To join the website e-mail list for news and tour information, click here.
We often have videos and photos posted on our Facebook page that are not on this site.
Interview by Daniel Lumpkin for Christianity Today
FAN REPORTS FROM PAST SHOWS
HELP THE PROJECT!
The Project website is very much an open forum for submissions. If you would like to contribute an article (perhaps a transcript of radio appearance or other interview, or any other idea) to this site, see the Help the Project page for more information.
LOOKING FOR OTHER SITES?
The links section can help.
Bruce Cockburn's Official Facebook Page.
The Cockburn Project
is a unique website that exists to document the work of Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn. The central focus of the Project is the ongoing archiving of Cockburn's self-commentary on his songs, albums, and issues. You will also find news, tour dates, an online store, and other current information.
Click here to add a navigation frame to the top of this page. Do give it time to load, as you'll need it to get around easily. If you have a small screen and wish to remove the frameset, click here and use the text links at the bottom of each page. Keep scrolling down, there is a lot on this page.
13 May 2015 - When you’ve been writing and playing songs for 45-plus years, you have a lot of material to work with. In fact, you might have so much that you’d need to write a memoir to put it all in context.
That’s just what Bruce Cockburn, the venerable Canadian songwriter and guitarist, has done. “Rumours of Glory,” which was published late last year, recounts his long career as a musician, human rights activist, and spiritual explorer. With 31 albums and a raft of musical and humanitarian awards to his credit, Cockburn — who turns 70 May 27 — has a lot of ground to cover.
He brought copies of his book, as well as a new boxed set of CDs, to Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall last Friday, the first of two nights he would perform there before a sold-out house. He also brought four guitars — two six-string acoustics, a resonator guitar and a 12-string acoustic — to showcase his inventive finger-style work and the jazz, world music, blues and folk sounds he incorporates in his songs.
Cockburn is by his own admission a pretty shy, introverted person — though he’s become somewhat less so over the years — and he joked that he’d felt a little self-conscious when he’d visited Northampton’s “local bookstores” to see if they had copies of his memoir.
“My manager, Bernie, always used to tell me to visit local record stores when I was on tour and check out what they had of mine,” he said. “I never liked to do that.” He added that he’d looked as unobtrusively as possible for his book in Northampton’s stores “but I didn’t see any. But maybe they bought 100 copies and sold them all.”
Not to worry. As one woman at the packed Iron Horse called out, “We have it, and we love it!”
The crowd also loved Cockburn’s songs, which he plucked from throughout his long career: 1973’s “All the Diamonds in the World,” “Hills of Morning” from 1979, “Understanding Nothing” from 1987, and 1995’s “Pacing the Cage.” There was also the beautiful guitar piece “The End of All Rivers,” one of the tracks from his 2005 instrumental album, “Speechless.”
As good a guitarist as he is — Cockburn often lays down a thumping rhythm with his thumb and plays melodic leads with his first three fingers — he’s won much of his acclaim as a lyricist, and his songs have been covered by a wealth of artists, from Barenaked Ladies to Jimmy Buffett. Whether writing about his own spiritual explorations or the injustice he’s witnessed around the world, he brings a poetic intensity and sense of the mystical to many of his songs. He’s a Christian, he says, who has moved away from organized religion but still stresses the importance of what he calls “the divine” in his life.
Case in point: For the second song of his set, he played “Strange Waters,” which is built around slow, chiming chords and observational lyrics about a journey that could be both literal and metaphorical: “I’ve stood in airports guarded glass and chrome / Walked rifled roads and landmined loam / Seen a forest in flames right down to the road / Burned in love till I’ve seen my heart explode.”
At the Iron Horse, Cockburn’s voice sometimes strained when he approached the top of his range. Yet that lent a sense of urgency to songs like “Call It Democracy,” a full-throttle attack on the International Monetary Fund and its role in bracketing poor countries in debt: “Padded with power here they come / International loan sharks backed by the guns / Of market hungry military profiteers / Whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared / With the blood of the poor.”
It was one of Cockburn’s more impassioned moments during an otherwise fairly low-key set; he played the song on his 12-string guitar, giving it some added drive and volume and bringing the crowd to its feet at the end.
“I guess not a lot has changed since I wrote this,” he said about the 1985 song. “I’m not sure when the revolution is going to come.”
Then, when someone called out, “Let’s start it now,” he paused for a moment, then quipped, “I’m in danger of making a speech.”
Cockburn, born and raised primarily in Canada’s capital of Ottawa, took up the guitar in his late teens and studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in the mid-1960s, though he left without a degree. He later played with a number of rock bands in Canada before concentrating on songwriting, releasing a series of folk-oriented albums beginning in the early 1970s.
In the 1980s, though, his music began to embrace wider influences, and he also developed a reputation as a “political” songwriter, in part from songs like “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.” That 1983 tune was inspired by his visit to a camp of Guatemalan refugees on Mexico’s border, people who had fled the attacks of Guatemala’s military — many of whose leaders had been trained by the United States — during the country’s 30-year civil war. Furious about the refugees’ plight, Cockburn imagined shooting down Guatemalan helicopters that buzzed the area.
Over the years, he’s traveled to countries such as Nicaragua, Mozambique and Iraq as part of his activism, playing benefit concerts and jamming with musicians in other nations. He’s also worked with organizations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and Friends of the Earth.
Yet in his memoir, Cockburn, who now lives in San Francisco with his second wife, says his songs “tend to be triggered by whatever is in front of me, filtered through feeling and imagination. I went looking for humanity in all its guises ... the love, the meanness, the artists, the farmers, the juntas ... the conflicts, the peace, the music. That’s why I don’t think of the things I write as ‘protest’ songs.”
Indeed, although the crowd at the Iron Horse applauded all his tunes, the ones that seemed to bring out the warmest feelings were the ones exploring the range of human emotion, from regret and sadness to wonder and faith. He had the audience singing along with the chorus of “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” a lilting folk tune about a sudden feeling of optimism that he introduced by saying, “Here’s one that came back into the repertoire recently after being out of it for a long time.” The tune, from 1979, was Cockburn’s only Top 40 U.S. single.
Though he played solo, Cockburn added unusual textures to some of his songs by activating, through a foot pedal, a pair of heavy steel chimes positioned on either side of the stage. The chimes lent a particular resonance to “The End of All Rivers,” the instrumental track, which Cockburn played with reverb, echo and digital delay on his guitar, allowing the song’s hypnotic central riff to repeat as he added a long solo over the top.
He also closed the show with two songs, “Mystery” and “Put It In Your Heart,” that speak to the power of love and beauty to offset the worst the world and humankind can show — or the problems that can bedevil a single person. On the gentle “Mystery,” which included a pretty solo, he sang “Come all you stumblers who believe love rules / Stand up and let it shine.”
As the song ended and applause rang out, one woman seemed to speak for many when she called, “I don’t want the show to end!”
~ from Music review: A life in music and words: Bruce Cockburn explores range of human emotion at Iron Horse show - by Steve Pfarrer - Gazettenet.com.
14 May 2015 - Expect to experience some old favorites when Bruce Cockburn performs Tuesday at the Sellersville Theater and Wednesday at World Café Live.
The veteran Canadian singer-songwriter hasn’t written a new song in three years. During that period, he’d been busy toiling on his memoir, which was released last autumn.
“Rumours of Glory” dropped at an immense 544 pages. “That’s more than 100 pages for each decade I’ve been a musician,” he says. “I’ve been at this for awhile.”
Cockburn, who will turn 70 at the end of the month, focused on his book and his newborn daughter. “She arrived just when I was starting this,” he says. “I don’t have as much energy as I used to have and writing a book is a lot of work.”
Fortunately, Cockburn enlisted a wordsmith — Northern California journalist Greg King — to aid in the project. “I needed a second brain to help organize things,” Cockburn says. “That was a huge help and it helped me focus on the content.”
He had been approached often over the last few years to write a memoir. “But it didn’t seem like there was enough of an arc to write that book,” he says. “But when Harper Collins approached me about this a few years ago, I experienced enough to sit down and write it. They said they wanted a ‘spiritual memoir.’ That sounded good.”
Cockburn tells colorful stories about coming of age in the music business. “Nobody I mentioned in the book has said anything negatively,” he says. “I’ve heard from some people who say that they recall things differently, but overall, it’s been really good in terms of feedback.”
The bard’s early years have the most impact.
He chronicles how he felt when his father destroyed a notebook of his poems when he was 14. “There was probably a lot of derivative drivel in there, but the material was also personal and precious,” Cockburn says. “What he did was intolerable, but it might have spurred me on as a songwriter.”
Speaking of songs, a companion box set, which is comprised of 117 songs and nine discs, was released by Cockburn’s True North Records last October.
“That’s some serious product between the box set and the book,” he says. “I’ve been busy.”
Cockburn doesn’t have fresh material. His last album was released in 2011 [Small Source Of Comfort], but he doesn’t want for songs. He has released 25 albums during his 45-year career as a recording artist.
“I have more than enough to put on a show when I come in,” he says. “I have so much to choose from. I’m thrilled to have completed the book and I can focus on songwriting. I probably have enough for 500 more pages of memoir, but I think I’ll stick with being a musician. It’s a lot easier for me to write songs than a book, but it was a great project.”
Cockburn is very popular in Canada, but he’s a cult hero in the States. His clever folk-rock has its audience, but he’s not a household name like he is in the Great White North.
“That’s fine — that’s something I can’t control,” he says. “I just go about my business and I’m thrilled to be doing what I’m doing.”
Cockburn is enjoying his second act as a parent and citizen. He has moved with his wife and daughter to San Francisco.
“It’s great here,” he says. “I miss the grittiness of New York, but I can’t imagine raising a child there. She is going to love being brought up San Francisco.”
Bruce Cockburn appears Tuesday at the Sellersville Theater, 24 W. Temple Ave., Sellersville. Show time: 8 p.m. Tickets: $35 and $50. Information: 215-257-5808. [Tour Dates]
Cockburn appears Wednesday at World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia. Show time: 8 p.m. Tickets: $34.50. Information: 215-222-1400. [Tour Dates]
~ from Bucks County Courier Times - Bruce Cockburn can pick and choose from a vast portfolio - By Ed Condran Correspondent.
1 May 2015 - “I honour nonviolence as a way of being, and as a political tactic, but I am not a pacifist. As we continue to watch the world’s greatest military powers plunder weaker states and people as an integral, almost pro forma method of planetary domination, it’s clear that a violent response to such injustice, and carnage, would be useless and ever more destructive. But that’s easy for me to say as I sit on my peaceful deck in my peaceful city in my relatively peaceful country.”
So writes the gifted Canadian singer, songwriter and guitarist Bruce Cockburn in his recent memoir, “Rumours of Glory.” An intrepid world traveler and human rights activist, he has journeyed to dangerous war zones and scenes of hideous human travail. In 1983, under the auspices of Oxfam, Cockburn went to southern Mexico to observe the living conditions of impoverished Guatemalan citizens who had fled to refugee camps near the Guatemalan border.
Cockburn was shocked by the stench and destitution. The displaced had fled the murderous policies of their country’s regime, its brutal soldiers trained and funded by the United States. “The Guatemalan military wasn’t content to simply torture and slaughter and destroy villages where they were. They continued to harass the survivors, crossing the border into Mexico and attacking the refugee camps, strafing from helicopters, now and then dragging people off to the jungle and hacking them to pieces with machetes.”
Cockburn wrote “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” in response. The final verse of this powerful song highlighted his outrage: “I want to raise every voice — at least I’ve got to try. Every time I think about it, water rises to my eyes.”
Cockburn grew up in a comfortable middle class family in Ottawa. His family’s dynamic tended to stifle emotional communication. To this day, Cockburn is inclined to introversion and solitude, a self-titled “emotionally cloistered chameleon.” This internal orientation and frequent traveling has contributed to a string of broken marriages and relationships.
Early in life, he expressed a passion for music. He had little interest in the rest of academia. For a time in the mid 1960s Cockburn was a student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. The city then was a center of the folk music scene. Cockburn left Boston before he obtained his degree, returning to Canada to pursue music in his own way and immerse himself in the Canadian music scene: “Here’s the door. There’s the cliff. Go through. Jump. Just don’t forget your guitar,” he writes.
Cockburn writes of his interest in spirituality. His first wife inspired him to revisit the deeper dimensions of Christianity, though he remains “leery of the dogma and doctrine that so many have attached to Christianity as well as to most other religions.” Cockburn’s attraction to things spiritual and mystical surely influences his laid back and critical approach to the venal side of the music industry. “Commerce, in an era when the market has become god, can derail our quest for the Divine.” Cockburn admits his perspective has sometimes driven his manager, Bernie Finkelstein, to distraction, yet their partnership has endured for decades.
Cockburn’s political consciousness came about gradually. He was becoming more aware of greedy corporations wreaking ecological devastation in his native country. Mercury contamination especially stirred his sense of urgency, as it combined environmental destruction with the deepening economic horrors overwhelming the world’s poor.
Around the globe, Cockburn has witnessed manifold aspects of planetary crisis. While concerned individuals and organizations of goodwill remain hopeful harbingers of positive change, the sheer magnitude of natural resource erosion and social dislocation is daunting. Too many in the developed world remain indifferent or oblivious. Referring to his song “The Trouble with Normal” Cockburn writes: “Each sliding step down this road brings cries of warning and expressions of dismay. Each new skid downward leaves the previous one seeming acceptable after all. That, indeed, is the trouble with ‘normal.’”
Cockburn has championed the effort to rid the world of land mines, which are still in many countries: Egypt, Iraq, Mozambique and Cambodia to name a few. “At least 60 million are still buried across the globe, including a staggering 23 million in Egypt alone (more than any other nation), alongside unexploded ordnance left from World War II, disallowing use of huge regions in the north and east of the country,” he wrote.
Wherever he finds himself in the Third World, Cockburn jams with local musicians. These encounters can open new musical horizons.
His book is an honest and compelling memoir. Those unacquainted with Cockburn’s substantial oeuvre can find plenty of songs and performances on YouTube. The book and his music taken together present Cockburn as an indisputably accomplished artist and also one of the great humanitarians of our troubled time.
~from Streetroots.org. Reprinted from Street Roots’ sister paper Real Change News, Seattle Washington.
1 May 2015 - In his new memoir, Rumours Of Glory, Bruce Cockburn shares stories from a career that began in the mid-1960s, following a stint at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. The Canadian troubadour also offers accounts of his world travels, social activism and spiritual life. There are plenty of musical memories as well, which are reinforced by a 9-CD box set of the same name, with tracks selected by Cockburn from his 31 albums to offer parallel audio accompaniment.
In your book, you describe your rather unique reaction to hearing yourself on the radio for the first time back in 1970.
I had been writing songs for a few years in a bunch of different bands. So I had these bodies of songs and I felt choked up on them. I felt that having to carry all these songs in my head was getting in the way of writing new ones. So I wanted to make a record, and in my imagination, that record would allow me to forget about those songs because they would have been there and accounted for, so I could get on to writing new ones. Of course, what I didn’t realize was that it doesn’t work like that—when you record those songs, then everyone wants you to play those songs.
On the day my album came out, I was in the Yorkville area, which was the Toronto equivalent of Haight-Asbury or the Village in New York, and was the center of the counterculture scene. This was at a time when free-form FM radio was really just taking off and all the stores in that area would listen to this particular radio station called CHUM. So I’m in a store and they were playing my music. No one knew me but I felt like I had a big finger pointing at me. It was terrifying.
So I left the store and went into a different store that had the same radio station on and they were playing the whole album. You could do that kind of thing back in those days. I felt like I would never have a sense of privacy again. It was a very excruciating experience and I felt I had to duck and hide.
While we are on the subject of hearing yourself, Bono references your song “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” in U2’s “God Part II” [“Heard a singer on the radio late last night/ Says he’s gonna kick the darkness till it bleeds daylight”]. Do you recall the context in which you first heard that? Was it obvious that he was referencing you?
I think the album was out for a year or two before I actually heard it, but it was obvious when I heard the song. I had met Bono in the late ‘80s or very early ‘90s at a Christian festival in England. We had a chat and he expressed his approval of that song at that time, but nobody ever called me to tell me that they had done it. I kind of heard it through the grapevine and eventually I did hear the album, and there it was.
Did you have any exchanges with Jerry Garcia over the years, and what was your response to hearing him perform a song of yours [“Waiting for a Miracle,” which became a Jerry Garcia Band staple in 1989 and appears on the group’s selftitled 1991 live album]?
I heard from audience members that his band was doing the song live. Then his record company applied for the mechanical licenses that are part of the process. I was very excited, so I got the album and I put it on. It was a beautiful version, musically, and it had great energy, but the lyrics were unrecognizable in places. Right after that, a Bob Dylan song came on [“Simple Twist of Fate”] and the lyrics were quite altered in Garcia’s version as well, so I felt better. I told myself: “Well, if he is doing it to everybody, then I am in good company.” [Laughs.]
Sometime that same year, the Dead were doing one of their week-long extravaganzas at Madison Square Garden. I happened to be in New York, and somebody said, “Let’s go put you together with Jerry.” So I was ushered up onto the stage behind the amps where his tent was, and Jerry came out. He was very gracious and a lovely guy. We shook hands, and he said, “Man, it’s great to meet you! That’s a beautiful song, I hope I didn’t screw up the lyrics too much!” And then I said, “Well, I was going to wait till the second time I met you to bring that up, but it’s OK you did it your own way, and I’m glad you did…”
Speaking of iconic rock guitarists, you once shared a bill with Jimi Hendrix and you nearly shared a stage with him.
I was in a band that was originally called The Flying Circus but, because of competition from another band, we changed it to Olivus. We thought the name was terribly clever and we got a job opening shows, including some big ones like Wilson Pickett, Cream and Jimi Hendrix.
The Hendrix one was in Montreal in an arena and, after the show, there was a party in which all the participants were invited to a studio downtown. Hendrix had done an amazing show and, after a while, Mitch Mitchell came in and I got to talk to him. Then Hendrix came in and there was a stage with instruments and equipment but no one was using them. So he looked around at the people in the shadows and he said: “I don’t know what they are staring at. I want to play some music.”
Then he got up onstage and there were open jam sessions. I could have played, but I felt that I wouldn’t have anything to contribute to this jam session, so I would be better off not to reveal that to anyone present. I listened to a little bit, then I left. It was very interesting. He had a natural vibe about him. He just seemed like a regular guy and he seemed to expect other people to act like him, too.
