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The Cockburn Project
is a unique website that exists to document the work of Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn. The central focus of the Project is the ongoing archiving of Cockburn's self-commentary on his songs, albums, and issues. You will also find news, tour dates, an online store, and other current information.
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11 May 2016 - A two hour radio interview that took place in April 2016, has been uploaded to WEFT.org.
Niecey interviews well known and respected Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn.
1 May 2016 - TORONTO, ON: Andrew Burashko's Art of Time Ensemble is presenting its tenth Songbook concert featuring Hawksley Workman and the music of Bruce Cockburn. May 13 - 14 at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre, Workman will perform Cockburn's protest songs in new arrangements by Canadian composers.
The program includes If I Had a Rocket Launcher (arranged by Jonathan Goldsmith) and If a Tree Falls, as well as Workman's We're Not Broken Yet from his latest record, Old Cheetah.
"I've loved Bruce Cockburn's music for a very long time and consider him one of my biggest influences," says Workman. "He is a master of the protest song, always keeping beauty and poetry front and centre. In a time where protest is stifled and muted, I thought it might be good to revisit his music."
Art of Time's songbook series, in which a vocalist selects the setlist and performs with the ensemble of classical musicians and jazz improvisers, has been led by Sarah Slean, Steven Page, and Tony award-winner Brent Carver. "I've been a fan of Hawksley's for years," says Art of Time's Artistic Director Andrew Burashko. "He's one of the best performers around; a true force of nature, and an exceptional musician."
The band backing Workman includes Order of Canada recipient Phil Dwyer on saxophone, guitarist Rob Piltch (Blood, Sweat and Tears), violinist Erika Raum (ARC Ensemble), and Andrew Burashko on piano, among others. A limited quantity of tickets are available from the Harbourfront Centre Theatre box office.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Hawksley Workman, singer
Andrew Burasho, piano
Phil Dwyer, saxophone
Amy Laing, cello
Joseph Phillips, bass
Rob Piltch, guitar
Erika Raum, violin
SETLIST - All Songs by Bruce Cockburn
Call it Democracy, arranged by Kevin Fox
Red Brother Red Sister, arranged by Andrew Downing
It's Going Down Slow, arranged by Jim McGrath
If a Tree Falls, arranged by Andrew Staniland
Burn, arranged by Drew Jurecka
Gavin's Woodpile, arranged by Andrew Davis
If I Had a Rocket Launcher, arranged by Jonathan Goldsmith
VENUE: Harbourfront Centre Theatre (Formerly Enwave Theatre, 231 Queen's Quay West)
DATE/TIME: May 13 - 14, 2016 8PM
TICKETS: $25 to $59, available online at artoftimeensemble.com, by phone at 416 973 4000 or in person at the Harbourfront Centre Box office.
Hawksley Workman tackles Cockburn songbook
7 March 2016 - Well it's been long overdue and a long time comin' but a new BruceCockburn.com is now live. The website has been newly constructed from the server space and on up. There are photo, video galleries and song playlists. New content will be added regularly. Please go take a look!
February 2016 - Daniel Keebler, over at the Woodpile, has put together a wonderful article, including a 2 hour audio documentary which was made in 1977.
Special Occasion presents - ON TOUR WITH BRUCE COCKBURN
A two-hour program produced for the CBC in 1977. Bill Usher documents aspects of the Circles In The Stream tour of which he was a part. Included are intimate conversations with Bruce Cockburn about himself, his music and those who listen to it.
22 February 2016 - The title of Bruce Cockburn’s memoir, now out in paperback, is Rumours of Glory. Upon reading the book, it occurred to the Cockburn enthusiast and fellow Juno-winning musician Hawksley Workman that there was too much rumour and not enough glory affixed to the standing of Cockburn. The two artists spoke to each other recently by phone, about credit due, MTV and roads worth taking.
Hawksley Workman: The passing of David Bowie got me to thinking about artists who seem supremely aware of what they’re creating for themselves and their own self-mythologizing. My sense, Bruce, is that you weren’t ever really aware of the legacy you were creating. Is that fair to say?
Bruce Cockburn: It strikes me that legacy is a very ephemeral thing. I’ve had that word thrown at me, but I don’t know. I think it’s out of my hands.
Workman: But people like Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, they nurtured or fostered an image of themselves that accompanied their art. I have trouble that you’re not included in the group of names we seem to culturally deify, and that it’s because their kind of self-mythologizing wasn’t part of your landscape. Do you feel that?
Cockburn: For me, it’s always been about the music and words. But under the surface, I recognize I have an ego like everybody else. I want to be noticed. In the beginning, I was defensive about that. I didn’t want to think in those terms, and I went to great lengths to avoid acquiring an image of any sort. But then I found that I had acquired an image of somebody who was trying not to have an image. So, I couldn’t beat that one. Once you put yourself in front of the public, an image is thrust upon you – by people’s response, by the media, by some sort of natural reaction to having somebody who is up on stage seem larger than life.
Workman: I hear all that. But your compulsion to do or to go or to be seems to eclipse that of somebody who might stroke their chin and think about what move might make them cool.
Cockburn: I’d be a liar if I denied being aware of how things might look to other people. But, again, it’s out of our own control. You can make choices, and people might see you as being cool or as a jerk. I got called names for supporting the Sandinistas. You can’t take that out of the picture, but, for me, it’s always been about curiosity more than anything else. I don’t see anything as a compulsion.
Workman: After reading your memoir, the thought that came to my mind was that I’m not working hard enough.
Cockburn: I’ve been curious and I’ve had opportunities that I’ve taken advantage of. In some cases I went around looking for the opportunity, like the first trip to Central America. I tried to make that happen, and had given up on it, before it actually did happen. Once I did that, I got invitations to all sorts of interesting places. And it seemed morally appropriate as well. I don’t feel I’ve ever been a crusader of any sort. But I feel it’s good to do what you can do.
Workman: You were putting political videos and songs on MTV. You were doing things that were as punk rock or as rebellious as you could at the time. Did you understand just how unreal it was?
Cockburn: Oh, I don’t know. Most of the credit I receive for anything I’ve done has had a lot to do with [long-time manager] Bernie Finkelstein. He’s the one who knows how to get out there and get people’s attention.
Workman: I just don’t feel it’s been recognized or celebrated that you were breaking all kinds of rules.
Cockburn: I suppose people could say there was a certain amount of strategizing that I didn’t do. But I don’t feel like I’ve given anything up. People would say, especially in the U.S., “Do you think this political involvement stuff is going to hurt your career?” For one thing, I don’t think of what I do as a career. It’s just what I do. And for another thing, it doesn’t appear to have hurt it, because the most quote-popular-unquote song of all, which was If I Had a Rocket Launcher, was almost the biggest hit. Mind you, I was totally shocked it got on the radio.
Workman: Do you feel that you’ve received all the credit you deserved?
Cockburn: I’ve done what I’ve done. I didn’t go to Central America looking for song material or anything else. I went there to see what the Nicaraguan revolution looked like up close. When I got there I found myself very deeply moved by the things I was encountering. That experience changed the direction of the next couple of decades for me. Invitations came up – invitations for adventure, to Nepal, for instance. And who’s going to say no?
~ from The Globe and Mail.
17 December 2015 - On December 11 and 12 Bruce performed at the San Francisco Lighthouse Church with the Lighthouse band and singers. This was a Christmas show with many of Bruce's songs from his Christmas album, along with some other well know songs. Bruce also performed solo on some of his non-Christmas songs.
Videos, complete setlists and photos are on the December 11, 2015 and December 12, 2015 setlist archives.
16 October 2015 - WHYY video, a great piece with clips of Bruce performing and then commentary on the songs. This has a limited time online, so go watch it.
16 October 2015 - There are only 17 days left to listen to this interview BBC Scotland.
9 July 2015 - Last month, the Free Press sat down with Winnipeg Folk Festival legend Mitch Podolak and asked him to flip through a pile of archival photographs of the event he founded 41 years ago.
"We owe the Winnipeg Folk Festival in a lot of ways to Bruce (Cockburn), because people did not have any idea at all what a folk festival was — none. We knew we had Bruce and we used Bruce in a way we didn’t use anybody else.
"We said, ‘There’s a free Bruce Cockburn concert in the park,’ and 14,000 people showed up the first night to see that, and what they got was the folk festival. Thank you, Bruce."
From the article From the article Good Times, Great Music by Melissa Tait & Joe Bryska. Photo - Photo: 1975 Winnipeg Folk Festival, David Landy Collection, Archives of Manitoba.
Bruce Cockburn diehards packed the tent for hometown hero
by Aedan Helmer - Ottawa Sun
20 June 2015 - As odd pairings go, it was a doozy.
Ottawa-raised Bruce Cockburn making a celebrated return to his hometown -- tucked away in a full-to-bursting Laurier Ave. tent -- while the Philly-bred Roots crew invaded TD Ottawa Jazzfest's Main Stage, taking a Saturday night off from their house gig under the bright late-night television lights of The Tonight Show.
You could almost sense the spirit of Pete Seeger at the side of the stage, vowing to yank the plug.
But once Questlove, Blackthought and company took the stage, they left no doubt they were right where they belonged -- though some of the jazz traditionalists in the crowd may have disagreed, once their lawn chairs were evicted from prime dancing ground.
And while Tonight Show viewers are only treated to snippets around commercial breaks The Roots got to strut their stuff in front of a packed Confederation Park.
Launching into their signature The Next Movement -- with its acid jazz-infused Rhodes hook putting The Roots in a class of their own when they broke out with 1999's seminal Things Fall Apart -- the band did proceed to rock the mic with Proceed, The Fire and Mellow My Man, barely pausing to take a breath through the entire 90-minute set.
A late addition to the festival's star-studded roster -- and one that would have been circled on calendars of the young, urban crowd who might otherwise give Jazzfest a miss -- The Roots ended up bumping Bruce Cockburn to a side stage, and an earlier time slot, after he was originally announced as a Main Stage headliner.
It was a shame Cockburn's throng of fans didn't get to see him in all his glory, and while it's always a delicate dance at festivals, a wiser scheduling move may have seen the celebrated songwriter playing the Main Stage in the early evening slot, shifting Duchess and their Andrews Sisters-style torch songs to the tent.
As it was, the Laurier tent was already swelling to the seams by the time Cockburn emerged.
And so cherished is Cockburn, especially around his old stomping grounds, simply striding onstage earned his first of several standing ovations from the lucky 500 fans who crammed in to the standing room-only show.
Dressed head-to-toe in black, capped by a grey tuft and trademark round-rim glasses, Cockburn dug into his acoustic guitar on the instrumental opener Comets of Kandahar, his gruff and wonderfully strained vocals making their first appearance on The Iris of the World, both drawn from his latest studio offering, 2011's Small Source of Comfort.But as Cockburn acknowledged, the songs are "from my most recent album, which is not very recent."
"I got involved in writing a memoir, and it took up all my creative energy, so we're not here promoting an album, we're just here to play some music," he said to more applause.
He did just that, delighting his long-serving faithful with songbook staples like If I Had a Rocket Launcher, Rumours of Glory and Lovers in a Dangerous Time, with its unmistakable opening chords ringing, setting things in motion for one of the all-time great lyrical entries into the Canadian canon.
Accompanied by the excellent Roberto Occhipinti, who has won Junos of his own as a renowned bassist, and drummer Gary Craig, Cockburn shone as an instrumentalist as well as a gifted wordsmith, with his acid-laced, politically-charged lyrics propelled by some absolutely menacing guitar work.
And, this being Jazzfest, he left plenty of room for Occhipinti to explore, which he did expertly, walking the length of the upright bass or breaking out the bow for the uncharted waters.
And while Duchess were delightful, with their Andrews Sisters-inspired torch song harmonies -- which they saucily trademarked as girl-on-girl harmony -- they may have been better suited to the cozy confines of the tent, if only to allow Cockburn and company to truly stretch out on the Main Stage.
~from Ottawa Sun by Aedan Helmer. Photos by Errol McGihon/Ottawa Sun/Postmedia Network.
16 June 2015 - After spending the better part of the last three years writing a memoir, Bruce Cockburn has little desire to continue working to the kind of schedule required by a publisher.
“I’ll be happy if there are no deadlines at all,” declared the Canadian Music Hall of Famer by phone from his home in San Francisco.
“The actual writing, the sitting down and coming up with language was fun, as much fun as writing songs. I always feel like Sherlock Holmes on the trail of something: I’m tracking down the next line. that was true of the book, but the presence of deadlines made it very stressful.”
The memoir, Rumours of Glory, was published last year (accompanied by a nine-CD box set), freeing Cockburn up to get back to his first love, writing songs. He has three new tunes in the works, none of which are ready to perform, and no deadline to finish them. As is his preference.
“I went through a brief phase early on where I thought real writers write every day so I thought I should try that,” explains the 70-year-old Ottawa-born singer-songwriter-guitarist. “After about a year doing that, I ended up with about the same amount of usable stuff as if I had just waited for the good ideas so I opted for waiting for the good ideas, and it’s been that way ever since.”
It’s been four years since his last studio album, Small Source of Comfort, long enough to see further changes in the ever-shifting music landscape. Even a legend like Cockburn, known for hard-hitting topical songs like If I Had a Rocket Launcher and Lovers in a Dangerous Time, has to wonder where he fits in.
“I’m still trying to figure out how to approach coming back to being a songwriter,” he says. “I did gigs through that period so I was not completely away from the scene, but I didn’t write anything. It’s different now than it was even five years ago, and it’s moving fast. By the time I feel like I’m ready to make a CD, will I make one or will I sprinkle out a bunch of tracks online?”
In the next breath, he answers his own question: “I still think in terms of making CDs, and I know lots of other artists do, too, and not just old guys. I don’t think the medium is dead. I think that there is a place for a collection of songs, and I don’t really sympathize with the trend, which is to just put out these things one-off without any kind of background or connections.
“An album is kind of like a book, a collection of poetry, and so where that will fit in in the current scene, I don’t know if it does at all. But I’m not worried about it until I have enough songs to worry about it.”
In the meantime, there are plenty of gigs, including a hometown show at the Ottawa Jazz Festival. He’ll be playing with longtime drummer Gary Craig and a new sideman, Toronto bassist Roberto Occhipinti, who’s known for his jazz chops. “I’m hoping there will be some jamming and stuff in the set, but I won’t really know ’til we do some rehearsing,” Cockburn says, describing the jazzier configuration as a new adventure.
Another factor influencing his life these days is his three-year-old daughter, Iona, who frequently travels with her parents when Dad is on tour. Needless to say, there are no journeys planned to war zones.
“It makes for a slightly more complicated balancing act with respect to touring,” Cockburn says. “That’s the biggest single effect. It’s also harder to get time. I’m living the life of a young family man and I’m not a young family man. I’m an old family man. There are energy requirements that I manage to meet but it’s hard work sometimes.”
Except for lack of sleep, Cockburn says he’s in good health. Retirement is a long way off.
“I’ll retire when I have to. If my hands stop working or my brain stops working and I recognize it, then I’ll retire, I guess, but I don’t have any expectations of quitting voluntarily.”
At the TD Ottawa International Jazz festival
When: Saturday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Laurier Avenue Music Stage, Marion Dewar Plaza
~ from Bruce Cockburn: Back to his musical basics by Lynn Saxberg. © Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
15 June 2015 - CBC Cinq a Six host Nantali Indongo speaks to Bruce from his home in SF
Interview is online at http://www.cbc.ca/cinqasix/
1 June 2015 - Q You gave your memoir the same title as one of your songs, Rumours of Glory. What does that title say about your religious journey?
A I’ve certainly gone through different perspectives on the whole issue of God and Jesus and what it is to be a seeker. I think what that song is attempting to portray is the hint of God — “rumours.”
The hints are around us all the time, yet we tend not to see evidence of God’s presence as readily as it’s presented. At least I don’t. But once in a while it hits you, and this song was triggered by what’s described in the first verse. I was in New York, looking up between the buildings at the part of the sky that was visible, at dusk in winter. It was crossed by two vapour trails, and they were lit by the setting sun, which wasn’t visible because it was behind the buildings.
The streets were darkening and filling with people coming out of their jobs. It was that — the contrast between the relatively grumpy-looking crowd of people leaving work and trying to get on the subway, the grit of New York streets, and then this glorious image in the sky. It seemed like one of those hints.
As a title for the book, it’s ironic more than anything. My career has been pretty good, but is it glorious? I’m not glorious enough to be featured in the tabloids.
Q You write that the Catholic mystic Thomas Merton has influenced you. Merton embodied a spirituality of paradox, as do you. You say you’re living your life as best you can in line with the word of Christ, and yet you’re not necessarily taking that word as gospel. You say that praying in the company of others can be nurturing, and yet question the value of religious worship or affiliation.
A I see a pattern full of that contrast. It’s full of ambiguity and dichotomy and slipperiness. Just look at people in any context — it could be at a cocktail party or a worship service or a war. You’ll see all this stuff going on. There’s beauty and grace, and there’s spite and ugliness. What I see is that God’s there in that relationship. It’s for me to be open to him and receptive. That’s what I work at. A long time ago, when I was new to the game so to speak, the forms [of religion] were valuable. I still like ritual, but the ritual has to be about that relationship to God.
Q Much of this seems beyond words at all.
A I think there’s a trap inherent in taking words at face value. Sometimes that’s what you have to do, and it’s appropriate, but other times you have to read the heart of the person speaking and look past the actual words. If I hear a minister preaching, I have to try to hear past the literal words if I’m going to take him seriously. I’m not saying that the words don’t matter, because they do. But if you want to know whether or not to admit those words into yourself, you need to feel the heart of the person delivering them. It’s about the relationship with God.
Q You describe your early days in The United Church of Canada in your book, and tuning in to a sermon when you were 10 or 11 and noticing that the minister was talking about “real stuff” — “he was nailing something.”
A I was sitting there with my parents and had my pad of paper and my pencil, getting ready to occupy myself during the sermon. For some reason, that day I listened to [the minister] speak, and it really made sense to me. In this case, I don’t think I was looking past the words. I was looking at the words for the first time, and grasping that it wasn’t just a guy up there telling you to wash your hands and pray or whatever.
Another powerful experience was my acquaintance with Peter Hall, the organist at Westboro United [in Ottawa], who taught me theory and piano. He was a real mentor, helping me appreciate music and get deeper into it.
Then in the 1980s and ’90s, through my travels and connections with charitable work in various parts of the world, I was aware that the United Church was very active and very outspoken on some issues I thought were really important. The United Church has stood out as an agent for positive social change.
Q You’ve said that people who maintain a relationship with the Divine bear a special burden of healing. How do you see that call of Christ today?
A There are some obvious worldly examples. How do you exercise compassion and forgiveness to ISIS, for example? I have trouble with that. I want to kill them all, but I don’t think that’s what I’m supposed to do. That’s probably the most extreme example.
I feel like the world’s getting screwier and screwier and there’s a kind of entropy taking hold. The challenge is to respond to that increasing madness from a godly base.
It’s tricky. That one-to-one relationship with God becomes really important, although it can get off balance too. People do all kinds of horrible things thinking that God told them to do it. So you need some community around you to bounce off, to keep you moving in the right direction.
Q How do you maintain that relationship with the Divine?
A I struggle with a lack of trust, which I didn’t know back in the day. When I was a more active churchgoer, I felt like I had a pretty solid faith. But I had a conversation with a Presbyterian minister friend of mine who said, “Do you believe in an all-powerful, all-seeing God?”
I said, “Yeah, I do, but I don’t trust him. I don’t want to be available to him, because he’s going to ask me to do [things] I don’t want to do.” This is a totally wrong-headed way to think about it, but this is my default position, and I struggle with that. I’m winning, little by little — or God’s winning. It’s getting better. The period of doubt I’ve gone through has been an exercise in going deeper.
I’ve been doing Jungian-based dream work for a long time, and through it I’ve come to find myself; I’m able to feel love from God and receive it.
