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Tony Dekker on the physical, spiritual and philosophical connection between music and nature

By Tony Dekker of the Great Lake Swimmers

This has had a huge impact on me creatively. We’ve recorded a series of albums in unusual environmental spaces, culminating with an album recorded in and inspired by the Thousand Islands region of Ontario and upstate New York, in and along the St. Lawrence River. The physical environment and searching for spirituality in the natural world has been a continuing thread up to the recording of our latest album, ‘New Wild Everywhere.’

I try not to be overly preachy when it comes to environmental themes in my music, and instead prefer to focus on the beauty and the reality of the natural world. However, I happened to be in Louisiana at the time of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I was entirely dismayed by reports describing the real impact this had on families and fishermen and was moved to write the song “Ballad of a Fisherman’s Wife.” I believe that there is a lesson in that tragedy for everyone; it is a kind of disaster that can happen in some of our most fragile natural ecosystems.

We continue to lend our voice to important environmental initiatives. Recently, we’ve become spokespersons for the WWF campaign, “Canadians for the Great Bear.” It’s a natural progression for us to go from being passionate about the land that shapes us to speaking out and standing up for it.

Great Lake Swimmers will be performing along with Elliott Brood on Friday, February 1st in Guelph, Ontario at the Hillside Inside Festival. For ticket details, click here.

(c) Ian Coristine 1000Iislandsphotoart.com

Tony Dekker is the lead singer and songwriter for the Great Lake Swimmers. New Wild Everywhere is the band’s 5th album.


  • Frank Horvat

    Thanks for a great blog post, Tony! The connection between the arts and the environment is so natural (pardon the pun) and vital.
    -f.