What is the most inspiring live performance that you have ever witnessed as an audience member?
It would be a toss-up between the first time I saw Ani DiFranco and the only time I have ever seen Laurie Anderson, for very different reasons. I saw Laurie Anderson when she was touring the Mister Heartbreak album, and that was an incredible union of art, technology, humor and thoughtfulness. Then years later, the first time I met Ani, we were both playing at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival [in 1995]. At the time, I had never listened to her music, but I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
I chose to answer in terms of pop performances, but nothing could top hearing John Coltrane on a Saturday afternoon at The Jazz Workshop in Boston in ‘64.
~ from Parting Shots: Bruce Cockburn by Dean Budnick - Relix.com
1 May 2015 - Read this Good Times.ca article online. (written late 2014)
30 April 2015 - Singer-songwriter and activist Bruce Cockburn has been a solo artist since 1969 and a recording artist since 1970. His songs include hits like “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” and “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.” He is the subject of a 2013 documentary, Bruce Cockburn Pacing the Cage: The Feature Documentary, and in 2014, his book Rumours of Glory: A Memoir was published. Cockburn will play a mix of old and new songs at the Hangar Theatre on Sunday, May 3. He spoke to the Ithaca Times about music, his career, and his feelings about the state of the world.
Ithaca Times: Where are you today? Is this a Monday night off for you from playing?
Bruce Cockburn: No, I’m home in San Francisco now.
IT: My mom lived in Watsonville. I’m not crazy about Los Angeles, but I love the Bay Area.
BC: No, Northern California is way better.
IT: How long have you lived there?
BC: About six years.
IT: I always hoped I’d get to talk to you because I also play guitar and write songs, and you were very influential in showing me that I could write my own songs and not just learn other peoples’ songs.
BC: Sorry for that. [Laughs.]
IT: It was Elvis Presley that got you started playing guitar. When did you start writing your own songs?
BC: Well, it was a slow process. I got introduced to a whole lot of other music beyond that early rock n’ roll as soon as I started taking guitar lessons, basically, because my teacher wasn’t a rock n’ roll guy, he was more into a sort of very mainstream jazz. That kind of jazz that you still run across a lot here and there: I mean Les Paul and other people. So I got introduced to other kinds of music and it expanded from there. And I discovered an interest in writing music when I was still in high school. I absorbed a fair amount of theory and was eventually formally taught quite a bit of it. By the time I got out of high school, I thought I wanted to be composing music for large jazz ensembles, so I went to Berklee to study that, and it occurred to me to try and write songs even though I had great appreciation of the folk scene, especially when Dylan came along, and the Beatles and so on. They were the kind of model for the kind of songs that you could write because, growing up, I didn’t have a particular interest in writing lyrics about, uh, dating.
BC: But there were models that went a little further. So when I finally dropped out of Berklee at the end of ’65, I had become interested in writing songs then. I dropped out because I realized the jazz thing was not for me, even though I love it and still do and listen to a lot of it. I ended up applying a certain amount of what I learned at Berklee in a kind of informal way to my own songwriting. In those days, Berklee was strictly a jazz school. Now they teach you songwriting and stuff. I’m skeptical of that although I have great respect for the institution. I’m a little bit skeptical about studying songwriting and the likelihood of turning out formulaic songwriters by having a course like that. But back then it was strictly jazz; it was small and very intense. I learned a lot, but it wasn’t for me. So I guess this is just the short part of this long answer to your question. I started really thinking of myself as someone who wrote songs in ’66, when I joined a band that was doing original material.
IT: So the Beatles had been around a few years at that point.
BC: Yeah the Beatles had had almost their whole career by then, and the Rolling Stones, too. There was just a lot of good songwriting going around. There was crap, too. Atrocious songs would get on the radio that were “in the style of.” Like when so-called “protest music” became popular, partly influenced by Dylan and others, they were the real songwriters who happened to write songs that could be categorized that way, like Dylan and Phil Ochs and other people. And then there were all these posers that sort of wrote songs like that because they were popular. The style was popular. But that was in full swing in the mid-sixties. It was an encouraging atmosphere in which to work because it was like, “Everybody’s doing it, I can do it too.”
IT: It’s hard to sing a Dylan song without sounding like Dylan: his cadences, his phrasing.
BC: Yeah, he’s a very idiosyncratic singer. Although if you listen to enough old R&B, you’ll hear a tremendous amount of what Dylan did. He did it with his weird, reedy voice, but his phrasing, you hear that a lot on old R&B and blues records.
IT: In the documentary, you were using an echo box to overlap phrases on the guitar, and once I knew that you liked Elvis, I could hear a lot of [Presley’s guitarist] Scotty Moore in what you were doing.
BC: No, Scotty Moore wasn’t the original impetus to want to play guitar. He and whatever the guy’s name in the Crickets, and Richie Valens. It’s like, that’s real guitar playing, quote-unquote. That’s what I thought at the time. And it was quote-unquote real guitar playing; it just wasn’t the only real guitar playing. [Laughs.] But I’m not at all upset to be compared with Scotty Moore, that’s for sure. But there’s a few pieces where I use an echo for rhythm. It’s just an echo, it’s not a loop. But there’s a couple of songs where I do that. One instrumental piece in particular, “The End of All Rivers”, that has echo and an extremely long reverb as well, and so I can actually harmonize with myself.
IT: I’ve never been able to figure that out for myself, but I hope to someday.
BC: Well, you just set the echo tempo and then play with it. That particular song uses the lowest possible setting on my Boss echo unit. That’s all it is. I just made it as slow it could go and played with it.
IT: Since you were at Berklee, do you write your own charts when you’re making an album?
BC: In theory, although I’ve never done it. The arrangements are mostly worked by discussion and intuition more than by written parts. But technically, I do know how to do that.
IT: If you wanted to write a part for flute, you could write that.
BC: Yeah, I could do that. I haven’t generally done that, but I’ve worked with the people, whoever was producing the albums, to work on horn parts or on string parts as the case may be. When we did Life Short Call Now (2006), I got Jonathan Goldsmith to produce the album because I knew he could write really great string parts, certainly much better than what I would have come up with. (The album featured a 27-piece string section and guest appearances by Ron Sexsmith, Ani Difranco, and Hawksley Workman on backing vocals.) He produced that album, and he produced a bunch of the albums in the 80s. But in the meantime, he’s had a career writing orchestral film scores, and he’s really good at writing for strings, so that’s why I got him all through that album because I knew I wanted strings. In theory, I could write parts, but what we usually do in the studio if it’s a band is just to play the songs, and people come up with their own parts, and I’ll act as kind of editor and say, “a little more of this, a little less of that,” you know, get the feel right and then we play it. I prefer, if I’m gonna hire good people to play with me, part of it is to let them do their good thing.
IT: I first saw you playing “Wondering Where the Lions Are” on Saturday Night Live with the original cast in 1979. Most of the SNL books concentrate on the comedy and not the music. What do you remember about that experience of live American TV?
BC: Um, it was very tense. You know, we were there for an afternoon and part of an evening, and that’s all, and it was a very tense atmosphere. We didn’t really meet any people. We just—we were there, we were put in our position: “Be ready for this, and hurry and up and wait, and hurry and up and wait.” I mean, they treated us with respect, but everybody was really wrapped up in their own thing, and nobody was really interested in us. There was another band on that show, the Amazing Rhythm Aces, and that guy, the guitar player, I can’t remember his name, and I’ve met him since then [Cockburn is likely thinking of vocalist/guitarist Russell Smith], the rhythm guitar player of that band, and he was good—I quite like the band—but he tried to make conversation with me, but I was so nervous I couldn’t even talk to him. I’m sure he thought I was some kind of an asshole.
IT: They had a great lead-rhythm guitar guy, Duncan Cameron.
BC: Yeah, they were a good band. “Third Rate Romance” was a hit. It was a good record, like a bunch of Memphis soulful white guys.
IT: I was driving in Oklahoma at night in early 1985 when I first heard “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” and I had to pull the car over and just listen. I really like the guitar sound you had on that record [Stealing Fire].
BC: Thanks. What was on that? It was probably a Strat.
IT: There’s a certain icy, angular “stereo chorus” shimmer in the mid-80s, especially the Police, and that song and stuff like "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" and "Making Contact" and "Peggy's Kitchen Wall" really had that sound. I always think of the Police, who I love.
BC: They were good. I saw them live once, early on, around the time of their second album.
IT: A friend of mine wanted me to ask: Do you, Bruce Cockburn, still wish you had a rocket launcher?
BC: Well, I didn’t really wish it then, either. I was just telling people how it feels being exposed to this stuff. It wasn’t so much a wish as it was to say, this is how I feel, and this is what I’ll be doing about it if I have to. If I had the means to respond to this military repression, I would have made use of this. That’s what I was really saying. If that’s still true, it might be, I’m not sure. But I’ve been in a lot of war zones, but I’m not interested in war in that kind of way. But I don’t think I’ve ever been that anxious to fire on anybody.
IT: Tell me about the war zones.
BC: For work, I tour in the United States and to a lesser extent in Europe. But I’ve traveled. I’ve traveled in Japan, I’ve traveled in New Zealand, that kind of thing. The trip that produced “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” that had nothing to do with touring. It was loosely described as a “fact finding mission”; those trips are really about helping getting work for various kinds of agencies in the Third World. In this case, it was Oxfam Canada that sent me down to Africa. But since that time, I’ve been involved in various other trips. I went to Central America four or five times in the ‘80s, and Africa and Nepal once in the ‘80s. Later on, I’ve been involved with a campaign to ban land mines; in connection with that, I went back to Mozambique and Vietnam and Cambodia. In the meantime, somewhere in there, we went and played Kosovo. I spent a week in Baghdad in 2004 and a week in Afghanistan in 2010, I think. There was another trip back to Nepal at the very end of their civil war. So when I say I’ve been in a bunch of war zones, that’s what I mean. But I haven’t gone to any of those places except in conjunction with either charitable work of some kind, or in the case of Afghanistan, I went because I could, basically, because I could go sing for the Canadian troops, and my brother happened to be one of the Canadian troops, so that made it nice to go there. It was a different kind of trip, though.
IT: What do you with your down time when you’re not performing?
BC: Well, lately I have a three-year-old, so when I’m not touring, I’m dealing with baby stuff.
IT: Is this your first child?
BC: No, I’ve got a grown-up daughter who’s got four children of her own.
IT: In the documentary, you say, “We’re f***ed”.” Do you still feel that way? Of course, that was the year of the financial meltdown.
BC: It had nothing to do with the financial crisis. No, I don’t feel better about it, actually. If I want to go there—I don’t spend all my time thinking about it—but If I go there, I don’t feel good. I feel like the world’s in a very precarious position. I don’t think it’s hopeless, because there’s always room for someone to come up with something. But I don’t see much evidence that the people in a position to make decisions about the way the world goes are doing anything about anything, other than money. They’re very interested in that, but they’re not fixing any of the damage that we’ve done, and there’s the whole philosophy of perpetual warfare; what kind of crap is that? But that’s America these days. I’m not very hopeful about it, but I’m hopeful enough to have a kid. But I’m worried about what kind of world she’s going to grow up into.
Cockburn to Visit the Hanger by Bryan VanCampen - Ithaca.com.
15 April 2015 - In our current issue, Andy Whitman interviews legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn, who is this year’s recipient of Image’s Levertov Award and will play a live concert on April 23, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. Read the full interview in issue 84.
Image: The late seventies and early eighties were a time of profound change for you. Looking back on that transformation, what advice would this newly enlightened Bruce Cockburn offer to the old Bruce Cockburn? And, turning it around, what cautions would the old Bruce Cockburn offer to the new Bruce Cockburn?
BC: The new Bruce Cockburn would say, "Lighten up," and the old Bruce Cockburn would say, "How?" That’s the gist of the inner battle that was taking place.
I had a conversation at one point with an artist in Toronto whose studio space we were using. We were shooting a video, I think. We were chatting, and he said something like, "Having fun is what it’s all about, after all." And I just looked at him like, "What?" "Well, isn't it?" he said. And this other guy with a heavy German accent said, "We're supposed to be having fun."
It had never occurred to me that anything was supposed to be about having fun, other than very specific things like watching a movie. At the time, my conclusion was that this was a worldview that this guy had embraced. And my worldview was about duty. It was not about fun at all; it was about doing what you were supposed to do. If I stepped back from the idea of duty, from the perhaps neurotic or unduly Victorian element of it, for me, life was ultimately about doing the next appropriate thing. Whether I thought of it is as duty or embracing the possibilities, appropriateness had a lot to do with it.
But being hung up on duty can interfere with your appreciation of the appropriateness of something that comes up spontaneously, and that would be a caution that the new Bruce would offer the old Bruce. The old Bruce would say, "It’s all about doing what you’re supposed to do. There's a job to be done, and the job is to be the right kind of human being. People who have no moral base, or who don’t have one that I can see easily, are wasting their energy and time and pissing away their God-given talents and souls on having fun." The new Bruce would say, "Yeah, but they've got something you don't. They're open to others and they can hear each other, and you're not, and you can't."
It wasn't black and white. The old Bruce could be open to and hear a lot of things, but a lot of life felt so heavy, and I simply stopped feeling as heavy when I started seeing things differently. The big change wasn't so much the embrace of other people, although that did have a huge effect, but the fact that God basically said it was okay to get divorced, that it was okay to break a promise made in his name and in his presence. It was okay, don’t worry about it. That was the big earth-shaker. From there, I started to think that some other ideas I had about how things were supposed to be needed to be looked at, too. And sure enough, a lot of us worry about a lot of things we don't have to worry about. I’m not arguing in favor of a hedonistic, devil-may-care lifestyle, but there is enough real stuff to worry about without burdening yourself with details—although it varies from person to person.
I got kind of intoxicated, I suppose, with this sense of freedom, and I am still working on that. I have so much baggage that keeps me from being as free as I think God would like me to be, and I am still struggling with that. But big doors were opened back then, and every now and then they still are.
Image: I love many parts of your story, but I will confess that’s my favorite part. I think that the notion of finding solidarity in a community of stumblers and screw-ups is one that is very freeing.
BC: It was such a relief, you know. To find solidarity of any sort is a big relief, especially when it seems to be so deeply rooted in such reality. You can find something to share with people on all kinds of levels—sports, or what kind of whiskey you like to drink, or whatever—but sharing a communal understanding that people are broken, and fully capable of loving and being loved anyway, made a huge difference.
I had a dream much later, maybe ten years ago, where I was looking for directions in a town I didn't know, and I had taken a shortcut through an alleyway. The alleyway led to a courtyard, and the courtyard was full of beautiful young people milling around in the moonlight, having some sort of event. An older guy came up to me and asked, "Can I help you?" And while we were talking a strikingly beautiful young woman, kind of punkish and tall, walked by me, and when she turned, one side of her face looked like those World War I trench victims with half their faces blown away. It was shocking, but then I realized that everybody in the place was like that in one way or another. They were all damaged and trashed and beautiful, and I can't remember whether the older man said this to me or whether I just understood it, but somehow I came to understand that it's the scars that bind us. This is what binds us to the people in ISIS, to our enemies, to everything. It's what every human has in common, regardless of ideology or lifestyle or clothing style or anything else. We've all got these wounds. I suppose the wounds of Christ are archetypes for these wounds. It’s in our woundedness that we have our connection point.
Now, I suppose you can imagine a roomful of people sitting around and saying, "I'm fucked up this way or that way," and others saying, "No, you’re not." You can make something horrible out of that, too. But in this case it was such a revelation. You don't have to be perfect to get along with people. In fact, nobody ever is. Anybody who claims to be is as wounded as everyone else and their wounds are making them say that.
~excerpt from Image Journal. Purchase magazine for full interview Issue 84.
26 January 2015 - At four p.m., Canadian singer-songwriter legend Bruce Cockburn strides into the hotel lobby in his signature black Doc Martens and shakes my hand warmly. At age 70, he is slighter than he appears in his old music videos. He’s here to talk with me about his spiritual memoir Rumours of Glory. The book narrates his journey of faith and activism, explaining the stories behind his songs and his choices.
We take the elevator to a business lounge, a cozy gold-tinted room outfitted with two computers and nearly-trendy transparent plastic chairs. Despite his big name and stack of music awards, the setting seems luxurious, since Cockburn’s international activism has been far from first-class; he’s been to war zones in Mozambique, Guatemala, Honduras, and Iraq, where set up camp amongst refugees and in decrepit hostels.
“Writing the book was like writing a song,” Cockburn says as we each take a seat in our respective plastic chairs. “I feel like a bloodhound sniffing out a trail and sensing that there’s something there to discover.”
And in essence, Rumours of Glory is just that: its pages mirror Cockburn’s songwriting. Part personal narrative, part social commentary, part didactic, the memoir allows the audience to learn by posing questions.
When I read the book, I tell him, I was so fascinated by the history of the issues and places he unearths; the logical next step was to explore them for myself.
As I say this, he chuckles. “I’m certainly not the only one who’s mentioned those things, but the invitation is out there,” Cockburn says. Wryly, he smirks. “I guess it’s proof it’s the same guy writing.”
Originally, Cockburn says he was going to arrange the book in vignettes, with various scenes that add up to a whole. It was his co-writer Greg King’s idea to arrange it chronologically; Cockburn says King urged him to put in a lot more of the political background that drives the book. When HarperCollins asked for a spiritual memoir, Cockburn says he hadn’t considered pairing it with so much of the political tensions that have driven his travels. But it makes sense that the two twine together, just as they do in his songs.
In high school, Cockburn discovered his grandmother’s guitar in his attic. He was then inspired to become a musician, and was eventually initiated into the Ottawa music scene in the mid-1960s. Cockburn played with a number of outfits, even opening for the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968, until he decided to pursue a solo career.
In the 1980s he started to pursue international activism; his songwriting became infused with deep concerns for human rights, the environment, and faith. During this time he spent a good deal of his shows explaining his songs to the audience. “Specifically, it was the song ‘If I Had a Rocket Launcher,’” he interjects as I mention the time period. “When I first came up with the song I felt it could be so easily misconstrued; I didn’t want people to take it wrong and think I was telling them to go down and kill Guatemalan soldiers. I wanted to make sure people got it right.”