MJ [my wife] recently started going to a Pentecostal church, but it doesn’t conform to my previously held stereotype of a Pentecostal church. It’s full of spirit and brains and fun, a real sense of joy. I was shocked to discover this and finally let MJ persuade me to go with her. Then I got invited to play with the band. So I go now and sit in the church band as a guitar player. It’s an unfolding process.
Q You’ve had a lot of labels in your day — including psalmist and prophet.
A And some less complimentary ones!
Q Which seem to fit now?
A You know, I’m just a guy trying to live. I don’t have a convenient label for myself, but I can look with hindsight and see prophetic bits in the songs. I’ve written three songs since the book came out, and the most recent is a gospel song. So where is that going? I don’t know. Part of the job of being human is just to try to spread light, at whatever level you can do it. Songs are one level, and it’s not simple. You can spread light with dark songs, because they invite people to notice and respond to what’s around them. They are invitations to look.
Interview on Soundcloud (parts not in the above content)
This interview has been condensed and edited.
~ from United Church Observer by Mardi Tindal.
14 May 2015 - Singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn published a memoir, “Rumours of Glory,” in November, in which he writes about some of his best known songs, including “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.” In this 1984 song, which was a minor hit, Cockburn — like Bob Dylan did in his classic “Masters of War” — breaks from the protest-song norm to fantasize about wreaking violence on perpetrators of evil.
Cockburn — whose current tour includes a May 17 stop at the South Orange Performing Arts Center — has spent a lot of time over the years explaining this song, which he wrote following visits to Guatemalan refugee camps in Mexico. And he does so again in “Rumours of Glory.”
In a recent interview with homegrownradionj.org (which can be heard in its entirety, below), Cockburn said the book, co-written with Greg King, includes “a lot of stuff about what was going on in Guatemala when I wrote that song.”
Continue reading this article ... http://www.njarts.net/pop-rock/bruce-cockburn-explains-songs-in-new-memoir/.
You can listen to the interview referenced above HERE
~ from New Jersey Arts.
13 May 2015 - When you’ve been writing and playing songs for 45-plus years, you have a lot of material to work with. In fact, you might have so much that you’d need to write a memoir to put it all in context.
That’s just what Bruce Cockburn, the venerable Canadian songwriter and guitarist, has done. “Rumours of Glory,” which was published late last year, recounts his long career as a musician, human rights activist, and spiritual explorer. With 31 albums and a raft of musical and humanitarian awards to his credit, Cockburn — who turns 70 May 27 — has a lot of ground to cover.
He brought copies of his book, as well as a new boxed set of CDs, to Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall last Friday, the first of two nights he would perform there before a sold-out house. He also brought four guitars — two six-string acoustics, a resonator guitar and a 12-string acoustic — to showcase his inventive finger-style work and the jazz, world music, blues and folk sounds he incorporates in his songs.
Cockburn is by his own admission a pretty shy, introverted person — though he’s become somewhat less so over the years — and he joked that he’d felt a little self-conscious when he’d visited Northampton’s “local bookstores” to see if they had copies of his memoir.
“My manager, Bernie, always used to tell me to visit local record stores when I was on tour and check out what they had of mine,” he said. “I never liked to do that.” He added that he’d looked as unobtrusively as possible for his book in Northampton’s stores “but I didn’t see any. But maybe they bought 100 copies and sold them all.”
Not to worry. As one woman at the packed Iron Horse called out, “We have it, and we love it!”
The crowd also loved Cockburn’s songs, which he plucked from throughout his long career: 1973’s “All the Diamonds in the World,” “Hills of Morning” from 1979, “Understanding Nothing” from 1987, and 1995’s “Pacing the Cage.” There was also the beautiful guitar piece “The End of All Rivers,” one of the tracks from his 2005 instrumental album, “Speechless.”
As good a guitarist as he is — Cockburn often lays down a thumping rhythm with his thumb and plays melodic leads with his first three fingers — he’s won much of his acclaim as a lyricist, and his songs have been covered by a wealth of artists, from Barenaked Ladies to Jimmy Buffett. Whether writing about his own spiritual explorations or the injustice he’s witnessed around the world, he brings a poetic intensity and sense of the mystical to many of his songs. He’s a Christian, he says, who has moved away from organized religion but still stresses the importance of what he calls “the divine” in his life.
Case in point: For the second song of his set, he played “Strange Waters,” which is built around slow, chiming chords and observational lyrics about a journey that could be both literal and metaphorical: “I’ve stood in airports guarded glass and chrome / Walked rifled roads and landmined loam / Seen a forest in flames right down to the road / Burned in love till I’ve seen my heart explode.”
At the Iron Horse, Cockburn’s voice sometimes strained when he approached the top of his range. Yet that lent a sense of urgency to songs like “Call It Democracy,” a full-throttle attack on the International Monetary Fund and its role in bracketing poor countries in debt: “Padded with power here they come / International loan sharks backed by the guns / Of market hungry military profiteers / Whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared / With the blood of the poor.”
It was one of Cockburn’s more impassioned moments during an otherwise fairly low-key set; he played the song on his 12-string guitar, giving it some added drive and volume and bringing the crowd to its feet at the end.
“I guess not a lot has changed since I wrote this,” he said about the 1985 song. “I’m not sure when the revolution is going to come.”
Then, when someone called out, “Let’s start it now,” he paused for a moment, then quipped, “I’m in danger of making a speech.”
Cockburn, born and raised primarily in Canada’s capital of Ottawa, took up the guitar in his late teens and studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in the mid-1960s, though he left without a degree. He later played with a number of rock bands in Canada before concentrating on songwriting, releasing a series of folk-oriented albums beginning in the early 1970s.
In the 1980s, though, his music began to embrace wider influences, and he also developed a reputation as a “political” songwriter, in part from songs like “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.” That 1983 tune was inspired by his visit to a camp of Guatemalan refugees on Mexico’s border, people who had fled the attacks of Guatemala’s military — many of whose leaders had been trained by the United States — during the country’s 30-year civil war. Furious about the refugees’ plight, Cockburn imagined shooting down Guatemalan helicopters that buzzed the area.
Over the years, he’s traveled to countries such as Nicaragua, Mozambique and Iraq as part of his activism, playing benefit concerts and jamming with musicians in other nations. He’s also worked with organizations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and Friends of the Earth.
Yet in his memoir, Cockburn, who now lives in San Francisco with his second wife, says his songs “tend to be triggered by whatever is in front of me, filtered through feeling and imagination. I went looking for humanity in all its guises ... the love, the meanness, the artists, the farmers, the juntas ... the conflicts, the peace, the music. That’s why I don’t think of the things I write as ‘protest’ songs.”
Indeed, although the crowd at the Iron Horse applauded all his tunes, the ones that seemed to bring out the warmest feelings were the ones exploring the range of human emotion, from regret and sadness to wonder and faith. He had the audience singing along with the chorus of “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” a lilting folk tune about a sudden feeling of optimism that he introduced by saying, “Here’s one that came back into the repertoire recently after being out of it for a long time.” The tune, from 1979, was Cockburn’s only Top 40 U.S. single.
Though he played solo, Cockburn added unusual textures to some of his songs by activating, through a foot pedal, a pair of heavy steel chimes positioned on either side of the stage. The chimes lent a particular resonance to “The End of All Rivers,” the instrumental track, which Cockburn played with reverb, echo and digital delay on his guitar, allowing the song’s hypnotic central riff to repeat as he added a long solo over the top.
He also closed the show with two songs, “Mystery” and “Put It In Your Heart,” that speak to the power of love and beauty to offset the worst the world and humankind can show — or the problems that can bedevil a single person. On the gentle “Mystery,” which included a pretty solo, he sang “Come all you stumblers who believe love rules / Stand up and let it shine.”
As the song ended and applause rang out, one woman seemed to speak for many when she called, “I don’t want the show to end!”
~ from Music review: A life in music and words: Bruce Cockburn explores range of human emotion at Iron Horse show - by Steve Pfarrer - Gazettenet.com.
14 May 2015 - Expect to experience some old favorites when Bruce Cockburn performs Tuesday at the Sellersville Theater and Wednesday at World Café Live.
The veteran Canadian singer-songwriter hasn’t written a new song in three years. During that period, he’d been busy toiling on his memoir, which was released last autumn.
“Rumours of Glory” dropped at an immense 544 pages. “That’s more than 100 pages for each decade I’ve been a musician,” he says. “I’ve been at this for awhile.”
Cockburn, who will turn 70 at the end of the month, focused on his book and his newborn daughter. “She arrived just when I was starting this,” he says. “I don’t have as much energy as I used to have and writing a book is a lot of work.”
Fortunately, Cockburn enlisted a wordsmith — Northern California journalist Greg King — to aid in the project. “I needed a second brain to help organize things,” Cockburn says. “That was a huge help and it helped me focus on the content.”
He had been approached often over the last few years to write a memoir. “But it didn’t seem like there was enough of an arc to write that book,” he says. “But when Harper Collins approached me about this a few years ago, I experienced enough to sit down and write it. They said they wanted a ‘spiritual memoir.’ That sounded good.”
Cockburn tells colorful stories about coming of age in the music business. “Nobody I mentioned in the book has said anything negatively,” he says. “I’ve heard from some people who say that they recall things differently, but overall, it’s been really good in terms of feedback.”
The bard’s early years have the most impact.
He chronicles how he felt when his father destroyed a notebook of his poems when he was 14. “There was probably a lot of derivative drivel in there, but the material was also personal and precious,” Cockburn says. “What he did was intolerable, but it might have spurred me on as a songwriter.”
Speaking of songs, a companion box set, which is comprised of 117 songs and nine discs, was released by Cockburn’s True North Records last October.
“That’s some serious product between the box set and the book,” he says. “I’ve been busy.”
Cockburn doesn’t have fresh material. His last album was released in 2011 [Small Source Of Comfort], but he doesn’t want for songs. He has released 25 albums during his 45-year career as a recording artist.
“I have more than enough to put on a show when I come in,” he says. “I have so much to choose from. I’m thrilled to have completed the book and I can focus on songwriting. I probably have enough for 500 more pages of memoir, but I think I’ll stick with being a musician. It’s a lot easier for me to write songs than a book, but it was a great project.”
Cockburn is very popular in Canada, but he’s a cult hero in the States. His clever folk-rock has its audience, but he’s not a household name like he is in the Great White North.
“That’s fine — that’s something I can’t control,” he says. “I just go about my business and I’m thrilled to be doing what I’m doing.”
Cockburn is enjoying his second act as a parent and citizen. He has moved with his wife and daughter to San Francisco.
“It’s great here,” he says. “I miss the grittiness of New York, but I can’t imagine raising a child there. She is going to love being brought up San Francisco.”
Bruce Cockburn appears Tuesday at the Sellersville Theater, 24 W. Temple Ave., Sellersville. Show time: 8 p.m. Tickets: $35 and $50. Information: 215-257-5808. [Tour Dates]
Cockburn appears Wednesday at World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia. Show time: 8 p.m. Tickets: $34.50. Information: 215-222-1400. [Tour Dates]
~ from Bucks County Courier Times - Bruce Cockburn can pick and choose from a vast portfolio - By Ed Condran Correspondent.
1 May 2015 - “I honour nonviolence as a way of being, and as a political tactic, but I am not a pacifist. As we continue to watch the world’s greatest military powers plunder weaker states and people as an integral, almost pro forma method of planetary domination, it’s clear that a violent response to such injustice, and carnage, would be useless and ever more destructive. But that’s easy for me to say as I sit on my peaceful deck in my peaceful city in my relatively peaceful country.”
So writes the gifted Canadian singer, songwriter and guitarist Bruce Cockburn in his recent memoir, “Rumours of Glory.” An intrepid world traveler and human rights activist, he has journeyed to dangerous war zones and scenes of hideous human travail. In 1983, under the auspices of Oxfam, Cockburn went to southern Mexico to observe the living conditions of impoverished Guatemalan citizens who had fled to refugee camps near the Guatemalan border.
Cockburn was shocked by the stench and destitution. The displaced had fled the murderous policies of their country’s regime, its brutal soldiers trained and funded by the United States. “The Guatemalan military wasn’t content to simply torture and slaughter and destroy villages where they were. They continued to harass the survivors, crossing the border into Mexico and attacking the refugee camps, strafing from helicopters, now and then dragging people off to the jungle and hacking them to pieces with machetes.”
Cockburn wrote “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” in response. The final verse of this powerful song highlighted his outrage: “I want to raise every voice — at least I’ve got to try. Every time I think about it, water rises to my eyes.”
Cockburn grew up in a comfortable middle class family in Ottawa. His family’s dynamic tended to stifle emotional communication. To this day, Cockburn is inclined to introversion and solitude, a self-titled “emotionally cloistered chameleon.” This internal orientation and frequent traveling has contributed to a string of broken marriages and relationships.
Early in life, he expressed a passion for music. He had little interest in the rest of academia. For a time in the mid 1960s Cockburn was a student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. The city then was a center of the folk music scene. Cockburn left Boston before he obtained his degree, returning to Canada to pursue music in his own way and immerse himself in the Canadian music scene: “Here’s the door. There’s the cliff. Go through. Jump. Just don’t forget your guitar,” he writes.
Cockburn writes of his interest in spirituality. His first wife inspired him to revisit the deeper dimensions of Christianity, though he remains “leery of the dogma and doctrine that so many have attached to Christianity as well as to most other religions.” Cockburn’s attraction to things spiritual and mystical surely influences his laid back and critical approach to the venal side of the music industry. “Commerce, in an era when the market has become god, can derail our quest for the Divine.” Cockburn admits his perspective has sometimes driven his manager, Bernie Finkelstein, to distraction, yet their partnership has endured for decades.
Cockburn’s political consciousness came about gradually. He was becoming more aware of greedy corporations wreaking ecological devastation in his native country. Mercury contamination especially stirred his sense of urgency, as it combined environmental destruction with the deepening economic horrors overwhelming the world’s poor.
Around the globe, Cockburn has witnessed manifold aspects of planetary crisis. While concerned individuals and organizations of goodwill remain hopeful harbingers of positive change, the sheer magnitude of natural resource erosion and social dislocation is daunting. Too many in the developed world remain indifferent or oblivious. Referring to his song “The Trouble with Normal” Cockburn writes: “Each sliding step down this road brings cries of warning and expressions of dismay. Each new skid downward leaves the previous one seeming acceptable after all. That, indeed, is the trouble with ‘normal.’”
Cockburn has championed the effort to rid the world of land mines, which are still in many countries: Egypt, Iraq, Mozambique and Cambodia to name a few. “At least 60 million are still buried across the globe, including a staggering 23 million in Egypt alone (more than any other nation), alongside unexploded ordnance left from World War II, disallowing use of huge regions in the north and east of the country,” he wrote.
Wherever he finds himself in the Third World, Cockburn jams with local musicians. These encounters can open new musical horizons.
His book is an honest and compelling memoir. Those unacquainted with Cockburn’s substantial oeuvre can find plenty of songs and performances on YouTube. The book and his music taken together present Cockburn as an indisputably accomplished artist and also one of the great humanitarians of our troubled time.
~from Streetroots.org. Reprinted from Street Roots’ sister paper Real Change News, Seattle Washington.
1 May 2015 - In his new memoir, Rumours Of Glory, Bruce Cockburn shares stories from a career that began in the mid-1960s, following a stint at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. The Canadian troubadour also offers accounts of his world travels, social activism and spiritual life. There are plenty of musical memories as well, which are reinforced by a 9-CD box set of the same name, with tracks selected by Cockburn from his 31 albums to offer parallel audio accompaniment.
In your book, you describe your rather unique reaction to hearing yourself on the radio for the first time back in 1970.
I had been writing songs for a few years in a bunch of different bands. So I had these bodies of songs and I felt choked up on them. I felt that having to carry all these songs in my head was getting in the way of writing new ones. So I wanted to make a record, and in my imagination, that record would allow me to forget about those songs because they would have been there and accounted for, so I could get on to writing new ones. Of course, what I didn’t realize was that it doesn’t work like that—when you record those songs, then everyone wants you to play those songs.
On the day my album came out, I was in the Yorkville area, which was the Toronto equivalent of Haight-Asbury or the Village in New York, and was the center of the counterculture scene. This was at a time when free-form FM radio was really just taking off and all the stores in that area would listen to this particular radio station called CHUM. So I’m in a store and they were playing my music. No one knew me but I felt like I had a big finger pointing at me. It was terrifying.
So I left the store and went into a different store that had the same radio station on and they were playing the whole album. You could do that kind of thing back in those days. I felt like I would never have a sense of privacy again. It was a very excruciating experience and I felt I had to duck and hide.
While we are on the subject of hearing yourself, Bono references your song “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” in U2’s “God Part II” [“Heard a singer on the radio late last night/ Says he’s gonna kick the darkness till it bleeds daylight”]. Do you recall the context in which you first heard that? Was it obvious that he was referencing you?
I think the album was out for a year or two before I actually heard it, but it was obvious when I heard the song. I had met Bono in the late ‘80s or very early ‘90s at a Christian festival in England. We had a chat and he expressed his approval of that song at that time, but nobody ever called me to tell me that they had done it. I kind of heard it through the grapevine and eventually I did hear the album, and there it was.
Did you have any exchanges with Jerry Garcia over the years, and what was your response to hearing him perform a song of yours [“Waiting for a Miracle,” which became a Jerry Garcia Band staple in 1989 and appears on the group’s selftitled 1991 live album]?
I heard from audience members that his band was doing the song live. Then his record company applied for the mechanical licenses that are part of the process. I was very excited, so I got the album and I put it on. It was a beautiful version, musically, and it had great energy, but the lyrics were unrecognizable in places. Right after that, a Bob Dylan song came on [“Simple Twist of Fate”] and the lyrics were quite altered in Garcia’s version as well, so I felt better. I told myself: “Well, if he is doing it to everybody, then I am in good company.” [Laughs.]
Sometime that same year, the Dead were doing one of their week-long extravaganzas at Madison Square Garden. I happened to be in New York, and somebody said, “Let’s go put you together with Jerry.” So I was ushered up onto the stage behind the amps where his tent was, and Jerry came out. He was very gracious and a lovely guy. We shook hands, and he said, “Man, it’s great to meet you! That’s a beautiful song, I hope I didn’t screw up the lyrics too much!” And then I said, “Well, I was going to wait till the second time I met you to bring that up, but it’s OK you did it your own way, and I’m glad you did…”
Speaking of iconic rock guitarists, you once shared a bill with Jimi Hendrix and you nearly shared a stage with him.
I was in a band that was originally called The Flying Circus but, because of competition from another band, we changed it to Olivus. We thought the name was terribly clever and we got a job opening shows, including some big ones like Wilson Pickett, Cream and Jimi Hendrix.
The Hendrix one was in Montreal in an arena and, after the show, there was a party in which all the participants were invited to a studio downtown. Hendrix had done an amazing show and, after a while, Mitch Mitchell came in and I got to talk to him. Then Hendrix came in and there was a stage with instruments and equipment but no one was using them. So he looked around at the people in the shadows and he said: “I don’t know what they are staring at. I want to play some music.”
Then he got up onstage and there were open jam sessions. I could have played, but I felt that I wouldn’t have anything to contribute to this jam session, so I would be better off not to reveal that to anyone present. I listened to a little bit, then I left. It was very interesting. He had a natural vibe about him. He just seemed like a regular guy and he seemed to expect other people to act like him, too.
What is the most inspiring live performance that you have ever witnessed as an audience member?
It would be a toss-up between the first time I saw Ani DiFranco and the only time I have ever seen Laurie Anderson, for very different reasons. I saw Laurie Anderson when she was touring the Mister Heartbreak album, and that was an incredible union of art, technology, humor and thoughtfulness. Then years later, the first time I met Ani, we were both playing at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival [in 1995]. At the time, I had never listened to her music, but I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
I chose to answer in terms of pop performances, but nothing could top hearing John Coltrane on a Saturday afternoon at The Jazz Workshop in Boston in ‘64.
