious 50-year career but now he has his own wall.
In celebration of Tyson's contribution to the music world and cowboy culture, Calgary Transit has inscribed some of the lyrics of his song "Land of Shining Mountains" on a wall along the downtown transit route.
"This is a wonderful thing for me and it's so cool to see that back there. I'm trying to remember when I wrote the song and I couldn't possibly imagine it was going to be set in the way that it has been," Tyson said Wednesday.
"It's even in my handwriting. I can't believe it," he said with a laugh. "No it can't be. The spelling is all correct. I never could spell."
Tyson was a rodeo rider in his late teens and early 20s and took up the guitar while recovering from an injury he sustained in a fall.
The stylized grey writing on a grey wall reads:
In the land of the long roads
High, lonesome prairies
Dreamin' of the springtime
First crocus in the snow
Coffee in a go-cup
He's headed for the oil rig
Land of shining mountains
Big Alberta sky
"The lyrics? They're special ... They're about Alberta. The song was not written for this project," Tyson said. "It's a contemporary song about Alberta today."
Tyson didn't pick the song. That was done by Calgary Ald. Druh Farrell, who called Tyson the "most consummate cowboy poet."
"We went through the lyrics of all of his songs and ... the 'Land of Shining Mountains' really stood out for us. It is a quintessential Alberta song, it's a beautiful song and it speaks to urban Alberta and urban Calgary," Farrell said.
Tyson, 78, has been a prolific songwriter and was also one half of the duo Ian & Sylvia with former wife Sylvia Tyson.
His most notable "Four Strong Winds" was recorded by Neil Young, while Judy Collins recorded a version of his song "Someday Soon" in 1968.
Tyson is glad that his greatest hit wasn't the one selected for the wall of honour.
"That old horse has been rode to death," he said with a smile.
"I've written a couple of things since 'Four Strong Winds' and sometimes songwriters wonder whether anyone knows they've written anything else.
"That song is too big for me to handle. It kind of belongs to the country now."