I ask him whether he still finds himself needing to explain those stories. “Not very often, and not very much,” he says. “I think I’ve said enough in print about it, and now there’s the definitive version in the book,” he says. “So I’ll tell people to read that!”
One of the strongest themes in Rumours of Glory is his dismay at social elites who ignore alarming truths about systemic violence. He uses the example of The Washington Wives’ self-appointed censorship that prevented Cockburn’s songs about poverty and injustice from being aired. All because of a single profanity in “Call It Democracy.” Ironically, this line accused social elites for being calloused towards the marginalized.
Though he weaves stories from all areas of life into both his book and his song lyrics, Cockburn has been adept at keeping his personal life out of the spotlight of the press. “The memoir ends before my second daughter was born,” he says. “And that’s a start of a whole new story, which would have taken another 200 pages and taken us past the publisher’s deadline!”
He pauses. “If anything, it’s a set-up for volume two, just in case I ever forget how bad it was writing one book, or, more to the point, if my wife ever forgets; she thought the book was ruining my life.”
The memoir closes with a recognizably spiritual afterword on the responsibility of all people to nurture a relationship with the divine, and to practice healing of our world. From the language Cockburn uses, some readers may come away with a sense that he has undermined the singularity of the Christian faith by preaching universalism.
When I ask him about it, he is pleased to elaborate. “I’ve flirted with so many tribes over the years. A lot of people’s lives have converged with mine for a time,” he says. “You can get picky about other religions — take Shinto, for example — and call them all superstition. Or you can honour the profound things that are expressed through that belief system. And you can walk away thinking, ‘I could learn something from these people,’” says Cockburn.
“I don’t claim to be an authority on anything, and I really don’t think anyone should be claiming to be an authority on anything.”
Cockburn says he is grieved by the deep scars that have been inflicted upon humanity when people dig their heels into exclusive claims to truth. We witness it, he says, in the inability of “a significant portion of the right-wing Christian community” to see that they are of the same persuasion as those they call radical in the Middle East.
“Above all, you can’t go around killing people because they don’t agree with you. We need to pull the plank out of our own eye and our own psyche before we try to fix someone else’s wiring,” he says.
“When I look around at the mystical traditions, filled with people who have been reticent to share their knowledge, nowadays they are just throwing it out there. Maybe it’s an impulse from God encouraging us to get together, to love each other, to love the planet, and see miracles happen,” says Cockburn.
He speaks with the experience of age, where little is shocking, and yet he does so without much cynicism. I see the hope instilled in him by good gifts that cause him to wonder: his daughter, his friends, and his faith.
I can’t help but think that the world needs a few more Bruce Cockburns, keeping us wide-eyed enough to stop destroying the world, one another, and ourselves. Around us is a world filled with violence because we refuse to really see and hear people who are different.
Because, like Cockburn, we need to be lovers in a dangerous time.
~ from Converge Magazine.
21 December 2014 - An evening of music and celebration.
For twenty-five years, the literary journal Image has been a showcase of contemporary art inspired by faith. Image and its suite of programs (including two annual seven-day workshops for artists, writing fellowships, and seminars) deepen the wisdom, compassion, and cultural engagement in our world by enabling communities to draw more fully on the virtues of art and imagination.
Image's Denise Levertov Award is named for one of the twentieth century's greatest poets. Levertov, who spent her last years in Seattle, embraced the landscape and culture of the Pacific Northwest. Her identity as a Christian believer--a pilgrim whose faith was inextricably entwined with doubt--became another important facet of her work, particularly in her later poetry. The Levertov Award is presented annually in the spring to an artist or creative writer whose work exemplifies a serious and sustained engagement with the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Join us at Fremont Abbey on Thursday, April 23 at 8pm for a concert, interview, and dessert reception as we award the twelfth annual Levertov Award to Bruce Cockburn.
Over the course of four decades, Bruce Cockburn has released more than thirty albums mapping the territory of the human experience. His sound is marked by a blend of folk, blues, jazz, and rock, and his signature vocals range from coarse and gravelly to reedy and longing. In his pursuit of love, both divine and human, he has spun songs of grief, joy, and bewilderment--and even humor. "I'm good at catching rainbows," he sings, "not so good at catching trout."
His honors include thirteen Juno Awards and an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. He has also been awarded the Order of Canada, one of the highest honors in the nation.
Cockburn's memoir, Rumours of Glory, was released just three months ago. An excerpt from it was featured in Issue 82 of Image. Rolling Stone says, "Rumours of Glory offer[s] a call to life, embracing the mysteries of existence and the search for love and beauty, wherever one finds it."
On Thursday, April 23, we will gather at the Fremont Abbey and honor Bruce Cockburn's life-long work.
Past recipients of the Denise Levertov Award include poets Scott Cairns, Luci Shaw, Madeline DeFrees, and Franz Wright; nonfiction writers Kathleen Norris, Thomas Lynch, and Eugene Peterson; fiction writers Bret Lott and Ron Hansen; and singer-songwriter Sam Phillips.
~from The Denise Levertov Award with Bruce Cockburn.
The Denise Levertov Award with Bruce Cockburn
Thursday, April 23, 2015 from 8:00 PM to 10:30 PM (PDT)
Freemont Abbey - concert and reception
General Admission: Free-will Donation
Image Journal is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Donations will help us put on this beautiful event honoring Bruce Cockburn. Click the link to donate in the email you receive with your tickets.
21 December 2014 - “None of us,” Bruce Cockburn writes near the end of his newly released autobiography, “has the capacity to stand far enough back from the picture to see how the parts of our lives intersect. We’re all tiny figures in the jigsaw flux…"
In music circles, a cry of Bruce! will probably, most often, lead the listener to infer Springsteen as the implied last name. There’s a huge contingent of music fans though for whom the name is equally likely to evoke Cockburn. In some contexts, the latter might be the first to come to mind.
Cockburn’s reputation as a songwriter has long since passed to legendary status. It seems fitting in a world where a barely 20 Justin Bieber publishes a “memoir” that a man with Cockburn’s lasting power and influence pen one too. If there is any mercy in the world, the latter will outsell the former.
Cockburn’s look at the picture of his life is extensive and full of pieces well told. The book is a framework in which the singer tells the origin tales of many of his songs, and those lyrics appear here as well. To accompany the book the legendary True North label has released a 9 CD box set (including a disk of rare and previously unreleased material) of the same name as a sort of accompaniment to the book. All told, the book and compilation paint an extensive portrait of Cockburn’s life in and out of music.
Rumours of Glory doesn’t see Cockburn shy away from his reputation as a political activist. The book is more than a chronological romp through his career, and if you’re not familiar with the politics of Central America the book will serve as a decent overview of the last thirty years or so. Cockburn reminisces about many trips to that region with various non-governmental agencies, and makes it clear that he was not a fan of pretty much any U.S. President from Reagan onwards. He tells the story of playing a Clinton victory party with Roseanne Cash where, for him, the most exciting moment was being introuduced to both Jonny and June. The smile on his face when Johnny shake his hand fad says “Nice playin’ son” practically beams from the page.
Sadder is his description of a visit to Cambodia’s Tuol Sleng, a high school that was used by the Khmer Rouge as a toture site during their horrific reign. “Tuol Sleng is a black hole that sucked all human goodness into it, leaving an event horizon of pure evil that chills the heart of everyone who goes there."
Cockburn does a nice job of telling the tales behind songs he’s written. “What doesn’t kill you makes for songs” he says in describing a year long hiatus he took from performing which led to some fruitful songwriting. He describes the subsequent album Breakfast in New Orleans Dinner in Timbuktu as reflecting “…in a time-lapse manner, the slow unfurling of a life…” and book behaves in much the same way.
Not much seems to be held back. There are stories of relationships pursued and lost, of working with T. Bone Burnett, of a daughter whose life as a teenager seemed to be spiralling out of control (but soon regains its path,) and of visits to war zones. Cockburn lays the trials of his life on the page and the result is a compelling read for any fan of songwriting.
The 9 CD of the same name released by True North records contains 117 of Cockburn’s songs in addition to a DVD of concert footage recorded in 2008 an extensive book of liner notes. Each set is autographed and numbered, which means if you know a Cockburn fan there’s probably not a better gift to get them.
More importantly, the box stands as a comprehensive document of one of the most compelling careers in mainstream music. It’s collection of songs ranges from the obscure to the well known and in doing so it achieves more than just being a greatest hits collection (of which there have been several released already.) The disc of unreleased material includes a Gordon Lightfoot cover, as well as selections from Cockburn’s soundtrack for the NFB film Waterwalker. As usual with an artist of this caliber and integrity, it’s amazing to listen to the stuff that wasn’t good enough to make an album at times.
As a songwriter Bruce is almost without equal. His output rival’s Dylan’s in its quality and is arguably better in its consistency. 1979’s Wondering Where the Lions Are remains the greatest song to ever come out of Canada (and the only one, he posits, to ever make the Billboard Charts with the word ‘petroflyphs’ in it) but it’s rivalled by later career works like Last Night of the World and Pacing the Cage. Despite having recorded 31 albums, Bruce hasn’t lost his passion for what he does and that shows in his recent output. Rumours of Glory as both a book and a music compilation is a long overdue capsule of a career.
You can order Rumours of Glory directly from True North Records in various configurations, including a box set and book bundle. Naturally you can also order the book from Amazon if you really want too.
~from NoDepression.com - Bruce Cockburn Rumours of Glory - book and album review by Skot Nelson.
10 December 2014 - This prolific singer songwriter has been making music for five decades now and has released 31 albums, 21 of which are gold-platinum certified & he’s also won 13 Juno awards. Last month, the Canadian artist released a memoir called, Rumours of Glory along with a career spanning box set of the same name which boasts a track list of 117 songs. In addition to the audio portion of the box set, a DVD concert film is also included.
Bruce Cockburn recently stopped by WFUV to talk about this ambitious new project & he also performed some songs live in Studio A. We’ll hear that conversation and performance during this episode of FUV Live.
Listen to the interview here, there are also several in studio live performance videos on this page.
9 December 2014 - When many artists visit New York, they stay at downtown hotels like the Mondrian or the Bowery. Bruce Cockburn stays nearby at the Soho Holiday Inn. In town to launch his new memoir, Rumours of Glory, with a concert and book signing, the iconoclastic singer-songwriter arrives in the lobby wearing a modest outfit of black pants, black combat boots and a long black coat.
"This is not your standard rock & roll memoir," Cockburn writes in the book's preface. "You won't find me snorting coke with the young Elton John or shooting smack with Keith Richards." So what do you find? "I suppose it's about growing up," he says, ordering a glass of wine in the lobby bar. "It didn't require a decision to expose myself in the book, especially because the mandate was to write what the publisher was calling a spiritual memoir."
Rumours opens with the 69-year-old's awkward but comfortable childhood and covers his formative years in the Sixties folk-rock scenes in Ottawa and Toronto. In early bands, he opened for Cream, the Lovin' Spoonful and Jimi Hendrix. "I asked an audience recently if they wanted me to read about the origin of 'If I Had Rocket Launcher' or meeting Jimi Hendrix," he says between sips. "Everybody yelled out 'Hendrix!'"
During an 18-month stint at Berklee College of Music, Cockburn was more interested in writing poetry than transcribing scales, but he soon developed his signature style – "a combination of country blues fingerpicking and poorly absorbed jazz training" – by using his right thumb to carry the rhythm and his fingers to play melody. "Mississippi John Hurt and the old blues guys were the musicians I admired when I was young," he says.
The music Cockburn made during this period can be heard on Rumours of Glory's accompanying box set, a 117-song collection sequenced to parallel the book to allow the reader to hear the evolution it describes. One major turning point: the 1976 album In the Falling Dark, which marks the beginning of Cockburn's turn away from traditional Christianity and toward the all-inclusive mysticism he professes now.
"It was apparent fairly quickly that I didn't belong in that camp," he says of his time in the church. "I couldn't be that literal about things. I couldn't accept myself as a fundamentalist, and that meant moving in a more mystical direction." Yet even in his explicitly Christian phase, he aimed never to be an ideologue or proselytizer. "Nobody has to do anything," he says. "God offers freedom, as far as I understand it."
This evolution has profoundly affected not just generations of fans but some of the most important songwriters of our time. Graham Nash calls Cockburn "the consummate troubadour, a musical hero to many who are trying to make the world a better place," and Jackson Brown tells Rolling Stone that "few songwriters have been able to express as coherently the impulse for justice and the quest for moral equilibrium." To Bonnie Raitt, he is "a huge inspiration."
In recent years, Cockburn's spiritual odyssey has come to include even Jungian-based dream therapy. "That's what gave me the image of Christ as a collective animus," he says. "But is he more of a collective animus figure than Buddha? I don't think so." The dream therapy has also led to an interest in neuroscience and the nature of consciousness. "The idea of God as the boundless, as an undefinable and in a certain way unapproachable being except by proxy, has a lot of validity," Cockburn says. "That means sometimes he's going to seem like a hallucination or a motivator of things we don't really want to see. There's a juicy element of chaos about that, and that's where I tip over into 'I don't have a clue.'"
He continues: "Why are we different from raccoons? We believe we're special, historically and by nature, but who knows how raccoons see things? In some universe, parallel to this one, raccoons may be running the place. That's a nice thought. None of us knows shit from Shinola, and the people who claim they do know are grasping at straws – or worse."
Accordingly, a good deal of this self-described loner's later music brims with ecstatic emotion: "When I play music and my mind goes away from my ego and from my day-to-day concerns, I become more open to the Divine. I'd love to be in an ecstatic place all the time. It would feel a lot better than how I feel most of the time – that's the point of singing hymns in church. The snake handlers get that. Ecstasy is good, but I don't want to be bitten by a rattlesnake to get ecstatic."
Beyond belief systems (or lack thereof), the Rumours of Glory book and box set offer a call to life, embracing the mysteries of existence and the search for love and beauty, wherever one finds it. Part of that, of course, is a fine meal now and then, even if it's eaten in the bar aat a Holiday Inn. Following the wine, Cockburn orders a burger: "Just right."
~from Rolling Stone - Bruce Cockburn - Rumours of Glory.
6 December 2014 - On Wednesday November 5, 2014 Bruce was interviewed by Peter Howell as part of Toronto Public Library Star Talks / Appel Salon event. This event was published to YouTube on December 3.
You can watch the interview here
5 December 2014 - I doubt Bruce Cockburn has ever even read a rock and roll memoir, so when he opens his own with “this is not your standard rock and roll memoir,” he probably hasn’t a clue. Because such autobiographies come in all tones, rhythms and degrees of disclosure, sensationalism and cocaine residue.
But then, this: Cockburn’s Rumours of Glory is not your standard rock and roll memoir.Nor should it be. Written with help from the American journalist Greg King, the more than 500 pages are candid, unbreezy, opinionated, contextual, political, not always entertaining but always important. These are the accumulations of an intricate and self-aware man. And while one might not hang on to every story or song explanation, nothing jumps out as being extraneous.
Why read Cockburn’s story? Songwriters come and go, but take my advice when I tell you to pay attention to the spiritually seeking, war-zone-visiting, guitar-mastering Canadian ones who hold rocket launchers.
Or the ones who, because monsters were beneath his bed, slept as a child with a toy revolver and a rubber knife under his pillow. And the ones who as adults “kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight” with a left foot, as we learn on page 12, that is two sizes larger than his right. Oh yeah, there’s a lot going on with this guy, and much under the skin of the Ottawa-born son of a radiologist.
I’m told by his longtime manager – Bernie Finkelstein, who is treated in the book with respectful, favourable (if occasionally bristly) appraisal – that Cockburn has a wry sense of humour. There’s not enough of it here. Some of it, though, comes out in an excellent, honest paragraph about his first wife Kitty and her reasonable wish in the mid-70s to have a child with her husband:
“I did not share her enthusiasm for the project, but I believed her and was committed to her, so I went along. … In due course a beautiful baby was born, though it took a day or two for the beauty to shine through. I got in trouble right away for remarking that she looked a bit like Idi Amin. Well, what the hell – she did.”
He goes on to explain that newborns always have the look of old people who are unhappy to be back in the world, but that the look fades. To get himself out of a trouble he then offers the lyrics of a song that explains his love for his offspring, written while she was in utero. The tune is Little Seahorse: “Swimming in a primal sea, heartbeat like a leaf quaking in the breeze… I already love you, and I don’t even know who you are.”
Lyrics are offered throughout, as a way of connecting his music with his life. You might already know that the words to his 1984 hit If I Had a Rocket Launcher came to him in a Mexican hotel room after witnessing atrocities during a visit to a refugee camp in Guatemala. His war-zone journeys are covered in detail here.
You might also know that after he “found Jesus” in 1974, Cockburn’s spiritual notions have made their way into his music. “I have attempted to live my life somewhat in line with his Word, without necessarily taking it as, well, gospel,” Cockburn explains in the book’s forewarning over ture. The word “Divine” is featured more times in Rumours of Glory than any book not written by King James or John Waters.
Cockburn doesn’t consider himself a preacher or a protest singer, but an observer who “paints sonic pictures of what I encounter, feel and think is true.” It’s intense stuff, from an intense artist and human.
Where James Taylor has seen fire and rain, Cockburn has sought it out. As a songwriter and a guitarist, he brings a rocket launcher to a knife fight. Some think his manner is too serious or over-killing or maybe even unfair. But I say styles make the fight – and the rock and roll memoir.
~from Rumours of Glory Bruce Cockburns Memoir by Brad Wheeler - Globe and Mail.
3 December 2014 - “Rumours of Glory,” Bruce Cockburn’s long-in-the-works memoir, talks about the Ottawa-born singer-songwriter’s passions, music, relationships, and spiritual odyssey.
The book was released last month, preceded by a box set of the same name consisting of eight music CDs and a DVD of concert footage shot during his Slice O’ Life Tour in 2008.
A chronology of Cockburn’s life and career, the book tells of a sensitive young boy who always wanted to be a musician, didn’t like attention, and eventually grew up feeling that he was emotionally remote in his interactions with people and in his love relationships.
He gives credit to the women he has known for helping him evolve as a person and become comfortable with strangers.
“Relationships with women would in large part guide my evolution as a human being,” he says in the book.
That, plus therapy and dream analysis, have brought Cockburn to the comfortable place he occupies today.
His first marriage lasted 11 years and produced a daughter, Jenny, who is now in her 30s and a mother of four who teaches at Concordia University in Montreal.