~ from Parting Shots: Bruce Cockburn by Dean Budnick - Relix.com
1 May 2015 - Read this Good Times.ca article online. (written late 2014)
30 April 2015 - Singer-songwriter and activist Bruce Cockburn has been a solo artist since 1969 and a recording artist since 1970. His songs include hits like “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” and “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.” He is the subject of a 2013 documentary, Bruce Cockburn Pacing the Cage: The Feature Documentary, and in 2014, his book Rumours of Glory: A Memoir was published. Cockburn will play a mix of old and new songs at the Hangar Theatre on Sunday, May 3. He spoke to the Ithaca Times about music, his career, and his feelings about the state of the world.
Ithaca Times: Where are you today? Is this a Monday night off for you from playing?
Bruce Cockburn: No, I’m home in San Francisco now.
IT: My mom lived in Watsonville. I’m not crazy about Los Angeles, but I love the Bay Area.
BC: No, Northern California is way better.
IT: How long have you lived there?
BC: About six years.
IT: I always hoped I’d get to talk to you because I also play guitar and write songs, and you were very influential in showing me that I could write my own songs and not just learn other peoples’ songs.
BC: Sorry for that. [Laughs.]
IT: It was Elvis Presley that got you started playing guitar. When did you start writing your own songs?
BC: Well, it was a slow process. I got introduced to a whole lot of other music beyond that early rock n’ roll as soon as I started taking guitar lessons, basically, because my teacher wasn’t a rock n’ roll guy, he was more into a sort of very mainstream jazz. That kind of jazz that you still run across a lot here and there: I mean Les Paul and other people. So I got introduced to other kinds of music and it expanded from there. And I discovered an interest in writing music when I was still in high school. I absorbed a fair amount of theory and was eventually formally taught quite a bit of it. By the time I got out of high school, I thought I wanted to be composing music for large jazz ensembles, so I went to Berklee to study that, and it occurred to me to try and write songs even though I had great appreciation of the folk scene, especially when Dylan came along, and the Beatles and so on. They were the kind of model for the kind of songs that you could write because, growing up, I didn’t have a particular interest in writing lyrics about, uh, dating.
BC: But there were models that went a little further. So when I finally dropped out of Berklee at the end of ’65, I had become interested in writing songs then. I dropped out because I realized the jazz thing was not for me, even though I love it and still do and listen to a lot of it. I ended up applying a certain amount of what I learned at Berklee in a kind of informal way to my own songwriting. In those days, Berklee was strictly a jazz school. Now they teach you songwriting and stuff. I’m skeptical of that although I have great respect for the institution. I’m a little bit skeptical about studying songwriting and the likelihood of turning out formulaic songwriters by having a course like that. But back then it was strictly jazz; it was small and very intense. I learned a lot, but it wasn’t for me. So I guess this is just the short part of this long answer to your question. I started really thinking of myself as someone who wrote songs in ’66, when I joined a band that was doing original material.
IT: So the Beatles had been around a few years at that point.
BC: Yeah the Beatles had had almost their whole career by then, and the Rolling Stones, too. There was just a lot of good songwriting going around. There was crap, too. Atrocious songs would get on the radio that were “in the style of.” Like when so-called “protest music” became popular, partly influenced by Dylan and others, they were the real songwriters who happened to write songs that could be categorized that way, like Dylan and Phil Ochs and other people. And then there were all these posers that sort of wrote songs like that because they were popular. The style was popular. But that was in full swing in the mid-sixties. It was an encouraging atmosphere in which to work because it was like, “Everybody’s doing it, I can do it too.”
IT: It’s hard to sing a Dylan song without sounding like Dylan: his cadences, his phrasing.
BC: Yeah, he’s a very idiosyncratic singer. Although if you listen to enough old R&B, you’ll hear a tremendous amount of what Dylan did. He did it with his weird, reedy voice, but his phrasing, you hear that a lot on old R&B and blues records.
IT: In the documentary, you were using an echo box to overlap phrases on the guitar, and once I knew that you liked Elvis, I could hear a lot of [Presley’s guitarist] Scotty Moore in what you were doing.
BC: No, Scotty Moore wasn’t the original impetus to want to play guitar. He and whatever the guy’s name in the Crickets, and Richie Valens. It’s like, that’s real guitar playing, quote-unquote. That’s what I thought at the time. And it was quote-unquote real guitar playing; it just wasn’t the only real guitar playing. [Laughs.] But I’m not at all upset to be compared with Scotty Moore, that’s for sure. But there’s a few pieces where I use an echo for rhythm. It’s just an echo, it’s not a loop. But there’s a couple of songs where I do that. One instrumental piece in particular, “The End of All Rivers”, that has echo and an extremely long reverb as well, and so I can actually harmonize with myself.
IT: I’ve never been able to figure that out for myself, but I hope to someday.
BC: Well, you just set the echo tempo and then play with it. That particular song uses the lowest possible setting on my Boss echo unit. That’s all it is. I just made it as slow it could go and played with it.
IT: Since you were at Berklee, do you write your own charts when you’re making an album?
BC: In theory, although I’ve never done it. The arrangements are mostly worked by discussion and intuition more than by written parts. But technically, I do know how to do that.
IT: If you wanted to write a part for flute, you could write that.
BC: Yeah, I could do that. I haven’t generally done that, but I’ve worked with the people, whoever was producing the albums, to work on horn parts or on string parts as the case may be. When we did Life Short Call Now (2006), I got Jonathan Goldsmith to produce the album because I knew he could write really great string parts, certainly much better than what I would have come up with. (The album featured a 27-piece string section and guest appearances by Ron Sexsmith, Ani Difranco, and Hawksley Workman on backing vocals.) He produced that album, and he produced a bunch of the albums in the 80s. But in the meantime, he’s had a career writing orchestral film scores, and he’s really good at writing for strings, so that’s why I got him all through that album because I knew I wanted strings. In theory, I could write parts, but what we usually do in the studio if it’s a band is just to play the songs, and people come up with their own parts, and I’ll act as kind of editor and say, “a little more of this, a little less of that,” you know, get the feel right and then we play it. I prefer, if I’m gonna hire good people to play with me, part of it is to let them do their good thing.
IT: I first saw you playing “Wondering Where the Lions Are” on Saturday Night Live with the original cast in 1979. Most of the SNL books concentrate on the comedy and not the music. What do you remember about that experience of live American TV?
BC: Um, it was very tense. You know, we were there for an afternoon and part of an evening, and that’s all, and it was a very tense atmosphere. We didn’t really meet any people. We just—we were there, we were put in our position: “Be ready for this, and hurry and up and wait, and hurry and up and wait.” I mean, they treated us with respect, but everybody was really wrapped up in their own thing, and nobody was really interested in us. There was another band on that show, the Amazing Rhythm Aces, and that guy, the guitar player, I can’t remember his name, and I’ve met him since then [Cockburn is likely thinking of vocalist/guitarist Russell Smith], the rhythm guitar player of that band, and he was good—I quite like the band—but he tried to make conversation with me, but I was so nervous I couldn’t even talk to him. I’m sure he thought I was some kind of an asshole.
IT: They had a great lead-rhythm guitar guy, Duncan Cameron.
BC: Yeah, they were a good band. “Third Rate Romance” was a hit. It was a good record, like a bunch of Memphis soulful white guys.
IT: I was driving in Oklahoma at night in early 1985 when I first heard “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” and I had to pull the car over and just listen. I really like the guitar sound you had on that record [Stealing Fire].
BC: Thanks. What was on that? It was probably a Strat.
IT: There’s a certain icy, angular “stereo chorus” shimmer in the mid-80s, especially the Police, and that song and stuff like "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" and "Making Contact" and "Peggy's Kitchen Wall" really had that sound. I always think of the Police, who I love.
BC: They were good. I saw them live once, early on, around the time of their second album.
IT: A friend of mine wanted me to ask: Do you, Bruce Cockburn, still wish you had a rocket launcher?
BC: Well, I didn’t really wish it then, either. I was just telling people how it feels being exposed to this stuff. It wasn’t so much a wish as it was to say, this is how I feel, and this is what I’ll be doing about it if I have to. If I had the means to respond to this military repression, I would have made use of this. That’s what I was really saying. If that’s still true, it might be, I’m not sure. But I’ve been in a lot of war zones, but I’m not interested in war in that kind of way. But I don’t think I’ve ever been that anxious to fire on anybody.
IT: Tell me about the war zones.
BC: For work, I tour in the United States and to a lesser extent in Europe. But I’ve traveled. I’ve traveled in Japan, I’ve traveled in New Zealand, that kind of thing. The trip that produced “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” that had nothing to do with touring. It was loosely described as a “fact finding mission”; those trips are really about helping getting work for various kinds of agencies in the Third World. In this case, it was Oxfam Canada that sent me down to Africa. But since that time, I’ve been involved in various other trips. I went to Central America four or five times in the ‘80s, and Africa and Nepal once in the ‘80s. Later on, I’ve been involved with a campaign to ban land mines; in connection with that, I went back to Mozambique and Vietnam and Cambodia. In the meantime, somewhere in there, we went and played Kosovo. I spent a week in Baghdad in 2004 and a week in Afghanistan in 2010, I think. There was another trip back to Nepal at the very end of their civil war. So when I say I’ve been in a bunch of war zones, that’s what I mean. But I haven’t gone to any of those places except in conjunction with either charitable work of some kind, or in the case of Afghanistan, I went because I could, basically, because I could go sing for the Canadian troops, and my brother happened to be one of the Canadian troops, so that made it nice to go there. It was a different kind of trip, though.
IT: What do you with your down time when you’re not performing?
BC: Well, lately I have a three-year-old, so when I’m not touring, I’m dealing with baby stuff.
IT: Is this your first child?
BC: No, I’ve got a grown-up daughter who’s got four children of her own.
IT: In the documentary, you say, “We’re f***ed”.” Do you still feel that way? Of course, that was the year of the financial meltdown.
BC: It had nothing to do with the financial crisis. No, I don’t feel better about it, actually. If I want to go there—I don’t spend all my time thinking about it—but If I go there, I don’t feel good. I feel like the world’s in a very precarious position. I don’t think it’s hopeless, because there’s always room for someone to come up with something. But I don’t see much evidence that the people in a position to make decisions about the way the world goes are doing anything about anything, other than money. They’re very interested in that, but they’re not fixing any of the damage that we’ve done, and there’s the whole philosophy of perpetual warfare; what kind of crap is that? But that’s America these days. I’m not very hopeful about it, but I’m hopeful enough to have a kid. But I’m worried about what kind of world she’s going to grow up into.
Cockburn to Visit the Hanger by Bryan VanCampen - Ithaca.com.
15 April 2015 - In our current issue, Andy Whitman interviews legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn, who is this year’s recipient of Image’s Levertov Award and will play a live concert on April 23, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. Read the full interview in issue 84.
Image: The late seventies and early eighties were a time of profound change for you. Looking back on that transformation, what advice would this newly enlightened Bruce Cockburn offer to the old Bruce Cockburn? And, turning it around, what cautions would the old Bruce Cockburn offer to the new Bruce Cockburn?
BC: The new Bruce Cockburn would say, "Lighten up," and the old Bruce Cockburn would say, "How?" That’s the gist of the inner battle that was taking place.
I had a conversation at one point with an artist in Toronto whose studio space we were using. We were shooting a video, I think. We were chatting, and he said something like, "Having fun is what it’s all about, after all." And I just looked at him like, "What?" "Well, isn't it?" he said. And this other guy with a heavy German accent said, "We're supposed to be having fun."
It had never occurred to me that anything was supposed to be about having fun, other than very specific things like watching a movie. At the time, my conclusion was that this was a worldview that this guy had embraced. And my worldview was about duty. It was not about fun at all; it was about doing what you were supposed to do. If I stepped back from the idea of duty, from the perhaps neurotic or unduly Victorian element of it, for me, life was ultimately about doing the next appropriate thing. Whether I thought of it is as duty or embracing the possibilities, appropriateness had a lot to do with it.
But being hung up on duty can interfere with your appreciation of the appropriateness of something that comes up spontaneously, and that would be a caution that the new Bruce would offer the old Bruce. The old Bruce would say, "It’s all about doing what you’re supposed to do. There's a job to be done, and the job is to be the right kind of human being. People who have no moral base, or who don’t have one that I can see easily, are wasting their energy and time and pissing away their God-given talents and souls on having fun." The new Bruce would say, "Yeah, but they've got something you don't. They're open to others and they can hear each other, and you're not, and you can't."
It wasn't black and white. The old Bruce could be open to and hear a lot of things, but a lot of life felt so heavy, and I simply stopped feeling as heavy when I started seeing things differently. The big change wasn't so much the embrace of other people, although that did have a huge effect, but the fact that God basically said it was okay to get divorced, that it was okay to break a promise made in his name and in his presence. It was okay, don’t worry about it. That was the big earth-shaker. From there, I started to think that some other ideas I had about how things were supposed to be needed to be looked at, too. And sure enough, a lot of us worry about a lot of things we don't have to worry about. I’m not arguing in favor of a hedonistic, devil-may-care lifestyle, but there is enough real stuff to worry about without burdening yourself with details—although it varies from person to person.
I got kind of intoxicated, I suppose, with this sense of freedom, and I am still working on that. I have so much baggage that keeps me from being as free as I think God would like me to be, and I am still struggling with that. But big doors were opened back then, and every now and then they still are.
Image: I love many parts of your story, but I will confess that’s my favorite part. I think that the notion of finding solidarity in a community of stumblers and screw-ups is one that is very freeing.
BC: It was such a relief, you know. To find solidarity of any sort is a big relief, especially when it seems to be so deeply rooted in such reality. You can find something to share with people on all kinds of levels—sports, or what kind of whiskey you like to drink, or whatever—but sharing a communal understanding that people are broken, and fully capable of loving and being loved anyway, made a huge difference.
I had a dream much later, maybe ten years ago, where I was looking for directions in a town I didn't know, and I had taken a shortcut through an alleyway. The alleyway led to a courtyard, and the courtyard was full of beautiful young people milling around in the moonlight, having some sort of event. An older guy came up to me and asked, "Can I help you?" And while we were talking a strikingly beautiful young woman, kind of punkish and tall, walked by me, and when she turned, one side of her face looked like those World War I trench victims with half their faces blown away. It was shocking, but then I realized that everybody in the place was like that in one way or another. They were all damaged and trashed and beautiful, and I can't remember whether the older man said this to me or whether I just understood it, but somehow I came to understand that it's the scars that bind us. This is what binds us to the people in ISIS, to our enemies, to everything. It's what every human has in common, regardless of ideology or lifestyle or clothing style or anything else. We've all got these wounds. I suppose the wounds of Christ are archetypes for these wounds. It’s in our woundedness that we have our connection point.
Now, I suppose you can imagine a roomful of people sitting around and saying, "I'm fucked up this way or that way," and others saying, "No, you’re not." You can make something horrible out of that, too. But in this case it was such a revelation. You don't have to be perfect to get along with people. In fact, nobody ever is. Anybody who claims to be is as wounded as everyone else and their wounds are making them say that.
~excerpt from Image Journal. Purchase magazine for full interview Issue 84.
26 January 2015 - At four p.m., Canadian singer-songwriter legend Bruce Cockburn strides into the hotel lobby in his signature black Doc Martens and shakes my hand warmly. At age 70, he is slighter than he appears in his old music videos. He’s here to talk with me about his spiritual memoir Rumours of Glory. The book narrates his journey of faith and activism, explaining the stories behind his songs and his choices.
We take the elevator to a business lounge, a cozy gold-tinted room outfitted with two computers and nearly-trendy transparent plastic chairs. Despite his big name and stack of music awards, the setting seems luxurious, since Cockburn’s international activism has been far from first-class; he’s been to war zones in Mozambique, Guatemala, Honduras, and Iraq, where set up camp amongst refugees and in decrepit hostels.
“Writing the book was like writing a song,” Cockburn says as we each take a seat in our respective plastic chairs. “I feel like a bloodhound sniffing out a trail and sensing that there’s something there to discover.”
And in essence, Rumours of Glory is just that: its pages mirror Cockburn’s songwriting. Part personal narrative, part social commentary, part didactic, the memoir allows the audience to learn by posing questions.
When I read the book, I tell him, I was so fascinated by the history of the issues and places he unearths; the logical next step was to explore them for myself.
As I say this, he chuckles. “I’m certainly not the only one who’s mentioned those things, but the invitation is out there,” Cockburn says. Wryly, he smirks. “I guess it’s proof it’s the same guy writing.”
Originally, Cockburn says he was going to arrange the book in vignettes, with various scenes that add up to a whole. It was his co-writer Greg King’s idea to arrange it chronologically; Cockburn says King urged him to put in a lot more of the political background that drives the book. When HarperCollins asked for a spiritual memoir, Cockburn says he hadn’t considered pairing it with so much of the political tensions that have driven his travels. But it makes sense that the two twine together, just as they do in his songs.
In high school, Cockburn discovered his grandmother’s guitar in his attic. He was then inspired to become a musician, and was eventually initiated into the Ottawa music scene in the mid-1960s. Cockburn played with a number of outfits, even opening for the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968, until he decided to pursue a solo career.
In the 1980s he started to pursue international activism; his songwriting became infused with deep concerns for human rights, the environment, and faith. During this time he spent a good deal of his shows explaining his songs to the audience. “Specifically, it was the song ‘If I Had a Rocket Launcher,’” he interjects as I mention the time period. “When I first came up with the song I felt it could be so easily misconstrued; I didn’t want people to take it wrong and think I was telling them to go down and kill Guatemalan soldiers. I wanted to make sure people got it right.”
I ask him whether he still finds himself needing to explain those stories. “Not very often, and not very much,” he says. “I think I’ve said enough in print about it, and now there’s the definitive version in the book,” he says. “So I’ll tell people to read that!”
One of the strongest themes in Rumours of Glory is his dismay at social elites who ignore alarming truths about systemic violence. He uses the example of The Washington Wives’ self-appointed censorship that prevented Cockburn’s songs about poverty and injustice from being aired. All because of a single profanity in “Call It Democracy.” Ironically, this line accused social elites for being calloused towards the marginalized.
Though he weaves stories from all areas of life into both his book and his song lyrics, Cockburn has been adept at keeping his personal life out of the spotlight of the press. “The memoir ends before my second daughter was born,” he says. “And that’s a start of a whole new story, which would have taken another 200 pages and taken us past the publisher’s deadline!”
He pauses. “If anything, it’s a set-up for volume two, just in case I ever forget how bad it was writing one book, or, more to the point, if my wife ever forgets; she thought the book was ruining my life.”
The memoir closes with a recognizably spiritual afterword on the responsibility of all people to nurture a relationship with the divine, and to practice healing of our world. From the language Cockburn uses, some readers may come away with a sense that he has undermined the singularity of the Christian faith by preaching universalism.
When I ask him about it, he is pleased to elaborate. “I’ve flirted with so many tribes over the years. A lot of people’s lives have converged with mine for a time,” he says. “You can get picky about other religions — take Shinto, for example — and call them all superstition. Or you can honour the profound things that are expressed through that belief system. And you can walk away thinking, ‘I could learn something from these people,’” says Cockburn.
“I don’t claim to be an authority on anything, and I really don’t think anyone should be claiming to be an authority on anything.”
Cockburn says he is grieved by the deep scars that have been inflicted upon humanity when people dig their heels into exclusive claims to truth. We witness it, he says, in the inability of “a significant portion of the right-wing Christian community” to see that they are of the same persuasion as those they call radical in the Middle East.
“Above all, you can’t go around killing people because they don’t agree with you. We need to pull the plank out of our own eye and our own psyche before we try to fix someone else’s wiring,” he says.
“When I look around at the mystical traditions, filled with people who have been reticent to share their knowledge, nowadays they are just throwing it out there. Maybe it’s an impulse from God encouraging us to get together, to love each other, to love the planet, and see miracles happen,” says Cockburn.
He speaks with the experience of age, where little is shocking, and yet he does so without much cynicism. I see the hope instilled in him by good gifts that cause him to wonder: his daughter, his friends, and his faith.
