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16 October 2017 - Bone On Bone album review by californiarocker.com, concert review and interview/article by Graham Rockingham, interveiw / article by Lynn Saxberg, interview / article by Joel Rubinoff, and concert review NAC and interview by Peter Robb added to this page. The 2017 Setlist Archives have been updated.
13 October 2017 - There's still time to VOTE for Stealing Fire for the Polaris Heritage Prize.
8 & 9 October 2017 - The 2017 Setlist Archives have been updated.
26 September 2017 - Vote for Stealing Fire for Polaris Heritage Award article added to this page.
25 September 2017 - NAC concert review added to this page and the 2017 Setlist Archives have been updated.
23 September 2017 - Live stream data for the CSHF induction ceremony added to this page. Mongabay audio link added to this page.
18 September 2017 - The 2017 Setlist Archives have been updated.
14 September 2017 - Setlists and audio added 2017 Setlist Archives.
13 September 2017 - Bone On Bone album page updated with reviews. The Agenda television interview link has been added. Bone On Bone info article added to this page. Interviews from spacedoutscientist.com and the chronicleherald.ca added to this page.
8 September 2017 - First listen Bone On Bone - No Depression link added to this page. New Tour Dates have been added.
7 September 2017 - New First Look Bone On Bone article/interview CBC added to this page (for Canada).
26 August 2017 - New Tour Date added.
21 August 2017 - WFPK interview (audio) link added to this page. Interview from Zoomer magazine added to this page. Link to Christian Today article on 'songs about faith', added to this page. Older articles have been backed up to the News Archive
26 July 2017 - Link to audio interview about 'Bone On Bone' added to this page. Link new song preview of Forty Years In The Wilderness added to this page. The 2017 Setlist Archive has been updated with an hour long live recording (don't miss this one!).
22 July 2017 - A new Tour Date has been added.
18 July 2017 - The 2017 Setlist Archive has been updated. Bone On Bone article on this page has been updated.
12 July 2017 - Bone On Bone press release added to this page. New Tour Dates have been added.
9 July 2017 - Articles and interviews: FYI Music, Prince George, and Rocket Launcher added to this page. The 2017 Setlist Archive has been updated.
30 June 2017 - New Tour Dates has been added.
27 June 2017 - The 2017 Setlist Archive has been updated with setlists and photos from the beginning of the summer festival season tour dates.
16 May 2017 - CSHF indcutee article added to this page. Article/interview from OttawaStart.com added to this page.
Interview by Daniel Lumpkin for Christianity Today
FAN REPORTS FROM PAST SHOWS
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"Bone On Bone"
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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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6 October 2017 - Bruce Cockburn’s music has never been simple and straightforward because Cockburn is a complicated musician-poet who is ever unafraid to follow his muse. Wherever it leads.
These days, he is straying away from the (relatively) more traditional Christianity of his recent past, and onto a much more mystical path. Listeners first introduced to Cockburn’s music because of his admittedly thin association with what’s sometimes termed ‘Contemporary Christian music,’ may be disappointed with the artist’s current non-specific spiritual vision. But then again, if anyone ever assumed Cockburn would fit into any sort of pre-determined evangelical mold, probably wasn’t ever listening too closely from the start.Cockburn Mellows With Age
Perhaps what’s most surprising about Cockburn’s latest Bone to Bone album (his whopping 33rd to date!), is how unexpectedly gentile he sounds throughout. Can this really be the same man that aimed his lyrical missive at cruel warmongers with "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" back in 1984? Shouldn’t a man so unforgiving of the Bush presidencies be uncontrollably livid with Donald Trump? Perhaps this is an angry, graying man, somehow keeping much of his outrage within. Might it be his resistance isn’t yet showing through in his music? Hard to fathom, but possibly true. Yet, instead of aiming his political weaponry at the current administration, Cockburn sings — for example — about the social networking, pseudo political expertise of our "Café Society."
For this avowed spiritualist (confessed to be in a kind of ‘dark night of the soul,’ expressed best with opener "States I’m In"), Cockburn is nevertheless especially God-centered throughout much of his new 11-song collection. These musings range from the sonically gospel-y "Jesus Train," to the actual traditional gospel-blues of "Twelve Gates to The City." Seeker Cockburn is at his most conspicuously vertically-centered during "Looking and Waiting." It is one of Cockburn’s best expressly spiritual songs since many of the similarly like-minded songs on his masterwork Humans. With it, Cockburn sings of being doggedly undeterred in his quest for the divine. He’s "scanning the skies," and scouring nature in his search; albeit with "no clear view." It’s a song sure to please both the faithful and the curious about all things spiritual.'Highly Evolved Guitar'
The album’s title cut is an instrumental that reminds us of Cockburn’s highly evolved guitar skills. Even though he doesn’t sing a single note on it, the tune builds dramatically like an intensifying film score. Producer Colin Linden consistently surrounds Cockburn with many ear-popping aural elements, including Ron Miles’ jazzy flugelhorn solos in a few notable places.
Cockburn also keeps listeners pleasantly surprised with his various lyrical approaches. "Mon Chemin," for instance, finds him fluently singing in French, while "3 Al Purdys" incorporates quoted Al Purdy poetic lines in an unusual song sung from the perspective of a literate homeless man.
To paraphrase scripture, Cockburn’s latest work is not intended for the spiritually immature; ones still dining on a diet of milk. Instead, it’s a meaty dish. It’s also a thoughtful, intense and endless creative work, which is Bruce Cockburn at his best.
Bruce Cockburn, Bone to Bone; True North Records
1 October 2017 - I must admit to being a bit shocked when I heard Bruce Cockburn was being inducted this year into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
I'm sure my thoughts were shared by many Cockburn fans — "You mean he wasn't already in it?"
That shock was somewhat ameliorated when I learned that one of his co-inductees was Neil Young.
"Well, all right then," I said to myself. "Bruce is finally getting the recognition he deserves."
So it was. A little over a week ago Cockburn was feted by his peers in a gala Hall of Fame concert at Toronto's Massey Hall. (Neil was there too, of course, but this column isn't about him.)
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, featuring Hamilton's own Tom Wilson, took the stage to perform Cockburn's classic "If I had a Rocket Launcher," and Buffy Sainte-Marie hailed him as "an agitator, an activist, a protester."
On Saturday night at Hamilton's FirstOntario Concert Hall, Cockburn proved he is all that and much more. He's not just a songwriter, a protester or a poet. He's also one heck of a guitarist.
At 72, Cockburn is white of hair and a little stooped in posture, but he's lost none of his renegade spirit or his consummate musical skills.
He demonstrated that time and time again during his 18-song set, playing a seemingly endless stream of guitars — acoustic, electric, 12-string, six-string and a strange little number that looked like a ukulele but sounded like a jet stream.
His fingers effortlessly danced over the strings on oldies like "Wondering Where the Lions Are," as well as new songs like "States I'm In" from his "Bone on Bone" album.
He played jazz-infused, gospel-tinged blues on another new song called "40 Years in the Wilderness" and let the feedback fly on a fiery versions of signature songs "Rocket Launcher" and "If a Tree Falls."
He was backed by the rhythm section of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings — drummer Gary Craig and bassist John Dymond — and his nephew, multi-instrumentalist John Aaron Cockburn, who together managed to lay down the perfect accompaniment to Cockburn's genre-bending lead.
Still, it was the songs that made the night. Lyrics Cockburn first sang decades ago were given new relevancy. He reached back in his catalogue for "Free to Be," a track he recorded in 1977 in opposition to the rise of white supremacist groups like the Western Guard.
"I forgot about that song for a very long time … and then the news happened recently," Cockburn explained to the audience.
Cockburn has been always been ahead of the pack. What may have seemed radical 30 years ago, now seems main stream, perhaps even fashionable.
Almost to prove the point, Cockburn closed the show with a blistering rendition of "Stolen Land," a song he wrote in 1986 about the injustices suffered by the world's Indigenous people. Judging by the standing ovation Cockburn was given, it seems the message may finally be getting through.
•Opening for Cockburn, was Hamilton singer-songwriter Terra Lightfoot, who performed a solo set that featured several songs from her upcoming album "New Mistakes." Lightfoot is a roots rocker who usually is backed by a full band, but the quality of new songs like "Paradise," "Drifter" and "Norma Gale" easily won over the audience. "New Mistakes" will be available Oct. 13 on Sonic Unyon Records. Lightfoot is setting off on a tour of North America, Japan and Australia before returning home for a concert with her band on Jan. 13 at McMaster University's LIVElab theatre.
~from Graham Rockingham - Hamilton Spectator, photo Scott Gardner,The Hamilton Spectator.
23 September 2017 - BRUCE WAS INDUCTED TO INTO THE CANADIAN SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME ON SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 23 - from Massey Hall.
Here is a Recap of the ceremony, with videos, photos and Bruce's speech in his own hand. [6 October 2017 - Video of Bruce's speech has been added as has Buffy Saint-Marie's introduction speech.]
23 September 2017 - The back is slightly bent and the hair has been bleached by time but Bruce Cockburn, that musical lion, doesn’t seem ready for eternity quite yet, even if he might be thinking about it.
The legendary singer songwriter returned Friday night to a packed Southam Hall in the National Arts Centre with a tight band that featured his nephew John Aaron Cockburn on guitar and accordion and longtime musical associates Gary Craig on drums and John Dymond on bass, and a new lineup of music from his first album in seven years called Bone On Bone. It is the 33rd of a storied career that began in Ottawa in the 1960s.
Delivering this new album was not easy. Cockburn has said in many interviews that he struggled to find the muse after finishing a memoir called Rumours of Glory. The man writes songs based on inspiration, a spark that ignites a song and he couldn’t find it until he helped in a fundraiser to preserve the home of the Canadian poet Al Purdy. Thinking about the poet produced a song called 3 Al Purdys and all of a sudden the fire was lit.
Cockburn’s part of the evening opened up, early on, with a crowd-pleasing rendition of Lovers in a Dangerous Time from 1984. Getting one of the hits out of the way cleared the way for a run of songs from the new album which showed the man has lost nothing off his voice or his picking or his ability to write a lyric that is multi-layered in meaning.
States I’m In is such a tune. It’s the song that is put forward on his website as an entry point to the new album … “All the places I’ve been each one reflected in the states I’m in…”
One aspect of this new record is its embrace of spiritual matters. Cockburn has found spirituality in his latter years accompanying his wife to a church in San Francisco, where they live with their six-year-old daughter.
Cockburn has always leaned to the spiritual but now he is more clearly focussed on what he indicated in an interview [Interview date August 25, 2017] with ARTSFILE, as God’s plan.
The songs from Bone On Bone, such as 40 Years in the Wilderness, which he played Friday night, reflect that sentiment. But he’s not abandoned concerns for such things as the environment which was at the heart of the intense and pointed song False River off the new disc. He also spoke to the need for reconciliation in Canada with indigenous nations in the song Stolen Land which was released in 1990.
He flashed back to the tune Free To Be (1977) which took a shot at an extreme right wing organization called the Western Guard. North American society today faces another resurgence of this kind of white nationalism, making Cockburn’s song a prescient warning. And he fired up his Rocket Launcher to underline the point. Nor did he ignore my particular favourite Wondering Where the Lions Are. It’s hard to believe it was released in 1979.
Cockburn’s guitar skills haven’t suffered a whit from the ravages of time. He can pick it any way you want it from a classical sound with hints of Spain in it to flat out rock guitar god. This was amply demonstrated in every song including the instrumental Bone On Bone that is on the CD of the same name.
Cockburn’s evening wrapped up with a standing ovation and three encore tunes including an oldie The Coldest Night of the Year and ending with a nod to God in the song Jesus Train.
Now it’s on to Toronto where Cockburn is to be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame along with another legend Neil Young, along wth Quebecers Beau Dommage and Stéphane Venne.
The evening opened with Hamilton, Ontario’s Terra Lightfoot, who offered her own strong voice and talent on the guitar in a stripped down performance of new music from her next album, New Mistakes, which is coming out in October.
~from Peter Robb - artsfile.ca. [Interview date August 25, 2017]
22 September 2017 - Bruce Cockburn, 72, lives in San Francisco but calls Canada “the single island of sanity in the Western hemisphere.” - True North Records
Bruce Cockburn, the angry Canadian composer of "If I had a Rocket Launcher," has been living in the land of Donald Trump for the past eight years, surprisingly content.
Cockburn is on the phone from his home in San Francisco to talk about his new studio album "Bone On Bone" and his upcoming Canadian concert tour that will take him and his band to Hamilton's FirstOntario Centre on Sept. 30.
OK, San Francisco isn't exactly the land of Trump. It's actually an oasis of liberalism in a nation that happens to be run by that very unliberal guy who recently told the United Nations he was prepared to destroy North Korea and it's little dog, too.
I've been interviewing Cockburn for many years now. He doesn't shy away from political fencing. He always seemed ready to do battle with the world's injustices. If there was a tree to hug, both arms were wide open. If there was a whale to save, Bruce was aboard. And if a Junta needed taking out … well … there was that rocket launcher.
So after the usual pleasantries, our conversation naturally turned to some carefree banter about the new America.
"It's a crazy country," Cockburn admits with an understated laugh, noting that his time in the U.S. has made him appreciate his native country. "Canada, for all of its issues and there are many, is the single island of sanity in the Western hemisphere."
But he is not grabbing for the nearest rocket launcher. His wife M.J. Hannett has a law career in San Francisco and their five-year-old daughter Iona has just started Grade 1 there. Unless things get really crazy in America, he's there for the long haul.
He admits to concern about the polarized nature of American political discussion, on both the right and the left.
"The unwillingness to see the other guy's point of view is very common," says Cockburn, a native of Ottawa. "That's part of the energy of the country. On the positive side, we know that the U.S. has great energy and great things get done here."
At 72, the iconic songwriter is sounding more like a moderate than an iconoclast. Trump is a setback, but things will work themselves out. Right now, Cockburn has more important things on his mind. He's looking at life from the narrow end of life's road.
"What seems urgent now is not the same that seemed urgent in 1980," he says. "I know some stuff I didn't know then, and I have a sense of how much I don't know. I see this threshold approaching that requires a different sort of attention than the stuff you notice when you are younger.
"Bone On Bone ," released Sept. 15 on the Waterdown-based True North Records label, is Cockburn's 33rd album, the first from a studio in six years.
Produced by Colin Linden of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, the album is filled with the brilliant guitar playing and beautiful lyricism that have become Cockburn trademarks. It's an extraordinary accomplishment for an artist whose career spans more than five decades.
The album's 11 songs reflect an awareness of where the writer stands in the arc of life. When Cockburn decided to call it "Bone OnBone," he was thinking of joint pain.