One chapter discusses his love for a woman who is never named. At the time of their affair, she is married and he is in a committed relationship. The depth of feelings evoked by the woman shook Cockburn to the core and opened a closed part of his heart.
They stopped seeing each other after a short, intense romance, and although it was the woman’s choice and Cockburn felt bereft, the clandestine nature of their relationship never did fit with his belief in the importance of monogamy.Activism
Cockburn explains that he was always aware of those with less and of the earth’s vulnerability. As he travels to different countries and sees the consequences of greed and misused power, he puts his responses and feelings about the situations into songs.
In the book, lyrics of the resulting songs are interspersed with stories of their birth. The iconic “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” was written in Guatemala in 1983 after he saw the devastation inflicted by the Guatemalan army, which killed 200,000 villagers over a period of five years. He mentions his misgivings about playing the song and that he eventually came to understand that listeners didn’t think he was promoting violence.
Cockburn and two other musicians had been recruited by Oxfam Canada to witness and report on what they saw in Guatemala. Other NGOs and humanitarian groups have since sent him to various other countries for the same purpose, including Chile, Honduras, Mozambique, Nepal, and Vietnam to name a few.
Cockburn’s music contains social commentary, love songs, lyrics with a political stance, and songs about his spiritual relationship with “The Divine” as he calls it.
In 1977 he was labelled a protest singer in reviews of an album that contained the song “Gavin’s Woodpile.” However, he explains that he never meant for his songs to protest anything. The music just reflects his observations and feelings about what he was seeing and knew to be true.Box Set
The box set contains Cockburn’s huge songbook of tunes, with the concert DVD zooming in on his unique style of guitar playing. The songs, 117 in all, are presented in the same order in which they appear in the book and were curated by Cockburn himself.
Each set is numbered and signed by Cockburn and contains a booklet with rare photos and information about the musicians that played on each song.
CD number 8 contains 14 tunes comprised of some lesser-known pieces and unreleased works, such as a sensitive version of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness” and a delicate treatment of Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Both were originally released in tribute albums.
Cockburn’s almost 50-year musical career has garnered him many awards and citations, including being made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002. In May of this year he received the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award for his social activism and benevolent support of humanitarian interests and causes.
The memoir more or less ends in 2004 but does mention his second wife MJ Hannett, an American immigration lawyer whom he married in 2011. They have a three-year-old daughter and live in San Francisco.
~from Rumours of Glory Bruce Cockburn's Life in Words and Music by Pam Mclennan, Epoch Times December 3, 2014.
1 December 2014 - The Next Chapter - Shelagh Rogers interviews Bruce Cockburn, podcast here.
16 December 2014 - Bruce Cockburn recently spent a little time in studio for a Session with Acoustic Guitar, discussing his latest projects and playing a couple songs. Watch for that to be posted on their site in the coming weeks, we'll share a link once the video is posted.
We spent Friday in the Acoustic Guitar Studio with Bruce Cockburn. He blazed through a few songs on an old Dobro, talked about songrwiting, his memoir, and dropping out of Berklee College of Music. Look for his Session in the coming weeks: AcousticGuitar.com/Sessions
~from Acoustic Guitar Magazine Facebook page.
17 November 2014 - Bruce wanted to include "Leaving My Father's House : A Journey to Conscious Femininity" by Marion Woodman in our conversation. Just for some background, Marion Woodman is a Jungian analyst and her book reflects on the process required to bring "feminine wisdom to consciousness in a patriarchal culture" as told through the personal journeys of three women.
Howard: This book had a great impact on you. How did you come to find it?
Bruce: It goes back to the early 90s. I fell in love with someone who was married. I was with a partner at the time. It was very inconvenient but deeply passionate. And shockingly so in a way. I was approaching 50 and somewhere around that point in your life the stuff you haven't dealt with tends to surface and there's a sense of a need to settle accounts with yourself, with your past.
We had reciprocal feelings, although she not as deeply as I, and in the end we decided we wanted to stay with the people we were with so we parted company. But I found this whole process very de-stabilizing. It caused a major shakeup in many of my assumptions.
I never saw myself as a guy that would be involved in this type of thing. I had certainly been in love with and loved by a few different women over the years but always thought of myself as monogamous. This went beyond all of that in terms of the need that I felt for this person.
I felt that she was the missing twin with the other half of the ring.
She recognized that I was projecting all the stuff that I wanted to be true about myself onto her. She suggested I take a look at "Leaving My Father's House."
Howard: You mentioned she recognized you were projecting onto her what you wanted to be true about yourself. Did this start you on a path of working through those things?
Bruce: Well yes...it made everything a question. I thought I was who I was and clearly there was so much going on under the surface that I hadn't taken account of. It was the beginning of a long process that is still going on. I coincidentally started having dreams that reflected some of this stuff -- I mean they were nightmares. The archetypes that appeared in my dreams appeared in a kind of demonic form because I wasn't ready for their guidance or for them to be present in my life -- so I was running from them all the time.
Later in the 90s, I started working with a Jungian-based therapist named Marc Bregman, using the language of archetypes to help me understand what was going on. It profoundly shaped the last couple of decades.
Howard: Did you dream vividly prior to working with your therapist and recognize these archetypes before this situation? Or was this the trigger point for that?
Bruce: A little of both. I have always been interested in the various attempts by humans to interface with the Divine. Shamanism for instance relies a lot on dreams. I never had shamanic dreams that I was aware of except for one or two where the symbolism was really blatant.
I remember vaguely a dream from sometime in the 70s. I was in one of my early childhood homes as an adult and there was an enormous crimson bull and a golden lion. The bull gored me and the lion ate me. You wake up from a dream like that and think, "Ok, well if I never read anything about comparative religion or Shamanism or anything like that I wouldn't know what to make of this but it was clearly symbolic of something."
I just didn't know what.
I have had other kinds of disturbing dreams -- all sorts. I've had dreams where I was killing people. As a kid I had dreams about monsters and dinosaurs all the time, scary things. After reading Marion Woodman I started having a context to put them in.
I had another dream where I was in a rickety old house that was invaded by demons from the basement and I was hiding in the attic walls. It's almost textbook -- out of that line of psychological thinking where the house is you and your personality and all this suppressed stuff is coming up from the basement. I started to understand the dreams but it wasn't until I began doing the actual dream work and consciously pursuing that with a guide that it really fell into place.
The dream that prompted me to go into the dream work was one I had in which I was kidnapped by this gang and sequestered in an apartment. They weren't threatening me but I was a prisoner and at one point the ringleader came into the room and said:
"I'd advise you not to drink so much."
And I woke up thinking -- that is so weird -- here's this guy telling me not to drink so much and he's right, I shouldn't drink so much. Am I being told by my subconscious I'm going to hurt myself? I guess that's the obvious conclusion but ...that guy was obviously an animus figure and it was typical of all of the dreams I had in the beginning of this process.
Anytime the animus appeared he was scary. The anima, not so.
I mean the anima was getting more loving and encouraging and occasionally outright sexy but the animus was always scary.
Howard: Looking back now on when you met this woman in the early 90's, have you been able to better understand what was driving you to behave in a manner far different than who you believed yourself to be?
Bruce: It was a multi-layered thing. On the one hand she was very attractive and nice so there was an immediate affection that developed and an attraction that was of the normal kind. But when I found out it was sort of reciprocated-we were in a situation where we had time to spend together-it just sort of snowballed. Her relationship was a bit on the rocks and she was looking for something -- really I have no idea what it was that she needed or thought she might find with me, but there was that side of it.
Howard: So almost like a mutual need?
Bruce: Yes and I didn't understand how to deal with the intensity of the feelings. I know I was now ready to experience this stuff. Though there was love in our household growing up, it was a culture where feelings were never mentioned and so I didn't have any model for expressing love. I was learning by trial and error through the various partners I had.
But I guess when I met her I was just ready to be kicked open.
Howard: I think what you just discussed are actually feelings that many people have. The way you are raised, the ways parents encourage (or don't) expression. In many cases, where the home doesn't provide a foundation to express, the feelings become muted and secondary. And then transitioning into adulthood, there is the struggle of how to experience and share them. I think it is quite common. That's interesting.
Bruce: I think it is very interesting. Certainly for us Anglo-Saxons anyway...and you grow up as a male trying to be socialized with whatever values are attached to the cultural concept of masculinity.
In my case it resulted in an inability to express myself and I was mostly unaware of my own feelings. I was carrying all kinds of baggage that I had no idea was there because if it's constantly devalued, if you're constantly prevented from acknowledging or expressing it, then after a while you just go numb and there's all that stuff happening underneath the floor down in that basement that you have no idea about.
Howard: Was the art of writing and making music a way for you to express your feelings in a different way -- to be more involved with them?
Bruce: Yes but I don't think I was very conscious of that. Obviously you could express anger for one thing. But also just love and a sense of beauty -- which is a kind of one-step-removed manifestation of some of the feelings we carry around.
Howard: How have you been able to apply what you've learned in raising your own kids?
Bruce: When my first daughter was young, the understanding I had of things was simplistic. What I knew was I didn't want to inflict the kind of rule-based worldview that I had been given on her. Her spirit should be allowed to be free. I didn't really understand how much or what that meant because I didn't really understand how much mine wasn't free.
But this was a very common sentiment at the time in the 70s. We didn't want to bring our kids up with all the crap our parents had handed us so we tried to avoid that by imposing fewer rules. I think even if you don't believe in them it's a good idea to impose some rules that you are willing to have broken.
I hope to be able to apply all of these principles with my new baby and I think to a greater extent I have a much larger ability to express love than I had in the 70s.
Howard: Based on what you have been able to bring into your life in terms of a focus on learning and evolving, and all the dream work, are you able to take things as they come or are you always trying to put them into a package or a construct to gain an understanding?
Bruce: That's an interesting question because I'm not sure that those are opposites. By nature I have a tendency to want to understand and file things away but my experience has told me that something one does with a degree of nonchalance reappears later on and needs to be reexamined. And often the things you think you understand you find out you don't at all.
I think I see somebody being a certain way and once I get past whatever emotional reaction that produces, I start thinking about what might be prompting them to be doing the things they are doing and I come up with an answer. But it's good not to be attached too closely to that answer.
Howard: Yeah I love what you just said. The fact that you still have to react as a human being to what you are witnessing emotionally and then take it to the next level and try to figure out what it all means. That is interesting because judgment is sometimes such an easy trap to fall into.
Bruce: It's not something I imposed on myself - it's something that just grew out of a deepening understanding of my own processes and the degree to which those processes are similar to other peoples. I have become more tolerant of a lot of stuff I suppose, but I still get mad about things and offended and hurt by certain kinds of behaviour.
Howard: It's a discipline not to live your life making assumptions. I fall down all the time. I walk away and say "Why did I just do that? I shouldn't have been that reactionary."
Bruce: It's kind of Jungian-based and quite Shamanistic -- I mean not in a new age sense at all but it's all about God and not everyone wants to go there.
Howard: God in what way?
Bruce: I don't mean in the religious sense but the God that we're meant to have a relationship with who is much more of a father figure than I was willing to allow for.
Howard: Can you tell me more about that?
Bruce: When I first started doing the dream work I said "No, don't give me that crap about God as a father -- I'm not interested." The first time I went to my therapist he heard what I had to say about what's going on in my life and he said: "Well, it sounds like you have father issues," and I said, "Come on -- is that the best you can do? Father issues? Everyone has father issues. That's not it!"
But it was.
I mean in the deepest sense because there's God the father -- I mean my father's a good guy but he laid some stuff on me I didn't need and as a result I have trouble relating to God as a father figure but when you go through the dreams it is.
It's not a goddess. It's a guy.
Maybe for women it's not, I don't know. I can't speak to that because I don't know how this works but I am told for women it is different. But anyway, it's all based on our own electrochemical processes. With respect to the Divine, I think there is a cosmic presence that can only reach us through the electrochemical workings of our brain.
Howard: I can't remember most of my dreams. I know they are there but I keep thinking there's something blocking them. They don't happen in any meaningful way that allows me to be circumspect around them and I can't figure it out.
And that frustrates me because they are supposed to be the windows to our souls!
Bruce: We each have our own issues with that stuff. I only remembered the most horrendous nightmares of all the dreams I had for a while. I've been doing dream work for a long time now, since the latter part of the 90's and I go through periods of months sometimes where I have very few dreams that tell me anything. But other times, and especially when I first got into it, I was shocked how fast it started to work.
I think it really makes a difference to have a guide with this because I'm not sure you can just start interpreting your dreams. I mean, maybe you can - I couldn't because I had no basis for assessing anything that had happened.
Howard: I am fascinated by the dream work. I am sure it involves all kinds of analysis. What type of work is involved?
Bruce: My dream work involves a lot of homework which consists of taking a theme from the dream and its attendant feelings and just going there for ten seconds three or four times an hour each week until the next session.
And the dreams change. And it's this process that changes the dreams. It invites more.
I mean I have had dry spells and stumbling blocks but eventually it all clears and flows again. It was an amazing discovery in the beginning to encounter that!
Howard: Thank you for the introduction to Marion's book. I learned a lot. And you have given me lot to think about. I had not been exposed to the ideas of dream work and knowing my struggles to remember mine, never mind interpreting them, it might make for an interesting next step for me.
Bruce: I enjoyed talking with you as well.
~from Bruce Cockburn: How The End Of A Relationship Led To Dream Work - by Howaard Kerbel - Huffington Post,
13 November 2014 - It took a bit longer than anticipated, but Canadian icon Bruce Cockburn says he felt different emotions when finally completing his memoir "Rumours Of Glory."
"It was such a long project to work on," the 69-year-old says down the line from his San Francisco home. "I was working on that thing for three years and as it neared completion there were a lot of deadlines involved. [HarperCollins] was great, the editors I was working with were really good, but it was quite stressful actually getting it done. So there was relief when it was over. I think the book turned out pretty well now that I've had time to sit back and feel what it is as an entity instead of something to be enslaved by. It feels pretty good.”
The 544-page memoir begins when Cockburn was a kid and continues through his adventurous music career before concluding in 2004. "It was easy writing about childhood and being at a music school and all of these distant memories that were part of essentially the set up for the rest of life. But once I got to the rest of life it became very complicated. In my mind I couldn't figure out how to approach it really."
So he brought journalist Greg King on board as co-writer. "I hired him to interview me on a tour bus while I was on tour. I work from about noon to about midnight and then we get on the tour bus and go to the next town. So I've drunk about half a bottle of wine by then and then I generally get on the bus and drink the other half. So Greg and I would sit there drinking wine and he would ask me these questions about stuff. It was a good way to dredge up memories because you get into that loquacious state that alcohol puts you in. It's way better than me sitting at a desk trying to figure out what I remembered about things and what was worth bothering with."
In addition to the book a massive box set also entitled "Rumours Of Glory" comes out Oct. 28. The compilation includes 117 songs spread over nine discs, a live DVD and previously unreleased material.
"We had talked for years about doing a box set and I guess this provided the excuse," he says. The box set's most unique aspect is the sequencing of the songs. Unlike an anthology which often puts the material in chronological order, Cockburn says the remastered songs are in the order they appear in the memoir.
As for unreleased material, Cockburn says "one-offs" and tribute album contributions are included and demos that are slightly different from the versions found on the studio albums.
"There's a couple of songs that have never seen the light of day," he says. "In the collection in general there's the first song of mine that was ever recorded which was pretty obscure in its day and it remains so. I was actually quite happy to have it remain obscure although it isn't so bad when I hear it today. But that was a demo that I made in 1966. And there's another song that dates from back then. People haven't heard of those really."
While the memoir and box set have kept him busy, Cockburn also continues to lend his voice and name to causes he feels strongly about. Earlier this year, he became involved with the Collateral Damage Project, a cause concerning suicide rates among men in Native or First Nations communities. Cockburn was approached by the organization's founder Scott Chisholm about bringing awareness to the organization and doing a Public Service Announcement regarding it.
For a long time when I was younger all the people I knew who died were suicides," he says. "There weren't that many, maybe half a dozen people I was acquainted with who killed themselves. I'm not sure if I totally agree with the negativity of suicide if you are a cancer victim or if you're terminally ill with anything and looking forward to years of suffering. As long as it doesn't come back on your family.
"The big problem with suicide is in all but those circumstances it's a terribly selfish act. Some of that made it seem like something to get involved with. And, of course, in the Native communities where suicide is a huge social issue, not just a matter of individuals, it's kind of epidemic. So there's a real point to try to head it off in that setting too."
It's just one of the many causes and humanitarian work Cockburn has done over the years, work that seen him given the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Award earlier this year. The singer says he's selective when it comes to choosing causes.
"It's a lot about circumstance," he says. "I get asked to do all sorts of things that sound really worthwhile. A lot of them I have to say no to or don't even get around to really properly responding to because there isn't time. So when things like this do happen there's a kind of fortuitous synchronicity factor that allows it to come off."
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of one of Cockburn's signature tunes "If I Had A Rocket Launcher." Given the current international instability and conflict, he says he's not shocked the song still resonates three decades later.
"I can't say I'm really surprised by the fact that it's still relevant," he says. "It's the sort of thing one hopes would become out-of-date or become a piece of history instead of having any current relevance. But obviously there's a lot of that kind of stuff going on. I was going to say it gets worse and worse but that's not really true, it's always been worse. It's who gets to be the victim and who doesn't. For the victims, each one of these horrors is just as bad as the rest."
As for the future, Cockburn has a string of promotional appearances and concerts in November but otherwise is focussed on raising his young daughter Iona, a child who loves listening to her father's music, children songs and a certain noted singer.
"Bonnie Raitt," Cockburn says. "She's not even three and about a month ago we had Bonnie on the CD player and there's a live solo version of a song called 'Love Me Like A Man' which is her and a bass player. So Iona is listening to this and she says, 'She's moving her fingers the way you do.' To me that's an ear, that's way more of an ear than I've got."
~from Bruce Cockburn On His Memoir, His Toddler And 'If I Had A Rocket Launcher' Turning 30 - HuffPost Canada Music | By Jason MacNeil.
12 November 2014 - The headquarters of Canada's oldest and arguably most successful independent record label resides in an industrial strip mall on Burlington's Harvester Road, squeezed between a military memorabilia dealer and an auto leasing outlet. The green and white sign above the storefront office is a simple one, "True North Records."
