David Wiffen

David Wiffen. Singer-songwriter, guitarist, b England 11 Mar 1942. He moved to Canada in 1958 and began his career as a blues and folk singer in Yorkville (Toronto) coffeehouses in the early 1960s.

Wiffen, David

David Wiffen. Singer-songwriter, guitarist, b England 11 Mar 1942. He moved to Canada in 1958 and began his career as a blues and folk singer in Yorkville (Toronto) coffeehouses in the early 1960s. After travelling widely in Canada - he made an early LP at the Bunkhouse in Vancouver - Wiffen settled in Ottawa where he was a member 1967-9 of Three's A Crowd and co-host 1969-70 with Ann Mortifee for CJOH-TV's 'Both Sides Now'.

Wiffen's performing career in the early 1970s was hindered by a battle with alcoholism, eloquently expressed in his best-known song, 'More Often Than Not' (from the LP David Wiffen, Fantasy 8411). He made regular appearances late in the decade in coffeehouses and at folk festivals and universities. Although he was again largely inactive in music through the 1980s, his reputation as one of Canada's finest songwriters in the contemporary folk idiom remained secure.

Besides 'More Often Than Not,' which has been recorded by Eric Anderson, Ian and Sylvia (Tyson), and Jerry Jeff Walker, his other songs of note include 'Driving Wheel,' 'Mr. Wiffen Is Incommunicado Today' (also known as 'Mr. Wiffen Regrets'), 'David's Song,' and the title song from his last and most popular LP, Coast to Coast Fever (1973, U Artists UALA-172). His songs have also appeared on recordings by Harry Belafonte, Anne Murray, Roger McGuinn, Tom Rush, Brent Titcomb, and others. 'Coast to Coast Fever' was taken as the title of, and included in, a folio of contemporary Canadian folk songs published in 1981 by the Ottawa Folklore Centre.

Writing of Wiffen's 'Come Down to the River,' Barrie Hale observed, 'It is without a doubt a Wiffen song, from that piece of country somewhere between ballad and blues that he staked for his own years ago, with a lovely, easy melody line and a lyric that sinks in, instantly memorable'.


Further Reading

  • Hale, Barrie. 'Mr. Wiffen regrets,' The Canadian, 6 Nov 1976

    Batten, Jack. 'Blues banished, Wiffen's a happy singer now,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 20 Oct 1973