"It's about having lived this long," Cockburn says without hesitation. "I think of it as a kind of darkly joyous exercise in noticing where you are. At this point, what's ahead of you is shorter than what is behind you."
There are some lighthearted tracks like "Café Society," filled with snippets of conversation from the local coffee shop, and "3 Al Purdys," written for a documentary about the life of the great Canadian poet.
There are also songs with a strong gospel tinge — not preachy, but traditional, as if borrowed from a southern Baptist church. Cockburn attributes the gospel sound to his return to the church.
"I had just hit a point in my life where that had become a dominant theme again, so it's a dominant theme in the songs," he explains.
Cockburn was a church goer in the '70s and that spirituality is embroidered into much of his work during that era. In 1980, however, Cockburn stopped attending church and took a more humanist, often political, approach to his art.
Three Christmases ago, things changed with the death of a close family friend in a house fire. Cockburn's wife took solace in San Francisco's Lighthouse community church. She asked him to accompany her.
"One day I finally gave in and I was completely captivated," he says. "I stepped through the door and there was this wall of love and great music, a small congregation with no pretences. Everyone that goes there goes because they want to be there. The vibe was great, very democratic and welcoming."
"Reconnecting with that particular approach to spirituality led to what's on the album."
The release of "Bone On Bone" comes at a time when interest in Cockburn's extensive catalogue is burgeoning. On Saturday, Sept. 23, he will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriter's Hall of Fame along with Neil Young, Beau Dommage and Stephane Venne at Toronto's Massey Hall.
Hamilton's Tom Wilson, who will be among several artists performing tributes to Cockburn at the ceremony, says it is time Cockburn receives such recognition.
"He's an iconic messenger who is known all around the world," Wilson says. "He's done so many things with his art."
~from Graham Rockingham - Hamilton Spectator.
23 September 2017 - Here's a link to a great online interview/article Cockburn Comes to Terms with Life by Graham Rockingham.
Concert Review: Bruce Cockburn at the NAC with Terra Lightfoot
By Apartment613 - Colin Noden
24 September 2017 - I’m going to tell you why this may have been the concert of a lifetime, but first I have a question. Is banter a thing at Bruce Cockburn concerts? Or was this a welcome home response for a local kid who made good?
Bruce came out blasting in his first two numbers, with “Tokyo” and “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” given a driving instrument dominate sound. Then, assured he had our attention, he began to tune his guitar.
“Welcome home!” was shouted from the back of the audience. Bruce responded, and so it began. Every tuning pause had someone toss a comment on stage. And Bruce tossed one back. It began to feel like we were all sitting around a campfire with good ol’ Bruce from Nepean High, who was in town to party for the night and just happened to bring along his six guitars. Of course, that’s just how Bruce wanted it.
The two hours that followed were expertly crafted in song selection and dynamics. They also showcased a musician at the top of his game. Bruce immediately served notice that he is a musical force for the here and now.
His guitar playing is mind blowing. Yes, there is still the trademark clean plucking of old, but last night left no doubt that Bruce Cockburn is best-in-class in Jazz, Blues and Rock as well. The “Bone on Bone” instrumental jazz piece was literally hypnotic. “Stolen Lands” had shredding that brought us into the ecstatic centre of a pow-wow. It was amazing. He captured the emotions, the shuffle and stomp of the dance, and the literal voices of the singers were coming out through his fingers.
It was a performance that would have given other top musicians a stroke. Yet there he was, slightly stooped over the strings, as if just listening to what was coming out. If there was any emotion shown, it was from drummer Gary Craig who kept up using everything at his disposal, even improvising by using a rattle to beat the floor tom. All done with a wild smile on his face.
The bottom line, is that if you want to hear some of the best guitar playing across multiple genres, then Bruce Cockburn is your guy. But what about the singing? Well, you could say Bruce has been blessed with a voice that ages well and suits his message. I’ll leave it at that. There’s nothing wrong with his lungs though. In his first set, he sustained a note so long that I was looking for the synthesizer. But it was all him.
The old songs, and some new songs, were as poetic and mystical as I remembered. But the lyrics that hit me hardest were his picture poem songs. They were a newsreel of images through words. The only commentary was through the music. There was no need for any reflective editorial. We got the message. The activist is still alive and kicking in him.
I said this was the live concert of a lifetime. This was one you’ll be talking about for years. A musician at the top of his game.
The only reason that statement may not be true is if Bruce Cockburn continues to improve. And from what I experienced, that may be the case. He is a genius at setting a program. He’s blowing out the walls with his guitar skills. He is relevant and as outspoken as ever.
~from and to continue reading - apt613.ca/concert-review-bruce-cockburn-at-the-nac-with-terra-lightfoot/
Setlist and more photos
22 September 2017 - Prior to his induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Ottawa-born musician and activist speaks with Brad Wheeler about the significant songs of his career
This weekend is one of those points – when the singer-songwriter and virtuoso guitarist is inducted (along with Stéphane Venne, Neil Young and Beau Dommage) into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. The gala event takes place at Massey Hall, a venue he first headlined in 1972.
Now, at the age of 72, the Ottawa-born musician and activist has just released Bone on Bone, his 33rd album and first in six years. Sitting in a hotel room across the street from Massey Hall, the eloquent protester, clear-voiced seeker and six-string dazzler spoke to The Globe and Mail about the significant songs of his career. Not necessarily the hits, but the signposts along the way that mark a career – a hall of fame one at that.
Going to the Country, 1970:
"I dropped out of the Berklee School of Music in Boston at the end of 1965. It wasn't where I was meant to be. By the end of the sixties, I had written maybe 20 songs. They sounded better to me when I did them alone, rather than with any of the bands I was in. Going to the Country was one of the songs that people noticed on my first album. I wrote it as a passenger in a car going to Montreal. I took notes as I looked out the window. The song became a template for one of the strains of songwriting that I've done. The folky guitar and observational lyrics, that perhaps were very early manifestation of the reportage approach to lyric writing that has shown up a lot in my work."
Sunwheel Dance, 1972:
"It was the first instrumental piece that I recorded. I'd learned a lot about finger-picking from various sources and people I'd encountered. There was an American named Fox Watson, who was transcribing fiddle tunes for guitar. You'd have these beautiful melodies, with a really nice harmonic approach to them. I absorbed a fair amount from that. Sunwheel Dance led to Foxglove, on my next album, which got more attention. It's named after Fox Watson."
All the Diamonds in the World, 1974:
"My first overtly Christian song. It was when I started calling myself a Christian. I'd become that, in everything but the commitment. And having made the commitment, it was necessary to use the term. This song commemorates that commitment. Because of the lyrical content, the musical style was self-consciously hymn-like. The chord changes were quite churchy, which was quite different for me then, and remains so."
Wondering Where the Lions Are, 1979:
"The success of Wondering Where the Lions Are was a big surprise. It was both very welcome and very fraught. All of a sudden, I'm in the PR machine of an American record company. All of a sudden, we're touring in way more places. We played it on Saturday Night Live. It was so terrifying. It was American national TV, and I didn't feel ready for it all."
If I Had a Rocket Launcher, 1984:
"After Wondering Where the Lions Are, there wasn't anything on the radar in the States. Years went by and then If I Had a Rocket Launcher came out. It took things up another notch. It shocked me that anybody played it on the radio at all. I almost didn't record it. I was afraid it would be misconstrued. There were other songs about Central America on the album, Stealing Fire. I didn't want people to think that I just wrote the song because I thought they should go down and kill Guatemalan soldiers. But there were enough people who understood it that I felt okay to having done it."
Get Up Jonah, 1996:
"I was in St. Louis, looking out of a hotel room window at the sun coming up on the other side of the Mississippi. I'd been up all night, worrying about the things going on in my life. The song relates to the Jonah story in the Bible. It's addressed to me. I'm Jonah, telling myself to get off my ass and do whatever I was supposed to be doing. Something about the track I was on was wrong. I was satisfied with the status quo. Get Up Jonah is about accepting an invitation, from the cosmos, to take the next step. I really like that song, though I haven't done it for a long time."
Forty Years in the Wilderness, 2017:
"This song is Get Up Jonah, part two, in a way. You're still being invited to follow the road where it leads, but you're older. Maybe not wiser, but less angsty. After I wrote my memoir [2014's Rumours of Glory], I hadn't written a song in four years. I started going to church again, after not having gone for decades. There was a sermon about Jesus being baptized, which is when he really figures out who he is. He's shocked, and he runs out into the desert to figure it out. That struck me with considerable force. I felt like I'd been struggling with that issue for 40 years. I'd started to identify myself as a Christian in the 1970s, and here I was, 40 years later, back in church. And I'm living in San Francisco now, with my wife and child. I never would have imagined myself living on the West Coast. But it was an answer. I went with it. I went west in another one of those cosmic moments. This song is about accepting those invitations."
~ from Bruce Cockburn - a life in seven songs by Brad Wheeler - Globe and Mail. (Inteview date: September 11, 2017)
26 September 2017 - Once again Bruce's "Stealing Fire" is nominated for a Polaris Heritage Prize. It's in the company of many great albums but we don't mind if you decide to vote for Bruce's record. Here's the link to VOTE.
Bruce Cockburn still making music that matters
by Joel Rubinoff - Waterloo Region Record
'Other people got the megaphone and somebody needs to take it away from them and say more truthful things'
22 September 2017 - Bruce Cockburn sounds vaguely bewildered.
He's 72-years-old, decades past his commercial heyday, an album artist in a sea of streaming singles — let's be blunt, a dinosaur — and yet somehow, inexplicably, young people keep showing up to hear him play.
For a guy with no false modesty who keeps expectations to a minimum, it's like finding out the tooth fairy is real.
"There's a scene in an old movie called 'The Ruling Class,' with Peter O'Toole, where he takes his place in the British House of Lords," allows the Ottawa-born singer-songwriter with self-deprecating humour.
"Some are still alive, some are just cadavers with cobwebs. I pictured this 'getting old with my audience' thing a bit like that."
He laughs, making it clear he would have no issues.
"But luckily there's always been new interest. In the last couple of years, there have been a greater number of younger people coming to shows and, strangely, a lot of them tell me they grew up with my stuff.
"Their parents played it."
His own parents, he points out, played the soundtrack to the Broadway musical "My Fair Lady" and the Victorian operas of Gilbert and Sullivan — old school bombast the young Cockburn loathed with a passion.
"I would have gone miles out of my way to avoid having to go to a show of any of that music," he confides from his home in San Francisco. "And yet, here are people who experience my music in the same context, but they're coming.
"It's great . . . (befuddled sigh) . . . I don't understand it."
There's a lot of things he doesn't understand, and none of it makes any difference.
Cockburn is Cockburn — always has been.
Sensitive and softspoken — almost to the point of apologetic — the 12-time Juno winner speaks in vague generalities, hesitates before committing himself to a single argument and weighs the pros and cons of everything, always tempering, balancing, on point.
He's the Clark Kent of Canadian Folk Rock.
But hit on a sensitive topic, elicit an emotional reaction — environmental devastation, the welfare of indigenous peoples — and his veneer of gentle deference turns to a sort of jaded resilience.
"I don't feel compelled to write about Donald Trump," he glowers when I imply the controversial U.S. president is ripe for the picking, protest song-wise.
"He gets enough attention."
"There's some scary stuff going on, but it's been going on for a long time."
Needless to say, he has little faith humanity will save itself.
"The environmental stuff has been around for decades and nobody does anything," he grouses with frustration. "People in positions of authority who could make meaningful decisions are not making them, and have not been making them.
"Every now and then it gets a little better and a little worse. Now we're in a phase where it's a little worse. People can't make up their minds. Are you gonna give up the money or are you gonna give up the planet?"
I can hear his bile rise over the phone: "You can't have both. You can't have oil and a healthy environment. It's that simple. And yet, it's not simple to execute. The will isn't there."
He sounds resigned, but after 47 years of activist songwriting with a string of hits that include "Wondering Where the Lions Are," "If A Tree Falls" and "Lovers in a Dangerous Time," he remains mysteriously unplacated, ready to go head-to-head at a moment's notice.
"I never thought of myself as an activist," he notes in his humble, unassuming way.
"I just write the stuff that comes to mind. I'm confronted by things the same as everybody else and I get an emotional response that, if I'm lucky, will trigger a song."
Take "If I Had A Rocket Launcher," his '84 hit about the plight of Guatemalan refugees, the most virulent, righteous, God of Thunder cry of rage and despair ever concocted by a Canadian songwriter: "If I had a rocket launcher, some son-of-a-b--ch would die."
"It wasn't a protest song," he offers, almost embarrassed.
"It was a song from my heart about something I saw. It's not theoretical."
Also not theoretical is that Cockburn, seven years past official retirement age, has a five-year-old daughter and finds himself, improbably, living the life of a man in his 30s.
"It does make you look at the world in a new way," he concedes openly. "I'm an old guy. If they blow up the world now, I've had a life."
"But a world without water, without air — those are big concerns. I don't know that having a child really changes that. The world has always been beautiful and precious and fragile. It's always seemed like that to me."
Which begs the question: What's more terrifying, the imminent destruction of the planet, or getting called to the office because his kid is acting up in kindergarten?
"No matter how you feel about the big one," he concedes happily, "you gotta deal with the little one . . . no matter what.
"Obviously, it puts the nature of the world into sharp relief. I want her to be aware of things in as positive a way as possible."
While his new album, "Bone On Bone," avoids direct commentary on headline issues, his bent toward social justice and spiritual faith, in typical Cockburn style, are never far from the surface.
"As you get older, your life becomes more complex," he reasons. "And therefore whatever art you're producing becomes more complex too."
Some things, however, stay the same: his principled cynicism, his humanitarian zeal.
And in a turnaround from his '80s stance against the regressive views of the religious right, the quietly spiritual songwriter — who once identified boldly as Christian — is no longer boycotting the word.
"During the Reagan era the association between a certain kind of Christianity and American politics became inescapable," he laments softly.
"In conversations with (then musical partner) T Bone Burnett, we said 'should we actually go around calling ourselves Christians at this point?'
"Because the people waving that flag with the greatest vigour were people we didn't agree with at all. We didn't want to be seen promoting the stuff they're promoting."
With the U.S. increasingly polarized under Trump, I point out, it's worse now than it was then.
"Yeah, but you know what? Screw them!" he says gruffly. "At a certain point, it's like 'OK, I'm not gonna hide from that!
"At one time I just got tired of having to explain to people 'Yeah, I'm a Christian, but I'm not THAT Christian.'"
At some point, he says, you have to stand up "because these other people got the megaphone and somebody needs to take it away from them and say more truthful things.