It's nondescript appearance belies 45 years of success. In this YouTube age of free music, when most record labels are folding or floundering, True North appears to be flourishing.
Less than a dozen people work in the open-concept groundfloor space, marketers, publicists, graphic designers, number crunchers. In a backroom, with loading dock access, rows and rows of industrial strength racks contain thousands of CDs, some first recorded decades ago, others so new they're still awaiting release.
Together the CDs represent hundreds of artists and a fair chunk of Canadian musical history — Chilliwack, the Canadian Brass, Gordon Lightfoot, Downchild, 54-40, Ashley MacIsaac, Big Sugar, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Peter Appleyard, Rough Trade, Ron Sexsmith, Jackie Washington, the Guess Who, The Tea Party, Stan Rogers, Fred Penner, The Nylons and many, many more.
At the front of the office, positioned like a receptionist's station, is the desk of the current president and co-owner Geoff Kulawick, a veteran of the music industry who purchased True North from legendary folk-rock impresario Bernie Finkelstein in 2008.
"We're running out of space," says Kulawick, who moved the label to Burlington five years ago to be closer to the Carlisle home he shares with his wife, Brooke, 16-year-old daughter Karina and 14-year-old son Matthew. "We're actually shopping for a new location somewhere in Waterdown."
True North is a very different record label than when it sprang up in the middle of Toronto's Yorkville hippie scene. The year was 1969, and Finkelstein started up the label to house his favourite musicians — Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan and the pioneering psychedelic band Kensington Market.
Forty-five years later, Finkelstein is no longer part of the company, although he does continue to manage Cockburn, who remains the label's flagship artist.
As a matter of fact, this month, True North launched one of its most ambitious projects — "Rumours of Glory," a beautifully packaged 117-song, nine-disc box set chronicling the history of one of Canada's most respected singer-songwriters.
Each set is autographed, sequentially numbered and contains a 90-page book featuring rare photos, culled from the Cockburn collection of the McMaster University Archives, and extensive liner notes. The ambitious release has been compiled as a companion to Cockburn's newly released 544-page memoir, also titled "Rumours of Glory," published by HarperCollins.
"It's a good book," Kulawick says. "It contains a lot of things about Bruce I would never have known, like he likes to shoot guns, he goes to target practice. I would never have guessed that in a million years."
Other recent releases include "The Great Wall of China," a collection of Chinese songs performed by the classical quintet Canadian Brass; "Signal," an electro-jazz album by Toronto singer Elizabeth Shepherd; "A Multi-media Life," a documentary DVD by Buffy Sainte-Marie; "Where in the World," by children's entertainer Fred Penner; and "LA Bootleg 1984," a rare concert performance by the late Canadian jazz guitarist Lenny Breau, produced by Randy Bachman, who is scheduled to release a much-anticipated solo rock album on the label next March.
It's an eclectic mix of releases, none of which will likely achieve "gold record" status (sales of 40,000 units), but most will reach niche markets and turn a profit for both the artists and the label. Kulawick avoids pop artists, preferring folk, jazz, roots, bluegrass and classical performers.
"It's far better for us to sign artists that tour and have some kind of base that is not tied to commercial radio," Kulawick says. "Even if there's no hit on the record, there is a community around the artist that will tune into it."
Kulawick, a 50-year-old native of Ottawa, studied music production at London's Fanshawe College in the early '80s before moving to Toronto to start a career in the music industry, first with indie rock label Solid Gold Records, then A & M Records as a tour manager, then Anthem Records (home to Rush) and Warner-Chappell Publishing and Virgin EMI.
After taking some accounting courses, Kulawick formed his own label, Linus Entertainment, in 2001, based out of Toronto and then his home in Mississauga. Some of his early signings were Lightfoot, Ron Sexsmith, Hamilton singer-songwriter Ray Materick and Toronto jazz singer Sophie Millman.
A few years later, when he heard Finkelstein was considering selling True North and its large catalogue, he recruited two financial backers — Harvey Glatt, founder of Ottawa radio station CHEZ-FM and private investor Mike Pilon — and scooped up the label.
"Each of us own a third of True North, but I manage the business," Kulawick says. "And I still own all of Linus."
Since taking over True North, Kulawick has continued to expand taking over the Mushroom Records catalogue last year, adding '70s Canadian acts like Chilliwack and Doucette to the True North/Linus brand. He has also purchased The Children's Group with its catalogue of artists like Penner and Robert Munsch.
"We're a multi-million business and we're continuing to grow," Kulawick says. "We want to break new artists like Elizabeth Shepherd and Matt Andersen, but we also want to by more catalogues and labels."
Kulawick admits much of the company's catalogue skews heavily toward the plus-40 demographic.
"Those are the people who buy CDs. One of the reasons we've been successful is because we have been targeting adults on the CD side," he says. "At this point, most of our repertoire does target an older demographic. But it's more than that, it is music of substance."
~from thespec.com/news-story/4992925-true-north-strong-and-free, by Graham Rockingham.
6 November 2014 - TORONTO - Bruce Cockburn started writing his mammoth memoir "Rumours of Glory" just as he was becoming a father for a second time, at the age of 66.
It meant for a bleary-eyed time.
"There kept being deadlines and deadlines created incredible stress, especially measured against trying to find time to write with our little daughter around," Cockburn, now 69, said during a recent interview in Toronto.
"She's about the same age as the book right now. It was unfortunate timing from the book's point of view that Iona was born when she was. Or perhaps it was good timing, maybe."
He's not sure, or maybe he's just tired. This weighty tome sure seemed to result from a difficult birth.
The decorated folkie and dedicated activist spent years stitching together this book, which dutifully traces his childhood (mostly spent around Ottawa), his hard-cleaved climb in the industry, his thorough exploration of the world's war-torn regions and his ever-evolving spiritual identity.
The very first paragraph, however, focuses on what the sprawling book is, in fact, missing.
"This is not your standard rock-and-roll memoir," he writes. "You won't find me snorting coke with the young Elton John or shooting smack with Keith Richards."
And Cockburn has many reasons for his apathy to wild industry yarns, both pragmatic and creative."I don't have that many stories like that to tell, and even if I did, I wouldn't tell them because I've got a green card in the U.S. and one of the things they ask you is if you have ever been involved in anything criminal," said Cockburn, based now in northern California.
"I'm not going to talk about things I was present at that people that are criminal."
He also recalls taking in a recent live reading of someone else's book, which documented the misadventures of some '70s "metalloid" act.
"It just went on and on and on. Every second word was" the F-word, he explained. "After a while, it's like, I don't care about that anymore. I'm tired of hearing about these idiots.
"But you know," he added, "I haven't lived like that. I don't know anybody who has personally. People's sexual escapades, I haven't been part of that kind of stuff either. No orgies or anything like that. To my great regret."
Cockburn does explore his life's relationships with probing curiosity, including his previous marriage to Kitty Cockburn (he has daughter Iona with wife M.J. Hannett).
Some of these disclosures might have troubled those involved. For instance, he writes about his older daughter, Jenny, and her teenage tendency to disappear for days into seedy segments of Toronto. But Cockburn said there were no issues.
One story he did feel he needed permission to tell centred on his first wife, who was apparently so distraught over the deteriorating state of their relationship, she fumbled to open the window of their third-floor London hotel room with apparent intentions to jump, before Cockburn pulled her back.
"She didn't even remember it," he said of contacting her for consent. "But she said, 'Oh, you know, it's OK, whatever.'"
Cockburn's quest for God is the thread that unites everything. Once considered a Christian artist, the 12-time Juno winner doesn't identify that way anymore.
"I don't disown it either, though," he clarified. "Which I guess makes me a complete namby pamby traveller from a hardcore Christian point of view, but ... I had trouble with the imagery (of the Bible) and with the historicity of Christ, really.
"(So) I stopped calling myself a Christian. But I might change my mind on that in a year or two years or whenever."
In other words: to be continued.
Similarly, the latest chapter in Cockburn's life — his expanded family — is actually granted only a brief epilogue in his book.
Perhaps it feels the "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" songwriter has simply started a new tale entirely.
"(My life now) would have required at least a couple hundred pages and it was already too long," he said. "But it was more because I don't know where it's going. It's going in a good direction and it has been from the start, but I don't know the story yet.
"It's too new and too much still unfolding."
~ from Bruce Cockburn's weighty new memoir explores God, guns, war, love by By: Nick Patch, The Canadian Press. Photo THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Bruce Cockburn reflects on his lifelong quests
By Alexander Varty - straight.com
5 November 2014 - In his new memoir, Rumours of Glory, celebrated Canadian songwriter Bruce Cockburn sets aside a strong sense of privacy to talk frankly about his decades of wrangling with politics and spiritual life.
Canadian parliamentarians can breathe a sigh of relief that sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers was on duty when a lone gunman walked into the House of Commons on October 22; the intrusion was brought to a quick, if regrettable, conclusion. This country’s music lovers, however, might be equally happy that his predecessor wasn’t as quick on the uptake when a very different kind of dissident walked into the same building in 1995, carrying a satchel full of land mines.
In the earlier incident, the interloper was multiple-Juno-winning songwriter Bruce Cockburn, whose ire had been raised by Canada’s complicity in distributing the deadly devices around the globe. The mines he carried had been rendered inoperative, but his point had been made: death can lurk, invisibly, anywhere.
One event was the result of a passionate conviction that ordinary citizens must speak out against evil; the other, as far as we know, was an act of madness. But both were likely the result of frustration that governmental power is increasingly deaf to peaceful protest, and Cockburn doesn’t see that improving anytime soon.
“I think that’s getting worse around the world,” he says, reached by phone in San Francisco, just a day after the shootings on Parliament Hill. “That is one of the results of the increase in corporate power and influence over government, and the surrender of democratic principles that’s happening across the board, as far as I can see. It’s certainly happening in the U.S.; it’s happening in Canada; it’s happening in Europe.…And it’s partly just a result of the available technology. Once you have an official entity that’s charged with protecting us, which is pretty necessary, that entity is going to want to accrete to itself everything that it can possibly get to do its job well.…And that’s what we’ve seen happen with the NSA in the States, and with its Canadian counterpart to some degree or another.”
Given Cockburn’s role as an activist—not to mention his mournful but incendiary song “If I Had a Rocket Launcher”, written after he visited Guatemalan refugees displaced by that country’s civil war—he’s almost certainly under surveillance. But just about anything anyone wants to know about his political beliefs, his writing process, his musical landmarks, and the clandestine love affair that inspired some of his most gorgeous songs can be found in his new and revelatory autobiography, Rumours of Glory.
Issued simultaneously with an identically titled and lavishly produced boxed set, which shadows the book’s progress in musical form, it’s a surprisingly frank statement from an artist who has previously been guarded when discussing his private life.
“It was an odd line to walk between exposure and maintaining privacy—and there’s an awful lot that’s not in the book, partly because we would have had a 4,000-page book if we’d put everything in,” Cockburn admits. “But it’s not like there are any great revelations threatening anyone. I wasn’t going to blow the whistle on anybody’s infidelities or any of that kind of stuff; it’s not about that.”
Cockburn credits his cowriter, journalist and environmentalist Greg King, with giving the book its structure, and with making it more than the “spiritual memoir” he’d originally intended to write. While we do get the details of Cockburn’s ongoing spiritual quest—and he’s not the one-dimensional Christian he might have seemed during the 1970s—we’re also privy to his journeys around the globe on various humanitarian and fact-finding missions for Oxfam and other NGOs.
“I doubt very much that we’d have as much information about the background of Central America and Chile as we do without Greg’s involvement,” he notes. “I wouldn’t have thought of going that far with it, but I think it makes for a more interesting book, and it’s stuff that people should know—especially young people, if anybody young reads the book.”
Rumours of Glory also includes some insightful musings on his early upbringing. Some of these, he notes, came out of the work he’s been doing with Montreal therapist Marc Bregman, a specialist in the interpretation of dreams. Cockburn balked at Bregman’s initial diagnosis, but has since come round to his way of seeing things.
“The first opinion he offered was that I had father issues,” he says, laughing. “And I thought, ‘Jesus Christ. Father issues?’ I was like, ‘Come on: I’m not paying you to tell me I’ve got father issues!’ It sounded like such a cliché to me‚ and of course it turned out to be perfectly true.
“I touch on that in the book in that episode from my teens, when my dad confiscated my notebook,” he continues, adding that the journal in question mostly contained semiregurgitated horror stories. “He was doing what he thought he should do as parent, but it really shocked me. He was basically a pretty good guy—a really good guy, actually—but that was a turning point in terms of trust. Right at that moment, it became clear that I could never trust my dad again…and, by extension, every other kind of authority.”
Cockburn’s thinking a lot about parenting these days. At 69, he’s the father of a three-year-old daughter, Iona, and grandfather to his first child Jenny’s four kids—five good reasons, he adds, to keep on working for a better world.
~ from Bruce Cockburn Reflects on his Lifelong Quests by Alexander Varty, straight.co,
3 November 2014 -
Canadian musician Bruce Cockburn reads from his new memoir, Rumours of Glory.
Video by Ed Kaiser, Edmonton Journal.
4 November 2014 - Bruce Cockburn’s memoir Rumours of Glory is candid about his personal and professional lives.
Bruce Cockburn has always had a way with words. Over his five-decade, 31-album career, he’s demonstrated his prowess as songwriter, giving us memorable lyrics about love, landscape and socio-political injustice. Even Bono, the world’s biggest rock star, used a variation of some of Cockburn’s lines from Lovers in a Dangerous Time — “Got to kick at the darkness ’till it bleeds daylight” — in one of U2’s tunes.
The Ottawa-bred musician, 69, almost always writes his lyrics first. “I don’t know why it started like that but I find it easier to manipulate music than words,” he reflects during a recent interview.
He almost always writes about his own experiences, too — whether it’s a recurring dream of lions, a trip to Nepal, or the desire to blow someone away with a rocket launcher.
And so, it makes sense for Cockburn’s memoir, Rumours of Glory, newly released from HarperCollins, to feature the lyrics to dozens of songs — and the stories behind them. (A nine-disc companion boxset is also available via his label, True North.) Those stories encapsulate his faith, his travels across Canada, his work as a human-rights activist — visiting victims of war in Central America, Mozambique, Chile, Cambodia, Vietnam, Iraq — and his emotional evolution as a man.
The memoir, co-written by journalist Greg King, documents Cockburn’s childhood in Ottawa, his rise as one of Canada’s top singer-songwriters/political activists, his struggles with Christianity, and a few modest tales about the women in his life.
Cockburn is also regarded as a gifted guitarist. Nowadays, he suffers from arthritis in both hands, what he refers to as “wear and tear,” which he usually treats with fermented grapes. You won’t find any mention of this, however, in Rumours of Glory. “Medications don’t work as well as wine for loosening up the fingers and making them not hurt so much,” he smiles. “I can play most of what I used to be able to do — it hasn’t interfered with playing that much.”
His memoir is also short on details about his life in San Francisco, where he now lives with his wife, M.J. Hannett, an immigration lawyer for Homeland Security, and their almost three-year-old daughter, Iona.
“That’s volume two, I guess,” he says.
Iona is Cockburn’s second daughter. His first, Jenny, is in her late 30s, teaches at Concordia University in Montreal, and has four children of her own.
“It’s pretty different,” he says of his current approach to fatherhood. “I mean, the mechanics of it are the same, from the starting point onward. But my attitude is much more relaxed than it was. When I was younger, I just worried about more stuff. There was much more of a need to keep focused on writing and playing and practising. I took it all very seriously, and I still do, but I’m just not as worried about it.”
While he worries about his mortality — “I hope I’m around long enough to see (Iona) get on a good footing” — he’s also concerned about the state of our world, currently ravaged by disease, environmental disasters, religious extremism, and war.
“Things are really chaotic right now. It feels like entropy, it feels like the whole world is spinning out of control.”
How do we make it stop?
“How do we make the world a better place? By respecting each other. If you can’t imagine loving your neighbour, at least respect them and require them to respect you. When we don’t do that is when we cause all kinds of trouble for ourselves and everybody else.”
~ from Bruce, the almighty still kicking at the darkness by Sandra Sperounes, Postmedia News - Nov 04, 2014. Photo: Ed Kaiser/Postmedia News.
3 November 2014 - EDMONTON - Nineteen years ago, Bruce Cockburn walked into the Parliament buildings with some landmines.
The Ottawa-bred singer-songwriter and political activist was headed to a news conference, where he was about to call for a worldwide ban on the weapons.
Cockburn recalls the moment in his memoirs, Rumours of Glory. “It’s a testament to the quality of life in Canada that, in the fall of 1995, I was able to saunter into the Centre Block of the Houses of Parliament with a bag of anti-personnel mines and nobody stopped me,” he writes.
Those words might make you shiver, in light of what happened in Cockburn’s hometown last month. On Oct. 22, a man shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial. The gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, then made his way into the Centre Block with a rifle — but somebody stopped him. He was soon killed in a shootout with guards and House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers. The RCMP say Zehaf-Bibeau, who embraced Islam as an adult, was driven by “ideological and political motives.”
Cockburn believes Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau — a radicalized Muslim convert who drove his car into two soldiers in Quebec, killing one — only used religion for selfish ends.
“It’s tragic,” says the musician. “It’s these morons, these losers — and I don’t like to think of people that way, but that’s what it amounts to — guys who have no idea of the meaning of anything, really, and feel like they have no place in life.
“They can … get that sense of meaning from that particular version of Islam and go be martyrs because they already hate themselves, or they wouldn’t be so ready to kill themselves anyway.
“That’s radically different from someone who grows up oppressed in the Middle East and takes up that banner as a way of addressing the oppression. It’s an indulgence for people on this side of the ocean to take up that kind of thing, so I don’t have any sympathy for it whatsoever.”
~from Bruce Cockburn reflects on Parliament Hill tragedy By Sandra Sperounes, Edmonton Journal. © Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
31 October 2014 - - In the same week the important Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn releases an autobiography and a career-spanning box set (both titled Rumours of Glory), he gives a sold-out concert at Koerner Hall in Toronto. We spoke to the guitarist, 69, from his home in San Francisco.
Four of the tracks on the rarities disc of your box set are from soundtracks. For a time you wouldn’t perform one of the soundtrack songs, Going Down the Road from the 1970 film by Donald Shebib, on stage. You wouldn’t sing them, because it wasn’t you, right?