I can’t help but think that the world needs a few more Bruce Cockburns, keeping us wide-eyed enough to stop destroying the world, one another, and ourselves. Around us is a world filled with violence because we refuse to really see and hear people who are different.
Because, like Cockburn, we need to be lovers in a dangerous time.
~ from Converge Magazine.
21 December 2014 - An evening of music and celebration.
For twenty-five years, the literary journal Image has been a showcase of contemporary art inspired by faith. Image and its suite of programs (including two annual seven-day workshops for artists, writing fellowships, and seminars) deepen the wisdom, compassion, and cultural engagement in our world by enabling communities to draw more fully on the virtues of art and imagination.
Image's Denise Levertov Award is named for one of the twentieth century's greatest poets. Levertov, who spent her last years in Seattle, embraced the landscape and culture of the Pacific Northwest. Her identity as a Christian believer--a pilgrim whose faith was inextricably entwined with doubt--became another important facet of her work, particularly in her later poetry. The Levertov Award is presented annually in the spring to an artist or creative writer whose work exemplifies a serious and sustained engagement with the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Join us at Fremont Abbey on Thursday, April 23 at 8pm for a concert, interview, and dessert reception as we award the twelfth annual Levertov Award to Bruce Cockburn.
Over the course of four decades, Bruce Cockburn has released more than thirty albums mapping the territory of the human experience. His sound is marked by a blend of folk, blues, jazz, and rock, and his signature vocals range from coarse and gravelly to reedy and longing. In his pursuit of love, both divine and human, he has spun songs of grief, joy, and bewilderment--and even humor. "I'm good at catching rainbows," he sings, "not so good at catching trout."
His honors include thirteen Juno Awards and an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. He has also been awarded the Order of Canada, one of the highest honors in the nation.
Cockburn's memoir, Rumours of Glory, was released just three months ago. An excerpt from it was featured in Issue 82 of Image. Rolling Stone says, "Rumours of Glory offer[s] a call to life, embracing the mysteries of existence and the search for love and beauty, wherever one finds it."
On Thursday, April 23, we will gather at the Fremont Abbey and honor Bruce Cockburn's life-long work.
Past recipients of the Denise Levertov Award include poets Scott Cairns, Luci Shaw, Madeline DeFrees, and Franz Wright; nonfiction writers Kathleen Norris, Thomas Lynch, and Eugene Peterson; fiction writers Bret Lott and Ron Hansen; and singer-songwriter Sam Phillips.
~from The Denise Levertov Award with Bruce Cockburn.
The Denise Levertov Award with Bruce Cockburn
Thursday, April 23, 2015 from 8:00 PM to 10:30 PM (PDT)
Freemont Abbey - concert and reception
General Admission: Free-will Donation
Image Journal is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Donations will help us put on this beautiful event honoring Bruce Cockburn. Click the link to donate in the email you receive with your tickets.
21 December 2014 - “None of us,” Bruce Cockburn writes near the end of his newly released autobiography, “has the capacity to stand far enough back from the picture to see how the parts of our lives intersect. We’re all tiny figures in the jigsaw flux…"
In music circles, a cry of Bruce! will probably, most often, lead the listener to infer Springsteen as the implied last name. There’s a huge contingent of music fans though for whom the name is equally likely to evoke Cockburn. In some contexts, the latter might be the first to come to mind.
Cockburn’s reputation as a songwriter has long since passed to legendary status. It seems fitting in a world where a barely 20 Justin Bieber publishes a “memoir” that a man with Cockburn’s lasting power and influence pen one too. If there is any mercy in the world, the latter will outsell the former.
Cockburn’s look at the picture of his life is extensive and full of pieces well told. The book is a framework in which the singer tells the origin tales of many of his songs, and those lyrics appear here as well. To accompany the book the legendary True North label has released a 9 CD box set (including a disk of rare and previously unreleased material) of the same name as a sort of accompaniment to the book. All told, the book and compilation paint an extensive portrait of Cockburn’s life in and out of music.
Rumours of Glory doesn’t see Cockburn shy away from his reputation as a political activist. The book is more than a chronological romp through his career, and if you’re not familiar with the politics of Central America the book will serve as a decent overview of the last thirty years or so. Cockburn reminisces about many trips to that region with various non-governmental agencies, and makes it clear that he was not a fan of pretty much any U.S. President from Reagan onwards. He tells the story of playing a Clinton victory party with Roseanne Cash where, for him, the most exciting moment was being introuduced to both Jonny and June. The smile on his face when Johnny shake his hand fad says “Nice playin’ son” practically beams from the page.
Sadder is his description of a visit to Cambodia’s Tuol Sleng, a high school that was used by the Khmer Rouge as a toture site during their horrific reign. “Tuol Sleng is a black hole that sucked all human goodness into it, leaving an event horizon of pure evil that chills the heart of everyone who goes there."
Cockburn does a nice job of telling the tales behind songs he’s written. “What doesn’t kill you makes for songs” he says in describing a year long hiatus he took from performing which led to some fruitful songwriting. He describes the subsequent album Breakfast in New Orleans Dinner in Timbuktu as reflecting “…in a time-lapse manner, the slow unfurling of a life…” and book behaves in much the same way.
Not much seems to be held back. There are stories of relationships pursued and lost, of working with T. Bone Burnett, of a daughter whose life as a teenager seemed to be spiralling out of control (but soon regains its path,) and of visits to war zones. Cockburn lays the trials of his life on the page and the result is a compelling read for any fan of songwriting.
The 9 CD of the same name released by True North records contains 117 of Cockburn’s songs in addition to a DVD of concert footage recorded in 2008 an extensive book of liner notes. Each set is autographed and numbered, which means if you know a Cockburn fan there’s probably not a better gift to get them.
More importantly, the box stands as a comprehensive document of one of the most compelling careers in mainstream music. It’s collection of songs ranges from the obscure to the well known and in doing so it achieves more than just being a greatest hits collection (of which there have been several released already.) The disc of unreleased material includes a Gordon Lightfoot cover, as well as selections from Cockburn’s soundtrack for the NFB film Waterwalker. As usual with an artist of this caliber and integrity, it’s amazing to listen to the stuff that wasn’t good enough to make an album at times.
As a songwriter Bruce is almost without equal. His output rival’s Dylan’s in its quality and is arguably better in its consistency. 1979’s Wondering Where the Lions Are remains the greatest song to ever come out of Canada (and the only one, he posits, to ever make the Billboard Charts with the word ‘petroflyphs’ in it) but it’s rivalled by later career works like Last Night of the World and Pacing the Cage. Despite having recorded 31 albums, Bruce hasn’t lost his passion for what he does and that shows in his recent output. Rumours of Glory as both a book and a music compilation is a long overdue capsule of a career.
You can order Rumours of Glory directly from True North Records in various configurations, including a box set and book bundle. Naturally you can also order the book from Amazon if you really want too.
~from NoDepression.com - Bruce Cockburn Rumours of Glory - book and album review by Skot Nelson.
10 December 2014 - This prolific singer songwriter has been making music for five decades now and has released 31 albums, 21 of which are gold-platinum certified & he’s also won 13 Juno awards. Last month, the Canadian artist released a memoir called, Rumours of Glory along with a career spanning box set of the same name which boasts a track list of 117 songs. In addition to the audio portion of the box set, a DVD concert film is also included.
Bruce Cockburn recently stopped by WFUV to talk about this ambitious new project & he also performed some songs live in Studio A. We’ll hear that conversation and performance during this episode of FUV Live.
Listen to the interview here, there are also several in studio live performance videos on this page.
9 December 2014 - When many artists visit New York, they stay at downtown hotels like the Mondrian or the Bowery. Bruce Cockburn stays nearby at the Soho Holiday Inn. In town to launch his new memoir, Rumours of Glory, with a concert and book signing, the iconoclastic singer-songwriter arrives in the lobby wearing a modest outfit of black pants, black combat boots and a long black coat.
"This is not your standard rock & roll memoir," Cockburn writes in the book's preface. "You won't find me snorting coke with the young Elton John or shooting smack with Keith Richards." So what do you find? "I suppose it's about growing up," he says, ordering a glass of wine in the lobby bar. "It didn't require a decision to expose myself in the book, especially because the mandate was to write what the publisher was calling a spiritual memoir."
Rumours opens with the 69-year-old's awkward but comfortable childhood and covers his formative years in the Sixties folk-rock scenes in Ottawa and Toronto. In early bands, he opened for Cream, the Lovin' Spoonful and Jimi Hendrix. "I asked an audience recently if they wanted me to read about the origin of 'If I Had Rocket Launcher' or meeting Jimi Hendrix," he says between sips. "Everybody yelled out 'Hendrix!'"
During an 18-month stint at Berklee College of Music, Cockburn was more interested in writing poetry than transcribing scales, but he soon developed his signature style – "a combination of country blues fingerpicking and poorly absorbed jazz training" – by using his right thumb to carry the rhythm and his fingers to play melody. "Mississippi John Hurt and the old blues guys were the musicians I admired when I was young," he says.
The music Cockburn made during this period can be heard on Rumours of Glory's accompanying box set, a 117-song collection sequenced to parallel the book to allow the reader to hear the evolution it describes. One major turning point: the 1976 album In the Falling Dark, which marks the beginning of Cockburn's turn away from traditional Christianity and toward the all-inclusive mysticism he professes now.
"It was apparent fairly quickly that I didn't belong in that camp," he says of his time in the church. "I couldn't be that literal about things. I couldn't accept myself as a fundamentalist, and that meant moving in a more mystical direction." Yet even in his explicitly Christian phase, he aimed never to be an ideologue or proselytizer. "Nobody has to do anything," he says. "God offers freedom, as far as I understand it."
This evolution has profoundly affected not just generations of fans but some of the most important songwriters of our time. Graham Nash calls Cockburn "the consummate troubadour, a musical hero to many who are trying to make the world a better place," and Jackson Brown tells Rolling Stone that "few songwriters have been able to express as coherently the impulse for justice and the quest for moral equilibrium." To Bonnie Raitt, he is "a huge inspiration."
In recent years, Cockburn's spiritual odyssey has come to include even Jungian-based dream therapy. "That's what gave me the image of Christ as a collective animus," he says. "But is he more of a collective animus figure than Buddha? I don't think so." The dream therapy has also led to an interest in neuroscience and the nature of consciousness. "The idea of God as the boundless, as an undefinable and in a certain way unapproachable being except by proxy, has a lot of validity," Cockburn says. "That means sometimes he's going to seem like a hallucination or a motivator of things we don't really want to see. There's a juicy element of chaos about that, and that's where I tip over into 'I don't have a clue.'"
He continues: "Why are we different from raccoons? We believe we're special, historically and by nature, but who knows how raccoons see things? In some universe, parallel to this one, raccoons may be running the place. That's a nice thought. None of us knows shit from Shinola, and the people who claim they do know are grasping at straws – or worse."
Accordingly, a good deal of this self-described loner's later music brims with ecstatic emotion: "When I play music and my mind goes away from my ego and from my day-to-day concerns, I become more open to the Divine. I'd love to be in an ecstatic place all the time. It would feel a lot better than how I feel most of the time – that's the point of singing hymns in church. The snake handlers get that. Ecstasy is good, but I don't want to be bitten by a rattlesnake to get ecstatic."
Beyond belief systems (or lack thereof), the Rumours of Glory book and box set offer a call to life, embracing the mysteries of existence and the search for love and beauty, wherever one finds it. Part of that, of course, is a fine meal now and then, even if it's eaten in the bar aat a Holiday Inn. Following the wine, Cockburn orders a burger: "Just right."
~from Rolling Stone - Bruce Cockburn - Rumours of Glory.
6 December 2014 - On Wednesday November 5, 2014 Bruce was interviewed by Peter Howell as part of Toronto Public Library Star Talks / Appel Salon event. This event was published to YouTube on December 3.
You can watch the interview here
5 December 2014 - I doubt Bruce Cockburn has ever even read a rock and roll memoir, so when he opens his own with “this is not your standard rock and roll memoir,” he probably hasn’t a clue. Because such autobiographies come in all tones, rhythms and degrees of disclosure, sensationalism and cocaine residue.
But then, this: Cockburn’s Rumours of Glory is not your standard rock and roll memoir.Nor should it be. Written with help from the American journalist Greg King, the more than 500 pages are candid, unbreezy, opinionated, contextual, political, not always entertaining but always important. These are the accumulations of an intricate and self-aware man. And while one might not hang on to every story or song explanation, nothing jumps out as being extraneous.
Why read Cockburn’s story? Songwriters come and go, but take my advice when I tell you to pay attention to the spiritually seeking, war-zone-visiting, guitar-mastering Canadian ones who hold rocket launchers.
Or the ones who, because monsters were beneath his bed, slept as a child with a toy revolver and a rubber knife under his pillow. And the ones who as adults “kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight” with a left foot, as we learn on page 12, that is two sizes larger than his right. Oh yeah, there’s a lot going on with this guy, and much under the skin of the Ottawa-born son of a radiologist.
I’m told by his longtime manager – Bernie Finkelstein, who is treated in the book with respectful, favourable (if occasionally bristly) appraisal – that Cockburn has a wry sense of humour. There’s not enough of it here. Some of it, though, comes out in an excellent, honest paragraph about his first wife Kitty and her reasonable wish in the mid-70s to have a child with her husband:
“I did not share her enthusiasm for the project, but I believed her and was committed to her, so I went along. … In due course a beautiful baby was born, though it took a day or two for the beauty to shine through. I got in trouble right away for remarking that she looked a bit like Idi Amin. Well, what the hell – she did.”
He goes on to explain that newborns always have the look of old people who are unhappy to be back in the world, but that the look fades. To get himself out of a trouble he then offers the lyrics of a song that explains his love for his offspring, written while she was in utero. The tune is Little Seahorse: “Swimming in a primal sea, heartbeat like a leaf quaking in the breeze… I already love you, and I don’t even know who you are.”
Lyrics are offered throughout, as a way of connecting his music with his life. You might already know that the words to his 1984 hit If I Had a Rocket Launcher came to him in a Mexican hotel room after witnessing atrocities during a visit to a refugee camp in Guatemala. His war-zone journeys are covered in detail here.
You might also know that after he “found Jesus” in 1974, Cockburn’s spiritual notions have made their way into his music. “I have attempted to live my life somewhat in line with his Word, without necessarily taking it as, well, gospel,” Cockburn explains in the book’s forewarning over ture. The word “Divine” is featured more times in Rumours of Glory than any book not written by King James or John Waters.
Cockburn doesn’t consider himself a preacher or a protest singer, but an observer who “paints sonic pictures of what I encounter, feel and think is true.” It’s intense stuff, from an intense artist and human.
Where James Taylor has seen fire and rain, Cockburn has sought it out. As a songwriter and a guitarist, he brings a rocket launcher to a knife fight. Some think his manner is too serious or over-killing or maybe even unfair. But I say styles make the fight – and the rock and roll memoir.
~from Rumours of Glory Bruce Cockburns Memoir by Brad Wheeler - Globe and Mail.
3 December 2014 - “Rumours of Glory,” Bruce Cockburn’s long-in-the-works memoir, talks about the Ottawa-born singer-songwriter’s passions, music, relationships, and spiritual odyssey.
The book was released last month, preceded by a box set of the same name consisting of eight music CDs and a DVD of concert footage shot during his Slice O’ Life Tour in 2008.
A chronology of Cockburn’s life and career, the book tells of a sensitive young boy who always wanted to be a musician, didn’t like attention, and eventually grew up feeling that he was emotionally remote in his interactions with people and in his love relationships.
He gives credit to the women he has known for helping him evolve as a person and become comfortable with strangers.
“Relationships with women would in large part guide my evolution as a human being,” he says in the book.
That, plus therapy and dream analysis, have brought Cockburn to the comfortable place he occupies today.
His first marriage lasted 11 years and produced a daughter, Jenny, who is now in her 30s and a mother of four who teaches at Concordia University in Montreal.
One chapter discusses his love for a woman who is never named. At the time of their affair, she is married and he is in a committed relationship. The depth of feelings evoked by the woman shook Cockburn to the core and opened a closed part of his heart.
They stopped seeing each other after a short, intense romance, and although it was the woman’s choice and Cockburn felt bereft, the clandestine nature of their relationship never did fit with his belief in the importance of monogamy.Activism
Cockburn explains that he was always aware of those with less and of the earth’s vulnerability. As he travels to different countries and sees the consequences of greed and misused power, he puts his responses and feelings about the situations into songs.
In the book, lyrics of the resulting songs are interspersed with stories of their birth. The iconic “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” was written in Guatemala in 1983 after he saw the devastation inflicted by the Guatemalan army, which killed 200,000 villagers over a period of five years. He mentions his misgivings about playing the song and that he eventually came to understand that listeners didn’t think he was promoting violence.
Cockburn and two other musicians had been recruited by Oxfam Canada to witness and report on what they saw in Guatemala. Other NGOs and humanitarian groups have since sent him to various other countries for the same purpose, including Chile, Honduras, Mozambique, Nepal, and Vietnam to name a few.
Cockburn’s music contains social commentary, love songs, lyrics with a political stance, and songs about his spiritual relationship with “The Divine” as he calls it.
In 1977 he was labelled a protest singer in reviews of an album that contained the song “Gavin’s Woodpile.” However, he explains that he never meant for his songs to protest anything. The music just reflects his observations and feelings about what he was seeing and knew to be true.Box Set
The box set contains Cockburn’s huge songbook of tunes, with the concert DVD zooming in on his unique style of guitar playing. The songs, 117 in all, are presented in the same order in which they appear in the book and were curated by Cockburn himself.
Each set is numbered and signed by Cockburn and contains a booklet with rare photos and information about the musicians that played on each song.
CD number 8 contains 14 tunes comprised of some lesser-known pieces and unreleased works, such as a sensitive version of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness” and a delicate treatment of Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Both were originally released in tribute albums.
Cockburn’s almost 50-year musical career has garnered him many awards and citations, including being made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002. In May of this year he received the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award for his social activism and benevolent support of humanitarian interests and causes.
The memoir more or less ends in 2004 but does mention his second wife MJ Hannett, an American immigration lawyer whom he married in 2011. They have a three-year-old daughter and live in San Francisco.
~from Rumours of Glory Bruce Cockburn's Life in Words and Music by Pam Mclennan, Epoch Times December 3, 2014.
1 December 2014 - The Next Chapter - Shelagh Rogers interviews Bruce Cockburn, podcast here.
16 December 2014 - Bruce Cockburn recently spent a little time in studio for a Session with Acoustic Guitar, discussing his latest projects and playing a couple songs. Watch for that to be posted on their site in the coming weeks, we'll share a link once the video is posted.
We spent Friday in the Acoustic Guitar Studio with Bruce Cockburn. He blazed through a few songs on an old Dobro, talked about songrwiting, his memoir, and dropping out of Berklee College of Music. Look for his Session in the coming weeks: AcousticGuitar.com/Sessions
~from Acoustic Guitar Magazine Facebook page.
17 November 2014 - Bruce wanted to include "Leaving My Father's House : A Journey to Conscious Femininity" by Marion Woodman in our conversation. Just for some background, Marion Woodman is a Jungian analyst and her book reflects on the process required to bring "feminine wisdom to consciousness in a patriarchal culture" as told through the personal journeys of three women.
Howard: This book had a great impact on you. How did you come to find it?
Bruce: It goes back to the early 90s. I fell in love with someone who was married. I was with a partner at the time. It was very inconvenient but deeply passionate. And shockingly so in a way. I was approaching 50 and somewhere around that point in your life the stuff you haven't dealt with tends to surface and there's a sense of a need to settle accounts with yourself, with your past.
We had reciprocal feelings, although she not as deeply as I, and in the end we decided we wanted to stay with the people we were with so we parted company. But I found this whole process very de-stabilizing. It caused a major shakeup in many of my assumptions.
I never saw myself as a guy that would be involved in this type of thing. I had certainly been in love with and loved by a few different women over the years but always thought of myself as monogamous. This went beyond all of that in terms of the need that I felt for this person.
I felt that she was the missing twin with the other half of the ring.