"I don't know if I'm that person, but all of us who have gone through these kinds of feelings owe it ourselves to take that position."
It's a classic Cockburn response. Follow your own path. Don't take the easy route.
"It's never seemed very hard not to take the easy route," he points out. "Because it's always seemed like just doing the next thing."
"In hindsight I suppose I could do this differently or that differently and maybe there'd be a bigger audience, but I'm not sure a bigger audience is really necessary."
A man of modest expectations, he mulls this over for a moment, then admits he's content with the "significantly sized audience" he has.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, I suspect, he's also thankful that after five decades, his body or work exists on a different plane than the soundtrack of "My Fair Lady."
~from Joel Rubinoff - Waterloo Region Record.
19 September 2017 - Legendary musician Bruce Cockburn on music, activism, and hope
18 September 2017 - After writing his 2014 memoir [Rumours of Glory], Bruce Cockburn wasn’t sure he was still a songwriter, a startling disclosure considering the scope of his illustrious music career, which has spanned more than 50 years, dozens of albums, multiple Juno Awards, an Order of Canada, a Governor General’s performing arts award and membership in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
The Ottawa-born folk legend is also being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, along with Neil Young, Beau Dommage and Stephen Venne, during a ceremony in Toronto on Sept. 23.
"There was an extended period when I didn’t write any songs," revealed the silver-haired troubadour in a recent interview. "The memoir took three years of pretty intense focus. All of the creative energy that would have gone into songwriting went into the book, and there was nothing left over for anything else."
What finally cracked open the creative floodgates and led to the superb new album, Bone On Bone, was, in effect, an assignment. Cockburn was invited to contribute to the 2015 documentary on the noted Canadian poet Al Purdy, and decided to take up the challenge.
"It’s not typical in my experience to write a song on demand, whether someone else’s demand or mine. I kind of sit around and wait for a good idea," Cockburn says. "But in this case, I’d been going for all those years without writing songs and I wasn’t sure there’d be any good ideas and then along comes this opportunity, and it seemed like the perfect invitation to get back into songwriting again. I said yes right away."
The song is 3 Al Purdys, an acoustically rhythmic, six-minute tale of a homeless man obsessed with Purdy’s poems, and a chorus that goes, 'I’ll give you three Al Purdys for a $20 bill." It’s a brilliant tune, combining spoken-word poetry (by Purdy) with a mesmerizing hook that’s not unlike Cockburn’s 1979 nugget, Wondering Where The Lions Are.
The rest of the album is no less finely crafted. His first studio project in seven years, it’s also the first since Cockburn moved to the San Francisco area, married his longtime girlfriend, M.J. Hannett, and welcomed a baby girl into the world. Their daughter, Iona, who turns six in November, is in first grade at a French immersion school in San Fran.
While the new songs are not obviously political, they are informed by living in the U.S., as hinted in the title of the first single, States I’m In, an atmospheric mood piece built on Cockburn’s precisely fingered acoustic guitar work and world-weary lyrics. He describes it as a "dark night of the soul experience.
"It’s just one of those songs that come from looking around and feeling what’s happening," he says. "The whole album is coloured in a subtle way by the fact that I’ve been living in the States for a few years, and it is a really different place."
You won’t hear another If I Had a Rocket Launcher on this record, but you will hear songs that explore spirituality from a Christian perspective, something Cockburn has embraced to varying degrees throughout his life.
These days, it’s a big focus, partly because Cockburn has been going to church again for the first time in years. "It’s been a long time since I darkened the door of a church," he says. "I kind of fell away from it when I moved out of Ottawa at the end of the ’70s."
But when his wife started attending services at San Francisco’s Lighthouse church, she encouraged him to join her. "I resisted it for a while and eventually gave in," he says. "Then I walked in the door and it was like I had walked into a sauna, only instead of heat, it was love. It was a tangible vibe in the room. It was really a shock actually."
A couple of songs — Forty Years in the Wilderness and Stab at Matter — feature a chorus of singers from the Lighthouse church.
Produced by fellow Canadian musician and longtime collaborator, Colin Linden, the album is based on the musicianship of Cockburn and bandmates John Dymond (bass) and Gary Craig (drums), with a roster of guests, including his nephew, John Aaron Cockburn, on accordion. The younger Cockburn, a singer-songwriter-producer and multi-instrumentalist who plays accordion, guitar and piano, grew up in Ottawa and has his own band, Little Suns, will also join his uncle’s group for the upcoming tour, Bruce’s most extensive in years.
At 72, it’s clear that Cockburn is not interested in slowing down. "I’ve never taken the notion of retiring seriously. Of course, anything could happen. My hands could stop working or my brain could stop working, and that could be the occasion for retirement," he muses.
"But I never think of that. My models are the old blues guys, like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who basically just played til they dropped. That’s kind of my expectation."
~from Lynn Saxberg - Ottawa Sun
15 September 2017 - At a certain point in his career, Bruce Cockburn decided that if he wanted to be a "serious" writer of songs he needed to get … well … "serious." That led to a year of emulating other "seriousv writers by spending each day putting pen to paper.
At the end of that year, he learned something.
"I didn’t have any more usable songs than I would have, if I had just waited for the good ideas to come," he said in an interview. "So I dropped that policy and just waited for the good ideas and I’ve been doing that ever since."
Seems to have worked out just fine.
In fact, the Nepean high alumnus has just released his 33rd album Bone On Bone and will be inducted formally into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on Sept. 23 with Neil Young and the seminal Québécois artists Beau Dommage and Stéphane Venne at a ceremony in Toronto. That’s right after his latest tour rolls into town for a show at the National Arts Centre.
At 72, the multiple JUNO winner is still doing what he does best, but nobody ever said it was easy.
"I don’t feel like I have all that energy but it seems to keep going anyway. So why stop? I certainly don’t take it for granted. The body is aging, the brain is aging, all that stuff."
It’s been awhile since the last recording was released. In between he churned out a memoir of his life so far called Rumours of Glory. That effort left him drained and dry.
"When I finished the book," he says, "it was on my mind whether I was going to write any more songs. I had been working on the book for three years and hadn’t written anything else."
But after a period of time the songs started coming again and there was eventually enough for an album and a few instrumental pieces and bits and pieces that were not included on the record.
"So there is reason to think it will keep going. But I don’t take it for granted because stuff gives out."
Writing, for Cockburn, is very much dependent on inspiration.
"Sometimes good ideas come from having a certain kind of intention. I’m not the kind of writer who says ‘I’m going to write about topic X.’ It has to wait for an idea but once the idea is there, then I do pursue it" in a rigorous and vigorous manner.
"Sometimes I’ll be somewhere and I think, I really want to write a song about this but it’s more I hope I write a song about this. You put it out there and sometimes the idea comes. That’s as close as I get to planning."
His instrumental pieces are written with his hands.
"Once an idea or a motive comes and is established I’ll hunt around for things to go with it, but the initial impulse comes from the hands when I am practicing or fooling around with the guitar."
Bone On Bone the album is named after Bone On Bone the instrumental piece.
The cover artist for the CD found that title funny, Cockburn said.
"I told him the title … he’s a pretty funny guy … and he goes, ‘Oh sexy!’ and ‘kinky this and that’.
Cockburn had to disabuse him of that idea by saying "it’s about not having any cartilage. It’s about arthritis. But it’s a good title, it has a bit of a snap to it."
He does say the album has "more spiritual stuff on it than other recent albums," although, it’s "not exclusively that. It’s kind of from everywhere, it’s me being alive in the world today." That spiritual sensibility shows up in songs such as Jesus Train, "Twelve Gates to the City, Looking and Waiting and Stab At Matter, echoing in the title at least the Stabet Mater.
"I have always believed that my life had a direction, that it was not something I had to decide on. I make all kinds of decisions and choices but in the broader sense, there was a direction coming from outside, coming from God basically.
"Frequently I’m distressed because I can’t understand why I have to go through this s**t, but God said so."
But the fact is, he says, it all has worked really rather well.
There are 11 songs on the record produced by Colin Linden. One of them is called 3 Al Purdys, a tribute to the poet and ranconteur. Cockburn participated in a fundraiser to preserve Purdy’s home in southern Ontario and few years back.
Cockburn today calls San Francisco home. He’s there because his wife has a job there. It’s where they are raising a daughter called Iona. But you get the sense it’s not necessarily a comfortable place.
The U.S. is a "crazy place" today, Cockburn says.
"I feel closer to the centre of the craziness than when I was living in Canada. In some ways it would be very nice to move back to Canada, but I am committed to be here for the time being.
"It has struck me that we Canadians live in the one pocket of sanity in the western hemisphere.”
But like songs that don’t always come, Cockburn believes Canadians shouldn’t take their current national sanity for granted.
As someone who wrote a song about picking up a rocket launcher, Cockburn is politically attuned.
He believes there is energy to the debate in the U.S. and elsewhere, but he worries that people who oppose President Trump are just offering resistance.
"I’m happy for that. But at the same time we have to offer something more than resistance. Resistance means you give up. I’d hate to see that. What we are not seeing is someone offering an alternative leadership. One hopes it will come out of this ferment."
Now that Bone On Bone is up for sale and people are praising the msuic, is there a sense of relief?
"Absolutely. There are always questions. We finished the album a few months back now and I’m going ‘Gee, I wish we had done this or that or the other thing.
But that’s nature of making music from scratch, he says.
One neat aspect of this album and tour is the fact that his brother Don’s son, John Aaron, has joined the merry band.
‘It’s an interesting connection and it certainly feels good" to have him on board.
The Ottawa show will feature the new album, some hits and some other older songs that are more obscure. The set list might change so he wasn’t sure what would make the Ottawa lineup at the time of the interview, but he did mention one tune from the album Big Circumstance released in 1988 called The Gift and another from the album Further Adventures Of released in 1978 called Rainfall. Both of these seem to fit the times, he says.
"Sometimes these things will just pop up out of the murk of time and want to return again."
Cockburn says he does like coming back to Ottawa "my family is there and it’s part of my history for sure, but I have never really felt that anywhere was home. Home is out there somewhere."
~from Peter Robb - artfile.ca.
13 September 2017 - Bruce Cockburn's latest studio album Bone On Bone will be available for purchase September 15 from:
True North Records
In support of the release, Bruce will be on tour with a full band: drummer Gary Craig, bassist John Dymond and accordionist John Aaron Cockburn. The tour starts off in Canada and then swings into the north east USA. Get your tickets NOW!
8 September 2017 - Bruce Cockburn is one of Canada's most beloved songwriters, earning 12 Juno Awards and spots in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriter's Hall of Fame over the course of his storied career, which spans nearly five decades.
It's been six years since Cockburn released a studio album -- 2011's Small Source of Comfort -- but the songwriter announced earlier this year his plans to release a 33rd LP, Bone on Bone. The new collection of songs, produced by Colin Linden, touches on many subjects close to Cockburn's heart, including the poet Al Purdy, life in Trump's America, and the complexities of personal spirituality.
Click through and Listen to the album in its entirety before its September 15 release date.
12 September 2017 -
Sep 12, 2017
From his humble beginnings on a farm near Pembroke Ontario,[this is an incorrect statement-and is discussed in the interview] to the streets of San Francisco, Bruce Cockburn’s music has provided an acoustic backdrop to generations of Canadians. He joins Steve Paikin to discuss his career, activism, Donald Trump, and latest album, "Bone On Bone."
11 September 2017 -
Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist and activist Bruce Cockburn has been described a "spiritual poet", an "iconoclast" as well as the "Bob Dylan of Canada".
With a career spanning almost half a century, Bruce Cockburn is an ever-evolving artist, who has undergone many stylistic shifts. He is a consistently meticulous guitar player and a skilled lyricist. His music blends folk, rock, pop and jazz, and his lyrics address human rights, environmental issues, politics and spirituality.
His 33rd album Bone On Bone is out on September 15th, 2017, which coincides with his induction into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame and the launch of his longest touring schedule in decades, with a stop in Montreal on September 19th at Club Soda.
Bruce Cockburn is a 13-time Juno Award winner and an Officer of the Order of Canada. He is also a Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee and a recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada’s highest honour in the performing arts. In 2011, he welcomed the birth of his daughter and in 2014, he released his critically-acclaimed memoir Rumours of Glory.
I spoke to Bruce about his new album, osteoarthritis, Jesus, the search for God, the state of the world we’re leaving to our children and his upcoming tour.
Your new album flowed out of an invitation to contribute a song to a documentary film about the late Canadian poet Al Purdy. Why did this set you off on the writing of your album and how much of an influence is Al Purdy in your lyrics?
He’s a considerable influence on the lyrics of the song called "3 Al Purdy’s", which includes the recitation of pieces of his poetry. Otherwise not.
That song was the first to be written. It came after an extended period where I hadn’t written anything at all – at least no songs. I wrote a book, which is a whole different kind of thing. That enterprise took up all the creative juice that would have gone into song.
When the book was published and I didn’t have to think about that anymore, I’m standing around wondering if I’m going to write any more songs now because it’s been four years since I’d written anything. When I was in the midst of this period of uncertainty, the invitation came along to write a song for that film. I said “yes”, because I felt like if it works, it would get the process going again and put me back on the songwriting track. I was very glad to be able to get that song and have it work, and I’m very grateful for the ones that came along afterward.
What are your main inspirations for your new album, as well as the overarching themes?
The inspiration for all my songs is life as I experience it. There’s no particular theme. I’ve never been the kind of writer who sits down and plans out what I’m going to write songs about or how to put together an album around a particular idea.
The album acquires a type of thematic content because the songs come from a particular period in my life. There’s a certain kind of unity and feel – to some extent lyrical content – that reflects whatever I was going through when songs were written. Out of that stew pot of experience, there’s a fairly noticeable spiritual bent, which is not new and not unusual. But there have been times when it’s been less an obvious part of songwriting as it’s been on this album. There’s that and there’s how it feels to be in the world the way it is right now.
In the film Pacing the Cage you’re asked, "Are you more of an optimist or a pessimist?" and you rapidly reply, "I think we’re fucked". I know you’re a social and environmental activist and have a 5-year-old daughter. I have a young child as well and I’m worried about what the world will look like when she has her own kids. Do you feel the same way about your young daughter’s future, perhaps more than with your first daughter (who is now 40 years old)?
Yeah, I think so. I’m not sure if it’s more because 30-40 years ago there was a lot to worry about as well. It feels like it’s more precarious now than it was 40 years ago – the state of the world, that is, and the state of the world as something that I’m handing on to my child. I found that when my first daughter was born, the sense of responsibility became very strong, but that I’m somehow responsible for at least to whatever degree I’m complicit in perpetuating this stuff we see around us.