I actually have done it live in recent years. But when I wrote that song, I had never been to Cape Breton. It was written to be in the voice of a character in the movie. At the time there was pressure to do a soundtrack album. I got in the bad books of everyone associated with the film by refusing to do one. But it would have been my second album, and I didn’t want my second album to be in somebody else’s voice. Perhaps I was more sensitive with that than I needed to be, but it felt pretty real at the time.
The rarities disc also includes your contributions to several tribute albums, including the song Avalon, My Home Town, which is the title track to a Mississippi John Hurt tribute. Is he your guy, as far as an influence on your guitar playing?
He’s certainly one of them. And a major one, as far as what my right hand is doing. I was in high school, or just out of it, when I first heard him. A lot of what was captivating about him was the way he played melodic lines while finger-picking the melody, as well as an alternating bass part. It was a big revelation to me that you could do that, and I’ve kind of done it ever since, in one way or another.
Your version of Turn, Turn, Turn, for 1998’s Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger, is gorgeous. Was that your first choice of his songs to do?
I got lucky. I was sure that song would have already been taken. I mean, I was hardly the first person to be asked to be onthat record. It’s a beautiful song that fits every time and place. I was surprised it was available.
It was probably available because people were intimated by the Byrds’ iconic version.
That was the challenge, to do it in a way that didn’t sound like the Byrds. When I went to the Pete Seeger version, it doesn’t have any chord changes. So, that’s right up my alley. I ended up harmonizing the melody with the guitar, which was kind of doing that Mississippi John Hurt thing, with a few more notes in it than he would have done. It was fun to do.
A time to every purpose, as that song goes. What time is it for Bruce Cockburn these days?
I wish I knew. It’s probably a time to be sitting back and reflecting on things – on life, the world, etc. But I have no time for that, because I have a two-year-old child and my life has been full of getting this book and this box set together.
How comfortable were you with reflecting back on your life and career?
I’m not particularly given to looking back, or at least I wasn’t. There’s a vanity factor that makes it interesting, once you decide you’re going to tell stories or reveal things that people might not be interested in. It’s kind of like looking at pictures of yourself. You think, “I wish they’d shot my other side in that one,” or, “gee, I look pretty good in that one.” It’s very subjective, which is useful for writing a book like this, but it’s not necessarily healthy.
~ from Bruce Cockburn: 'I’m not particularly given to looking back' by Brad Wheeler for The Globe and Mail.
30 October 2014 - - Revered Canadian singer-songwriter-guitarist Bruce Cockburn hasn’t released an album since 2011, but he’s making up for the gap in a big way. This week he released an engrossing memoir called “Rumours of Glory,” detailing his 40-plus-year artistic career and how it intersected with his spiritual awakenings and activism. Next week, he will unleash a nine-CD box set of the same name that serves as a companion to the book.
Cockburn comes to the Somerville Theatre Saturday — a few tickets remained at press time. The concert will celebrate a career that has seen Cockburn combining folk, jazz, pop, and rock in hits like “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” and “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” even as his humanitarian and social-justice efforts have taken him to the far corners of the globe.
We caught up with the amiable Cockburn, 69, by phone from San Francisco recently to chat about his life’s work, and wondered aloud whether we should read anything into all of this activity, as well as the 2013 release of the career-spanning documentary “Pacing the Cage.”
“I’m not retiring anytime soon,” he replied with a chuckle.
Q. Why was now the time to write “Rumours of Glory”?
A. Harper Collins came along with an offer. [Laughs.] It was not the first time that someone had had the idea. They approached me about doing a spiritual memoir, but they couldn’t quite tell me what they meant by that. But it sounded like an interesting approach to the memoir thing, and appropriate to me.
Q. Were you concurrently curating the box set?
A. The box set came after. Basically what the box set consists of is all the songs mentioned in the book, in the order in which they’re mentioned, and a bonus CD of previously unreleased or rarely released material. There’s also a concert DVD in there. It’s a slightly odd premise for a box set, I think, but interesting, and it ties in well with the book. I think people who are interested in the music because of reading the book will have that reference and entry point into the music. And the people who already know the music maybe don’t have all of that stuff.
Q. There is a perception, given the nature of your music and activist pursuits, that you are a very serious person, so it was nice to see your humor come though in the book . . .
A. That’s good!
Q. . . . and many of the parts that are laugh-out-loud funny — your initial reaction of horror at people actually dancing at your shows for one — are when you seem to be poking fun at your own emotional remoteness, which seems awfully enlightened of you.
A. I’m glad you take it that way. I suppose it could be viewed as narcissism, too. The mandate was to do a spiritual memoir, and you can’t talk about spirituality without talking about your personal life and your personal experiences and inner experiences, so it really seemed necessary to go to those places.
Q. There is a chapter early on detailing your time in Boston in the mid-’60s when you attended Berklee. It certainly sounds like it was a formative experience, seeing legendary folk and jazz artists at Club 47 and the Jazz Workshop.
A. Oh yeah. It was surreal actually when I look back at it. [There are] things that didn’t make it into the book, but when I think back about being in Boston, when I arrived at Berklee I was the only guy in the school with long hair. It was 1964, and the Beatles weren’t new by that time, but I had hair that was longer than the Beatle haircut. The heroin dealers would always approach me instead of the other guys because they thought I looked the part. [Laughs.] Every now and then a carload of young people from the suburbs would pull up alongside me and yell out things like “Hey Ringo!” or “Are you a boy or are you a girl?” I could have done a whole book just on being in Boston and the surreal quality it had, which was partly a product of the times as well as the time of my own life. As well as the folk people, I heard so much incredible jazz. The atmosphere just walking down alleys and hearing music coming out of everywhere around the school — there were always people practicing or jamming. And it was a great atmosphere from that point of view, far more instructive to me than the school was, because of my own particular inabilities to get down and study hard.
Q. Or be on time?
A. Yeah, that. [Laughs.]
Q. Reading the stories behind the songs and different facets of your career, there seems to have been at no point any fear associated with expressing your political or spiritual beliefs either in song or in life, even though those can be touchy subjects for popular artists.
A. No. I never had any fear associated with [the religious or spiritual aspects]. There was the mild sense of, “Well, maybe some people are not going to like this and they’re going to stop buying my records.” That was obvious, and it sort of happened, but then they were replaced by other people who were newly interested, so it didn’t really change the numbers. I was aware of that and sensitive to it, but afraid? No. With the political stuff, you’re liable to get an angrier kind of backlash, and occasionally there’s been issues where I’ve thought, “I wonder if somebody’s going to show up and do something unpredictable or mean.” [Laughs.] But it hasn’t happened, so the more you do and the more that’s the result, the more confident you are about going out and doing what there is to do.
Q. Does it disappoint you that more artists don’t engage in social commentary in their music?
A. It does a little, but it’s not for me to tell other people what to do. I think it’s disappointing that more people just don’t go out there and be genuine. But having said that, an awful lot of people do do that. [Laughs.] I feel like what I do is extend an invitation: This is what I saw, this is what I felt, if you’d been there, you probably would have felt similarly, take a look. That’s as close as I hope to get to proselytizing: It’s something I don’t really want to do, but I do feel like laying it out for people is worthwhile. And if people then feel motivated to dig deeper, then great.
~ from Cockburn celebrates with memoir, box set. Interview was condensed and edited. Sarah Rodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman.
26 October 2014 -
Part 1: Sneak peek: an exclusive glimpse at Rumours Of Glory by Bruce Cockburn (Pt. 1)
Announced early in September, True North Records is proud to release Rumours Of Glory, a 9–disc audio/video companion to a new autobiography by Bruce Cockburn that has been curated by the artist himself.
A lot has gone into making this collection truly unique, which is why we're giving our fans and subscribers an exclusive behind–the–scenes glimpse at just what to expect from the box set; in the weeks leading up to the release, we're sharing stories and previews of the collection that you won't see anywhere else.
In addition to 9 discs of audio and video — 8 discs of music and his first live concert DVD — the collection features all–new custom artwork and a special 90–page booklet, each packed with exclusive and never–before–seen photos of Cockburn, his personal journals and realia from throughout his historic career.
And if that weren't special enough, each booklet is hand–numbered and has been personally autographed by Bruce Cockburn — the troubadour spent some time signing booklets recently in Winnipeg, MB after performing to launch the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in September.
We're very proud of Cockburn and his career, and we've put together a truly special box set to celebrate. If you haven't already, pre–order and reserve a copy of Rumours Of Glory box set for you or the Cockburn fan or your Christmas list.
~ from True North Records******
Part 2: Sneak peek: an exclusive glimpse at Rumours Of Glory by Bruce Cockburn (Pt. 2)
As you may know, Cockburn donated his personal archives to McMaster University in Hamilton, ON last year, including notebooks, musical arrangements and even gold records and a few of his guitars.v
"These are my tools, my rough drafts, my mementoes and my trophies. Together, they form the roadmap of my working life," Cockburn said at the time. "I'm pleased they will have a safe and permanent home in a place where they may be useful to others."
We tasked graphic designer Bobby Foley to spend time at the University over the summer in preparation for the box set, researching Cockburn and photographing items from the staggering collection — including his personal journals, photos that span his career and assorted curios like sheet music, handwritten lyrics and more. These are reflected in the original artwork throughout the package — from glimpses of Cockburn in the studio to original lyric drafts, we're confident this box set provides a peek into Cockburn's world that you've never seen before.
Of course, we owe many thanks to McMaster University, and the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collection at the Mills Memorial Library. The exhibit is a must–see, and with Rumours Of Glory, Cockburn fans can get a sense of the journey that's reflected in the collection, a visual companion to a career like no other.
~ from True North Records******
Part 3: Sneak peek: an exclusive glimpse at Rumours Of Glory by Bruce Cockburn (Pt. 3)
In addition to 8 discs of audio — 7 discs of music that follow the narrative of Cockburn's memoirs and a disc of rare and unreleased material — the collection features his first–ever concert DVD, directed by Joel Goldberg and brought to you by the producers of Pacing The Cage, the 2013 Cockburn documentary.
Click here to watch "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" from the DVD
We asked Goldberg to share his experience working on the DVD for this glimpse into the box set, read his thoughts about filming Cockburn on tour in the U.S. in 2008:
"After working on the documentary Pacing The Cage for four years, we found that there was a lot of amazing performance material left on the editing room floor. The performances — from Bruce's Slice O Life tour in 2008 — were incredible, highlighting his intricate guitar work and performance abilities as well as presenting a nice representation of his catalogue of work throughout the years. And it was just Bruce on stage, solo, acoustic … live!
"Working with Anjay Feldano and the editors at Scarlett Street Films we decided to go black and white for the performances, with the venue locations separated by the 'on the road' Super 8 mm film shots from the documentary. We felt that the B&W captured the energy and intensity of Bruce's performances and gave a consistency to the look and feel of the film, and the Super 8 shots heightened the feeling of travel that happens between venues … it gave the performances a feeling of intimacy for the viewer, almost that Bruce is doing a special performance for them from the screen.
"We made sure that whenever possible to have close up shots of his guitar work, which is unbelievable at times. You shake your head when you realize that this symphony is coming out of one guitar, and you lose any sense of number of cameras, etc. and just marvel at Bruce's talent. I’m very happy with the results. It was an honour to work with Bruce, Bernie [Finkelstein] and True North on two of the most important projects I’ve ever been connected with."
~ from True North Records******
Part 4: Sneak peek: an exclusive glimpse at Rumours Of Glory by Bruce Cockburn (Pt. 4)
The crux of the box set itself are the 8 discs of music within — 7 discs from Cockburn's catalogue (sequenced by their appearance in his coming autobiography) and one disc of rare and previously unreleased songs. The entire collection was remastered together by Peter Moore at The E Room in Toronto from July–September 2014 to ensure that all 8 discs played together beautifully as one.
For this glimpse into the box set we asked Moore to share his experience working on the audio and the lengths he went to ensure optimal audio clarity and transience, read his thoughts:
"Every effort was made to find the highest quality sources — we went back to the original source material for everything. A lot of the rare and unreleased music was in really rough shape, we had to bake and repair some of the original audio tapes before we could use them.
"It's like archaeology in a way; there's so much information you can get off of audio tapes, but you need really high resolution conditions to capture it all. I'm using the world's best A/D converters at high bit rates so the end result is even ready for high–quality digital music stores — better than 4 times CD quality.
"I knew when it was finished that it sounded pretty good; the two people I was most concerned about were Bernie [Finkelstein] and Bruce, and they were pretty pleased. Sometimes when you go back to old catalogue stuff you have a lot of problems, but this worked out really well ... it was a lot of work, but then this isn't just a simple assembly of music, it's probably one of the better retrospectives of Bruce's music that exists anywhere."
~ from True North Records******
Part 5: Sneak peek: an exclusive glimpse at Rumours Of Glory by Bruce Cockburn (Pt. 5)
True North Records is proud to release Rumours Of Glory, a 9–disc audio/video box set companion to the coming memoirs by Bruce Cockburn — widely available this coming Tuesday, October 28.
We've been sharing exclusive stories and previews of the collection with our e–mail subscribers since the set was announced early last month; in recent weeks, we've taken a closer look at the 8 discs of audio — newly remastered together for this collection to play beautifully as one — and the new live DVD by the producers of Pacing The Cage, the 2013 Cockburn documentary.
And for this, our final glimpse at the box set before its release, we're excited to share with you a limited–time, exclusive stream of 14 of the rare and unreleased songs in our collection!
Now listeners around the world can visit CBC Music (click above) to hear intimate demo versions of their favourite Cockburn gems, selections from rare Canadian film soundtracks and much more. These 14 tracks represent the 8th disc of audio in our collection, and you can hear them for free until the box set hits stores on October 28. CBC Music is streaming 14 of the rare and previously unreleased tracks. Stream until Oct. 27.
All of us at True North Records are proud of this box set, our sincerest thanks to everyone that has placed their pre–orders so far. If you haven't already but want to, use this link to pre–order and reserve a copy of Rumours Of Glory before its release on Tuesday.
Please note: if you ordered the box set bundled together with Bruce's new memoir of the same name, your order will arrive closer to November 4 in accordance with the publisher's release date. Rest assured, however, that they are likely already en route to you.
~ from True North Records
Pre–order and reserve a copy of Rumours Of Glory box set
Bruce Cockburn peels back the protective shell in his memoir 'Rumours of Glory'
By Lou Fancher - Mercury News
27 October 2014: If the history of mankind were a song, Bruce Cockburn might have written it.
The Canadian singer-songwriter has been chronicling trees falling, lions roaring, rockets launching and the dangers of love for five decades. With 31 albums having sold more than 7 million copies worldwide and 13 Juno awards and 21 gold-platinum certifications shining on his San Francisco home's shelves, Cockburn has written his memoir, "Rumours of Glory" (HarperOne, $28.99, 544 pages).
Born in 1945 in Ottawa, Canada, Cockburn gained recognition as a masterful acoustic guitarist, soulful lyricist and folk musician. Often writing on spiritual themes and labeled "the Christian singer" in the late '70s, he refused to be typecast. His music broke into mainstream America's consciousness on "Saturday Night Live" in 1980 with a performance of his "Wondering Where the Lions Are." Perpetually seeking novel influences, Cockburn has a 50-year playbook that is a folk-rock-jazz-funk-inspired brew. Captivated by everything from Swedish fiddling to reggae to what he calls "spooky Bartók concertos," he paired his instrumental explorations increasingly with lyrics reflecting his interest in environmental and social unrest.
In an industry prone to categorization, more labels arrived: "nature singer" and "protest songwriter." Referencing over 104 songs, the memoir reads as an encyclopedia of world music, atrocities and activism from the 1960s to 2004. A 117-song, nine-disc companion box set -- including 16 previously unreleased songs and a live, full-length concert on DVD -- has been released by Cockburn's True North Records.
In a life shaped by seismic shifts -- in politics, romance, spirituality, ecological and economic realms -- the 69-year-old, now once again a father, this time to 3-year-old Iona, is unlikely to reverse course. His move to the United States and decision to write the memoir resulted from a collision of opportunity and intrigue. Four years ago, HarperCollins suggested they'd like a "spiritual memoir," a term he says defies definition but fascinated him. Marriage to M.J. Hannett, who landed a job with Homeland Security in San Francisco, and the birth of their daughter grounded him long enough to write more than the 30-line, self-described "short-term phenomena" of his songs.
"It was just the right time," he says in an interview at Berkeley's Hillside Club.
Radiant sunlight splashes across the floor of the club, where he will participate in a Radio KPFA book launch event on Nov. 19, but Cockburn has chosen to sit in the shadows.
His mother, he says, has called his tendency to travel, literally and figuratively, to front lines and flash points of warring countries like Guatemala and Afghanistan a death wish. Words from his memoir, however, cast that seemingly ill-fated impulse in a different light: "We're all in the same foundering boat. It's our scars that unite us."
Ever since Cockburn as a young boy discovered a beat up, no-name guitar with rusty, discolored strings in the attic of his grandmother's home, he has followed a muse that has told him "what doesn't kill you makes for songs." The forces against him, many of his own making, were large. When Cockburn was a teen, his father destroyed a notebook of his first poems -- an act he says annihilated his trust of authority. For most of his life, a "cage of reticence" he deliberately constructed has defined his personal and business relationships -- a handshake and no expectation of his ever needing to phone his manager of 44 years, Bernie Finkelstein, seals their long-term commitment. But he chose a solo, mostly public career, and increasingly used his music to make bold protest against man's inhumanity and destruction of the environment, despite his equal determination to lead what he calls a "covert" life. He is no longer holding back: "Rumours" exposes the folds in his relationships with women, the divine, various causes, music -- and marvelously unpacks his songs like origami laid flat. "You can't write about the spirit without telling true things about yourself," he says. "I don't have secrets that are worth keeping at this point."
The first 100 pages about his childhood flowed, but hitting writer's block and facing deadlines (his usual habit of writing the songs when the inner wind blew meant one song, "Celestial Horses," took 40 years to complete), he enlisted Greg King, a journalist friend as co-writer.
"He came with me on tour," Cockburn says. "On a tour bus, with a third glass of wine and winding down from a show, all kinds of memories come."
The book is more chronological than he first imagined but also more political.