She recognized that I was projecting all the stuff that I wanted to be true about myself onto her. She suggested I take a look at "Leaving My Father's House."
Howard: You mentioned she recognized you were projecting onto her what you wanted to be true about yourself. Did this start you on a path of working through those things?
Bruce: Well yes...it made everything a question. I thought I was who I was and clearly there was so much going on under the surface that I hadn't taken account of. It was the beginning of a long process that is still going on. I coincidentally started having dreams that reflected some of this stuff -- I mean they were nightmares. The archetypes that appeared in my dreams appeared in a kind of demonic form because I wasn't ready for their guidance or for them to be present in my life -- so I was running from them all the time.
Later in the 90s, I started working with a Jungian-based therapist named Marc Bregman, using the language of archetypes to help me understand what was going on. It profoundly shaped the last couple of decades.
Howard: Did you dream vividly prior to working with your therapist and recognize these archetypes before this situation? Or was this the trigger point for that?
Bruce: A little of both. I have always been interested in the various attempts by humans to interface with the Divine. Shamanism for instance relies a lot on dreams. I never had shamanic dreams that I was aware of except for one or two where the symbolism was really blatant.
I remember vaguely a dream from sometime in the 70s. I was in one of my early childhood homes as an adult and there was an enormous crimson bull and a golden lion. The bull gored me and the lion ate me. You wake up from a dream like that and think, "Ok, well if I never read anything about comparative religion or Shamanism or anything like that I wouldn't know what to make of this but it was clearly symbolic of something."
I just didn't know what.
I have had other kinds of disturbing dreams -- all sorts. I've had dreams where I was killing people. As a kid I had dreams about monsters and dinosaurs all the time, scary things. After reading Marion Woodman I started having a context to put them in.
I had another dream where I was in a rickety old house that was invaded by demons from the basement and I was hiding in the attic walls. It's almost textbook -- out of that line of psychological thinking where the house is you and your personality and all this suppressed stuff is coming up from the basement. I started to understand the dreams but it wasn't until I began doing the actual dream work and consciously pursuing that with a guide that it really fell into place.
The dream that prompted me to go into the dream work was one I had in which I was kidnapped by this gang and sequestered in an apartment. They weren't threatening me but I was a prisoner and at one point the ringleader came into the room and said:
"I'd advise you not to drink so much."
And I woke up thinking -- that is so weird -- here's this guy telling me not to drink so much and he's right, I shouldn't drink so much. Am I being told by my subconscious I'm going to hurt myself? I guess that's the obvious conclusion but ...that guy was obviously an animus figure and it was typical of all of the dreams I had in the beginning of this process.
Anytime the animus appeared he was scary. The anima, not so.
I mean the anima was getting more loving and encouraging and occasionally outright sexy but the animus was always scary.
Howard: Looking back now on when you met this woman in the early 90's, have you been able to better understand what was driving you to behave in a manner far different than who you believed yourself to be?
Bruce: It was a multi-layered thing. On the one hand she was very attractive and nice so there was an immediate affection that developed and an attraction that was of the normal kind. But when I found out it was sort of reciprocated-we were in a situation where we had time to spend together-it just sort of snowballed. Her relationship was a bit on the rocks and she was looking for something -- really I have no idea what it was that she needed or thought she might find with me, but there was that side of it.
Howard: So almost like a mutual need?
Bruce: Yes and I didn't understand how to deal with the intensity of the feelings. I know I was now ready to experience this stuff. Though there was love in our household growing up, it was a culture where feelings were never mentioned and so I didn't have any model for expressing love. I was learning by trial and error through the various partners I had.
But I guess when I met her I was just ready to be kicked open.
Howard: I think what you just discussed are actually feelings that many people have. The way you are raised, the ways parents encourage (or don't) expression. In many cases, where the home doesn't provide a foundation to express, the feelings become muted and secondary. And then transitioning into adulthood, there is the struggle of how to experience and share them. I think it is quite common. That's interesting.
Bruce: I think it is very interesting. Certainly for us Anglo-Saxons anyway...and you grow up as a male trying to be socialized with whatever values are attached to the cultural concept of masculinity.
In my case it resulted in an inability to express myself and I was mostly unaware of my own feelings. I was carrying all kinds of baggage that I had no idea was there because if it's constantly devalued, if you're constantly prevented from acknowledging or expressing it, then after a while you just go numb and there's all that stuff happening underneath the floor down in that basement that you have no idea about.
Howard: Was the art of writing and making music a way for you to express your feelings in a different way -- to be more involved with them?
Bruce: Yes but I don't think I was very conscious of that. Obviously you could express anger for one thing. But also just love and a sense of beauty -- which is a kind of one-step-removed manifestation of some of the feelings we carry around.
Howard: How have you been able to apply what you've learned in raising your own kids?
Bruce: When my first daughter was young, the understanding I had of things was simplistic. What I knew was I didn't want to inflict the kind of rule-based worldview that I had been given on her. Her spirit should be allowed to be free. I didn't really understand how much or what that meant because I didn't really understand how much mine wasn't free.
But this was a very common sentiment at the time in the 70s. We didn't want to bring our kids up with all the crap our parents had handed us so we tried to avoid that by imposing fewer rules. I think even if you don't believe in them it's a good idea to impose some rules that you are willing to have broken.
I hope to be able to apply all of these principles with my new baby and I think to a greater extent I have a much larger ability to express love than I had in the 70s.
Howard: Based on what you have been able to bring into your life in terms of a focus on learning and evolving, and all the dream work, are you able to take things as they come or are you always trying to put them into a package or a construct to gain an understanding?
Bruce: That's an interesting question because I'm not sure that those are opposites. By nature I have a tendency to want to understand and file things away but my experience has told me that something one does with a degree of nonchalance reappears later on and needs to be reexamined. And often the things you think you understand you find out you don't at all.
I think I see somebody being a certain way and once I get past whatever emotional reaction that produces, I start thinking about what might be prompting them to be doing the things they are doing and I come up with an answer. But it's good not to be attached too closely to that answer.
Howard: Yeah I love what you just said. The fact that you still have to react as a human being to what you are witnessing emotionally and then take it to the next level and try to figure out what it all means. That is interesting because judgment is sometimes such an easy trap to fall into.
Bruce: It's not something I imposed on myself - it's something that just grew out of a deepening understanding of my own processes and the degree to which those processes are similar to other peoples. I have become more tolerant of a lot of stuff I suppose, but I still get mad about things and offended and hurt by certain kinds of behaviour.
Howard: It's a discipline not to live your life making assumptions. I fall down all the time. I walk away and say "Why did I just do that? I shouldn't have been that reactionary."
Bruce: It's kind of Jungian-based and quite Shamanistic -- I mean not in a new age sense at all but it's all about God and not everyone wants to go there.
Howard: God in what way?
Bruce: I don't mean in the religious sense but the God that we're meant to have a relationship with who is much more of a father figure than I was willing to allow for.
Howard: Can you tell me more about that?
Bruce: When I first started doing the dream work I said "No, don't give me that crap about God as a father -- I'm not interested." The first time I went to my therapist he heard what I had to say about what's going on in my life and he said: "Well, it sounds like you have father issues," and I said, "Come on -- is that the best you can do? Father issues? Everyone has father issues. That's not it!"
But it was.
I mean in the deepest sense because there's God the father -- I mean my father's a good guy but he laid some stuff on me I didn't need and as a result I have trouble relating to God as a father figure but when you go through the dreams it is.
It's not a goddess. It's a guy.
Maybe for women it's not, I don't know. I can't speak to that because I don't know how this works but I am told for women it is different. But anyway, it's all based on our own electrochemical processes. With respect to the Divine, I think there is a cosmic presence that can only reach us through the electrochemical workings of our brain.
Howard: I can't remember most of my dreams. I know they are there but I keep thinking there's something blocking them. They don't happen in any meaningful way that allows me to be circumspect around them and I can't figure it out.
And that frustrates me because they are supposed to be the windows to our souls!
Bruce: We each have our own issues with that stuff. I only remembered the most horrendous nightmares of all the dreams I had for a while. I've been doing dream work for a long time now, since the latter part of the 90's and I go through periods of months sometimes where I have very few dreams that tell me anything. But other times, and especially when I first got into it, I was shocked how fast it started to work.
I think it really makes a difference to have a guide with this because I'm not sure you can just start interpreting your dreams. I mean, maybe you can - I couldn't because I had no basis for assessing anything that had happened.
Howard: I am fascinated by the dream work. I am sure it involves all kinds of analysis. What type of work is involved?
Bruce: My dream work involves a lot of homework which consists of taking a theme from the dream and its attendant feelings and just going there for ten seconds three or four times an hour each week until the next session.
And the dreams change. And it's this process that changes the dreams. It invites more.
I mean I have had dry spells and stumbling blocks but eventually it all clears and flows again. It was an amazing discovery in the beginning to encounter that!
Howard: Thank you for the introduction to Marion's book. I learned a lot. And you have given me lot to think about. I had not been exposed to the ideas of dream work and knowing my struggles to remember mine, never mind interpreting them, it might make for an interesting next step for me.
Bruce: I enjoyed talking with you as well.
~from Bruce Cockburn: How The End Of A Relationship Led To Dream Work - by Howaard Kerbel - Huffington Post,
13 November 2014 - It took a bit longer than anticipated, but Canadian icon Bruce Cockburn says he felt different emotions when finally completing his memoir "Rumours Of Glory."
"It was such a long project to work on," the 69-year-old says down the line from his San Francisco home. "I was working on that thing for three years and as it neared completion there were a lot of deadlines involved. [HarperCollins] was great, the editors I was working with were really good, but it was quite stressful actually getting it done. So there was relief when it was over. I think the book turned out pretty well now that I've had time to sit back and feel what it is as an entity instead of something to be enslaved by. It feels pretty good.”
The 544-page memoir begins when Cockburn was a kid and continues through his adventurous music career before concluding in 2004. "It was easy writing about childhood and being at a music school and all of these distant memories that were part of essentially the set up for the rest of life. But once I got to the rest of life it became very complicated. In my mind I couldn't figure out how to approach it really."
So he brought journalist Greg King on board as co-writer. "I hired him to interview me on a tour bus while I was on tour. I work from about noon to about midnight and then we get on the tour bus and go to the next town. So I've drunk about half a bottle of wine by then and then I generally get on the bus and drink the other half. So Greg and I would sit there drinking wine and he would ask me these questions about stuff. It was a good way to dredge up memories because you get into that loquacious state that alcohol puts you in. It's way better than me sitting at a desk trying to figure out what I remembered about things and what was worth bothering with."
In addition to the book a massive box set also entitled "Rumours Of Glory" comes out Oct. 28. The compilation includes 117 songs spread over nine discs, a live DVD and previously unreleased material.
"We had talked for years about doing a box set and I guess this provided the excuse," he says. The box set's most unique aspect is the sequencing of the songs. Unlike an anthology which often puts the material in chronological order, Cockburn says the remastered songs are in the order they appear in the memoir.
As for unreleased material, Cockburn says "one-offs" and tribute album contributions are included and demos that are slightly different from the versions found on the studio albums.
"There's a couple of songs that have never seen the light of day," he says. "In the collection in general there's the first song of mine that was ever recorded which was pretty obscure in its day and it remains so. I was actually quite happy to have it remain obscure although it isn't so bad when I hear it today. But that was a demo that I made in 1966. And there's another song that dates from back then. People haven't heard of those really."
While the memoir and box set have kept him busy, Cockburn also continues to lend his voice and name to causes he feels strongly about. Earlier this year, he became involved with the Collateral Damage Project, a cause concerning suicide rates among men in Native or First Nations communities. Cockburn was approached by the organization's founder Scott Chisholm about bringing awareness to the organization and doing a Public Service Announcement regarding it.
For a long time when I was younger all the people I knew who died were suicides," he says. "There weren't that many, maybe half a dozen people I was acquainted with who killed themselves. I'm not sure if I totally agree with the negativity of suicide if you are a cancer victim or if you're terminally ill with anything and looking forward to years of suffering. As long as it doesn't come back on your family.
"The big problem with suicide is in all but those circumstances it's a terribly selfish act. Some of that made it seem like something to get involved with. And, of course, in the Native communities where suicide is a huge social issue, not just a matter of individuals, it's kind of epidemic. So there's a real point to try to head it off in that setting too."
It's just one of the many causes and humanitarian work Cockburn has done over the years, work that seen him given the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Award earlier this year. The singer says he's selective when it comes to choosing causes.
"It's a lot about circumstance," he says. "I get asked to do all sorts of things that sound really worthwhile. A lot of them I have to say no to or don't even get around to really properly responding to because there isn't time. So when things like this do happen there's a kind of fortuitous synchronicity factor that allows it to come off."
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of one of Cockburn's signature tunes "If I Had A Rocket Launcher." Given the current international instability and conflict, he says he's not shocked the song still resonates three decades later.
"I can't say I'm really surprised by the fact that it's still relevant," he says. "It's the sort of thing one hopes would become out-of-date or become a piece of history instead of having any current relevance. But obviously there's a lot of that kind of stuff going on. I was going to say it gets worse and worse but that's not really true, it's always been worse. It's who gets to be the victim and who doesn't. For the victims, each one of these horrors is just as bad as the rest."
As for the future, Cockburn has a string of promotional appearances and concerts in November but otherwise is focussed on raising his young daughter Iona, a child who loves listening to her father's music, children songs and a certain noted singer.
"Bonnie Raitt," Cockburn says. "She's not even three and about a month ago we had Bonnie on the CD player and there's a live solo version of a song called 'Love Me Like A Man' which is her and a bass player. So Iona is listening to this and she says, 'She's moving her fingers the way you do.' To me that's an ear, that's way more of an ear than I've got."
~from Bruce Cockburn On His Memoir, His Toddler And 'If I Had A Rocket Launcher' Turning 30 - HuffPost Canada Music | By Jason MacNeil.
12 November 2014 - The headquarters of Canada's oldest and arguably most successful independent record label resides in an industrial strip mall on Burlington's Harvester Road, squeezed between a military memorabilia dealer and an auto leasing outlet. The green and white sign above the storefront office is a simple one, "True North Records."
It's nondescript appearance belies 45 years of success. In this YouTube age of free music, when most record labels are folding or floundering, True North appears to be flourishing.
Less than a dozen people work in the open-concept groundfloor space, marketers, publicists, graphic designers, number crunchers. In a backroom, with loading dock access, rows and rows of industrial strength racks contain thousands of CDs, some first recorded decades ago, others so new they're still awaiting release.
Together the CDs represent hundreds of artists and a fair chunk of Canadian musical history — Chilliwack, the Canadian Brass, Gordon Lightfoot, Downchild, 54-40, Ashley MacIsaac, Big Sugar, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Peter Appleyard, Rough Trade, Ron Sexsmith, Jackie Washington, the Guess Who, The Tea Party, Stan Rogers, Fred Penner, The Nylons and many, many more.
At the front of the office, positioned like a receptionist's station, is the desk of the current president and co-owner Geoff Kulawick, a veteran of the music industry who purchased True North from legendary folk-rock impresario Bernie Finkelstein in 2008.
"We're running out of space," says Kulawick, who moved the label to Burlington five years ago to be closer to the Carlisle home he shares with his wife, Brooke, 16-year-old daughter Karina and 14-year-old son Matthew. "We're actually shopping for a new location somewhere in Waterdown."
True North is a very different record label than when it sprang up in the middle of Toronto's Yorkville hippie scene. The year was 1969, and Finkelstein started up the label to house his favourite musicians — Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan and the pioneering psychedelic band Kensington Market.
Forty-five years later, Finkelstein is no longer part of the company, although he does continue to manage Cockburn, who remains the label's flagship artist.
As a matter of fact, this month, True North launched one of its most ambitious projects — "Rumours of Glory," a beautifully packaged 117-song, nine-disc box set chronicling the history of one of Canada's most respected singer-songwriters.
Each set is autographed, sequentially numbered and contains a 90-page book featuring rare photos, culled from the Cockburn collection of the McMaster University Archives, and extensive liner notes. The ambitious release has been compiled as a companion to Cockburn's newly released 544-page memoir, also titled "Rumours of Glory," published by HarperCollins.
"It's a good book," Kulawick says. "It contains a lot of things about Bruce I would never have known, like he likes to shoot guns, he goes to target practice. I would never have guessed that in a million years."
Other recent releases include "The Great Wall of China," a collection of Chinese songs performed by the classical quintet Canadian Brass; "Signal," an electro-jazz album by Toronto singer Elizabeth Shepherd; "A Multi-media Life," a documentary DVD by Buffy Sainte-Marie; "Where in the World," by children's entertainer Fred Penner; and "LA Bootleg 1984," a rare concert performance by the late Canadian jazz guitarist Lenny Breau, produced by Randy Bachman, who is scheduled to release a much-anticipated solo rock album on the label next March.
It's an eclectic mix of releases, none of which will likely achieve "gold record" status (sales of 40,000 units), but most will reach niche markets and turn a profit for both the artists and the label. Kulawick avoids pop artists, preferring folk, jazz, roots, bluegrass and classical performers.
"It's far better for us to sign artists that tour and have some kind of base that is not tied to commercial radio," Kulawick says. "Even if there's no hit on the record, there is a community around the artist that will tune into it."
Kulawick, a 50-year-old native of Ottawa, studied music production at London's Fanshawe College in the early '80s before moving to Toronto to start a career in the music industry, first with indie rock label Solid Gold Records, then A & M Records as a tour manager, then Anthem Records (home to Rush) and Warner-Chappell Publishing and Virgin EMI.
After taking some accounting courses, Kulawick formed his own label, Linus Entertainment, in 2001, based out of Toronto and then his home in Mississauga. Some of his early signings were Lightfoot, Ron Sexsmith, Hamilton singer-songwriter Ray Materick and Toronto jazz singer Sophie Millman.
A few years later, when he heard Finkelstein was considering selling True North and its large catalogue, he recruited two financial backers — Harvey Glatt, founder of Ottawa radio station CHEZ-FM and private investor Mike Pilon — and scooped up the label.
"Each of us own a third of True North, but I manage the business," Kulawick says. "And I still own all of Linus."
Since taking over True North, Kulawick has continued to expand taking over the Mushroom Records catalogue last year, adding '70s Canadian acts like Chilliwack and Doucette to the True North/Linus brand. He has also purchased The Children's Group with its catalogue of artists like Penner and Robert Munsch.
"We're a multi-million business and we're continuing to grow," Kulawick says. "We want to break new artists like Elizabeth Shepherd and Matt Andersen, but we also want to by more catalogues and labels."
Kulawick admits much of the company's catalogue skews heavily toward the plus-40 demographic.
"Those are the people who buy CDs. One of the reasons we've been successful is because we have been targeting adults on the CD side," he says. "At this point, most of our repertoire does target an older demographic. But it's more than that, it is music of substance."
~from thespec.com/news-story/4992925-true-north-strong-and-free, by Graham Rockingham.
6 November 2014 - TORONTO - Bruce Cockburn started writing his mammoth memoir "Rumours of Glory" just as he was becoming a father for a second time, at the age of 66.
It meant for a bleary-eyed time.
"There kept being deadlines and deadlines created incredible stress, especially measured against trying to find time to write with our little daughter around," Cockburn, now 69, said during a recent interview in Toronto.
"She's about the same age as the book right now. It was unfortunate timing from the book's point of view that Iona was born when she was. Or perhaps it was good timing, maybe."
He's not sure, or maybe he's just tired. This weighty tome sure seemed to result from a difficult birth.
The decorated folkie and dedicated activist spent years stitching together this book, which dutifully traces his childhood (mostly spent around Ottawa), his hard-cleaved climb in the industry, his thorough exploration of the world's war-torn regions and his ever-evolving spiritual identity.
The very first paragraph, however, focuses on what the sprawling book is, in fact, missing.
"This is not your standard rock-and-roll memoir," he writes. "You won't find me snorting coke with the young Elton John or shooting smack with Keith Richards."