When you’re going hand this world onto your kid, you better make it the best one you can. At the same time, you want to prepare your child for what they’ll have to deal with. There’s a balance that has to be found between keeping things in hand and preparing for the inevitable – or what might be the inevitable.
I feel like the world is actually coming apart. I don’t have enough confidence in that opinion to sell it as a prophetic message, but that’s how I feel. I look around and it looks like entropy to me. One of the songs, "Cafe Society", mentions that: the word "entropy". If you want to look at it from a religious point of view, it looks satanic. It looks like the forces of chaos are really flexing their muscles. The effects of that are far more noticeable than any antidote that might be offered in spiritual circles.
Flapping lips of flatulence bellow "vote for ME"
Everything is spinning in the looming entropy
– Cafe Society
I believe there is that light. Even if it’s a faint hope, there’s the hope that enough people will be motivated to act out of a sense of our interrelatedness to each other and the planetary processes that keep us alive. If enough people get that and start living from a place of understanding that, then it will have an effect.
The title of your album and the title track is Bone on Bone. Bone on bone usually refers to osteoarthritis, when you have no cartilage left between joints. What is the significance of “bone on bone”?
You’re right. That’s exactly what Bone on Bone refers to. I have hands like that. My finger joints have no cartilage left and some other spots like that too. It’s interesting because most young people don’t think about that. The phrase “bone on bone” doesn’t mean anything to them.
Micheal Wrycraft did the album artwork. In one of our first phone conversations, he asked me what the title of the album was going to be and I told him: Bone on Bone. And there was a pause, and he said, "Ooooh, sexy." I said, "No, Michael, no. So not sexy." But that’s what it is, and it seemed like a good title for a guitar piece using those fingers.
Does the osteoarthritis in your hands affect your guitar playing these days?
Yes, it does. I don’t think it affects it in the way that anybody’s able to hear yet. Eventually, it will. I hope I don’t have the presence of mind to quit when that comes around. But at this point, I’m getting away with it.
There is religious and spiritual content to many of the songs on the album like “Jesus Train”. You’re on the “Jesus Train”: who is Jesus and what does he represent?
If you asked me this in the 70s, I would have given you an answer that was compatible with church teaching. That he was the incarnation of the divine on earth, that he lived how he lived and died how he died, etc. etc., and returned from the dead. Over time, that mental picture weakened, and I was not convinced of the reality of that – but not of what he stands for.
Lots has been written on these kinds of questions. In a certain way, the Jesus story echoes older stories from other cultures in the area, from ancient Egypt for example – these kinds of messianic figures that appear in various cultures and at various points in history. I have trouble with the exclusivity and the historical facts of whether or not there was Jesus.
I never lost interest in having a relationship with God, but what that relationship is supposed to consist of has come under question. But that search has led around. After decades of not being a church-going guy and for a long time not even thinking of myself as Christian, here I come back around again and now I do go to church. I’m not quite sure if I’m a Christian or not, but I’m thinking a lot about that.
Who is Jesus? He’s a representation of the divine. Whether he’s the only one or the best one is up for discussion. Part of my picture of Jesus is kind of a Jungian archetype, a collective animus. I don’t know if that’s right either. This is all subject to revision and drastic change with whatever next step is in front me that I haven’t taken yet.
Where did the song “Jesus Train” come from? Is it a metaphor for the spiritual path?
The song "Jesus Train" just popped out of me in church. It popped out having a dream in which there was a train that was definitely a spiritual presence: a powerful, armored locomotive. Looking back at the dream, it just seemed like that was the Jesus Train. It then ended up being a song.
There’s a lot of power in that train. For me, the image is not one of blissful meditation or feeling in tune with the universe. This is: “get on this train and charge through whatever landscape you have to charge through to get where you’re going.” Because it’s a train, you don’t have to fight your way through yourself. You’re on a vehicle that is going to take you there, no matter what.
Standing on the platform
Awed by the power
I feel the fire of love
Feel the hand upon my shoulder saying "brother climb aboard"
I’m on the Jesus train
– Jesus Train
Over your almost 50 year career, what’s changed the most and how have you evolved as an artist?
The biggest change I notice is in my body. I’d like to think I’m a better artist and I’m deeper into what I do. I have a keener sense of what makes a good song than when I started. Certainly in the beginning, my sense of what a song was, was really a product of all the songs I’d listened to rather than the ones I’d written.
At this point, when I’m writing a song I can be critical of what I’m writing at the same time as I can be excited about it. I think in the beginning there was only the excitement and not the criticism and not the ability to stand back and say: "Is this really going to work? Is anybody going to understand this?" I don’t want to be ruled by my anticipation of people’s response to the song because that’s not how you make art. But, at the same time, the album is out there for people to hear so you want to make it to some extent accessible.
This is your longest tour in decades. How are you feeling about getting back on the road?
I’m very excited about it. This tour is paced in a different way than what used to be normal because of my daughter primarily – because I have a family I want to maintain a relationship with. I don’t want to go out for six weeks at a time and come back for two, and then go out for another six, which is the way we used to do things when we had a new album.
But I haven’t stopped performing. This tour will be done in 3-week chunks with more time in between, so I get to have a family life at the same time as I get to do the touring. I’m very excited to be getting back on the road, especially with a band because almost all the work I’ve been doing for the last number years have been solo. It’s going to fun to have a real extra oomph on stage.
Bruce Cockburn performs at Club Soda on September 19th in Montreal. Doors open at 7 PM, show at 8 PM. Tickets: $53.25 to $55.25.
8 September 2017 - BRUCE Cockburn hasn’t exactly led an unexamined life.
The Canadian singer-songwriter published a memoir in 2014, has been the subject of biographical documentaries and likely submitted to countless newspaper and magazine interviews throughout his career.
The most conspicuous evidence about himself, though, is contained in his large catalogue of songs, starting with his self-titled debut in 1970 as a fresh-faced folkie. After a recent tuneless dry spell he found worrisome, Cockburn, 72, releases his 33rd album, Bone on Bone, on Sept. 15 and commences a tour next week in the Maritimes.
Cockburn considered during a phone interview whether he had enough perspective to judge the depth of his new work.
"I wonder if I do,” he said.
"Let’s see. Let’s think about that for a minute.
"I wouldn’t dispute that it’s an introspective album at all. In that sense, in my mind, it would be typical of most of what I’ve done. I think that’s just as true of the stuff that people wouldn’t necessarily interpret that way. … People think If I Had a Rocket Launcher, for instance, is some sort of political polemic but it’s a totally introspective song. That might not be how people heard it on the radio, but that’s what it is.
“I don’t know that this album is more introspective than that, it’s just maybe because there’s nothing that can be attached to a social issue or whatever.”
The cover art of Bone on Bone even shows Cockburn peering intently through a magnifying glass, suggesting that topics will be subject to investigation.
"Yeah, there’s not much hidden from view; not much that’s interesting, at least. It just goes with the territory. The alternative was to remain in obscurity," he said.
"People get to hear my songs, and I get to make my living doing what I do."
Cockburn fans should find Bone on Bone fits just fine alongside his best work. There are several spiritual songs, a version of Twelve Gates to the City that should sate blues fans and the title track, a deft guitar instrumental.
“You’ve probably read all the crap they’re sending around so you know that it’s the first in a while because I was working on the memoir, then after the memoir was done — I spent three years writing prose — I wasn’t sure I was going to have any more song ideas. I was very relieved when they started coming.”
So, the man who came up with Lovers in a Dangerous Time, If a Tree Falls and Wondering Where the Lions Are was sort of left waiting for a miracle. One arrived, so to speak, in the form of the raspy 3 Al Purdys, something initially intended for a completely different project that ultimately sparked a fresh creative period.
"It came about because there were some folks in Ontario who were about to make a documentary on Al Purdy, who’s one of the all-time great Canadian poets,” Cockburn said.
“He would have been of my dad’s generation; a really great wordsmith and a kind of quintessential Canadian, as far as that goes.
"I figured this would be a chance to find out if I was going to be writing songs again — or not. If I could do something for the film, it would kind of get the whole creative process rolling. And it worked out; right away, I got this idea for a homeless guy who’s obsessed with Purdy’s poetry and raps it on the street.
"After that, the songs just started to flow."
The band he’s taking on the road will feature drummer Gary Craig, bassist John Dymond and Cockburn’s nephew, accordionist John Aaron Cockburn. They will gather for about a week in Toronto to go over the show, which Cockburn suggested would already be in firm shape on the East Coast.
"I don’t think people are going to think of it as something formative that they’re witnessing. It’s going to be a show. What’s been the case in the past is that there’ll be certain songs in my imagination that will work well together and we’ll do a show like that and maybe they will, maybe they won’t. If they do, then we’ll keep doing that. If they don’t, it gets adjusted.
"Generally speaking, the show will be pretty much the same in the Maritimes as it is next February, when we’re on the West Coast. "
Cockburn plays Halifax on Sept. 16 at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, with Terra Lightfoot opening. There are also shows Sept. 15 in Fredericton and Sept. 17 in Summerside.
He said he’s fond of travel and still enjoys touring. Still, concessions are made to accommodate shifting personal obligations.
“I look forward to it greatly. I think it is also sort of an obligation. That’s perhaps too strong a word; it’s certainly the default position when you’re putting out an album. The expectation is you’re going to be touring."There’s a slight difference now. I’ve got a five-year-old at home and a family relationship that I need to maintain, so the pacing of the tour is going to be slightly different than previous ones. … It’s generally three-week stints instead of six-week stints so I can be away and still be recognizable when I get home."
Cockburn, long an exceptional guitarist, said maintaining that talent also has demands, including an obligation to practise daily.
"The fact is, I don’t. But I should, and I regret it when I don’t because the older you get, the longer warmup time is needed to get back to wherever you thought you were.
"It’s just like any physical activity; you need to maintain co-ordination and muscle strength and all that stuff to execute the moves you want to make, and you need to maintain the kind of brain-hands co-ordination that’s required, which takes repetition to make happen. I want to explore, not just play scales and do my exercises."
It may not seem right to some, but Cockburn, a national icon who will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on Sept. 23, has been living in the United States for eight years.
"It comes and goes. You think the civil rights movement was over in the ’60s but it’s not at all. Different aspects of it have surfaced because parts of it got addressed and parts of that problem were fixed, but overall it wasn’t fixed."
The Ontario native has put down roots in San Francisco. Based on his description, it sounds like the city lives up to its reputation as an enlightened urban enclave.
"I think it’s more comfortable. My friends who live in Nashville have to keep their heads down, more for social reasons. You just don’t want people mad at you all the time; it’s not because their lives are in danger.
"And, yeah, San Francisco’s beautiful."
~from Cockburn Back on Track by TIM ARSENAULT - The Chronicle Herald.
7 September 2017 -
"Take up your load, run south to the road,
Turn to the setting sun,
Sun going down, got to cover some ground,
Before everything comes undone."
The gentle lilt of his guitar, that familiar voice a little more road-worn but still warm and wise, and those words. This is his first studio album in seven years, but few lyricists help us to know ourselves more deeply than award-winning singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn.
Above is the chorus from "40 Years in the Wilderness," the third track off of Cockburn’s new record, Bone On Bone. CBC Music has the advance stream playing a week ahead of its Sept. 15 release. Listen via our player, pre-order the album here and get a list of his Canadian tour dates here.
A week after Bone On Bone drops, Cockburn will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on Sept. 23 in Toronto, alongside Beau Dommage, Stéphane Venne and Neil Young. It’s a fitting honour for Cockburn, who, over the course of almost five decades in the music industry, has penned some of the most thoughtful and enduring folk and pop songs of the 20th and 21st centuries, including his U.S. breakthrough, "Wondering Where the Lions Are,” and the gorgeous "Lovers in a Dangerous Time."
But after writing his 2014 memoir, Rumours of Glory, Cockburn wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to write anything ever again.
“I didn’t write any songs until after the book was published because all my creative energy had gone into three years of writing it,” Cockburn said in a press release. “There was simply nothing left to write songs with. As soon as the book was put to bed, I started asking myself whether I was ever going to be a songwriter again.”
Three years later, Bone On Bone is here.
Cockburn spoke with CBC Music over the phone from his home in San Francisco about writer’s block, finding his faith again and how the late Canadian poet Al Purdy helped kick start the making of Bone On Bone, his 33rd album.
The fifth song on the record is called "3 Al Purdys" and I love the fact that he was an entry point for you after your break with songwriting. What was your relationship to him and his poetry?
I actually didn't have any relationship with him or his poetry really, until the invitation came to contribute to the film [Al Purdy Was Here]. I was aware of him certainly and I was aware of his reputation but I hadn’t really gotten into his stuff at all. When the prospect of doing something for the documentary was raised I went out and got his collected works and I was completely blown away and amazed that I'd missed it all those years. And regretful, because it would have been great to have met him, or at least to sort of been able to track the development of his work over the years. You can kind of do that looking at the book as a retrospective, but he really was an incredible poet and so Canadian. I can't think of anyone other than Stompin' Tom Connors who so exemplified a certain aspect of Canadian culture.
And there's so much pathos and humour in his work.
When I got asked to write a song, I had not written anything for a while. All the time I was writing my memoir and I couldn't really get into the concept of songwriting because all the creative energy was going to the book. I was kind of wondering, "Am I going to write songs again?" The invitation came to do this and it was like, "OK, this will be the kickstarter." I immediately thought of this image of this homeless guy who comes across as being penniless for his art. I pictured him kind of in the wind, coattails blowing and he's ranting on the street. Well, not really ranting, he's reciting Al Purdy's poetry, he’s obsessed with his poetry. The chorus is "I'll give you three Al Purdys for a 20-dollar bill," I think Purdy would've approved of that, probably.
I think so too.
Basically the guy's like, "You look at me, you see a homeless bum, you think I'm ranting. But you've got to pay attention to this, 'cause you can spit on the prophet, but pay attention to the word."
I think a lot about those themes, and they’re in your work, too, the obligation of humanity to see a little bit deeper than we sometimes want to.
I agree with you. When you encounter the surface of something, there's a massive depth behind it. Allow for that even if you don’t know what's in there, so that you have the chance to discover more. It's important to kind of approach everything in life like that.
Can we talk a little bit about 'Forty Years in the Wilderness'? I think this is one of the most extraordinary songs I've heard this year and I'd love to know a little bit about what went into writing it.
I was in church one day and the sermon was about Jesus descending from heaven and he realizes who he is, or what his mission is let’s say. One of the gospels basically describes him as kind of jumping up and running off into the desert. He spends 40 days in the desert and in the story he's tempted by and being offered all sorts of great worldly things, which he rejects. This [sermon] happened right about the time, not to the date, but more or less 40 years since I'm a churchgoer. And I'm back in church and I'm hearing this, and I'm thinking, well — it's not quite correct to say why, but a large part of me not being a churchgoer was learning about the world.