He's glad of the latter, he says, because in a world propelling itself toward "cataclysmic self-destruction and enduring chaos" with nuclear and military escalation, environmental debilitation and income inequality, someone must tell -- and sing and play -- a counterrevolutionary message.
~from Bruce Cockburn peels back the protective shell in his memoir 'Rumours of Glory' - By Lou Fancher - Mercury News
20 October 2014: First Play: Bruce Cockburn, Rumours of Glory
CBC Music is streaming 14 of the rare and previously unreleased tracks. Stream until Oct. 27.
RARE AND PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED DISC 8 1. Juan Carlos Theme 2. Waterwalker 3. My Hometown Avalon 4. Wise Users 5. Going Down The Road 6. The Whole Night Sky 7. Grinning Moon 8. Song For Touring Around The Stars 9. Come Down Healing 10. Mystery Walk (Instrumental) 11. The Trains Don't Come Here Anymore 12. Ribbon of Darkness 13. Turn Turn Turn 14. Honey Please Let The Deal Go Down
8 September 2014 - Legendary singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn delivers his long-awaited memoir, RUMOURS OF GLORY– a chronicle of faith, fear, and activism, and a lively cultural, political, and musical tour through the past five decades.
RUMOURS OF GLORY, the companion box set to release on True North Records.
The long-awaited memoir from legendary singer - songwriter Bruce Cockburn, Rumours of Glory, will be published by Harper One in the U.S. and HaperCollinsCanada on November 4, 2014. Best known for his memorable songs including ‘Pacing the Cage’ (1995), ‘If a Tree Falls’ (1988), ‘If I Had a Rocket Launcher’ (1984), ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Time’ (1984) and ‘Wondering Where the Lions Are’ (1979), the award-winning songwriter and pioneering guitarist, whose life and music has been shaped by politics, protest, romance, and spiritual discovery, has released 31 albums spanning five decades.
Cockburn’s albums have sold over 7 million copies worldwide. He is revered by fans and fellow musicians alike as one of the most important songwriters of his generation.
Cockburn says of deciding to write his memoir, “Over the years, the notion that there should be a book about me has popped up now and then, along with offers to write it. It always seemed too soon, and I’ve felt all along that such a book should be mine to author. When Harper One expressed their interest, it finally did seem timely, so here we go!”
In Rumours of Glory, [memoir] Cockburn invites readers into his private world, providing an intimate commentary on his life and work, focused on the roots of his songwriting and the stories behind his best known songs.
From Ottawa in 1945 (where he was born) through to Baghdad in 2004, Cockburn shares his family life, personal relationships, Christian convictions, and the social and political activism that has defined him and his music, and has both invigorated and incited his legions of fans worldwide. For Cockburn, music has always been a key way to explore culture, politics and the nature of the spirit, and his remarkable journey has seen him embrace folk, jazz, blues, rock, and world beat styles.
As a long-time activist, Cockburn has spoken out on a range of issues: native rights, land mines, human rights atrocities in war-torn countries, Third World debt, ecological devastation, and corporate crime. Cockburn has been awed, appalled, and incensed by what he has seen and felt, and by the very real evil that humans can inflict on one another. As he outlines in Rumours of Glory, he believes that we can, and should, be dedicated to our shared humanity, to saving ourselves, each other and this earth – we just need to find the will. That will comes from maintaining a relationship with the Divine, and following the way of love. And that journey, for Cockburn, has been marked in music. As he says in the book, “In a way we, and all living things, are made of music … music is my diary, my anchor through anguish and joy, a channel for the heart.”
Rumours of Glory is also the title of a box set collection curated by Cockburn himself as a companion piece to his memoir; the songs are presented in the same order they appear in the book. This limited edition 117-song, nine-disc set includes 16 rare and previously unreleased songs and a live concert DVD – the artist’s only full-length concert video. Each box set is autographed, sequentially numbered and includes a 90 page book featuring rare photos, extensive track information, and liner notes written by Nicholas Jennings. (Available October 28, 2014 on Bruce’s long time record label, True North Records.)
Rumours of Glory - a box set collection
*****FREE SHIPPING***** (North America Only)
Release Date October 28th (Will ship on October 24th)
Highlights of this box set include:
BOX SET TRACKLISTING
1. The Charity Of Night 2. If A Tree Falls 3. Man of A Thousand Faces 4. One Day I Walk 5. Let Us Go Laughing 6. Bird Without Wings (previously unreleased) 7. Thoughts On A Rainy Afternoon 8. Sunwheel Dance 9. Foxglove 10. Going To The Country 11. It's An Elephant World (previously unreleased) 12. You Don't Have To Play The Horses 13. Creation Dream 14. Shining Mountain 15. Hills Of Morning 16. Change Your Mind 17. He Came From The Mountain 18. Musical Friends
1. Fall 2. Blues Got The World 3. Mama Just Wants To Barrelhouse All Night Long 4. All The Diamonds In The World 5. Rouler Sa Bosse 6. Don't Have To Tell You Why 7. Red Brother Red Sister 8. Gavin's Woodpile 9. Stolen Land 10. Lord Of The Starfields 11. Silver Wheels 12. Little Sea Horse 13. Celestial Horses 14. Feast of Fools 15. Can I Go With You 16. Wondering Where The Lions Are
1. Incandescent Blue 2. How I Spent My Fall Vacation 3. What About The Bond 4. Fascist Architecture 5. Rumours Of Glory 6. You Pay Your Money And Take Your Chance 7. All's Quiet On The Inner City Front 8. Justice 9. Broken Wheel 10. The Trouble With Normal 11. Tropic Moon 12. If I Had A Rocket Launcher 13. Waiting For A Miracle 14. Dust & Diesel 15. Yangui Go Home 16. Nicaragua
1. Peggy's Kitchen Wall 2. Santiago Dawn 3. Maybe The Poet 4. Lover's In A Dangerous Time 5. To Raise The Morning Star 6. People See Through You 7. Planet Of The Clowns 8. Berlin Tonight 9. Where The Death Squad Lives 10. Anything Can Happen 11. Call It Democracy 12. Gospel Of Bondage 13. Shipwrecked At The Stable Door 14. Radium Rain 15. Understanding Nothing
1. Tibetan Side Of Town 2. Child Of The Wind 3. Great Big love 4. One Of The Best Ones 5. Soul of A Man 6. Cry Of A Tiny Babe 7. Kit Carson 8. Indian Wars 9. A Dream Like Mine 10. Someone I Used To Love 11. All The Ways I Want You 12. Live On My Mind 13. Bone In My Ear 14. Listen For The Laugh
1. The Mines Of Mozambique 2. The Coming Rains 3. Pacing The Cage 4. Night Train 5. the Whole Night Sky 6. Strange Waters 7. The Embers Of Eden 8. Get Up Jonah 9. When You Give It Away 10. Mango 11. Last Night Of The World 12. Use Me While You Can 13. Put It In Your Heart
1. All Our Dark Tomorrows 2. Trickle Down 3. Postcards From Cambodia 4. You've Never Seen Everything 5. My Beat 6. Tried And Tested 7. Tell The Universe 8. This Is Baghdad 9. Mystery 10. Beautiful Creatures 11. The Light Goes On Forever
RARE AND PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED DISC 8
1. Juan Carlos Theme 2. Waterwalker 3. My Hometown Avalon 4. Wise Users 5. Going Down The Road 6. The Whole Night Sky 7. Grinning Moon 8. Song For Touring Around The Stars 9. Come Down Healing 10. Mystery Walk (Instrumental) 11. The Trains Don't Come Here Anymore 12. Ribbon of Darkness 13. Turn Turn Turn 14. Honey Please Let The Deal Go Down
DVD Bruce Cockburn Live - The Slice O Life Tour Directed by Joel Goldberg Recorded May 15 - 17, 2008
1. Lovers In A Dangerous Time 2. Wait No More 3. How I Spent My Fall Vacation 4. Last Night of The World 5. If I had a rocket Launcher 6. Child Of the Wind 7. Night Train 8. Wondering where the lions are 9. If a tree falls 10. Mystery 11. King Kong 12. This Is Baghdad 13. Stolen Land 14. Pacing the Cage 15. Going To The Country 16. World of Wonders 17. Tibetan Side Of Town 18. The End Of All Rivers 19. Trouble With Normal 20. See You Tomorrow 21. Put it in your Heart 22. Tokyo
How to preorder the Box Set and the Book from True North
Pre-order the box set and view the full track listing HERE
Order the book and box set in a specially priced bundle HERE
Listen to a preview of the rare and unreleased tracks HERE
Watch a clip from the DVD HERE
About Bruce Cockburn: Born in 1945 in Ottawa, Ontario, Cockburn began his solo career with his 1970 self-titled album. His extensive repertoire of musical styles and skillfully crafted lyrics have been covered by such diverse artists as Jerry Garcia, Elbow, Chet Atkins, Judy Collins, Barenaked Ladies, Jimmy Buffett, and k.d. Lang. A devoted and deeply respected activist, he has worked with organizations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders, Friends of the Earth, and USC Canada.
The New York Times has called him a “virtuoso on guitar,” while Acoustic Guitar magazine placed him in the esteemed company of Andrés Segovia, Bill Frisell, and Django Reinhardt. Bruce Cockburn has released 31 albums, won 12 Juno Awards and 21 gold/platinum certifications. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Canada's highest honour in the performing arts), along with being a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame, and recipient of eight honorary doctorates from Universities throughout North America. Bernie Finkelstein, founder of True North Records, has been his management partner for 40 years.
RUMOURS OF GLORY - a memoir by Bruce Cockburn
with Greg King
HarperCollinsCanada, hardcover, $35.99
On-Sale November 4, 2014
To Purchase from HarperCollins:
Here is a link to an excerpt - Overture and Chapter 4: Rumours-of-Glory-A-Memoir-by-Bruce-Cockburn-Excerpt-Overture-and-Chapter-4
Here is a link to an excerpt - Chapter 11: Rumours-of-Glory-A-Memoir-by-Bruce-Cockburn-Excerpt-Chapter-11
Check here for the list of confirmed Book Tour dates.
RUMOURS OF GLORY
9 Disc box set, $149.99
Full tracklisting at www.truenorthrecords.com
Available October 28, 2014
Book Publicity Contact: Miranda Snyder
416-975-9334 x 165, email@example.com
US Book Publicity Contact: Renee Senogles
True North Records Publicity Contact: David MacMillan
905-681-8160 x 228, firstname.lastname@example.org
~ from Bernie Finkelstein/Official Bruce Cockburn Facebook page and True North Records
13 October 2014 - Legendary Canadian singer and songwriter Bruce Cockburn delivers his long-awaited memoir—a chronicle of faith, fear, and activism that is also a lively cultural and musical tour through the late twentieth century.
Award-winning songwriter and pioneering guitarist Bruce Cockburn’s life has been shaped by politics, protest, romance, and spiritual discovery. For more than five decades he has toured the globe, visiting far-flung places such as Guatemala, Mali, Mozambique, Afghanistan, and Nepal, performing and speaking out on diverse issues, from native rights and land mines to the environment and Third World debt. His journeys have been reflected in his music and evolving styles: folk, jazz, blues, rock, and worldbeat. Drawing from his experiences, he continues to create memorable songs about his ever-expanding universe of wonders.
As an artist with thirty-one albums, Cockburn has won numerous awards and the devotion of legions of fans across America and his native Canada, where he is a household name. Yet the man himself has remained a mystery. In his memoir, Cockburn invites us into his private world, sharing his Christian convictions, his personal relationships, and the social and political activism that has defined him and has both invigorated and incited his fans.
Eric: Why now for the new book, Rumours Of Glory? After all these years, because you’ve been a very personal songwriter and a writer that has always put his thoughts and feelings out there in songs.
Bruce: Over the years, I’ve been approached by various people volunteering to write my biography and by various publishers interested in putting out a memoir or an autobiography of some sort. It always felt too soon. If you’re going to do something like that, you have to have enough life to make a story out of. To be able to hopefully contribute some observations that mean something. I’ve been in book stores and seen coffee table books like The Life Of Whatever Teenage Popstar or a 30 year old hockey player who’s – yeah, they’ve got a story to tell but it’s hardly a life. You’d hope their lives are longer than that. There seemed like there wasn’t enough there yet and also there was my story to tell, not somebody elses in the case of those who wanted to write the book. 3-4 years ago Harpercollins approached me about doing a memoir, which they’d characterized as a spiritual memoir. It just seemed like after all this time and after many requests, this was the right one. The timing was right, because I felt like I was old enough and it was appropriate to do a book like that. They wanted me to write it. It just came together in that way. What they meant by spiritual memoir, they weren’t able to fully explain to me. So, I was left to try and figure out what that might mean.
Eric: Have you figured it out yet?
Bruce: No. But the book is done, [laughs]. The rest of the people are going to have to figure out whether it’s spiritual or something else but there’s a lot of talk about God in it. I think there probably would have been whether that had been the mandate or not, but since it was, it’s an obvious thing to put in – the spiritual aspect of my years on the planet too.
Eric: A lot of your songs anyway, I’d consider them not spiritual songs in a gospel sense but I think your religious attitude and your upbringing has to seep into the lyrics of your songs because it’s who you are as a person, it’s probably not that much of a stretch to call it spiritual.
Bruce: Certainly. I hope it isn’t. Youre right, there’s certainly a lot of that content in the songs so it’s appropriate it’d be in the book. There’s a lot of stuff in the book about how the songs came into existence. There’s a lot of songs mentioned in the book we’re actually going to put out a box set of all the songs that are mentioned in the book plus some other previous unreleased stuff that will hopefully coincide closely enough with the release of the book that people will be able to connect them together.
Eric: It’s a good time too. True North put out digitally, at least all of your catalog. They did it in super audio with flac files.
Bruce: It’s a pretty big catalog so I don’t think they covered it all but there are certainly some of those and I’m happy for that. It’d be nice to think that all of it would be available that way at some point. I’m not sure that’ll happen. But, the box set will cover the time span at least, if not all of the songs.
Eric: Do you keep a new journal once you knew you had to start writing everything down all over again?
Bruce: No. I’ve always kept notebooks but they’re not really journals, it’s not like I write every day and keep track of what happened every day. They’re song ideas that go into those notebooks. They were – most of the many notebooks that I’ve gone through over the years are in the archives in McMaster University, they were very helpful about getting access to that stuff. Certainly those were a useful resource in terms of writing the books. To be able to go back and see the context. Because I could remember, once I’m looking at the actual handwritten pages, a lot of stuff comes back that might not have otherwise been so present in the memory. I’ve never been systematic enough to keep a real diary or journal.
Eric: I had Jen Chapin on the show a few times. She workes for an organization called Why Hunger? We were talking about you, she loves and respects you immensely. We were talking about her family when she was young, and which seeds were sown that not only would help her become a musician, but giving her a spark that was going to be an activist as well and merge the two. Was there a time that you might have forgotten about that really kickstarted your activism? When it came down to writing lyrics on the music side?
Bruce: Nah, I hadn’t forgotten about it. It really was a product of my own experience. I didn’t grow up with that approach to things. We were a typical middle class Canadian family, which involved from the social point of view, a general awareness of what’s going on in the world and a certain compassion for peopel in difficulties. But a general disinclination to be involved [laughs]. That grew over time, I trace it back to – well, partly to the anti-war vibe of the 60s but much more to my own travels in the early 70s when we first started to travel across Canada. I started meeting Native people and becoming acquainted with what it was like to grow up as a first nations person in Canada. Meeting people my own age and their life experience being so different from mine, well, that’s not supposed to have been like that. I think it really started there, but it got a big kick forward in the early 80s with the first trip to Central America and subsequent travels: Chile the same year, 1983. Chile was interesting because at the time, it was like going to Nazi Germany.
They were living under a really brutal dictatorship. It was a first in their history, since their independance from Spain in 1800s, they had always been a Democrazy until the coo that produced this military dictatorship. It was that and a few other things, demographically it wasnt very differetn from Canada. Yes, mostly Spanish originally but the immigration waves that came from Europe were the same as the ones that came to Canada. Italians, Irish, etc. There was a lot of comparisons to be drawn between Chile and Canada. It just seemd to me that if it can happen in Chile, it can just as easily happen in Canada if we don’t maintaine our vigilance. Allowing for obvious temperamental and historical differences but there’s – it was close enough to be worrisome and to focus attention on the fact that not only was that going on, but even in that atmosphere, the distinction between art and politics in music especially is just not there in Latin America. It certainly wasn’t there in Chile. All the songwriters that spoke of political things in their songs were banned, some of them were sentenced to concentration camps. But, they were still doing it. For them, politics was part of life therefore it belonged in the songs. I came away from that experience having been educated in that way. Yeah, youre absolutely way. Politics is as much a part of the human experience as sex, God and hockey. Therefor wants inclusion in whatever art youre doing.
Eric: I grew up in the 80s and I remember waking up very early in the morning to tape Live Aid and that blended into me following the Amnesty International tours. That’s where I got the knowledge that music can truly be a force for good and evil, at times. It seems like after George Bush left office, there seems to be a very lackadaisical attitude from musicians – not that the audiences were always looking for their advice, I think we used to before but now we kind of don’t. Do you think there will ever be a moment where we’ll all agree that at least maybe in the music world that we need to band together and fight something? It just seems like a lot of artists don’t want to do it, they might be scared because of the repercussions in sales or radio play. Or maybe they just don’t feel like music and politics don’t mix.
Bruce: There’s an argument to be made for that latter point, but I don’t support it at this point. I used to feel that way a long time ago. But no, honestly I don’t know if it’ll ever happen like that and I don’t know that it ever has, really. I think that there’s always a strain of art that resists evil, let’s say, to keep it simple. That strain is still there, it’s around, it just doesn’t get any media coverage. At points, things – when it becomes popular for whatever reason and by whatever means for artists to be speaking out, then you hear those voices and of course other voices get added because people are encouraged by the popularity of something. If a bunch of famous artists get out and sing Free Nelson Mandela, all of a sudden the lesser artists or lesser known artists are encouraged to make their own statements too. But, those famous artists may be singing on that song because some other famous artist is doing it, not because they necessarily care about the issue. Everybody cares, we have to be realistic. Very few people are so lacking in compassion and interest in their fellow humans that they don’t care at all about these things, but to actually take the step to be involved and be heard requires more than just caring. It really is a question of opportunity and motive, I suppose.