And Cockburn has many reasons for his apathy to wild industry yarns, both pragmatic and creative."I don't have that many stories like that to tell, and even if I did, I wouldn't tell them because I've got a green card in the U.S. and one of the things they ask you is if you have ever been involved in anything criminal," said Cockburn, based now in northern California.
"I'm not going to talk about things I was present at that people that are criminal."
He also recalls taking in a recent live reading of someone else's book, which documented the misadventures of some '70s "metalloid" act.
"It just went on and on and on. Every second word was" the F-word, he explained. "After a while, it's like, I don't care about that anymore. I'm tired of hearing about these idiots.
"But you know," he added, "I haven't lived like that. I don't know anybody who has personally. People's sexual escapades, I haven't been part of that kind of stuff either. No orgies or anything like that. To my great regret."
Cockburn does explore his life's relationships with probing curiosity, including his previous marriage to Kitty Cockburn (he has daughter Iona with wife M.J. Hannett).
Some of these disclosures might have troubled those involved. For instance, he writes about his older daughter, Jenny, and her teenage tendency to disappear for days into seedy segments of Toronto. But Cockburn said there were no issues.
One story he did feel he needed permission to tell centred on his first wife, who was apparently so distraught over the deteriorating state of their relationship, she fumbled to open the window of their third-floor London hotel room with apparent intentions to jump, before Cockburn pulled her back.
"She didn't even remember it," he said of contacting her for consent. "But she said, 'Oh, you know, it's OK, whatever.'"
Cockburn's quest for God is the thread that unites everything. Once considered a Christian artist, the 12-time Juno winner doesn't identify that way anymore.
"I don't disown it either, though," he clarified. "Which I guess makes me a complete namby pamby traveller from a hardcore Christian point of view, but ... I had trouble with the imagery (of the Bible) and with the historicity of Christ, really.
"(So) I stopped calling myself a Christian. But I might change my mind on that in a year or two years or whenever."
In other words: to be continued.
Similarly, the latest chapter in Cockburn's life — his expanded family — is actually granted only a brief epilogue in his book.
Perhaps it feels the "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" songwriter has simply started a new tale entirely.
"(My life now) would have required at least a couple hundred pages and it was already too long," he said. "But it was more because I don't know where it's going. It's going in a good direction and it has been from the start, but I don't know the story yet.
"It's too new and too much still unfolding."
~ from Bruce Cockburn's weighty new memoir explores God, guns, war, love by By: Nick Patch, The Canadian Press. Photo THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Bruce Cockburn reflects on his lifelong quests
By Alexander Varty - straight.com
5 November 2014 - In his new memoir, Rumours of Glory, celebrated Canadian songwriter Bruce Cockburn sets aside a strong sense of privacy to talk frankly about his decades of wrangling with politics and spiritual life.
Canadian parliamentarians can breathe a sigh of relief that sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers was on duty when a lone gunman walked into the House of Commons on October 22; the intrusion was brought to a quick, if regrettable, conclusion. This country’s music lovers, however, might be equally happy that his predecessor wasn’t as quick on the uptake when a very different kind of dissident walked into the same building in 1995, carrying a satchel full of land mines.
In the earlier incident, the interloper was multiple-Juno-winning songwriter Bruce Cockburn, whose ire had been raised by Canada’s complicity in distributing the deadly devices around the globe. The mines he carried had been rendered inoperative, but his point had been made: death can lurk, invisibly, anywhere.
One event was the result of a passionate conviction that ordinary citizens must speak out against evil; the other, as far as we know, was an act of madness. But both were likely the result of frustration that governmental power is increasingly deaf to peaceful protest, and Cockburn doesn’t see that improving anytime soon.
“I think that’s getting worse around the world,” he says, reached by phone in San Francisco, just a day after the shootings on Parliament Hill. “That is one of the results of the increase in corporate power and influence over government, and the surrender of democratic principles that’s happening across the board, as far as I can see. It’s certainly happening in the U.S.; it’s happening in Canada; it’s happening in Europe.…And it’s partly just a result of the available technology. Once you have an official entity that’s charged with protecting us, which is pretty necessary, that entity is going to want to accrete to itself everything that it can possibly get to do its job well.…And that’s what we’ve seen happen with the NSA in the States, and with its Canadian counterpart to some degree or another.”
Given Cockburn’s role as an activist—not to mention his mournful but incendiary song “If I Had a Rocket Launcher”, written after he visited Guatemalan refugees displaced by that country’s civil war—he’s almost certainly under surveillance. But just about anything anyone wants to know about his political beliefs, his writing process, his musical landmarks, and the clandestine love affair that inspired some of his most gorgeous songs can be found in his new and revelatory autobiography, Rumours of Glory.
Issued simultaneously with an identically titled and lavishly produced boxed set, which shadows the book’s progress in musical form, it’s a surprisingly frank statement from an artist who has previously been guarded when discussing his private life.
“It was an odd line to walk between exposure and maintaining privacy—and there’s an awful lot that’s not in the book, partly because we would have had a 4,000-page book if we’d put everything in,” Cockburn admits. “But it’s not like there are any great revelations threatening anyone. I wasn’t going to blow the whistle on anybody’s infidelities or any of that kind of stuff; it’s not about that.”
Cockburn credits his cowriter, journalist and environmentalist Greg King, with giving the book its structure, and with making it more than the “spiritual memoir” he’d originally intended to write. While we do get the details of Cockburn’s ongoing spiritual quest—and he’s not the one-dimensional Christian he might have seemed during the 1970s—we’re also privy to his journeys around the globe on various humanitarian and fact-finding missions for Oxfam and other NGOs.
“I doubt very much that we’d have as much information about the background of Central America and Chile as we do without Greg’s involvement,” he notes. “I wouldn’t have thought of going that far with it, but I think it makes for a more interesting book, and it’s stuff that people should know—especially young people, if anybody young reads the book.”
Rumours of Glory also includes some insightful musings on his early upbringing. Some of these, he notes, came out of the work he’s been doing with Montreal therapist Marc Bregman, a specialist in the interpretation of dreams. Cockburn balked at Bregman’s initial diagnosis, but has since come round to his way of seeing things.
“The first opinion he offered was that I had father issues,” he says, laughing. “And I thought, ‘Jesus Christ. Father issues?’ I was like, ‘Come on: I’m not paying you to tell me I’ve got father issues!’ It sounded like such a cliché to me‚ and of course it turned out to be perfectly true.
“I touch on that in the book in that episode from my teens, when my dad confiscated my notebook,” he continues, adding that the journal in question mostly contained semiregurgitated horror stories. “He was doing what he thought he should do as parent, but it really shocked me. He was basically a pretty good guy—a really good guy, actually—but that was a turning point in terms of trust. Right at that moment, it became clear that I could never trust my dad again…and, by extension, every other kind of authority.”
Cockburn’s thinking a lot about parenting these days. At 69, he’s the father of a three-year-old daughter, Iona, and grandfather to his first child Jenny’s four kids—five good reasons, he adds, to keep on working for a better world.
~ from Bruce Cockburn Reflects on his Lifelong Quests by Alexander Varty, straight.co,
3 November 2014 -
Canadian musician Bruce Cockburn reads from his new memoir, Rumours of Glory.
Video by Ed Kaiser, Edmonton Journal.
4 November 2014 - Bruce Cockburn’s memoir Rumours of Glory is candid about his personal and professional lives.
Bruce Cockburn has always had a way with words. Over his five-decade, 31-album career, he’s demonstrated his prowess as songwriter, giving us memorable lyrics about love, landscape and socio-political injustice. Even Bono, the world’s biggest rock star, used a variation of some of Cockburn’s lines from Lovers in a Dangerous Time — “Got to kick at the darkness ’till it bleeds daylight” — in one of U2’s tunes.
The Ottawa-bred musician, 69, almost always writes his lyrics first. “I don’t know why it started like that but I find it easier to manipulate music than words,” he reflects during a recent interview.
He almost always writes about his own experiences, too — whether it’s a recurring dream of lions, a trip to Nepal, or the desire to blow someone away with a rocket launcher.
And so, it makes sense for Cockburn’s memoir, Rumours of Glory, newly released from HarperCollins, to feature the lyrics to dozens of songs — and the stories behind them. (A nine-disc companion boxset is also available via his label, True North.) Those stories encapsulate his faith, his travels across Canada, his work as a human-rights activist — visiting victims of war in Central America, Mozambique, Chile, Cambodia, Vietnam, Iraq — and his emotional evolution as a man.
The memoir, co-written by journalist Greg King, documents Cockburn’s childhood in Ottawa, his rise as one of Canada’s top singer-songwriters/political activists, his struggles with Christianity, and a few modest tales about the women in his life.
Cockburn is also regarded as a gifted guitarist. Nowadays, he suffers from arthritis in both hands, what he refers to as “wear and tear,” which he usually treats with fermented grapes. You won’t find any mention of this, however, in Rumours of Glory. “Medications don’t work as well as wine for loosening up the fingers and making them not hurt so much,” he smiles. “I can play most of what I used to be able to do — it hasn’t interfered with playing that much.”
His memoir is also short on details about his life in San Francisco, where he now lives with his wife, M.J. Hannett, an immigration lawyer for Homeland Security, and their almost three-year-old daughter, Iona.
“That’s volume two, I guess,” he says.
Iona is Cockburn’s second daughter. His first, Jenny, is in her late 30s, teaches at Concordia University in Montreal, and has four children of her own.
“It’s pretty different,” he says of his current approach to fatherhood. “I mean, the mechanics of it are the same, from the starting point onward. But my attitude is much more relaxed than it was. When I was younger, I just worried about more stuff. There was much more of a need to keep focused on writing and playing and practising. I took it all very seriously, and I still do, but I’m just not as worried about it.”
While he worries about his mortality — “I hope I’m around long enough to see (Iona) get on a good footing” — he’s also concerned about the state of our world, currently ravaged by disease, environmental disasters, religious extremism, and war.
“Things are really chaotic right now. It feels like entropy, it feels like the whole world is spinning out of control.”
How do we make it stop?
“How do we make the world a better place? By respecting each other. If you can’t imagine loving your neighbour, at least respect them and require them to respect you. When we don’t do that is when we cause all kinds of trouble for ourselves and everybody else.”
~ from Bruce, the almighty still kicking at the darkness by Sandra Sperounes, Postmedia News - Nov 04, 2014. Photo: Ed Kaiser/Postmedia News.
3 November 2014 - EDMONTON - Nineteen years ago, Bruce Cockburn walked into the Parliament buildings with some landmines.
The Ottawa-bred singer-songwriter and political activist was headed to a news conference, where he was about to call for a worldwide ban on the weapons.
Cockburn recalls the moment in his memoirs, Rumours of Glory. “It’s a testament to the quality of life in Canada that, in the fall of 1995, I was able to saunter into the Centre Block of the Houses of Parliament with a bag of anti-personnel mines and nobody stopped me,” he writes.
Those words might make you shiver, in light of what happened in Cockburn’s hometown last month. On Oct. 22, a man shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial. The gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, then made his way into the Centre Block with a rifle — but somebody stopped him. He was soon killed in a shootout with guards and House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers. The RCMP say Zehaf-Bibeau, who embraced Islam as an adult, was driven by “ideological and political motives.”
Cockburn believes Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau — a radicalized Muslim convert who drove his car into two soldiers in Quebec, killing one — only used religion for selfish ends.
“It’s tragic,” says the musician. “It’s these morons, these losers — and I don’t like to think of people that way, but that’s what it amounts to — guys who have no idea of the meaning of anything, really, and feel like they have no place in life.
“They can … get that sense of meaning from that particular version of Islam and go be martyrs because they already hate themselves, or they wouldn’t be so ready to kill themselves anyway.
“That’s radically different from someone who grows up oppressed in the Middle East and takes up that banner as a way of addressing the oppression. It’s an indulgence for people on this side of the ocean to take up that kind of thing, so I don’t have any sympathy for it whatsoever.”
~from Bruce Cockburn reflects on Parliament Hill tragedy By Sandra Sperounes, Edmonton Journal. © Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
31 October 2014 - - In the same week the important Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn releases an autobiography and a career-spanning box set (both titled Rumours of Glory), he gives a sold-out concert at Koerner Hall in Toronto. We spoke to the guitarist, 69, from his home in San Francisco.
Four of the tracks on the rarities disc of your box set are from soundtracks. For a time you wouldn’t perform one of the soundtrack songs, Going Down the Road from the 1970 film by Donald Shebib, on stage. You wouldn’t sing them, because it wasn’t you, right?
I actually have done it live in recent years. But when I wrote that song, I had never been to Cape Breton. It was written to be in the voice of a character in the movie. At the time there was pressure to do a soundtrack album. I got in the bad books of everyone associated with the film by refusing to do one. But it would have been my second album, and I didn’t want my second album to be in somebody else’s voice. Perhaps I was more sensitive with that than I needed to be, but it felt pretty real at the time.
The rarities disc also includes your contributions to several tribute albums, including the song Avalon, My Home Town, which is the title track to a Mississippi John Hurt tribute. Is he your guy, as far as an influence on your guitar playing?
He’s certainly one of them. And a major one, as far as what my right hand is doing. I was in high school, or just out of it, when I first heard him. A lot of what was captivating about him was the way he played melodic lines while finger-picking the melody, as well as an alternating bass part. It was a big revelation to me that you could do that, and I’ve kind of done it ever since, in one way or another.
Your version of Turn, Turn, Turn, for 1998’s Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger, is gorgeous. Was that your first choice of his songs to do?
I got lucky. I was sure that song would have already been taken. I mean, I was hardly the first person to be asked to be onthat record. It’s a beautiful song that fits every time and place. I was surprised it was available.
It was probably available because people were intimated by the Byrds’ iconic version.
That was the challenge, to do it in a way that didn’t sound like the Byrds. When I went to the Pete Seeger version, it doesn’t have any chord changes. So, that’s right up my alley. I ended up harmonizing the melody with the guitar, which was kind of doing that Mississippi John Hurt thing, with a few more notes in it than he would have done. It was fun to do.
A time to every purpose, as that song goes. What time is it for Bruce Cockburn these days?
I wish I knew. It’s probably a time to be sitting back and reflecting on things – on life, the world, etc. But I have no time for that, because I have a two-year-old child and my life has been full of getting this book and this box set together.
How comfortable were you with reflecting back on your life and career?
I’m not particularly given to looking back, or at least I wasn’t. There’s a vanity factor that makes it interesting, once you decide you’re going to tell stories or reveal things that people might not be interested in. It’s kind of like looking at pictures of yourself. You think, “I wish they’d shot my other side in that one,” or, “gee, I look pretty good in that one.” It’s very subjective, which is useful for writing a book like this, but it’s not necessarily healthy.
~ from Bruce Cockburn: 'I’m not particularly given to looking back' by Brad Wheeler for The Globe and Mail.
30 October 2014 - - Revered Canadian singer-songwriter-guitarist Bruce Cockburn hasn’t released an album since 2011, but he’s making up for the gap in a big way. This week he released an engrossing memoir called “Rumours of Glory,” detailing his 40-plus-year artistic career and how it intersected with his spiritual awakenings and activism. Next week, he will unleash a nine-CD box set of the same name that serves as a companion to the book.
Cockburn comes to the Somerville Theatre Saturday — a few tickets remained at press time. The concert will celebrate a career that has seen Cockburn combining folk, jazz, pop, and rock in hits like “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” and “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” even as his humanitarian and social-justice efforts have taken him to the far corners of the globe.
We caught up with the amiable Cockburn, 69, by phone from San Francisco recently to chat about his life’s work, and wondered aloud whether we should read anything into all of this activity, as well as the 2013 release of the career-spanning documentary “Pacing the Cage.”
“I’m not retiring anytime soon,” he replied with a chuckle.
Q. Why was now the time to write “Rumours of Glory”?
A. Harper Collins came along with an offer. [Laughs.] It was not the first time that someone had had the idea. They approached me about doing a spiritual memoir, but they couldn’t quite tell me what they meant by that. But it sounded like an interesting approach to the memoir thing, and appropriate to me.
Q. Were you concurrently curating the box set?
A. The box set came after. Basically what the box set consists of is all the songs mentioned in the book, in the order in which they’re mentioned, and a bonus CD of previously unreleased or rarely released material. There’s also a concert DVD in there. It’s a slightly odd premise for a box set, I think, but interesting, and it ties in well with the book. I think people who are interested in the music because of reading the book will have that reference and entry point into the music. And the people who already know the music maybe don’t have all of that stuff.
Q. There is a perception, given the nature of your music and activist pursuits, that you are a very serious person, so it was nice to see your humor come though in the book . . .
A. That’s good!
Q. . . . and many of the parts that are laugh-out-loud funny — your initial reaction of horror at people actually dancing at your shows for one — are when you seem to be poking fun at your own emotional remoteness, which seems awfully enlightened of you.
A. I’m glad you take it that way. I suppose it could be viewed as narcissism, too. The mandate was to do a spiritual memoir, and you can’t talk about spirituality without talking about your personal life and your personal experiences and inner experiences, so it really seemed necessary to go to those places.
Q. There is a chapter early on detailing your time in Boston in the mid-’60s when you attended Berklee. It certainly sounds like it was a formative experience, seeing legendary folk and jazz artists at Club 47 and the Jazz Workshop.
A. Oh yeah. It was surreal actually when I look back at it. [There are] things that didn’t make it into the book, but when I think back about being in Boston, when I arrived at Berklee I was the only guy in the school with long hair. It was 1964, and the Beatles weren’t new by that time, but I had hair that was longer than the Beatle haircut. The heroin dealers would always approach me instead of the other guys because they thought I looked the part. [Laughs.] Every now and then a carload of young people from the suburbs would pull up alongside me and yell out things like “Hey Ringo!” or “Are you a boy or are you a girl?” I could have done a whole book just on being in Boston and the surreal quality it had, which was partly a product of the times as well as the time of my own life. As well as the folk people, I heard so much incredible jazz. The atmosphere just walking down alleys and hearing music coming out of everywhere around the school — there were always people practicing or jamming. And it was a great atmosphere from that point of view, far more instructive to me than the school was, because of my own particular inabilities to get down and study hard.
Q. Or be on time?
A. Yeah, that. [Laughs.]
Q. Reading the stories behind the songs and different facets of your career, there seems to have been at no point any fear associated with expressing your political or spiritual beliefs either in song or in life, even though those can be touchy subjects for popular artists.
A. No. I never had any fear associated with [the religious or spiritual aspects]. There was the mild sense of, “Well, maybe some people are not going to like this and they’re going to stop buying my records.” That was obvious, and it sort of happened, but then they were replaced by other people who were newly interested, so it didn’t really change the numbers. I was aware of that and sensitive to it, but afraid? No. With the political stuff, you’re liable to get an angrier kind of backlash, and occasionally there’s been issues where I’ve thought, “I wonder if somebody’s going to show up and do something unpredictable or mean.” [Laughs.] But it hasn’t happened, so the more you do and the more that’s the result, the more confident you are about going out and doing what there is to do.
Q. Does it disappoint you that more artists don’t engage in social commentary in their music?
A. It does a little, but it’s not for me to tell other people what to do. I think it’s disappointing that more people just don’t go out there and be genuine. But having said that, an awful lot of people do do that. [Laughs.] I feel like what I do is extend an invitation: This is what I saw, this is what I felt, if you’d been there, you probably would have felt similarly, take a look. That’s as close as I hope to get to proselytizing: It’s something I don’t really want to do, but I do feel like laying it out for people is worthwhile. And if people then feel motivated to dig deeper, then great.
~ from Cockburn celebrates with memoir, box set. Interview was condensed and edited. Sarah Rodman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman.
26 October 2014 -
Part 1: Sneak peek: an exclusive glimpse at Rumours Of Glory by Bruce Cockburn (Pt. 1)
Announced early in September, True North Records is proud to release Rumours Of Glory, a 9–disc audio/video companion to a new autobiography by Bruce Cockburn that has been curated by the artist himself.
A lot has gone into making this collection truly unique, which is why we're giving our fans and subscribers an exclusive behind–the–scenes glimpse at just what to expect from the box set; in the weeks leading up to the release, we're sharing stories and previews of the collection that you won't see anywhere else.