It hit me at the end of the ’70s, way back when, that if I was going to love my neighbour as myself I'd better find out who my neighbour was. I embraced urban life at that point, which previously I'd been very suspicious of, and I made a point of kind of socializing myself in a very different way from how I had been before that point. And over time, I mean, didn't just happen overnight, but ah, you know, I had a lot of adventures. I met a lot of great people and some not-so-great people and I travelled to some amazing places and I pretty much fell away from going to church, although I did not fall away from my belief in God and my desire for a relationship with God.
My wife who was going through her own spiritual searching was kind of steered toward this particular church [in San Francisco] and had gone pretty regularly for several months before she managed to convince me to actually go and I went and I completely fell in love with the place — well, not with the place but with the people and the spirit that's there.
Your guitar playing is really the centrepiece for so much of the record and I was really curious about how the guitar has helped shape you as a storyteller over the years. It seems like it's an extension of your storytelling.
I almost think of it the other way around. I'm a songwriter because I wanted to be a guitar player. I started off wanting to play rock and roll guitar, under the influence of Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent and Elvis. I never did end up playing that music, per se, but that got me wanting to play the guitar and, you know, over the years, the earliest years of playing I began to imagine myself being in the jazz world and playing, you know, composing music mainly, but playing on the guitar. I never got the chops together to be a jazz musician.
Well the reason I didn't is that I felt after I got to know it more, that it wasn't really where I was being invited to go. I was interested in all kinds of other music as well by the time this kind of turning point, decision-making wise. I was heavily under the influence of Bob Dylan and singer-songwriters/folk music of the ’60s. My mother said, "Well, you're gonna have to sing, you know. Play guitar and sing too." And I'm going, "Nah, no way, I'm not singing." She had a lot to do with convincing me that that singing was something I could pull off, even though I was terrified of doing it.
Once I was learning folk songs and blues tunes, it wasn't a very big step to start writing songs. It was the guitar that started it all. And I've always loved the instrument and loved making music on the instrument, whether there was a song to be sung or not, you know?
I’d like to talk about the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction. I was wondering if we could just briefly look at some of your most popular songs and just how your relationship has changed to them, perhaps, in some cases the decades between when you wrote them and when they are now. Let’s talk about ‘If I Had a Rocket Launcher.’
That was a heavy song at the time and it's still heavy when I perform it. In order to make a song live in a performance setting I kind of have to be in the song, I have to be in the state of mind I was in when I wrote it, and ah I honestly don't like being in that state of mind. It's not a fun place to be, but not because of the notion of committing an act of violence that I don't particularly approve of, but just to relive the atmosphere that produced that song. But people like to hear it. I like playing it because I like the way the music fits. I like doing the guitar solo in it, in particular, so that helps mitigate the sort of cloak of angst that I have to put on in order to put the song across properly.
Does it feel particularly relevant again?
I don't think its relevance has ever really diminished. The connection to the current goings on is pretty obvious, of course, and the ... I mean if you write a song about war or about the kind of mindset that goes with war. We're surrounded by it in the media right now and it's right up in our faces because we're being invited by a couple of maniacs to think seriously about participating in a war.
Absolutely. What about ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Time’?
I sing that song a lot, the same applies to "Rocket Launcher" and a couple other ones, the ones that have been particularly popular. I get tired of singing them because they're in every show, you know? Like, "OK, can we just have a show that doesn't have this?" But at the same time I want to sing them and I want to give people, first of all what they paid to hear, to some extent, and I also am grateful that people have allowed these songs to touch them and I don't in any way want to be thought of as disowning these songs. So I sing them and I'm fine with that but at the same time, you know, "Lovers" is a song I could see not doing for a while except that it's going to be in the shows because for the reasons I said. The fun part of this is going to be the tour that's coming up is a band tour. I haven't done a band tour for quite a while and so we can really rework some of these things a little bit from the kind of solo presentation that I've been giving. And that'll make it fresh and fun for me.
What about an overlooked gem of yours? What do you think is a song of yours that should have resonated but maybe it didn't and you love it a lot?
Oh boy. I don't have a very good answer for that one. When I'm thinking about putting a show together or thinking about, like, the repertoire that I'm going to be drawing from for a period of time — 'cause I can't retain all of the songs in my head at the same time. I can manage to hold about 50 or 60 of them and then after that, if I were to pick an old one I'd have to go back and relearn it. There are songs that the "non-hit," quote unquote, ah, songs that I think of as, at any one time as part of the repertoire change over time and um, so right now I'm thinking about songs like "The Gift," which I'd forgotten all about and it came back. Saw a video of me doing it on a German TV show and I thought, "Wow, that's a pretty good song. I should get that together again."
There's a couple like that. There's another, a song, this isn't quite what you were talking about, but there's one of the songs that's really been popular with people, called ‘Peggy's Kitchen Wall’ and that I have not been able to play for a long time because my fingers over the years, in the last decade or so, have become a little arthritic and they've actually changed shape a bit so I can't quite reach as far on the guitar neck as I used to be able to do. It's only a matter of of a couple of millimeters, but that's a couple millimeters between one side of a guitar fret and the other side of the guitar fret so I haven’t been able to play ‘Peggy's Kitchen Wall’ but I recently discovered a way to actually make it work so I'm excited about being able to play that again.
Canadian Tour dates
Sept. 15: The Playhouse, Fredericton, N.B.
Sept. 16: Rebecca Cohn, Halifax, N.S.
Sept. 17: Harbourfront Theatre, Summerside, P.E.I.
Sept. 19: Club Soda, Montreal Que.
Sept. 20: Imperial Bell, Quebec City, Que.
Sept. 21: Theatre Granada, Sherbrooke, Que.
Sept. 22: National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Ont.
Sept. 23: Massey Hall and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Toronto, Ont.
Sept. 25: Showplace, Peterborough, Ont.
Sept. 26: Centre in the Square, Kitchener, Ont.
Sept. 27: Grand Theatre, Kingston, Ont.
Sept. 29: London Music Hall, London, Ont.
Sept. 30: First Ontario Hall, Hamilton, Ont.
Complete list of Tour Dates
~from First Play and Q&A: Bruce Cockburn, Bone On Bone by Andrea Warner, CBCMusic
15 August 2017 - Kyle Meredith spoke with the legendary songwriter about what it took to complete the LP, his recent autobiography, and the intersection of politics and religion - LISTEN.
11 August 2017 - Bruce Cockburn released his first album in 1970. He's now 72 and his latest, Bone On Bone, will be coming out next month. With a career spanning five decades, there is a wealth of wonderful music and lyrics to draw from in his back catalogue.
His transition from acoustic troubadour to Christian mystic was followed by a spell where his music concentrated mainly on political and environmental activism.
Throughout his long career of recording and touring, chronicled in his 2014 memoir, Rumours Of Glory, Cockburn has consistently touched on spiritual themes.
His writing is influenced heavily by the Christian tradition. He recently said that he remains on a spiritual journey: 'I don't know the answer. I'm still working on it, and that is perhaps why people are willing to listen to the stuff I put into songs.'
Here, we look at some of Cockburn's most enduring spiritual songs...
Continue Reading at Christian Today.
26 July 2017 - Forty Years in the Wilderness
The legendary Bruce Cockburn on his latest album Bone On Bone
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TORONTO, July 12, 2017 - Bruce Cockburn has announced the September 15, 2017 release of his first full-length album in seven years, Bone On Bone (True North Records). The release coincides with his induction into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame, and the launch of his longest touring schedule in decades.
Few recording artists are as creative and prolific as Bruce Cockburn. Since his self-titled debut in 1970, the Canadian singer-songwriter has issued a steady stream of acclaimed albums every couple of years. But that output suddenly ran dry in 2011 following the release of Small Source of Comfort. There were good reasons for the drought. For one thing, Cockburn became a father again with the birth of his daughter Iona. Then there was the publication of his 2014 memoir Rumours of Glory.
"I didn’t write any songs until after the book was published because all my creative energy had gone into three years of writing it," Cockburn explains, from his home in San Francisco. "There was simply nothing left to write songs with. As soon as the book was put to bed, I started asking myself whether I was ever going to be a songwriter again."
Such doubt was new to the man who’s rarely been at a loss for words as he’s distilled political views, spiritual revelations and personal experiences into some of popular music’s most compelling songs. What spurred Cockburn back into songwriting was an invitation to contribute a song to a documentary film about the late, seminal Canadian poet Al Purdy and he was off to the races.
Bone On Bone, Cockburn’s 33rd album, arrives with 11 new songs and there’s a prevalent urgency and anxious tone to much of the album, which Cockburn attributes to living in America during the Trump era. But, more than anything, Bone on Bone amounts to the deepest expression of Cockburn’s spiritual concerns to date. The 12-time Juno winner and Canadian Music Hall of Fame’s "Forty Years in the Wilderness" ranks alongside "Pacing the Cage" or "All the Diamonds" as one of Cockburn’s most starkly beautiful folk songs. “There have been so many times in my life when an invitation has come from somewhere...the cosmos...the divine...to step out of the familiar into something new. I’ve found it’s best to listen for, and follow these promptings.
"Forty Years in the Wilderness" is one of several songs that feature a number of singers from the church Cockburn frequents, for the sake of convenience referred to in the album credits as the San Francisco Lighthouse "Chorus." "Among other songs, they contribute call-and-response vocals to the stirring "Stab at Matter." Other guests on the album include singer-songwriters Ruby Amanfu, Mary Gauthier, and Brandon Robert Young, along with bassist Roberto Occhipinti, and Julie Wolf, who plays accordion on "3 Al Purdys" and sings with the folks from Lighthouse, together with LA songwriter Tamara Silvera.
Produced by Colin Linden, Cockburn’s longtime collaborator, the album is built around the musicianship of Cockburn on guitar and the core accompaniment of bassist John Dymond and drummer Gary Craig. Also very much part of the sound is the accordion playing of Cockburn’s nephew John Aaron Cockburn and the solos of noted fluegelhorn player Ron Miles (check out his stunning work on the cascading "Mon Chemin," for example).
Cockburn, who won the inaugural People’s Voice Award at the Folk Alliance International conference in February and will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in September, continues to find inspiration in the world around him and channel those ideas into songs. "My job is to try and trap the spirits of things in the scratches of pen on paper and the pulling of notes out of metal," he once noted. More than forty years after embarking on his singer-songwriting career, Cockburn keeps kicking at the darkness so that it might bleed daylight.
Bone On Bone Track Listing:
1. States I’m In
2. Stab At Matter
3. Forty Years In The Wilderness
4. Café Society
5. 3 Al Purdys
6. Looking And Waiting
7. Bone On Bone
8. Mon Chemin
9. False River
10. Jesus Train
11. Twelve Gates To The City
CockburnProject - Tour Dates
BruceCockburn.com - Tour Dates
For more information, please contact:
Eric Alper, Publicity
True North Recordsv P: 647-971-3742
Photo by Daniel Keebler
Press Release Bone On Bone
Download pdf version
31 July 2017 - At 72, Bruce Cockburn is as in demand as ever, which means the only way to catch up with him is when he calls me from the road, travelling down another highway somewhere near his adopted hometown of San Francisco. The Canuck music legend swings through Canada on tour this summer before heading into the U.S., drops a new disc, Bone On Bone, his first studio album in six years, on Sept. 15 and then follows it up with an induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame later that month. Oh, and he's got a 5-year-old girl at home who, like her father, values quality daddy-daughter time. As such, Cockburn carved out a few minutes on the road to talk his new album, being daddy to a 5-year-old at age 72 and what it means to be a songwriter in these turbulent political times.
MIKE CRISOLAGO: You've got a tour, a new album and the Canadian Songwriter's Hall of Fame induction in the next few months. How does it feel to be so in demand at this point in your career?
BRUCE COCKBURN: It feels great. But I mean I could be busier, which is a good thing … I've got a five-year-old at home so I like to be at home too. It's nice to know that there's enough interest out there that I can say no to some things.
MC: In recent years you've gone long periods of time between albums. What was the impetus or inspiration for Bone On Bone?
BC: It's kind of the same as usual for me. The big difference here is that I got side-tracked working on my memoir [Rumours of Glory, 2014]. The book took three years and a bit to write and during that time I didn't write any songs. So when that was put to bed I'm sort of looking at myself going "Are you a songwriter again now?" And luckily for me, it wasn't a very long time before the songs started to come.
MC: Did having your daughter change your focus when you were writing?
BC: I would say yes. There are no songs about that specifically, but I think that there's no question you look at the world differently when you're handing it on to someone else in effect. And I've been through this before. My older daughter's 40 and she's got four kids of her own. It asks more energy of me than I probably have [but] it's also really great, really fresh. I have a better perspective on being a parent than I did when I was younger.
MC: It must also affect how you tour.
BC: Yes. If you're in any kind of relationship with someone who can't tour with you there's always tension between the home front and the tour front and you have to figure out a balance. When you're 30 and you have a kid you think you're going to live forever and if you miss a couple of moments in the child's development, big deal because you're going to see lots of others. But at this point in my life I don't want to miss anything because I won't get a second chance at it. So we'll tour for a shorter stint at a time with more breaks in between.
MC: You're going into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in September. What does it mean for you to be honoured by your peers in that way?
BC: It means a lot. It's very gratifying that the people who have been paying attention think it's good enough to warrant that honour. A few years ago I got into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame [at the Junos] and it felt pretty strange because it's a hall of fame – aren't you supposed to be dead for that? And then I had to get up and make a speech on national TV as part of the Juno thing and that was terrifying. But now that I've done that I don't feel like I have to be dead and I think we get to perform so it'll be fun.
MC: Artists like yourself and Bob Dylan and others included a lot of social activism in your music. Today the political climate resembles the heated protest culture of the 1960s. What do you feel is the duty of a songwriter in times like this?
BC: Well, the first and foremost duty is to make art. Delivering polemics is not effective and it doesn't ring true. But for me the first thing you have to do is write a good song. The second thing you have to do is it has to mean something and then what it's going to mean is going to be determined by the things that are on your mind. For me, I can't sit and think, 'Gee, you know, Trump's really an asshole, I better write a song about him.' Doesn't work like that. And it's more of a mood thing and that doesn't mean that some set of circumstances can't produce a very specifically focused song. I mean, that's what "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" was -- a response to a very particular circumstance. But if I don't get the idea it does me no good to try to come up with one in an artificial way. But the duty is to speak the truth and do it well.
