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Jeremy Klaszus’ article on Western music icon Ian Tyson is a must-read on cowboy culture.
By Elle McLean
Jeremy Klaszus writes important stories. As founder and editor-in-chief of The Sprawl, the Calgary-based, digital publication he started in 2017, Klaszus publishes thought-provoking and informative articles covering everything from local politics to community-focused features.
In his piece, “The Gift: What Ian Tyson Left Us”, published in The Sprawl in December 2022 and the winner of the 2023 Alberta Story Award, Klaszus recounts a special moment in his writing career when he spent time with Canadian singer-songwriter Ian Tyson while ghost-writing Tyson’s 2010 memoir, The Long Trail: My Life in the West. Tyson, known for iconic tunes such as “Four Strong Winds”, is regarded as a legendary, country music artist not just in Alberta but across the country. He was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989, received the Order of Canada in 1994 and joined the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2019.
In “The Gift”, Klaszus shares the lessons that Tyson taught him during the writing process of the memoir while chronicling the ebbs and flows of Tyson’s decades-long career— one that spanned borders, genres, musical partners and more. “The Gift” offers an inside look at the adopted Albertan who experienced both a celebrity lifestyle and humble ranching days and how these experiences shaped his music.
Among Tyson’s lessons that Klaszus highlights in “The Gift” is one standout message: the way to learn is to slow down. “‘The problem is most people try to play too fast, even when they’re doing waltzes,’” Klaszus writes, quoting Tyson in “The Gift”. “‘Get a click and set it slower than the tempo you think you should be playing. Then play along at that slower speed. That’s the way to learn.’” Naturally, Tyson shares his wisdom through music metaphors, leaving Klaszus to interpret a deeper meaning that relates to his work with the written word. “Don’t avoid obscure stories; embrace them,” writes Klaszus. “Know your people. Write for them without apology. And don’t turn out filler.”
Photo courtesy of AMPA.
And while the writer and the musician didn’t always see eye-to-eye throughout the ghost-writing process— Klaszus recalls Tyson lightening the mood during an argument via a music lesson ), it’s clear in “The Gift” that Klaszus has great respect for Tyson.
For “The Gift: What Ian Tyson Left Us”, Jeremy Klaszus was awarded the 2023 Alberta Story Award at the Alberta Magazine Awards by the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association (AMPA). To read “The Gift”, visit sprawlcalgary.com.
AMPA’s Alberta Story Award winners reflect stories with distinctly Albertan subjects, flavour, and flair. Examples can include articles from a uniquely Albertan lens, spotlighting interesting Albertans, or providing a look at Alberta’s economic and cultural scenes, among others.
“After the Golden Era” by Tadzio Richards, published in Alberta Views, won the 2023 Silver Alberta Story Award. In this richly reported feature, Richards analyzes the trouble that Alberta lakes are in through the eyes of a local man who has fought for the restoration of a weir at Wabamun Lake for decades.
For a full list of the 2023 Alberta Story Award Finalists and to read the stories, visit albertamagazines.com.