In addition to 9 discs of audio and video — 8 discs of music and his first live concert DVD — the collection features all–new custom artwork and a special 90–page booklet, each packed with exclusive and never–before–seen photos of Cockburn, his personal journals and realia from throughout his historic career.
And if that weren't special enough, each booklet is hand–numbered and has been personally autographed by Bruce Cockburn — the troubadour spent some time signing booklets recently in Winnipeg, MB after performing to launch the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in September.
We're very proud of Cockburn and his career, and we've put together a truly special box set to celebrate. If you haven't already, pre–order and reserve a copy of Rumours Of Glory box set for you or the Cockburn fan or your Christmas list.
~ from True North Records******
Part 2: Sneak peek: an exclusive glimpse at Rumours Of Glory by Bruce Cockburn (Pt. 2)
As you may know, Cockburn donated his personal archives to McMaster University in Hamilton, ON last year, including notebooks, musical arrangements and even gold records and a few of his guitars.v
"These are my tools, my rough drafts, my mementoes and my trophies. Together, they form the roadmap of my working life," Cockburn said at the time. "I'm pleased they will have a safe and permanent home in a place where they may be useful to others."
We tasked graphic designer Bobby Foley to spend time at the University over the summer in preparation for the box set, researching Cockburn and photographing items from the staggering collection — including his personal journals, photos that span his career and assorted curios like sheet music, handwritten lyrics and more. These are reflected in the original artwork throughout the package — from glimpses of Cockburn in the studio to original lyric drafts, we're confident this box set provides a peek into Cockburn's world that you've never seen before.
Of course, we owe many thanks to McMaster University, and the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collection at the Mills Memorial Library. The exhibit is a must–see, and with Rumours Of Glory, Cockburn fans can get a sense of the journey that's reflected in the collection, a visual companion to a career like no other.
~ from True North Records******
Part 3: Sneak peek: an exclusive glimpse at Rumours Of Glory by Bruce Cockburn (Pt. 3)
In addition to 8 discs of audio — 7 discs of music that follow the narrative of Cockburn's memoirs and a disc of rare and unreleased material — the collection features his first–ever concert DVD, directed by Joel Goldberg and brought to you by the producers of Pacing The Cage, the 2013 Cockburn documentary.
Click here to watch "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" from the DVD
We asked Goldberg to share his experience working on the DVD for this glimpse into the box set, read his thoughts about filming Cockburn on tour in the U.S. in 2008:
"After working on the documentary Pacing The Cage for four years, we found that there was a lot of amazing performance material left on the editing room floor. The performances — from Bruce's Slice O Life tour in 2008 — were incredible, highlighting his intricate guitar work and performance abilities as well as presenting a nice representation of his catalogue of work throughout the years. And it was just Bruce on stage, solo, acoustic … live!
"Working with Anjay Feldano and the editors at Scarlett Street Films we decided to go black and white for the performances, with the venue locations separated by the 'on the road' Super 8 mm film shots from the documentary. We felt that the B&W captured the energy and intensity of Bruce's performances and gave a consistency to the look and feel of the film, and the Super 8 shots heightened the feeling of travel that happens between venues … it gave the performances a feeling of intimacy for the viewer, almost that Bruce is doing a special performance for them from the screen.
"We made sure that whenever possible to have close up shots of his guitar work, which is unbelievable at times. You shake your head when you realize that this symphony is coming out of one guitar, and you lose any sense of number of cameras, etc. and just marvel at Bruce's talent. I’m very happy with the results. It was an honour to work with Bruce, Bernie [Finkelstein] and True North on two of the most important projects I’ve ever been connected with."
~ from True North Records******
Part 4: Sneak peek: an exclusive glimpse at Rumours Of Glory by Bruce Cockburn (Pt. 4)
The crux of the box set itself are the 8 discs of music within — 7 discs from Cockburn's catalogue (sequenced by their appearance in his coming autobiography) and one disc of rare and previously unreleased songs. The entire collection was remastered together by Peter Moore at The E Room in Toronto from July–September 2014 to ensure that all 8 discs played together beautifully as one.
For this glimpse into the box set we asked Moore to share his experience working on the audio and the lengths he went to ensure optimal audio clarity and transience, read his thoughts:
"Every effort was made to find the highest quality sources — we went back to the original source material for everything. A lot of the rare and unreleased music was in really rough shape, we had to bake and repair some of the original audio tapes before we could use them.
"It's like archaeology in a way; there's so much information you can get off of audio tapes, but you need really high resolution conditions to capture it all. I'm using the world's best A/D converters at high bit rates so the end result is even ready for high–quality digital music stores — better than 4 times CD quality.
"I knew when it was finished that it sounded pretty good; the two people I was most concerned about were Bernie [Finkelstein] and Bruce, and they were pretty pleased. Sometimes when you go back to old catalogue stuff you have a lot of problems, but this worked out really well ... it was a lot of work, but then this isn't just a simple assembly of music, it's probably one of the better retrospectives of Bruce's music that exists anywhere."
~ from True North Records******
Part 5: Sneak peek: an exclusive glimpse at Rumours Of Glory by Bruce Cockburn (Pt. 5)
True North Records is proud to release Rumours Of Glory, a 9–disc audio/video box set companion to the coming memoirs by Bruce Cockburn — widely available this coming Tuesday, October 28.
We've been sharing exclusive stories and previews of the collection with our e–mail subscribers since the set was announced early last month; in recent weeks, we've taken a closer look at the 8 discs of audio — newly remastered together for this collection to play beautifully as one — and the new live DVD by the producers of Pacing The Cage, the 2013 Cockburn documentary.
And for this, our final glimpse at the box set before its release, we're excited to share with you a limited–time, exclusive stream of 14 of the rare and unreleased songs in our collection!
Now listeners around the world can visit CBC Music (click above) to hear intimate demo versions of their favourite Cockburn gems, selections from rare Canadian film soundtracks and much more. These 14 tracks represent the 8th disc of audio in our collection, and you can hear them for free until the box set hits stores on October 28. CBC Music is streaming 14 of the rare and previously unreleased tracks. Stream until Oct. 27.
All of us at True North Records are proud of this box set, our sincerest thanks to everyone that has placed their pre–orders so far. If you haven't already but want to, use this link to pre–order and reserve a copy of Rumours Of Glory before its release on Tuesday.
Please note: if you ordered the box set bundled together with Bruce's new memoir of the same name, your order will arrive closer to November 4 in accordance with the publisher's release date. Rest assured, however, that they are likely already en route to you.
~ from True North Records
Pre–order and reserve a copy of Rumours Of Glory box set
Bruce Cockburn peels back the protective shell in his memoir 'Rumours of Glory'
By Lou Fancher - Mercury News
27 October 2014: If the history of mankind were a song, Bruce Cockburn might have written it.
The Canadian singer-songwriter has been chronicling trees falling, lions roaring, rockets launching and the dangers of love for five decades. With 31 albums having sold more than 7 million copies worldwide and 13 Juno awards and 21 gold-platinum certifications shining on his San Francisco home's shelves, Cockburn has written his memoir, "Rumours of Glory" (HarperOne, $28.99, 544 pages).
Born in 1945 in Ottawa, Canada, Cockburn gained recognition as a masterful acoustic guitarist, soulful lyricist and folk musician. Often writing on spiritual themes and labeled "the Christian singer" in the late '70s, he refused to be typecast. His music broke into mainstream America's consciousness on "Saturday Night Live" in 1980 with a performance of his "Wondering Where the Lions Are." Perpetually seeking novel influences, Cockburn has a 50-year playbook that is a folk-rock-jazz-funk-inspired brew. Captivated by everything from Swedish fiddling to reggae to what he calls "spooky Bartók concertos," he paired his instrumental explorations increasingly with lyrics reflecting his interest in environmental and social unrest.
In an industry prone to categorization, more labels arrived: "nature singer" and "protest songwriter." Referencing over 104 songs, the memoir reads as an encyclopedia of world music, atrocities and activism from the 1960s to 2004. A 117-song, nine-disc companion box set -- including 16 previously unreleased songs and a live, full-length concert on DVD -- has been released by Cockburn's True North Records.
In a life shaped by seismic shifts -- in politics, romance, spirituality, ecological and economic realms -- the 69-year-old, now once again a father, this time to 3-year-old Iona, is unlikely to reverse course. His move to the United States and decision to write the memoir resulted from a collision of opportunity and intrigue. Four years ago, HarperCollins suggested they'd like a "spiritual memoir," a term he says defies definition but fascinated him. Marriage to M.J. Hannett, who landed a job with Homeland Security in San Francisco, and the birth of their daughter grounded him long enough to write more than the 30-line, self-described "short-term phenomena" of his songs.
"It was just the right time," he says in an interview at Berkeley's Hillside Club.
Radiant sunlight splashes across the floor of the club, where he will participate in a Radio KPFA book launch event on Nov. 19, but Cockburn has chosen to sit in the shadows.
His mother, he says, has called his tendency to travel, literally and figuratively, to front lines and flash points of warring countries like Guatemala and Afghanistan a death wish. Words from his memoir, however, cast that seemingly ill-fated impulse in a different light: "We're all in the same foundering boat. It's our scars that unite us."
Ever since Cockburn as a young boy discovered a beat up, no-name guitar with rusty, discolored strings in the attic of his grandmother's home, he has followed a muse that has told him "what doesn't kill you makes for songs." The forces against him, many of his own making, were large. When Cockburn was a teen, his father destroyed a notebook of his first poems -- an act he says annihilated his trust of authority. For most of his life, a "cage of reticence" he deliberately constructed has defined his personal and business relationships -- a handshake and no expectation of his ever needing to phone his manager of 44 years, Bernie Finkelstein, seals their long-term commitment. But he chose a solo, mostly public career, and increasingly used his music to make bold protest against man's inhumanity and destruction of the environment, despite his equal determination to lead what he calls a "covert" life. He is no longer holding back: "Rumours" exposes the folds in his relationships with women, the divine, various causes, music -- and marvelously unpacks his songs like origami laid flat. "You can't write about the spirit without telling true things about yourself," he says. "I don't have secrets that are worth keeping at this point."
The first 100 pages about his childhood flowed, but hitting writer's block and facing deadlines (his usual habit of writing the songs when the inner wind blew meant one song, "Celestial Horses," took 40 years to complete), he enlisted Greg King, a journalist friend as co-writer.
"He came with me on tour," Cockburn says. "On a tour bus, with a third glass of wine and winding down from a show, all kinds of memories come."
The book is more chronological than he first imagined but also more political.
He's glad of the latter, he says, because in a world propelling itself toward "cataclysmic self-destruction and enduring chaos" with nuclear and military escalation, environmental debilitation and income inequality, someone must tell -- and sing and play -- a counterrevolutionary message.
~from Bruce Cockburn peels back the protective shell in his memoir 'Rumours of Glory' - By Lou Fancher - Mercury News
20 October 2014: First Play: Bruce Cockburn, Rumours of Glory
CBC Music is streaming 14 of the rare and previously unreleased tracks. Stream until Oct. 27.
RARE AND PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED DISC 8 1. Juan Carlos Theme 2. Waterwalker 3. My Hometown Avalon 4. Wise Users 5. Going Down The Road 6. The Whole Night Sky 7. Grinning Moon 8. Song For Touring Around The Stars 9. Come Down Healing 10. Mystery Walk (Instrumental) 11. The Trains Don't Come Here Anymore 12. Ribbon of Darkness 13. Turn Turn Turn 14. Honey Please Let The Deal Go Down
8 September 2014 - Legendary singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn delivers his long-awaited memoir, RUMOURS OF GLORY– a chronicle of faith, fear, and activism, and a lively cultural, political, and musical tour through the past five decades.
RUMOURS OF GLORY, the companion box set to release on True North Records.
The long-awaited memoir from legendary singer - songwriter Bruce Cockburn, Rumours of Glory, will be published by Harper One in the U.S. and HaperCollinsCanada on November 4, 2014. Best known for his memorable songs including ‘Pacing the Cage’ (1995), ‘If a Tree Falls’ (1988), ‘If I Had a Rocket Launcher’ (1984), ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Time’ (1984) and ‘Wondering Where the Lions Are’ (1979), the award-winning songwriter and pioneering guitarist, whose life and music has been shaped by politics, protest, romance, and spiritual discovery, has released 31 albums spanning five decades.
Cockburn’s albums have sold over 7 million copies worldwide. He is revered by fans and fellow musicians alike as one of the most important songwriters of his generation.
Cockburn says of deciding to write his memoir, “Over the years, the notion that there should be a book about me has popped up now and then, along with offers to write it. It always seemed too soon, and I’ve felt all along that such a book should be mine to author. When Harper One expressed their interest, it finally did seem timely, so here we go!”
In Rumours of Glory, [memoir] Cockburn invites readers into his private world, providing an intimate commentary on his life and work, focused on the roots of his songwriting and the stories behind his best known songs.
From Ottawa in 1945 (where he was born) through to Baghdad in 2004, Cockburn shares his family life, personal relationships, Christian convictions, and the social and political activism that has defined him and his music, and has both invigorated and incited his legions of fans worldwide. For Cockburn, music has always been a key way to explore culture, politics and the nature of the spirit, and his remarkable journey has seen him embrace folk, jazz, blues, rock, and world beat styles.
As a long-time activist, Cockburn has spoken out on a range of issues: native rights, land mines, human rights atrocities in war-torn countries, Third World debt, ecological devastation, and corporate crime. Cockburn has been awed, appalled, and incensed by what he has seen and felt, and by the very real evil that humans can inflict on one another. As he outlines in Rumours of Glory, he believes that we can, and should, be dedicated to our shared humanity, to saving ourselves, each other and this earth – we just need to find the will. That will comes from maintaining a relationship with the Divine, and following the way of love. And that journey, for Cockburn, has been marked in music. As he says in the book, “In a way we, and all living things, are made of music … music is my diary, my anchor through anguish and joy, a channel for the heart.”
Rumours of Glory is also the title of a box set collection curated by Cockburn himself as a companion piece to his memoir; the songs are presented in the same order they appear in the book. This limited edition 117-song, nine-disc set includes 16 rare and previously unreleased songs and a live concert DVD – the artist’s only full-length concert video. Each box set is autographed, sequentially numbered and includes a 90 page book featuring rare photos, extensive track information, and liner notes written by Nicholas Jennings. (Available October 28, 2014 on Bruce’s long time record label, True North Records.)
Rumours of Glory - a box set collection
*****FREE SHIPPING***** (North America Only)
Release Date October 28th (Will ship on October 24th)
Highlights of this box set include:
BOX SET TRACKLISTING
1. The Charity Of Night 2. If A Tree Falls 3. Man of A Thousand Faces 4. One Day I Walk 5. Let Us Go Laughing 6. Bird Without Wings (previously unreleased) 7. Thoughts On A Rainy Afternoon 8. Sunwheel Dance 9. Foxglove 10. Going To The Country 11. It's An Elephant World (previously unreleased) 12. You Don't Have To Play The Horses 13. Creation Dream 14. Shining Mountain 15. Hills Of Morning 16. Change Your Mind 17. He Came From The Mountain 18. Musical Friends
1. Fall 2. Blues Got The World 3. Mama Just Wants To Barrelhouse All Night Long 4. All The Diamonds In The World 5. Rouler Sa Bosse 6. Don't Have To Tell You Why 7. Red Brother Red Sister 8. Gavin's Woodpile 9. Stolen Land 10. Lord Of The Starfields 11. Silver Wheels 12. Little Sea Horse 13. Celestial Horses 14. Feast of Fools 15. Can I Go With You 16. Wondering Where The Lions Are
1. Incandescent Blue 2. How I Spent My Fall Vacation 3. What About The Bond 4. Fascist Architecture 5. Rumours Of Glory 6. You Pay Your Money And Take Your Chance 7. All's Quiet On The Inner City Front 8. Justice 9. Broken Wheel 10. The Trouble With Normal 11. Tropic Moon 12. If I Had A Rocket Launcher 13. Waiting For A Miracle 14. Dust & Diesel 15. Yangui Go Home 16. Nicaragua
1. Peggy's Kitchen Wall 2. Santiago Dawn 3. Maybe The Poet 4. Lover's In A Dangerous Time 5. To Raise The Morning Star 6. People See Through You 7. Planet Of The Clowns 8. Berlin Tonight 9. Where The Death Squad Lives 10. Anything Can Happen 11. Call It Democracy 12. Gospel Of Bondage 13. Shipwrecked At The Stable Door 14. Radium Rain 15. Understanding Nothing
1. Tibetan Side Of Town 2. Child Of The Wind 3. Great Big love 4. One Of The Best Ones 5. Soul of A Man 6. Cry Of A Tiny Babe 7. Kit Carson 8. Indian Wars 9. A Dream Like Mine 10. Someone I Used To Love 11. All The Ways I Want You 12. Live On My Mind 13. Bone In My Ear 14. Listen For The Laugh
1. The Mines Of Mozambique 2. The Coming Rains 3. Pacing The Cage 4. Night Train 5. the Whole Night Sky 6. Strange Waters 7. The Embers Of Eden 8. Get Up Jonah 9. When You Give It Away 10. Mango 11. Last Night Of The World 12. Use Me While You Can 13. Put It In Your Heart
1. All Our Dark Tomorrows 2. Trickle Down 3. Postcards From Cambodia 4. You've Never Seen Everything 5. My Beat 6. Tried And Tested 7. Tell The Universe 8. This Is Baghdad 9. Mystery 10. Beautiful Creatures 11. The Light Goes On Forever
RARE AND PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED DISC 8
1. Juan Carlos Theme 2. Waterwalker 3. My Hometown Avalon 4. Wise Users 5. Going Down The Road 6. The Whole Night Sky 7. Grinning Moon 8. Song For Touring Around The Stars 9. Come Down Healing 10. Mystery Walk (Instrumental) 11. The Trains Don't Come Here Anymore 12. Ribbon of Darkness 13. Turn Turn Turn 14. Honey Please Let The Deal Go Down
DVD Bruce Cockburn Live - The Slice O Life Tour Directed by Joel Goldberg Recorded May 15 - 17, 2008
1. Lovers In A Dangerous Time 2. Wait No More 3. How I Spent My Fall Vacation 4. Last Night of The World 5. If I had a rocket Launcher 6. Child Of the Wind 7. Night Train 8. Wondering where the lions are 9. If a tree falls 10. Mystery 11. King Kong 12. This Is Baghdad 13. Stolen Land 14. Pacing the Cage 15. Going To The Country 16. World of Wonders 17. Tibetan Side Of Town 18. The End Of All Rivers 19. Trouble With Normal 20. See You Tomorrow 21. Put it in your Heart 22. Tokyo
How to preorder the Box Set and the Book from True North
Pre-order the box set and view the full track listing HERE
Order the book and box set in a specially priced bundle HERE
Listen to a preview of the rare and unreleased tracks HERE
Watch a clip from the DVD HERE
About Bruce Cockburn: Born in 1945 in Ottawa, Ontario, Cockburn began his solo career with his 1970 self-titled album. His extensive repertoire of musical styles and skillfully crafted lyrics have been covered by such diverse artists as Jerry Garcia, Elbow, Chet Atkins, Judy Collins, Barenaked Ladies, Jimmy Buffett, and k.d. Lang. A devoted and deeply respected activist, he has worked with organizations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders, Friends of the Earth, and USC Canada.
The New York Times has called him a “virtuoso on guitar,” while Acoustic Guitar magazine placed him in the esteemed company of Andrés Segovia, Bill Frisell, and Django Reinhardt. Bruce Cockburn has released 31 albums, won 12 Juno Awards and 21 gold/platinum certifications. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Canada's highest honour in the performing arts), along with being a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame, and recipient of eight honorary doctorates from Universities throughout North America. Bernie Finkelstein, founder of True North Records, has been his management partner for 40 years.