MC: In an interview with Zoomer a few years ago you mentioned that when you turned 50 you were allowed to have fun with your life. How do your 70s feel?
BC: Feels older. That's the biggest one. I guess I see myself as an Elder in a way, with a capital "E." That's a new thing and I don't like to make too much out of that because it's for other people to decide if I have that status. I think of those models that I have like Mississippi John Hurt, who went on as an old man playing for young people and having an effect on them that was beyond just an hour's entertainment and I hope that if I'm in a position like that where I have an effect on people that it's a meaningful, worthwhile effect. And I also obviously hope I can keep on making a living doing that for as long as possible.
MC: And you mentioned your 2014 memoir earlier. In that book the story stops at the year 2004. Have you planned a follow-up to bring it up to date?
BC: There's no plan like that, but it could happen. I guess especially if I become debilitated in some way and can't keep performing, or if the song writing thing runs dry. Who knows? There'll be a story to tell, but whether I'll get bored enough or live long enough to tell it …
~ from www.everythingzoomer.com by Mike Crisolago - Copyright 2017 ZoomerMedia Limited
7 July 2017 - It has been 33 years since the release of Bruce Cockburn’s darkly infectious hit, If I Had a Rocket Launcher, a stirring commentary on the injustices the Canadian singer-songwriter experienced during a visit to Central America.
Today, the song remains as valid — and potentially misunderstood — as ever.
"A lot of people relate to it currently, in terms of Iraq or Afghanistan or Syria, any number of places," Cockburn said in a recent interview in advance of his July 15 appearance at the Vancouver Island Music Festival in Comox.
"Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be running out of war and pain."
Cockburn recalls the "scary" experience of playing the song for 2,000 Christians at a music festival in England in the 1980s, and everyone enthusiastically singing: "If I had a rocket launcher … some son of a bitch would die."
For reasons like that, he is not comfortable with people singing along to the song.
"There’s nothing joyful or celebratory about it. It’s truthful, but that’s not a pleasant truth to me. I don’t like reliving it."
Cockburn also appeared in Santiago, Chile, to support banned artists during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. A Chilean singer repeated each line after Cockburn in Spanish. "When we got to the end, the audience was on its feet. That was also quite chilling. These people had a different perspective on it."
The Ottawa-born Cockburn wrote Rocket Launcher after visiting a refugee camp in Guatemala.
"Most people relate to it for close to the right reasons. It’s a cry of outrage. Very few people understand it as a call to arms."
Ultimately, what does he hope to achieve from a political song?
"I hope to write a good song and have people hear it. That’s it. I don’t think songs change the world. People change the world and if people embrace a particular song as a kind of anthem, then that song becomes part of the process of change."
Cockburn is talking over the phone from a Starbucks in San Francisco, where he’s lived the last eight years and where his second wife, M.J. Hannett, works as a lawyer. This afternoon, he’s with his five-year-old daughter, Iona, and apologizes for the interruptions.
"Sorry, I am using a carrot to try to spread peanut butter on a piece of bread. Actually, I’m quite proud of myself."
Over the decades, Cockburn has drifted between Christianity and spirituality, spurning the trappings of formal religious dogma and the unyielding conservatism of some movements. He’s found some solid ground at San Francisco Lighthouse Church.
"I am kind of coming back to calling myself a Christian again," he says. "It’s a vibrant, alive place, and kind of free thinking. Everybody is here because they really want to be, not out of habit or social convention."
Cockburn is an accomplished lyricist and guitarist who, at age 72, endures arthritis in his hands.
A few songs such as the instrumental Foxglove are now too difficult to perform.
"It’s not enough of an impediment to stop me from performing. If you come and hear a show, I won’t think, ‘Oh, he doesn’t play like he used to.’ "
Cockburn has 32 albums to his credit. Some of his best-known songs include Tokyo, Lovers In A Dangerous Time, Wondering Where The Lions Are, The Coldest Night Of The Year, and If A Tree Falls — a 1989 song that touched environmentalist David Suzuki.
"I was blown away by it because we were involved in a big battle to stop a dam in Brazil," Suzuki recalls. "It was a powerful demonstration that music transcends language and culture and cuts straight to the heart."
Cockburn’s 33rd project, Bone on Bone, is scheduled for release in September. He says fans can expect spiritual undertones, a “bluesier and rougher” sound than on past albums, with a political song about oil called False River.
What propels him at this stage of his life?
"The words demand the music. It’s not a deliberate process. The songs take the shape they do."
Saturday, July 15, 1 p.m. & 8:15 p.m. | MusicFest 2017, Comox
Tickets and info: islandmusicfest.com
~from Bruce Cockburn reflects on impact of Rocket Launcher, By Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
4 July 2017 - Rock 'n' roll poets are few, but Bruce Cockburn is one of those rare legends of both instrument and word.
His songs have been quoted in books and movies and even in other songs (by U2 in God Part II). Cover versions of his songs have catapulted other acts to stardom (Barenaked Ladies). And his name has been evoked in global conversations for humanitarian efforts and social development.
Other stars like Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffett and Emmylou Harris are outspoken fans. Steve Bell, one of Canada's most notable Christian performers, did an entire album of Cockburn covers.
Cockburn is, by any estimation, a master of the guitar. He plays a finger-style that was honed on jazz at the Berklee School of Music but the raw material was carved from the blues found around his Ottawa upbringing, then steeped in international concepts he picked up along the way. When Cockburn travels, he always brings a little something home.
He also has a healthy appetite for poetry, from which his abundant lyrics emerge.
He's written some lightning bolts, the most famous of which is "gotta kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight" found tucked in the folds of his classic hit Lovers In A Dangerous Time.
It is hardly alone. Sizzling metaphors and turns of phrase engorge the sails of his music career.
He told The Citizen that he studies master poets and reads it for fun as well, but he knows his place on that bookshelf.
"In a way, writing songs gives you an out. You can get away with - and sometimes you're obliged to get away with - things that wouldn't really stand up on the page very well, because they have to go with the music," he said.
"I can say yeah, I'm a pretty good guitar player for a songwriter, or I'm a pretty good songwriter for a guitar player. It's not really poetry, what I do, but it's so much like it I hold myself to that standard."
He cites Robert Bly, Blaise Cendrars and Kenji Miyazawa as some of his favourites, but the first one that turned him onto poetry at all was Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish he discovered in Grade 6, and the first one who inspired some of his directions in life came with a beat.
"Allen Ginsberg was for me what Bob Dylan was as a songwriter," Cockburn said of the back alley bard of San Francisco - the city in which Cockburn now lives.
It wasn't a pilgrimage. Cockburn's wife has a job there, Cockburn's work is portable, so the move was academic. So was becoming the stay-at-home parent for their daughter, now five.
He spent her first three years writing a different sort of composition. He penned his autobiography, Rumours Of Glory, during her first three years.
"It seemed like the right time. It seemed like I was old enough to have a story to tell," he said.
The topic of a book had come up before, but this one was suggested by publisher HarperCollins who urged him to talk about his spiritual Christian mentalities as much as his music and social activism.
"During that period I didn't write any songs so I was kind of wondering if I would be a songwriter again after that was put to bed. And luckily, I think, I still am," he said. The album Bone On Bone is the echo of that, scheduled for release in September.
Perhaps some of that new material will spread across Canada Games Plaza tonight when Cockburn performs at tonight's edition of the Heatwave Festival celebrating Canada's 150th anniversary.
Cockburn has always been a proud representative of Canada, on the global stage. But he is also a fiercely realistic one.Songs like Stolen Land, And They Call It Democracy, and If I Had A Rocket Launcher are but a few that prick the skin of abuse to indigenous people here and around the world.
He has gone to places where these abuses are splattered in blood. Canada's power imbalance has been violent, there have been brutalities and victimizations, but he is cognizant that at least the conversations now are about reconciliation, restoring balance, and minimizing the ongoing damage.
"We were duplicitous colonists and then we were bad friends," he said, knowing that this week's Canada Day celebrations are only valid if they take stock of the pain the making of Canada caused, and still causes with documents like the federal Indian Act still overlaying aboriginal relations.
"It is obviously an ongoing concern," he said.
"A lot of the right noises are being made but not a lot of the right actions are taking place, yet. There's some good talk, and good talk is better than no talk, and changes are slowly occurring but thing we have to remember on all sides is, we have no where else to go. We've got to deal with this like family members in a situation that needs rectifying. It's a dialogue that has to go on between brothers and sisters, not 'us' and 'them.'"
He also has his daily dose of local politics to keep his eyes clear on Canada's progress. He lives in the nation that can't seem to stabilize its rhetoric anymore. Cockburn likened Donald Trump to the demonic clown named Violator in the Spawn comic book series.
"The dialogue is no longer civil," he said of the American cultural condition anymore. "There is no room for reasoned dialogue. There's no room for friendly persuasion. The only persuasion is at gunpoint, and we haven't quite gotten there yet, but it is on the horizon. It is amazing to hear where it's gone."
As a poet, a songwriter, an author, in almost any form he's ever taken Cockburn is above all an observer who conveys what he sees in forms of art. Tonight, he shares that with Prince George.
The festivities get underway at 7 p.m. with opening acts Khast'an Drummers and Scarlett Jane.
~from Prince George Citizen - by Frank Peebles
© Copyright 2017 Prince George Citizen
30 June 2017 - We lived in what was stamped a "hippie haven" in the early seventies – Gothic Avenue, which borders Quebec Avenue – in High Park, Toronto. The brown rice/alternative lifestyle sanctuary was a haven for writers, musicians – in fact the late Billy Bryans lived only a few steps away and was playing in a band called Horn. Music was big fun and discovery. You could start in the early morning after a hit of a hash/tobacco joint and walk in on neighbours. Music played day and night, in fact it was all about checking out the person next door’s album collection.
The progressives blasted Emerson, Lake and Palmer – the countrified – Pure Prairie League – and the folkies loved their Tea for the Tillerman/Cat Stevens and a newcomer rising on the Canadian scene, Bruce Cockburn.
Even if you didn’t pay much attention you learned who the artists were were through peripheral listening. I had Bruce’s voice memorized as well as his fluent guitar playing. Cockburn stuck with you like he belonged in your life. Right time, right place!
The debut – Bruce Cockburn, produced by Eugene Martynec, came with a single that seemed to follow Canadians everywhere – Going To The Country. I know the inhabitants of Gothic Avenue were served a new side each year we survived the developers wrecking ball – High Winds, White Sky – Sunwheel Dance, Night Vision, Joy Will Find A Way and In The Falling Dark.
Come September, Cockburn is inducted into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame (CSHF)and releases his thirty-third recording, Bone to Bone. I connected with Bruce from his San Francisco home and collected his thoughts on a number of issues, episodes and events.
You have a couple of big events in September – induction into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and your 33rd recording – Bone to Bone. Your thoughts?
Any particular order? The exciting thing for me of course is the album – it’s been awhile since I’ve had an album out. I’m happy with the songs and how it came out. I’m anxious to get it out and get people to hear it. The Songwriter’s Hall of Fame thing is nice. There’s a lot of ‘halls of fame’ in the world. In one way, it’s delightful to be recognized by the scene – people who enjoy what I do and people who are close enough to it to appreciate what I do. That means a lot. I can also remember thinking, getting inducted into some kind of hall of fame means you should already be dead or about to be. I don’t feel like that now. It feels pretty good. I also remember being somewhere and there was the towing and removal hall of fame – every industry has one. This is a national one and a big deal – it’s nice and I’m very appreciative.
It’s about songwriting too – something very special.
It’s nice to be recognized by the people who understand what you do.
You have a healthy attitude about your career. It’s spanned decades and there is no reason to retire – just keep making music..
Yes – as long as I can keep doing it, that’s what I want to do. I don’t take it for granted or assume my feelings would ever change – it could, but hasn’t so far. I like what I do and I like performing the songs I write for people. It’s the way they get to hear them best and the way I get to share them in the presence of actual human feedback. As long as I’m physically able to do it, I expect I will.
Do you still enjoy your time on stage?I’ve always been terrified on stage and that hasn’t really changed that much. Terrified would be overstating now but back in the beginning it was terrifying, now it’s just kind of stressful. When you perform your songs to actual human beings in a live situation, that’s where the song really lives and becomes meaningful. If nothing else, the experience of being there focused on the same thing with a whole bunch of people is a pleasant sensation. Then afterwards, it feels good for a few minutes and then you start thinking about all of the things you did wrong and then it takes a day or two before you start feeling good about it again. Along with the precarious situation is the idea of making a living without having a boss. Being able to travel – some people would find it as having an adventurous lifestyle. It’s a great thing – a gift and not everybody gets to do it.
You were there at a time when the “protest song” made a difference in people’s lives. It was impactful. The war in Vietnam came to a halt through song and action. Are there songs out there today having the same force or influence?I don’t know. I don’t think it’s down to the songs in this generation, but means and distribution. You can write the best song in the world and it’s not going to change things itself. It has to fall on fertile ground. In the sixties and up to relatively recently, the way a song fell on fertile ground was when it got sung at a protest – when it was sung to an audience who understood what it was protesting about and sympathized with the message. Then it becomes an emotional rallying point for all of that popular feeling that’s out there. If you don’t have that, I don’t think the song is going to have that much of an effect. People relate to music in a different way from most of the time I’ve been around. I’m not sure what that adds up to. In the state that I’m living there’s more popular feeling than you kind of want – it’s so polarized. There’s a lot of angry people on one side and lot of bewildered and worried people on the other. Can somebody write a song that would establish common ground with those opposing views that would be effective?
You live in California – a state that’s kind of a country unto itself now.
It is sort of. It is certainly resisting some of the trends that are sweeping the rest of the country. How long that can go for, who knows? Once they get into the real contest – the vast sums of money that transfer between the federal government and the states – just like in Canada – the federal government has a significant amount of leverage over a state like California. It hasn’t come down to that kind of arm wrestle yet. California, by and large, is forward looking as a society. This is where people are paying attention to environmental concerns in a deeper way than a lot of places. With respect to some issues, California gets carried away. Like Etobicoke in Toronto – it’s famous for having more bylaws than anywhere else. Unnecessary things like how long your grass should be.
We tend to go that way – there are a lot of laws in this state. Some are not very smart, I think. There’s a significant amount of energy behind having a future and having influence over the quality of that future. I think that may have to do with the relative absence of fear. It’s also the kinds of jobs too. The jobs that aren’t skill jobs are mostly agricultural. In Kentucky or West Virginia where the economy has mostly been dependent on mining – they are screwed! They are worried and angry. You can’t blame them. It isn’t about environmental laws like the powers that be keep painting that way, because there are never going to be mining jobs again – it’s all going to be automated.
Even if they rolled back all of the controls and let corporations do whatever they want, there still won’t be work. California is lucky in that respect that it isn’t currently in such a state of collapse. What will happen with the agricultural industry with climate change is another thing. We don’t know.
Bone on Bone? Is there a theme or something that links each song?
They are linked by the period of time they were written. People will notice an emphasis on the spiritual side of things more characteristic of what I was doing in the seventies than what I’ve done recently. It’s a rawer kind of sounding record – kind of bluesy and deliberately rough around the edges than some of them have been. The songs seem to suit that treatment. I don’t think people are going to see this as a “political, quote, un-quote album”. I don’t think I’ve written anything people would call a protest song on this album, but there might be one. There’s a song called, "False River" that’s about oil. That I think would qualify. There are passing references to that state of things but it’s more interior.
Even the Stones reacquainted themselves with their past and just put out a blues side.
I haven’t heard that album and I hear it’s good. I liked it when they started writing songs that were more in line with their actual real roots. The music that came out of English culture, but heavily blues-based. They got more interesting after they started writing about their understanding of life. That said, there’s nothing wrong with honoring those old blues songs. I think that’s what they intended to do in the beginning and did again now.
Some day I have intentions of doing an album of other people’s stuff that would include that kind of thing. From the artists I learned from when I started out. In fact, there’s one of those on the new album, what we used to call a "negro spiritual". It’s called "Twelve Gates to the City". I used to hear the Reverend Gary Davis sing it, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry sing it and various others. The song keeps popping up – I don’t know why really. It’s a song I feel I have a relationship with.
With YouTube, Spotify and so many streaming situations it’s like the world of music has been harvested and archived. Do you spend time exploring?
I do that but I don’t have much time to do anything and don’t listen to as much music as I once did. There was a period back in the 70s’ I wouldn’t listen to anything I could be accused of imitating. I didn’t want to listen to any other songwriters. I didn’t listen to rock n’ roll or even the jazz I loved. I went around looking for music I hadn’t heard before. I got deep into European Renaissance music and ethnic music from various parts of the world and what we would now call “world music” and was not called that back then. It was just recordings of people’s folk music.
I was traveling in southeast Asia in connection with the land mine issue in Cambodia and ended up jamming with these two guys. One played percussion and the other the Cambodian equivalent to the erhu and the tunes were traditional music and sounded like a cross between Appalachian fiddle music and blues. Fast tunes really bluesy sounding in a minor key. A lot of sliding notes. I played rhythm – just tried to keep up. I’d never given a thought to what Cambodian music would even sound like. Here I am jamming with this guy – blind from a mine accident.
What’s taking up your time these days?
I have a five-year old. One more day of kindergarten then off for the summer. Going into grade one in the fall – and it’s takes a lot of attention. Some of it is terrific and some of it is draining – I’m too old for this. She’s a terrific kid and there’s a lot about this that is really wonderful.
~from FYI Music News – A Conversation with Bruce Cockburn – by Bill King.
16 May 2017 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - TORONTO, ON
On Saturday, September 23, 2017, after a five year hiatus, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) Induction ceremony returns with four incredible inductees, Beau Dommage, Bruce Cockburn, Neil Young, and Stéphane Venne, at Toronto’s iconic Massey Hall .The bilingual ceremony presented by Richardson GMP, will feature remarkable tributes and performances from sought after Canadian artists including, Arkells, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Damien Robitaille, Daniel Lavoie, Don Ross, Élage Diouf, France D'amour, Florence K, Julie Payette, k.d. lang, Randy Bachman, William Prince and Whitehorse with special surprise artists to be announced in the coming weeks.
Fans can expect an exhilarating live show with breath-taking music, moving stories and stunning visuals. Tickets will be available to the public on Friday, May 19 starting at 10:00 a.m. via www.cshfinduction.ca and www.masseyhall.com.
"We are thrilled to be back to celebrate the extraordinary careers of Beau Dommage, Bruce Cockburn, Neil Young and Stéphane Venne at this year's ceremony at Massey Hall," said Stan Meissner, Chair, Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. "These inductees truly highlight the depth and incredible legacy of the songwriting talent we have here in Canada."
The CSHF is a national, bilingual, non-profit organization, founded to honour and celebrate Canadian songwriters. Since 2003, theCSHFhas held seven highly successful induction ceremonies focusing on the unique craft of the song and celebrating the value of music in our society. This year's induction ceremony will be recorded for later broadcast by CBC Music in association with ICI Musique.
Multi-platinum selling rock band Beau Dommage consisting of members Marie- Michèle Desrosiers,Michel Rivard, Pierre Huet, Robert Léger, Pierre Bertrand, Michel Hinton, and Réal Desrosiers, broke sales records with their self-titled debut album in 1974. Their second album, Où est passée la noce?, went platinum on the first day of sales. Beau Dommage went on to be the first group to receive the Medal of Honour at the National Assembly of Quebec and in 2013 they were chosen by Canada Post to be depicted on their own stamp.
"For nearly a century, from Madame Bolduc to Louis-Jean Cormier, thousands of Québec artists have sung and still sing, day in, day out and in French, the very soul of the people," said Beau Dommage. "Beau Dommage is proud to be one link in that chain. To us, this honour underscores the smiling tenacity ofla chanson Québécoise."
Bruce Cockburn's illustrious career has spanned over five decades. Cockburn has deftly captured the joy, pain, fear, and faith of human experience in song, earning him 12 JUNO Awards, a Governor General's Performing Arts Award, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada.
"I'm honoured and deeply gratified to have the recognition of my work expressed by my being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. It's a gas!” said Bruce Cockburn.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Neil Young is one of the most influential and idiosyncratic singer-songwriters of his generation. From the beginning of his solo career in the late '60s through to the 21st century, he has never stopped writing, recording, and performing. The multi-platinum GRAMMY Award-winning artist has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and was honoured as an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Acclaimed songwriter, arranger, and producer Stéphane Venne has written over 400 songs (words and music) to date. Twenty of his works charted at number one and are currently among the SOCAN Classics for accumulating over 25,000 radio plays.
"Beyond the ultimate compliment of being inducted in the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, I would like to make a wish. I have, for the vast majority of my career, been a writer and composer, with basically no exposure as an artist. I hope my experience can be an inspiration for those who like me, that have something special to contribute thanks to their writing and nothing but their writing," said Stéphane Venne.
"At Richardson GMP Wealth Management, we share a passion for the Canadian independent spirit and we recognize not only the great talent but the commitment of our songwriters to this country," said Andrew Marsh, CEO, Richardson GMP. "As we celebrate 150 years as a nation, we proudly support the CSHF Inductee Ceremony and the recognition of these four great artists."
For more information and to purchase tickets visit: www.cshfinduction.ca or www.massyhall.com.
The CSHF is also pleased to acknowledge this year's event sponsors, ole, SOCAN Foundation, CBC Music, ICI Musique, SOCAN and Gowling WLG along with the Province of Quebec, Quebecor and Boucher Guitars.
For press images please visit: https://canadian-songwriters-hall-of-fame.prezly.com/media
For more information on CSHF please contact:
Laura Steen / Strut Entertainment / firstname.lastname@example.org /416.300.9254
Samantha Pickard / Strut Entertainment / email@example.com / 647.405.1715
The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) honours and celebrates Canadian songwriters and those who have dedicated their lives to the legacy of music, and works to educate the public about these achievements. National and non-profit, the CSHF is guided by its own board of directors who comprise both Anglophone and Francophone music creators and publishers, as well as representation from the record industry. In December 2011, SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) acquired the CSHF. The Hall of Fame's mandate aligns with SOCAN's objectives as a songwriter and publisher membership-based organization. The CSHF continues to be run as a separate organization. www.cshf.ca
About Richardson GMP
Trusted. Canadian. Independent. Richardson GMP is Canada's largest independent wealth management firm, entrusted with over $30 billion in client assets. With offices across the country, we are home to some of Canada's most distinguished Investment Advisors. All Richardson GMP Advisors share a passion for professionalism and a commitment to delivering unbiased- and unparalleled-wealth management solutions. They are supported by the substantial resources of our founding companies and their respective track records of success in Canada. We are proudly Canadian. Fiercely independent. And dedicated to earning and rewarding your trust as stewards of your wealth. www.richardsongmp.com
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13 May 2017 - When Bruce Cockburn published his memoirs in 2014 [Rumours of Glory], he didn’t think he could go back to writing songs.
It was 2011 when the 13-time Juno award winning Canadian musician first sat down to bang out his book, around the same time his daughter Iona was born. As expected, becoming a father proved a distraction.
“It was weird,” he said in an interview with OttawaStart.com last month. “It was kinda a pain in the butt… I’d never gone that long without writing a song.”
After a while thinking he’d hung up his songwriting hat, the touch he is so well known for came back.
Soon, he’ll set out on a North American tour with his new album Bone on Bone, the 33rd album of his career. He’ll play at the NAC in Ottawa on Sept. 22.
“The tour will be a band tour, which I haven’t done in a while,” he said.
He’ll be alongside his nephew, accordionist John Aaron Cockburn, as well as drummer Gary Craig and bassist John Dymond, who are all featured on the album.
Opening their act will be Hamiltonian Terra Lightfoot, who spoke to OttawaStart.com last week.
Bruce Cockburn says there’s no direct reference to U.S. President Donald Trump in his new album.
Cockburn has become known for his politicized lyrics, often covering topics such as human rights and the environment. But there’s no mention of a very current political situation, he said.
“There’s nothing about Donald Trump,” Cockburn said. “I’d feel dirty if I did something like that.”
While he doesn’t sing specifically about Trump, he said some might interpret a cover of gospel song 12 Gates to the City to be a reference to Trump’s Mexican border wall.
“There’s a gate for everyone,” Cockburn said.
Lamenting the amount of time it takes to get an album out these days, which he says used to be much quicker, Cockburn said there isn’t a unifying theme in the album, or a single inspiration.
“The songs just come out wherever they come from,” he said. “I didn’t really write any of the songs with a theme in mind.”
Born in Ottawa on May 27, 1945, he was raised in Pembroke and attended Nepean High School. Today he lives with his family in San Francisco and looks forward to returning to the capital.
“I get back there every now and then,” he said, such as for the Juno Songwriters’s Circle at the NAC on April 2.
Growing up, Cockburn said, he felt the need to escape Ottawa’s bubble and travel more.
“I’ve always felt like a nomad,” he said. But he still feels a connection to his hometown.
“I feel very happy to come back and perform.”
~ from OttawaStart.com.
1 April 2017 - Buffy Sainte-Marie was presented with the Alan Waters Humanitarian Award at the 2017 JUNO Awards by Bruce Cockburn.
You can watch the video of this presentation here, this is a live stream of the JUNO's, presentation starts at 3:27:28.
Colin Linden – Buffy Sainte-Marie – Bruce Cockburn – JUNO 2017 – photo – True North Records
Bruce Cockburn takes part in the Juno Songwriters’ Circle at the NAC in Ottawa on Sunday, April 2, 2017. Patrick Doyle / The Ottawa Citizen
3 April 2017 - Every song has a story.
Singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn came home to Ottawa Sunday to host what’s dubbed the “jewel of the Junos” at the National Arts Centre, bringing together established stars and up-and-comers to explore what he called the “mystery” of the craft.
"Nice to have an excuse to be back in Ottawa," the capital-born Cockburn, 71, told the sold-out crowd at Southam Hall, which greeted him with a standing ovation before he’d sung a note.
With him for the 2017 Juno Songwriters’ Circle were nominees including Chantal Kreviazuk, Colin Linden and Wintersleep’s Paul Murphy plus the powerful singer-songwriter Donovan Woods, Acadian newcomer Lisa LeBlanc and 21-year-old R&B phenom Daniel Caesar.
"I don’t get here often enough," Cockburn said, adding that he’d decided to perform some "old ones."
Cockburn reached back into his catalogue to play hits like Lovers in a Dangerous Time, inspired by the "innocent and lovely" fumblings towards romance of his then pre-teen daughter, now a mother of four, amid the Cold War, AIDS crisis and environmental degradation of the 1980s.
He launched into the beautiful, menacing first bars of If I Had a Rocket Launcher after explaining its inspiration was hearing the first-hand accounts of Guatemalan refugees who’d fled savage attacks, the song’s helpless rage amplified by Linden’s haunting slide guitar.
Bruce Cockburn takes part in the Juno Songwriters’ Circle at the NAC in Ottawa on Sunday, April 2, 2017. Patrick Doyle / The Ottawa Citizen
Another classic song and Cockburn hit was born in Ottawa. It was the late 1970s and Cockburn’s cousin, then a Canadian spy, told him over a dinner in Hull that amid the skirmishes of China and Russia, they could all wake up tomorrow to the end of the world.
"This is a guy who knew what he was talking about — it kind of spoiled dessert," Cockburn said.
But the next day,"Ottawa was still here," and as he drove along the Queensway, Cockburn began Wondering Where the Lions Are, which became a Top 40 hit in the U.S. and so familiar to his fans much of the NAC crowd sang along word for word.
Bruce Cockburn & Colin Linden takes part in the Juno Songwriters’ Circle at the NAC in Ottawa on Sunday, April 2, 2017. Patrick Doyle / The Ottawa Citizen
Kreviazuk, nominated for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year, explained at the benefit for MusiCounts, which aims to make sure every kid gets music education, that she’d used songwriting to “find my joy and solace” since her childhood in Manitoba.
"Before there’s a song, there’s nothing," she said, sitting at the piano before launching into her 1997 hit Surrounded. Inspired by a friend who committed suicide when they were teenagers, she said it both helped her find her life’s work and memorializes him every time she plays it.
Another song was a complete change of pace – an acoustic version of Feel This Moment, co-written by Kreviazuk and recorded by Pitbull and Christina Aguilera.
"Don’t let people tell you what to say," was Kreviazuk’s advice to aspiring songwriters.
Lisa LeBlanc, a 26-year-old Acadian transplanted to Montreal, had clearly already taken that advice, bringing down the house with Ti-Gars, a take on her Cajun cousins’ ballads about lost love transformed into a catchy complaint about a dude stealing her car.
Then she pulled out her banjo for You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I Do Too) which turns the romantic ballad on its head.
"My heart’s always traveled with me in my suitcase," she sang. "And I guess I don’t wanna see it ending up in yours."
Murphy explained that he found the band’s smash hit Amerika in the pages of a collection by 19th-century American poet Walt Whitman that echoed the themes of an otherwise “terrible” short story he’d written himself.
"It stirred something in me," Murphy said, before launching into the song, which juxtaposes a lament for a lost country with the entreaty to "fix me in your twilight eyes so we can make a moment last."