RUMOURS OF GLORY - a memoir by Bruce Cockburn
with Greg King
HarperCollinsCanada, hardcover, $35.99
On-Sale November 4, 2014
To Purchase from HarperCollins:
Here is a link to an excerpt - Overture and Chapter 4: Rumours-of-Glory-A-Memoir-by-Bruce-Cockburn-Excerpt-Overture-and-Chapter-4
Here is a link to an excerpt - Chapter 11: Rumours-of-Glory-A-Memoir-by-Bruce-Cockburn-Excerpt-Chapter-11
Check here for the list of confirmed Book Tour dates.
RUMOURS OF GLORY
9 Disc box set, $149.99
Full tracklisting at www.truenorthrecords.com
Available October 28, 2014
Book Publicity Contact: Miranda Snyder
416-975-9334 x 165, firstname.lastname@example.org
US Book Publicity Contact: Renee Senogles
True North Records Publicity Contact: David MacMillan
905-681-8160 x 228, email@example.com
~ from Bernie Finkelstein/Official Bruce Cockburn Facebook page and True North Records
13 October 2014 - Legendary Canadian singer and songwriter Bruce Cockburn delivers his long-awaited memoir—a chronicle of faith, fear, and activism that is also a lively cultural and musical tour through the late twentieth century.
Award-winning songwriter and pioneering guitarist Bruce Cockburn’s life has been shaped by politics, protest, romance, and spiritual discovery. For more than five decades he has toured the globe, visiting far-flung places such as Guatemala, Mali, Mozambique, Afghanistan, and Nepal, performing and speaking out on diverse issues, from native rights and land mines to the environment and Third World debt. His journeys have been reflected in his music and evolving styles: folk, jazz, blues, rock, and worldbeat. Drawing from his experiences, he continues to create memorable songs about his ever-expanding universe of wonders.
As an artist with thirty-one albums, Cockburn has won numerous awards and the devotion of legions of fans across America and his native Canada, where he is a household name. Yet the man himself has remained a mystery. In his memoir, Cockburn invites us into his private world, sharing his Christian convictions, his personal relationships, and the social and political activism that has defined him and has both invigorated and incited his fans.
Eric: Why now for the new book, Rumours Of Glory? After all these years, because you’ve been a very personal songwriter and a writer that has always put his thoughts and feelings out there in songs.
Bruce: Over the years, I’ve been approached by various people volunteering to write my biography and by various publishers interested in putting out a memoir or an autobiography of some sort. It always felt too soon. If you’re going to do something like that, you have to have enough life to make a story out of. To be able to hopefully contribute some observations that mean something. I’ve been in book stores and seen coffee table books like The Life Of Whatever Teenage Popstar or a 30 year old hockey player who’s – yeah, they’ve got a story to tell but it’s hardly a life. You’d hope their lives are longer than that. There seemed like there wasn’t enough there yet and also there was my story to tell, not somebody elses in the case of those who wanted to write the book. 3-4 years ago Harpercollins approached me about doing a memoir, which they’d characterized as a spiritual memoir. It just seemed like after all this time and after many requests, this was the right one. The timing was right, because I felt like I was old enough and it was appropriate to do a book like that. They wanted me to write it. It just came together in that way. What they meant by spiritual memoir, they weren’t able to fully explain to me. So, I was left to try and figure out what that might mean.
Eric: Have you figured it out yet?
Bruce: No. But the book is done, [laughs]. The rest of the people are going to have to figure out whether it’s spiritual or something else but there’s a lot of talk about God in it. I think there probably would have been whether that had been the mandate or not, but since it was, it’s an obvious thing to put in – the spiritual aspect of my years on the planet too.
Eric: A lot of your songs anyway, I’d consider them not spiritual songs in a gospel sense but I think your religious attitude and your upbringing has to seep into the lyrics of your songs because it’s who you are as a person, it’s probably not that much of a stretch to call it spiritual.
Bruce: Certainly. I hope it isn’t. Youre right, there’s certainly a lot of that content in the songs so it’s appropriate it’d be in the book. There’s a lot of stuff in the book about how the songs came into existence. There’s a lot of songs mentioned in the book we’re actually going to put out a box set of all the songs that are mentioned in the book plus some other previous unreleased stuff that will hopefully coincide closely enough with the release of the book that people will be able to connect them together.
Eric: It’s a good time too. True North put out digitally, at least all of your catalog. They did it in super audio with flac files.
Bruce: It’s a pretty big catalog so I don’t think they covered it all but there are certainly some of those and I’m happy for that. It’d be nice to think that all of it would be available that way at some point. I’m not sure that’ll happen. But, the box set will cover the time span at least, if not all of the songs.
Eric: Do you keep a new journal once you knew you had to start writing everything down all over again?
Bruce: No. I’ve always kept notebooks but they’re not really journals, it’s not like I write every day and keep track of what happened every day. They’re song ideas that go into those notebooks. They were – most of the many notebooks that I’ve gone through over the years are in the archives in McMaster University, they were very helpful about getting access to that stuff. Certainly those were a useful resource in terms of writing the books. To be able to go back and see the context. Because I could remember, once I’m looking at the actual handwritten pages, a lot of stuff comes back that might not have otherwise been so present in the memory. I’ve never been systematic enough to keep a real diary or journal.
Eric: I had Jen Chapin on the show a few times. She workes for an organization called Why Hunger? We were talking about you, she loves and respects you immensely. We were talking about her family when she was young, and which seeds were sown that not only would help her become a musician, but giving her a spark that was going to be an activist as well and merge the two. Was there a time that you might have forgotten about that really kickstarted your activism? When it came down to writing lyrics on the music side?
Bruce: Nah, I hadn’t forgotten about it. It really was a product of my own experience. I didn’t grow up with that approach to things. We were a typical middle class Canadian family, which involved from the social point of view, a general awareness of what’s going on in the world and a certain compassion for peopel in difficulties. But a general disinclination to be involved [laughs]. That grew over time, I trace it back to – well, partly to the anti-war vibe of the 60s but much more to my own travels in the early 70s when we first started to travel across Canada. I started meeting Native people and becoming acquainted with what it was like to grow up as a first nations person in Canada. Meeting people my own age and their life experience being so different from mine, well, that’s not supposed to have been like that. I think it really started there, but it got a big kick forward in the early 80s with the first trip to Central America and subsequent travels: Chile the same year, 1983. Chile was interesting because at the time, it was like going to Nazi Germany.
They were living under a really brutal dictatorship. It was a first in their history, since their independance from Spain in 1800s, they had always been a Democrazy until the coo that produced this military dictatorship. It was that and a few other things, demographically it wasnt very differetn from Canada. Yes, mostly Spanish originally but the immigration waves that came from Europe were the same as the ones that came to Canada. Italians, Irish, etc. There was a lot of comparisons to be drawn between Chile and Canada. It just seemd to me that if it can happen in Chile, it can just as easily happen in Canada if we don’t maintaine our vigilance. Allowing for obvious temperamental and historical differences but there’s – it was close enough to be worrisome and to focus attention on the fact that not only was that going on, but even in that atmosphere, the distinction between art and politics in music especially is just not there in Latin America. It certainly wasn’t there in Chile. All the songwriters that spoke of political things in their songs were banned, some of them were sentenced to concentration camps. But, they were still doing it. For them, politics was part of life therefore it belonged in the songs. I came away from that experience having been educated in that way. Yeah, youre absolutely way. Politics is as much a part of the human experience as sex, God and hockey. Therefor wants inclusion in whatever art youre doing.
Eric: I grew up in the 80s and I remember waking up very early in the morning to tape Live Aid and that blended into me following the Amnesty International tours. That’s where I got the knowledge that music can truly be a force for good and evil, at times. It seems like after George Bush left office, there seems to be a very lackadaisical attitude from musicians – not that the audiences were always looking for their advice, I think we used to before but now we kind of don’t. Do you think there will ever be a moment where we’ll all agree that at least maybe in the music world that we need to band together and fight something? It just seems like a lot of artists don’t want to do it, they might be scared because of the repercussions in sales or radio play. Or maybe they just don’t feel like music and politics don’t mix.
Bruce: There’s an argument to be made for that latter point, but I don’t support it at this point. I used to feel that way a long time ago. But no, honestly I don’t know if it’ll ever happen like that and I don’t know that it ever has, really. I think that there’s always a strain of art that resists evil, let’s say, to keep it simple. That strain is still there, it’s around, it just doesn’t get any media coverage. At points, things – when it becomes popular for whatever reason and by whatever means for artists to be speaking out, then you hear those voices and of course other voices get added because people are encouraged by the popularity of something. If a bunch of famous artists get out and sing Free Nelson Mandela, all of a sudden the lesser artists or lesser known artists are encouraged to make their own statements too. But, those famous artists may be singing on that song because some other famous artist is doing it, not because they necessarily care about the issue. Everybody cares, we have to be realistic. Very few people are so lacking in compassion and interest in their fellow humans that they don’t care at all about these things, but to actually take the step to be involved and be heard requires more than just caring. It really is a question of opportunity and motive, I suppose.
Just like any other crimes, [laughs] out there. I think we’d make a mistake to assume because we’re not hearing those voices on the radio that they’re not there. I think that – how often do you hear Ani Difranco on the radio? Certainly on commercial radio, you’re not going to hear it at all. You don’t have to sing about politics all the time. There’s nothing wrong with singing love songs or old Appalachian river ballads or whatever. But it’s important to keep your focus, I think and be aware of the stuff that’s going on and not be afraid to get up and sing about it. Along with the other stuff that you’re singing about. I think it becomes, perhaps some artists are called to make a whole career about it, for one of a better word, protest music. I don’t find that it’s usually the case. Most people whom become associated with that and in the minds of the media or the public, are doing a lot of other stuff too. Jackson Browne, for example. Music business people tell me, oh Jackson Browne’s career really went down the tubes after he started doing Central American protest stuff. When I look at how Jackson Browne is doing these days, I don’t see the evidence of any tubes but that’s how they felt. Yet, at the same time for me, when I had “Lovers In A Dangerous Time” come out, it was a huge boost to my so-called career. So, that song got on the radio and it didn’t hurt me at all. It’s really all about the spin and to some extent we have the ability to influence the spin so we should’t be afraid of it.
~ from Bruce Cockburn: “There’s nothing wrong with singing love songs or old Appalachian river ballads” - by Eric Alper - Think Tank
15 September 2014 - This weekend, Winnipeggers eagerly awaiting the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will gather at The Forks for the grand opening celebrations. We were thrilled to partner with the Museum to curate three shows happening this weekend.
A Manitoban showcase featuring Del Barber, Royal Canoe, marijosée, Sierra Noble and The Bros. Landreth will take place on Saturday, September 20 from 3:00 – 5:00 PM on the RightsFest Mainstage.
Find diversity on stage at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Concert on September 20 from 6:30 – 9:00 PM with Buffy Sainte-Marie, Bruce Cockburn, SHAD, Ashley MacIsaac, A Tribe Called Red and Marie Pierre Arthur.
On Sunday, September 21, Folk Fest alumni Delhi 2 Dublin will play the RightsFest Mainstage along with DUGAS and Oh My Darling. Click here for the full schedule of events this weekend.
In anticipation of the opening celebrations, we spoke to Bruce Cockburn about human rights and the link between issues and music.
Four Questions About Human Rights with Bruce Cockburn
What does being part of the opening celebrations of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights mean to you?
It’s a great honour to be asked to participate in this event. Many people are looking forward to it and I’m looking forward to being there.
What do you think the role of music is in human rights?
It’s an indirect connection. When I write a song, it’s about a person I met, a situation I was in and how I felt about it. If there is a connection to human rights, then that’s what the song is about. I don’t sit down and try to write a human rights song, but if I meet a survivor of a refugee camp, that experience inspires me to sit down and write “If I Had A Rocket Launcher.”
Music is also educational. People may not read the right blogs or papers to find out about human rights, but they can listen to a song and learn.
How has activism and the pursuit of Human Rights shaped your music?
When I was going to music school, I remember hearing Buffy Sainte-Marie at a club in Boston. The songs that she sang were meaningful and had a profound influence on me. I can say the same of the songs by Bob Dylan. Their affect is two-fold: they taught me that it’s okay to write songs about human rights, not just about love, and that way of writing is powerful. I hope to make other people feel that way with my music.
Who is your inspiration?
So many artists and experiences – whatever or whoever makes me look around and feel.
~from Four Questions about Human Rights
1 August 2014 - For the first time in his career, Bruce Cockburn has taken a break from songwriting while working on his memoirs.
“I’ve been writing a book the last two years or more,” he said from his home in San Francisco. “I look forward to actually being a songwriter again, starting any time now.”
Rumours of Glory: A Memoir has gone into final editing and is scheduled for release Nov. 4. In the meantime, he’s back touring again and will bring his trio that includes violinist Jenny Scheinman and drummer Gary Craig to the inaugural Kingsville Folk Festival, Aug. 8.
Having recorded 31 albums in 40 years, Cockburn said it has been a strange experience not to have new product to promote. His last studio album was Small Source of Comfort in 2011.
But then his life has changed dramatically in the last four or five years.
He married longtime companion M.J. Hannett, a lawyer, just after the birth of his second daughter, Iona, in 2011. The family moved to San Francisco where Hannett works for the U.S. government.
Iona is two-and-a-half and keeps the 69-year-old Cockburn on his toes.
“Between the baby and the book, I’ve had no time at all to work on music,” he said.
That’s going to change soon, however. “I won’t promise but I may have something new to play when I get to Kingsville.”
Cockburn said he spurned previous offers to have his life story told. “The timing just didn’t seem right.”
But when his new publisher, Harper Collins, approached him with the idea of doing a book of memoirs with a spiritual focus, he agreed.
“They had this idea for a spiritual memoir but didn’t offer any thoughts on what they meant by that. So I sort of came up with the concept with the help of a journalist friend of mine, Greg King.”
Cockburn said he “knocked off” about 100 pages about his childhood in short order, but then got bogged down.
“The kinds of memories you have of your childhood life are different from the kinds of memories of your adult life. In many ways adult memories are intertwined with what’s going on in your life right now.”
He dug through notebooks of his many trips around the world which are archived at Hamilton’s McMaster University. But he decided not to simply publish a compendium of old notes.
“I include some stuff that comes from my trips to Central America and Chile,” he said. “But mostly there are a lot of song lyrics because much of the book is about how the songs were born.”
Rumours of Glory, the title of course scooped from one of his best-known songs, takes readers from his birth in Ottawa in 1945 to his visit to Baghdad in 2004.
“I felt that was the right place to end it. So many things have changed in my life since 2004. My life had headed in many different directions, and where it ends is unknown as yet.”
He documented some of his thoughts about Iraq and the political situation at the time in the album, Life Short Call Now. The song This is Baghdad is a monumental, strings-laden portrait of the war-torn city, not a polemic as some of his songs can be.
Since that time, his music has taken on a mellower, almost playful, quality.
He’s not tipping his hand about what’s next musically, but he is enjoying not having to pump the songs of his latest album on the current tour.
“It’s kind of nice to be free of the need to emphasize a particular album,” he said, although admitting he usually prefers to play his newer songs.
Part of that urge has been satisfied by rearranging some of the older stuff.
“The curious thing is that after a while the songs are old enough that they could almost be somebody else’s songs. If I were to play an Elvis Presley song, I wouldn’t just do it like Elvis Presley. I’d have to think of how to do it in my style.
“How would I do Rumours of Glory or World of Wonders now? It’s a mental process you go through.”
~ from The Windsor Star - Bruce Cockburn itching to get back to writing songs - by Ted Shaw
24 July 2014- Winnipeg - Nationally recognized musicians, children’s activities, local culture and tours all part of weekend-long RightsFest celebrating CMHR inauguration.
Canadians are invited to join in a full weekend of free events and performances on September 20 and 21 in celebration of the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).
Museum representatives and event partners said the two-day festival – titled RightsFest – would offer something for people of all ages and backgrounds, from an open-air Canadian Concert for Human Rights starring nationally renowned musicians, to daytime activities and programs that explore and celebrate the rights and responsibilities Canadians share.
“The opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is reason for national celebration, and the invitation to join in the weekend of festivities is open to all,” CMHR President and CEO Stuart Murray said today at a media event held at the Museum to announce the inaugural weekend program.
Murray said the Museum’s inaugural celebrations would offer something for everyone, including:
The free guided tours will allow as many people as possible to enjoy a look inside the Museum on the inaugural weekend, Murray said. After welcoming thousands of visitors on September 20 and 21, a number of smaller partner events will take place inside the Museum the following week. Regular paid admissions will begin on Saturday, September 27.
Information on how to reserve free tickets for the preview tours will be announced in late August, along with a full RightsFest schedule including performance times and locations.
“The Canadian Museum for Human Rights – the first national museum to be located outside the National Capital Region – will soon open its doors to the world,” said Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages Shelly Glover. “I look forward to joining Winnipeggers as well as people from across the country and around the world as they take part in festivities surrounding the official opening.”
The line-up for the free Canadian Concert for Human Rights, curated in partnership with the Winnipeg Folk Festival, was also announced today.
"We are thrilled to work with an organization whose values are so well aligned with our own,” said Winnipeg Folk Festival Artistic Director Chris Frayer. “The folk music genre has always been steeped in the pursuit of equality for all and it was with that in mind that we put together this diverse line-up of incredibly talented Canadian artists.”
A broadcast and production partnership between the Museum and Rogers will bring the concert to families across Canada, both on live television and via live webcast. The live concert broadcast will also be carried nationally by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).
The CMHR is working with Manitoba arts and cultural organizations to bring top Manitoba talent to the RightsFest stages throughout the inaugural weekend. A Manitoba Music Showcase of home-grown talent will precede the Canadian Concert for Human Rights during the afternoon of Saturday, September 20.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. Using multimedia technology and other innovative approaches, the CMHR will create inspiring encounters with human rights for all ages, in a visitor experience unlike any other.
For more information, please contact:Rhea Yates, CMHR media relations advisor, (204) 289-2120, Cell: (204) 806-3526, firstname.lastname@example.org
~ from The Canadian Museum for Human Rights
27 July 2014 - So by now you may have heard of David Suzuki's National Blue Dot Tour. I'm proud to say that Bruce Cockburn will be joining David in Concert in Edmonton at the Winspear Theatre on October 28. This won't be the first time Bruce has been involved in a show with David as about 10 years ago or perhaps even longer, they did a show together in Ottawa. The Blue Dot tour has an incredible number of great Canadian artists playing in different cities along the way including Neil Young, Feist, The Barenaked Ladies and Jim Cuddy. Check your local market to see who's playing in your hometown or a town near you. Also attached is a postcard that will alllow to join the Blue Dot Movement and find out more about the event. ~ Bernie Finkelstein
July 24, 2014 - VANCOUVER - Beloved environmentalist David Suzuki has announced plans to tour Canada — with support from high-profile pals including author Margaret Atwood, painter Robert Bateman and musicians Bruce Cockburn, Feist, Jim Cuddy and Neil Young.
Organizers say The Blue Dot Tour could "possibly" by Suzuki's final national speaking tour.
It's set to visit 20 communities from St. John's to Vancouver between Sept. 24 and Nov. 9.
The tour is expected to combine concerts with community events.
As the longtime host of CBC's "The Nature of Things," Suzuki has developed a rabid following, along with a knack for explaining complex scientific concepts to Canadians in plainspoken language.
Trained as a geneticist, the Vancouver-based scientists has written 52 books and holds 25 honorary degress.
"This is the most important thing I've ever done," Suzuki said of the tour. "I am so honoured that these incredible Canadians are joining me to celebrate the simple yet powerful idea that all Canadians should have the right to drink clean water, breathe fresh air and eat healthy food."
Others expected to take the stage during The Blue Dot Tour include Emily Haines from Metric, Jenn Grant, Chantal Kreviazuk, Joel Plaskett and children's performer Raffi.
"All of these incredible Canadian performers, leaders and icons are joining David Suzuki because they share his commitment to protecting the people and places we love," said Michiah Prull of the David Suzuki Foundation.
~from The Canadian Press - David Suzuki launches speaking tour..