Big-voiced Woods, a Sarnia native who was nominated for Songwriter of the Year and has had his work recorded by the likes of Tim McGraw, had the crowd in silence for a beat before thunderous applause for What Kind of Love is That?
He got a standing ovation when he closed the show with the poignant Next Year, inspired by all the things in life we put off until it might be too late – like his narrator’s impromptu trip to the Grand Canyon with a dying father.
"There ain’t no next year," he sang. "Another day down, another week gone, you’re always just talking about tomorrow — you can’t beg, steal or borrow or make time."
Woods explained that he goes down to Nashville to write songs with the kind of "famous guys" who live on private islands.
"They have to bring people down to remind them what it’s like to have problems," he quipped. "I pack my problems."
~from Ottawa Citizen - by Megan Gillis - Postmedia. Photos Patrick Doyle / The Ottawa Citizen.
6 April 2017 - The JUNO Songwriters’ Circle has been recorded, and you can listen to both sets here
The Junos Songwriters’ Circle is always a lot of fun, with big-name and newer artists sharing the stage to tell the stories behind their songs before playing them.
At this year’s Junos, Bruce Cockburn hosted the Sunday afternoon event at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre in two sessions: first up was Colin Linden, Lisa LeBlanc and Wintersleep’s Paul Murphy; then Chantal Kreviazuk, Daniel Caesar and Donovan Woods took over.
The show was a delight, and if you couldn’t attend, fear not: you can listen to both sets here.
Below, read on for five things you missed at the songwriters’ circle — aside from the music.
1. Everyone’s love for Bruce Cockburn
"Many of the greatest times of my life have been standing two or three feet away, to Bruce Cockburn’s right," joked Colin Linden after Cockburn kicked off the set with "Lovers in a Dangerous Time."
By the end of the afternoon, Cockburn had made both Linden and Kreviazuk cry with his performances — "Is there a tissue?" Kreviazuk asked — and invited LeBlanc to teach his five-year-old daughter to play "You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I do Too)".
"I’ve had nightmare dreams about Bruce Cockburn singing that [‘Wondering Where the Lions Are’], Chantal Kreviazuk singing that [‘Surrounded’], and then having to go after that, it’s like literally terrifying," confessed Woods before his first song. The whole thing was just a big love fest.
To continue reading, visit this link.
~ from CBC Music.
20 February 2017 Bruce Cockburn received the inaugural Folk Alliance International People’s Voice Award during the opening-night awards ceremony at the organization’s 29th annual conference in Kansas City, Mo. This was the first time Bruce has received an award in the United States.
Here’s the video of Bruce giving his acceptance speech:
Ladies and Gentlemen, Sisters and Brothers
I’m greatly honoured, and very pleased, to be the first recipient of the Folk Alliance’s “Peoples’ Voice” award. For me its a night of firsts: it’s my first Folk Alliance… this is the first such honour I’ve received in the United States, a country that has made me welcome as a visitor for decades, and in which I now dwell. Ultimately, I guess DHS got tired of issuing me work visas and just decided to give me a green card instead.
It all started, though, with a student visa allowing me to attend Berklee College of Music. I found it interesting that as a foreign student during the Vietnam years, I had to swear that I would accept being drafted, in the event the war effort ran out of young Americans.
When I started putting out records, in the ’70s, there was always a visa, as needed, letting me come here to tour. With the radio exposure of Wondering Where The Lions Are, I began to acquire an audience of measurable size. It was with the release of Stealing Fire, though, in ’84, that things really took off. That album included a number of songs that grew out of travel in Central America, much of which was at war.
Many Americans felt betrayed by their country’s complicity in those wars, but there was virtually no public voice for that very large body of dissent… some underground media, but little in the mainstream. If you didn’t approve of what the U.S. was up to, you were left feeling isolated.
When we took Stealing Fire on tour, it was amazing to see rooms-full of people encouraged and uplifted to look around and see that the lyrics spoke to so many besides themselves. “Hey–I’m not alone”. It was exciting for them and for me. I had not thought much about the effect of the political aspect of my songwriting. I had always felt, and still do, that the job is to tell the truth of the human experience as we live it. That, of course, includes the political, as well as lust, humour, family, general grumbling, and spirituality. The key word is truth, delivered directly or obliquely, as understood by the artist.
In the mid-’80s, the Reagan administration’s official truth was that there was no war in Central America, therefore there were no refugees… all those Latinos and Latinas coming north across the border were just dying to be cooks and chambermaids and gardeners. People were dying in Guatemala, in El Salvador, in Nicaragua, slain by weapons and training provided by the U.S. Murderous as that was though, and I don’t know the stats on this, it wouldn’t surprise me if the death toll in the current gang culture, to which the wars of the ’70s and ’80s gave birth, is not even greater, especially in Honduras.
With the attention paid to that album, and the song If I Had A Rocket Launcher in particular, I acquired the reputation of being a “political” singer. Before that the music business pigeon-holers were prone to calling me a “Christian” singer, or things like “the Canadian John Denver”, on account of my round glasses.
The fact is though, the writing I did started from the premise that I’m supposed to distill what I encounter of the human experience into something that can be communicated, shared. I’ve never been interested in protest for its own sake, or in ideological polemicizing. Just f***ing tell it like you see it and feel it. If you don’t see it and feel it, write about something else. Songs need to come from the heart or they don’t count for much.
That isolation and silencing of dissent as practiced in the Reagan era has, with the growth of social media, kind of swung 180 degrees, to where the cacophony of mostly anonymous personal voices, each attached to its own conspiracy theory, tends to shatter truth into kaleidoscopic fragments, reality buried in the resulting avalanche. My truth. Your truth. Alternate facts…what a fertile medium in which to grow a public tolerance for totalitarianism!
This is not lost on those whose narcissism and maybe testosterone level give them the notion that it’s their right and duty to tell the rest of us how to live. Ok… all politicians, all human beings, operate from mixed motives. It’s always tempting to think that what’s good for me is good for you too. That’s why we need to have dialogue, debate, respect for each others’ opinions and feelings. Especially if you want to run a democracy, you must value the expression of these things. Based on that, it seems evident that the current administration is not much interested in democracy. I don’t know, maybe their supporters are tired of the responsibility… but somewhere in the steaming ocean of bullshit they’re creating is a place for, a definite need for, truth.
They are trying to stifle opposition across the board by a range of means. Looks to me like they’re just getting started. Who will end up being the last line in the defense of truth? Maybe you and me…
Doesn’t mean we can’t sing love songs, but if you think you can keep your head down and ignore the political side of things, it’s liable to be waiting for you with a blackjack in the alley, when you come out the stage door.
And what truth are we best in a position to encourage? Obviously communication: community. The specific content of a given song is of less consequence than the way in which that song can be a focal point for collective energy. This is an antidote to the echo chambers, the isolation, the false friendships that characterize the online landscape.
We could be in for a rough couple of years. We may get tired, but we have to keep singing! Keep sharing!
Thank you Folk Alliance for noticing my work. Thank you USA, for the hospitality!
Thank you all for listening !
20 February 2017 Folk singer Bruce Cockburn is encouraging U.S. musicians to keep pushing for free speech under the Donald Trump administration.
While accepting an honour at the Folk Alliance International awards show in Kansas City, Mo. on Wednesday night he took a moment to address the volatile political climate.
"It seems evident that the current administration is not much interested in democracy," he said in prepared remarks.
"They are trying to stifle opposition across the board by a range of means. Looks to me like they're just getting started."
The Canadian singer, who lives in San Francisco, then urged musicians to be a catalyst for dialogue and debate.
"We may get tired, but we have to keep singing," he said.
Country singer Kris Kristofferson presented Cockburn with the People's Voice Award in recognition of his role in social and political commentary. His 1984 track "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" is widely considered a staple of activist music.
Cockburn reflected on his experiences as a young performer during the Vietnam War, and on later years when he found his voice during the U.S. presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
He then turned to the current U.S. political climate and told songwriters to consider their music as more than just words, but a "focal point for collective energy" of the community.
"Doesn't mean we can't sing love songs," Cockburn reasoned.
"But if you think you can keep your head down and ignore the political side of things, it's liable to be waiting for you with a blackjack in the alley when you come out the stage door."
~ from TheMontrealGazetta.com, by David Friend.
Photo Credit: Bruce Cockburn, left, accepts his People's Voice Award for his role in social and political commentary from country singer Kris Kristofferson at the Folk Alliance International awards show, in Kansas City, Mo., on February 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Brian Hetherman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
31 December 2016 - "The wood doesn’t lie."
At her Cabbagetown studio, the luthier Linda Manzer talks about the organic nature of her trade. Holding a guitar of her invention, she says you can’t make wood what it is not, that you have to co-operate with it, that you have to be honest with yourself. “You can’t fake it,” is how she puts it.
Of course, the honesty Manzer speaks of doesn’t refer solely to the craft of guitar making. A novelist or a ceramist would agree with her; even a cocktail mixologist – the booze doesn’t lie? – would find common ground here.
As would a painter. The guitar Manzer cradles is a salute to the Canadian landscape rock star and Group of Seven ringleader Lawren Harris. It’s a doozy, untraditional with its grooved ridges on the bottom, icy-blue splashes of colour on the top, big mechanical drawing on the back and a second neck thrusting outward from the body like a Harris-y mountain peak.
The acoustic instrument is part of The Group of Seven Guitar Project, an exhibit commissioned by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and set to open on May 6, in time for the country’s sesquicentennial summer.
Seven masterwork guitars were made by seven of the country’s top luthiers – each instrument an homage to a particular Group of Seven member. An eighth instrument (a baritone guitar that honours the rough-cut woodland enthusiast Tom Thomson) was a creation by committee.
While the project will be seen as a unique commemoration of Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, et al, what it really represents is a party thrown for the Canadian guitar makers themselves, a group that has carved out an impressive standing in the luthier world. Seven guitar-makers, then, as a loose-knit, supportive collective – a group, for lack of a better word.
Manzer, well known for the four-necked Pikasso Guitar she designed and built for the jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, refers to the project as an “amazing journey of discovery.”
That discovery began with her visit to the National Gallery of Canada, where she saw a collection of Group of Seven sketches in a back room. Thinking about the support the artists had for one another, she began to draw a comparison to her own experiences in the 1970s, when she was one of the first six apprentices to work with the master guitar-maker Jean Larrivée.
Doing the math wasn’t difficult: Group of Seven, seven luthiers, hmmm. And neither was it very hard to get the other luthiers – Sergei de Jonge, Tony Duggan-Smith, David Wren, George Gray, Grit Laskin and the guitar-making godfather Larrivée – on board.
Matching a luthier with a Group of Seven artist was an organic process – no drawing of straws involved. Duggan-Smith had lived in a house once lived in by Arthur Lismer, so that was an easy pairing. Laskin was attracted to the landscapes of F.H. Varley, and so on. Manzer was drawn in particular to the 1930 oil on canvas Mt. Lefroy, a snow-capped quintessential Harris depiction. “If Lawren Harris made a guitar, what would it look like?” she thought to herself. “And if one of his paintings morphed into a guitar, how would that look?”
The result, which won’t be unveiled until closer to the exhibit’s opening, is an exotic six-string acoustic model with an extra neck that holds an eight-string harp-like offshoot. “Technically, it was quite hard to do,” Manzer says. “But I think the result is a little controversial, and I had fun doing it.”
The next step was an audition. The folk-rock icon Bruce Cockburn, a friend and customer of Manzer’s, would give the guitar a playing. Reached in San Francisco, Cockburn described the guitar as a “pretty spectacular piece of sculpture, which manages to sound decent as well.”
Cockburn, who has sung about trees in forests but has never made paintings of them, wrote a song specifically for the guitar that will be featured in documentary film on the Group of Seven Guitar Project. The Mount Lefroy Waltz is a solo instrumental in F minor, played by Cockburn with the strings capoed at the third fret, with the strings tuned D-A-D-G-A-D.
“I tried to come up with something icy sounding,” Cockburn says. “The guitar favours the higher frequencies, and I tried to write that into the piece. It played very well. I was even able to use the ‘harp’ strings that are part of its architecture.”
The process of making the guitar was a lengthy one. Manzer spent more than two years just researching Harris. The turning point in her study was reading his letters to his confidante and fellow artist, Emily Carr. “He was a cheerleader for her, and the things he wrote to her about being brave became my inspiration from him,” Manzer says. “I took those words to heart.”
Each of the luthiers worked on their individual guitars on their own, but in talking to them all, Manzer believes their processes were similar to hers. “I was going to do what was best for my journey of discovery of Lawren Harris,” she says. “I think we all did that.”
As Manzer says, the wood doesn’t lie. And neither does the muse.
~ from Globe and Mail
Special thanks to Brad Wheeler – Twitter: @BWheelerglobe
9 November 2016 - For the first time since 2010’s “Small Source of Comfort”, Bruce Cockburn is back in the studio recording album number 33. [ You can view NEW photos from Prairie Sun Recording Studio sessions on brucecockburn.com ]
True North is aiming to release the album in 2017 but exactly when, is not yet known. The album will be produced by Colin Linden and be recorded in several studios throughout North America.
The album will contain all new songs written by Bruce.
“Small Source of Comfort” won the 2011 Juno for Best Roots Album as well as two awards from the Canadian Folk Awards and was well received world-wide.
Bruce has written more than 300 songs on 32 albums over a career spanning 45 years. Twenty-four Cockburn records have received a Canadian gold or platinum certification as of 2013, including most recently 6 times platinum for his Christmas album.
Bruce was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982 and was promoted to Officer in 2002. In 1998, he received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts.
He has received thirteen Juno Awards, and in 2001, during the 30th Annual Juno Awards ceremony, Cockburn was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Bruce received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, and that same year, Bruce received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from SOCAN.
For further information please contact:
613-967-7717 or 416-402-9937
~from: True North Records
Photo: Daniel Keebler
20 July 2016 - My guest on the show this week is legendary performer and songwriter Bruce Cockburn. Bruce has been recording and touring for over 40 years, and has over 30 spectacular albums to his credit. One of the most beloved of Canadian artists, Bruce has made a huge mark in the US and Europe as well. With humble beginnings in the folk scene of Toronto in the 60's, to releasing his first few classic albums on True North Records, before achieving massive commercial success in the late 70's and 80's with hit songs like "Wondering Where The Lions Are", "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" and "If I Had a Rocket Launcher". I've always been drawn to Bruce's creative guitar playing, which incorporates blues, jazz, folk and ragtime elements into a unique sound that instantly recognizable. Bruce and I had a chance to discuss his life and career in music and all the stages of his amazing career. Enjoy my conversation with Bruce Cockburn!