Just like any other crimes, [laughs] out there. I think we’d make a mistake to assume because we’re not hearing those voices on the radio that they’re not there. I think that – how often do you hear Ani Difranco on the radio? Certainly on commercial radio, you’re not going to hear it at all. You don’t have to sing about politics all the time. There’s nothing wrong with singing love songs or old Appalachian river ballads or whatever. But it’s important to keep your focus, I think and be aware of the stuff that’s going on and not be afraid to get up and sing about it. Along with the other stuff that you’re singing about. I think it becomes, perhaps some artists are called to make a whole career about it, for one of a better word, protest music. I don’t find that it’s usually the case. Most people whom become associated with that and in the minds of the media or the public, are doing a lot of other stuff too. Jackson Browne, for example. Music business people tell me, oh Jackson Browne’s career really went down the tubes after he started doing Central American protest stuff. When I look at how Jackson Browne is doing these days, I don’t see the evidence of any tubes but that’s how they felt. Yet, at the same time for me, when I had “Lovers In A Dangerous Time” come out, it was a huge boost to my so-called career. So, that song got on the radio and it didn’t hurt me at all. It’s really all about the spin and to some extent we have the ability to influence the spin so we should’t be afraid of it.
~ from Bruce Cockburn: “There’s nothing wrong with singing love songs or old Appalachian river ballads” - by Eric Alper - Think Tank
15 September 2014 - This weekend, Winnipeggers eagerly awaiting the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will gather at The Forks for the grand opening celebrations. We were thrilled to partner with the Museum to curate three shows happening this weekend.
A Manitoban showcase featuring Del Barber, Royal Canoe, marijosée, Sierra Noble and The Bros. Landreth will take place on Saturday, September 20 from 3:00 – 5:00 PM on the RightsFest Mainstage.
Find diversity on stage at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Concert on September 20 from 6:30 – 9:00 PM with Buffy Sainte-Marie, Bruce Cockburn, SHAD, Ashley MacIsaac, A Tribe Called Red and Marie Pierre Arthur.
On Sunday, September 21, Folk Fest alumni Delhi 2 Dublin will play the RightsFest Mainstage along with DUGAS and Oh My Darling. Click here for the full schedule of events this weekend.
In anticipation of the opening celebrations, we spoke to Bruce Cockburn about human rights and the link between issues and music.
Four Questions About Human Rights with Bruce Cockburn
What does being part of the opening celebrations of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights mean to you?
It’s a great honour to be asked to participate in this event. Many people are looking forward to it and I’m looking forward to being there.
What do you think the role of music is in human rights?
It’s an indirect connection. When I write a song, it’s about a person I met, a situation I was in and how I felt about it. If there is a connection to human rights, then that’s what the song is about. I don’t sit down and try to write a human rights song, but if I meet a survivor of a refugee camp, that experience inspires me to sit down and write “If I Had A Rocket Launcher.”
Music is also educational. People may not read the right blogs or papers to find out about human rights, but they can listen to a song and learn.
How has activism and the pursuit of Human Rights shaped your music?
When I was going to music school, I remember hearing Buffy Sainte-Marie at a club in Boston. The songs that she sang were meaningful and had a profound influence on me. I can say the same of the songs by Bob Dylan. Their affect is two-fold: they taught me that it’s okay to write songs about human rights, not just about love, and that way of writing is powerful. I hope to make other people feel that way with my music.
Who is your inspiration?
So many artists and experiences – whatever or whoever makes me look around and feel.
~from Four Questions about Human Rights
1 August 2014 - For the first time in his career, Bruce Cockburn has taken a break from songwriting while working on his memoirs.
“I’ve been writing a book the last two years or more,” he said from his home in San Francisco. “I look forward to actually being a songwriter again, starting any time now.”
Rumours of Glory: A Memoir has gone into final editing and is scheduled for release Nov. 4. In the meantime, he’s back touring again and will bring his trio that includes violinist Jenny Scheinman and drummer Gary Craig to the inaugural Kingsville Folk Festival, Aug. 8.
Having recorded 31 albums in 40 years, Cockburn said it has been a strange experience not to have new product to promote. His last studio album was Small Source of Comfort in 2011.
But then his life has changed dramatically in the last four or five years.
He married longtime companion M.J. Hannett, a lawyer, just after the birth of his second daughter, Iona, in 2011. The family moved to San Francisco where Hannett works for the U.S. government.
Iona is two-and-a-half and keeps the 69-year-old Cockburn on his toes.
“Between the baby and the book, I’ve had no time at all to work on music,” he said.
That’s going to change soon, however. “I won’t promise but I may have something new to play when I get to Kingsville.”
Cockburn said he spurned previous offers to have his life story told. “The timing just didn’t seem right.”
But when his new publisher, Harper Collins, approached him with the idea of doing a book of memoirs with a spiritual focus, he agreed.
“They had this idea for a spiritual memoir but didn’t offer any thoughts on what they meant by that. So I sort of came up with the concept with the help of a journalist friend of mine, Greg King.”
Cockburn said he “knocked off” about 100 pages about his childhood in short order, but then got bogged down.
“The kinds of memories you have of your childhood life are different from the kinds of memories of your adult life. In many ways adult memories are intertwined with what’s going on in your life right now.”
He dug through notebooks of his many trips around the world which are archived at Hamilton’s McMaster University. But he decided not to simply publish a compendium of old notes.
“I include some stuff that comes from my trips to Central America and Chile,” he said. “But mostly there are a lot of song lyrics because much of the book is about how the songs were born.”
Rumours of Glory, the title of course scooped from one of his best-known songs, takes readers from his birth in Ottawa in 1945 to his visit to Baghdad in 2004.
“I felt that was the right place to end it. So many things have changed in my life since 2004. My life had headed in many different directions, and where it ends is unknown as yet.”
He documented some of his thoughts about Iraq and the political situation at the time in the album, Life Short Call Now. The song This is Baghdad is a monumental, strings-laden portrait of the war-torn city, not a polemic as some of his songs can be.
Since that time, his music has taken on a mellower, almost playful, quality.
He’s not tipping his hand about what’s next musically, but he is enjoying not having to pump the songs of his latest album on the current tour.
“It’s kind of nice to be free of the need to emphasize a particular album,” he said, although admitting he usually prefers to play his newer songs.
Part of that urge has been satisfied by rearranging some of the older stuff.
“The curious thing is that after a while the songs are old enough that they could almost be somebody else’s songs. If I were to play an Elvis Presley song, I wouldn’t just do it like Elvis Presley. I’d have to think of how to do it in my style.
“How would I do Rumours of Glory or World of Wonders now? It’s a mental process you go through.”
~ from The Windsor Star - Bruce Cockburn itching to get back to writing songs - by Ted Shaw
24 July 2014- Winnipeg - Nationally recognized musicians, children’s activities, local culture and tours all part of weekend-long RightsFest celebrating CMHR inauguration.
Canadians are invited to join in a full weekend of free events and performances on September 20 and 21 in celebration of the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).
Museum representatives and event partners said the two-day festival – titled RightsFest – would offer something for people of all ages and backgrounds, from an open-air Canadian Concert for Human Rights starring nationally renowned musicians, to daytime activities and programs that explore and celebrate the rights and responsibilities Canadians share.
“The opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is reason for national celebration, and the invitation to join in the weekend of festivities is open to all,” CMHR President and CEO Stuart Murray said today at a media event held at the Museum to announce the inaugural weekend program.
Murray said the Museum’s inaugural celebrations would offer something for everyone, including:
The free guided tours will allow as many people as possible to enjoy a look inside the Museum on the inaugural weekend, Murray said. After welcoming thousands of visitors on September 20 and 21, a number of smaller partner events will take place inside the Museum the following week. Regular paid admissions will begin on Saturday, September 27.
Information on how to reserve free tickets for the preview tours will be announced in late August, along with a full RightsFest schedule including performance times and locations.
“The Canadian Museum for Human Rights – the first national museum to be located outside the National Capital Region – will soon open its doors to the world,” said Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages Shelly Glover. “I look forward to joining Winnipeggers as well as people from across the country and around the world as they take part in festivities surrounding the official opening.”
The line-up for the free Canadian Concert for Human Rights, curated in partnership with the Winnipeg Folk Festival, was also announced today.
"We are thrilled to work with an organization whose values are so well aligned with our own,” said Winnipeg Folk Festival Artistic Director Chris Frayer. “The folk music genre has always been steeped in the pursuit of equality for all and it was with that in mind that we put together this diverse line-up of incredibly talented Canadian artists.”
A broadcast and production partnership between the Museum and Rogers will bring the concert to families across Canada, both on live television and via live webcast. The live concert broadcast will also be carried nationally by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).
The CMHR is working with Manitoba arts and cultural organizations to bring top Manitoba talent to the RightsFest stages throughout the inaugural weekend. A Manitoba Music Showcase of home-grown talent will precede the Canadian Concert for Human Rights during the afternoon of Saturday, September 20.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. Using multimedia technology and other innovative approaches, the CMHR will create inspiring encounters with human rights for all ages, in a visitor experience unlike any other.
For more information, please contact:Rhea Yates, CMHR media relations advisor, (204) 289-2120, Cell: (204) 806-3526, email@example.com
~ from The Canadian Museum for Human Rights
27 July 2014 - So by now you may have heard of David Suzuki's National Blue Dot Tour. I'm proud to say that Bruce Cockburn will be joining David in Concert in Edmonton at the Winspear Theatre on October 28. This won't be the first time Bruce has been involved in a show with David as about 10 years ago or perhaps even longer, they did a show together in Ottawa. The Blue Dot tour has an incredible number of great Canadian artists playing in different cities along the way including Neil Young, Feist, The Barenaked Ladies and Jim Cuddy. Check your local market to see who's playing in your hometown or a town near you. Also attached is a postcard that will alllow to join the Blue Dot Movement and find out more about the event. ~ Bernie Finkelstein
July 24, 2014 - VANCOUVER - Beloved environmentalist David Suzuki has announced plans to tour Canada — with support from high-profile pals including author Margaret Atwood, painter Robert Bateman and musicians Bruce Cockburn, Feist, Jim Cuddy and Neil Young.
Organizers say The Blue Dot Tour could "possibly" by Suzuki's final national speaking tour.
It's set to visit 20 communities from St. John's to Vancouver between Sept. 24 and Nov. 9.
The tour is expected to combine concerts with community events.
As the longtime host of CBC's "The Nature of Things," Suzuki has developed a rabid following, along with a knack for explaining complex scientific concepts to Canadians in plainspoken language.
Trained as a geneticist, the Vancouver-based scientists has written 52 books and holds 25 honorary degress.
"This is the most important thing I've ever done," Suzuki said of the tour. "I am so honoured that these incredible Canadians are joining me to celebrate the simple yet powerful idea that all Canadians should have the right to drink clean water, breathe fresh air and eat healthy food."
Others expected to take the stage during The Blue Dot Tour include Emily Haines from Metric, Jenn Grant, Chantal Kreviazuk, Joel Plaskett and children's performer Raffi.
"All of these incredible Canadian performers, leaders and icons are joining David Suzuki because they share his commitment to protecting the people and places we love," said Michiah Prull of the David Suzuki Foundation.
~from The Canadian Press - David Suzuki launches speaking tour..
27 July 2014 - Bruce Cockburn on The Andy Ridenour Show
Legendary Canadian folk singer Bruce Cockburn joins host Andy Ridenour for a live in-studio performance on Thursday, August 21 at noon ET.
9 July 2014 - Bruce Cockburn - After the Rain - Shank Hall, Milw. WI Jul 9, 2014
There are a lot of other videos from this show, follow the links on YouTube.
27 July 2014 - Bruce Cockburn: Canadian Music Icon, Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee, Order of Canada inductee, winner of 13 Juno Awards and most recently, Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award honouree during Canadian Music Week 2014. Canadian Music Week was honoured to have Bruce Cockburn as a Celebrity Interview on Friday May 9th 2014, at the Toronto Marriot Hotel as part of the 2014 Music Summit. The interview, conducted by respected Toronto concert promoter Elliot Lefko, displays the historical significance of Bruce's career, beginning in the coffee houses of 1960's Yorkville and the forming of Bernie Finkelstein's True North Records , blossoming into the Songwriter/Activist respected internationally today.
The convivial talk between Elliot and Bruce covers such diverse topics as childhood in Ottawa, early exposure to World Music at Mariposa, and the quintessentially Canadian touring stories.direct link
13 July 2014 - Article / Interview online in http://www.bizxmagazine.com/issues/July-August-2014/#p=18.
16 July 2014 - PARRY SOUND - Bruce Cockburn is coming to the Charles W. Stockey Centre on August 18.
The veteran Canadian artist will perform from his latest record, Small Source of Comfort.
Small Source of Comfort, Cockburn’s 31st album, is his latest adventurous collection of songs of romance, protest and spiritual discovery.
The album, primarily acoustic yet rhythmically savvy, is rich in Cockburn’s characteristic blend of folk, blues, jazz and rock. As usual, many of the new compositions come from his travels and spending time in places like San Francisco and Brooklyn to the Canadian Forces base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, jotting down his typically detailed observations about the human experience.
One of Canada’s finest artists, Cockburn has enjoyed an illustrious career shaped by politics, spirituality, and musical diversity.
His remarkable journey has seen him embrace folk, jazz, rock, and world beat styles while travelling to such far-flung places as Guatemala, Mali, Mozambique, and Nepal, and writing memorable songs about his ever-expanding world of wonders.
“My job,” he explains, “is to try and trap the spirit of things in the scratches of pen on paper and the pulling of notes out of metal.”
That scratching and pulling has earned Cockburn high praise as an exceptional songwriter and a revered guitarist. His songs of romance, protest, and spiritual discovery are among the best to have emerged from Canada over the last 40 years.
His guitar playing, both acoustic and electric, has placed him in the company of the world’s top instrumentalists.
Throughout his career, Cockburn has deftly captured the joy, pain, fear, and faith of human experience in song.
Whether singing about retreating to the country or going up against chaos, tackling imperialist lies or embracing ecclesiastical truths, he has always expressed a tough yet hopeful stance: to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight. “We can’t settle for things as they are,” he once warned. “If you don’t tackle the problems, they’re going to get worse.”
But he never rests on his laurels. “I’d rather think about what I’m going to do next,” says Cockburn. “My models for graceful aging are guys like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stop working till they drop, as I fully expect to be doing, and just getting better as musicians and as human beings.”
His commitment to growth has made Cockburn both an exemplary citizen and a legendary artist whose prized songbook will be celebrated for many years to come.
The performance is presented by Haljoe Coach Get Off the Bus Concerts, with all concerts raising money to benefit the West Parry Sound Health Centre.
~ from Bruce Cockburn performs in Parry Sound August 18, 2014.Parry Sound North Star.
16 July 2014 -
Fusion Festival -- July 19-20 | Holland Park (Surrey)
Vancouver Folk Music Festival -- July 18-20 | Jericho Beach Park (Vancouver)
There is a somewhat delicious irony in the fact that Canadian folk-rock veteran Bruce Cockburn and folk legend Joan Baez will be in the Vancouver area on the same day July 19, yet they will perform on two very different — and distant — stages.
Cockburn will be in Surrey performing a headlining set at Surrey’s Fusion Festival, while Baez will be at Jericho Beach Park serenading the Vancouver Folk Music Festival crowd.
The two could have easily been paired, especially considering Baez is also performing an afternoon workshop in honour of late folk troubadour Pete Seeger, a man both Baez and Cockburn celebrated at a huge 90th birthday bash at Madison Square Garden in 2009.
“I didn’t pay much attention to her back in the day,” Cockburn said in a recent phone interview. “She was a famous person with a good voice and she had good taste in songs, but I was more interested in the songwriter people than the performers. I wasn’t very well versed in the lore of Joan Baez when I first met her.”
Cockburn’s first encounter with Baez happened somewhere in the mid ’80s at a protest concert of some sort in Santa Barbara, California, as he recalled.
“It might have been a pro-choice rally, or something about South America,” Cockburn said.
At the time, Cockburn was making waves with his album Stealing Fire, his 1984 cornerstone that included two of his most famous songs: Lovers In A Dangerous Time, and If I Had A Rocket Launcher, Cockburn’s heavily political song which he penned after visiting Guatemalan refugee camps in Mexico set up after the counter-insurgency campaign by then Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt.
In the song, which Cockburn has stated is not meant to be a violent call to arms but a cry for help, he sings, “If I had a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch would die.”
“The song had been around for a bit, but it was still relatively new,” Cockburn explained. “Her audience disapproved of it exceedingly because they thought it was some kind of war song. People had been with me until that point and then you could just feel — nobody booed it, but there was a real kind of tension in the audience.”
Baez’s pedigree as an antiwar protester is well-known.
A fixture of the ’60s counterculture scene, Baez was deeply involved in the American Civil Rights movement. Now 73, she helped found the U.S. chapter of Amnesty International in the 1970s. In recent years she has been involved in environmental causes, the fight for equal rights for gays and lesbians, and in protesting the war in Iraq.
A close friend of Bob Dylan, she helped bring him to fame. She covered myriad artists as an interpreter, and has been celebrated for her quivering, emotionally charged delivery.
Unfortunately, Baez was not available for an interview for this story.
“I think she’s gotten better over time,” Cockburn said, adding that she was a good person to help celebrate Pete Seeger’s life at the workshop held by the Folk Fest mid-day Saturday with Texas rocker Alejandro Escovedo and a handful of other artists.
“The 90th anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden was an incredible day,” Cockburn added. “There were 60 artists on that bill. It was a very long day. But the place was packed and the feeling was really positive.”
Cockburn has been revisiting many of the important moments in his career in recent years.
There was the documentary entitled Pacing The Cage released in 2012, documenting the recording of his 2009 live album Slice O’ Life.
More recently, Cockburn, now 69, has laid low and stayed mostly away from songwriting while collecting his memoirs (up to 2004) for a book to be titled Rumours Of Glory that will be published by Harper Collins in the fall of 2014.
Though he has little new material, Cockburn said he was looking forward to headlining Fusion Fest on Saturday.
The event regularly attracts over 100,000 people to Holland Park, where international food, art and music is on display. Other performers this year include Vancouver pop-rockers Hey Ocean!, blues rockers No Sinner, and Australia’s Ash Grunwald.
“We’ve had other offers over the years but this one came at the right time — and by ‘time’ I mean my own age,” Cockburn said. “I’m at the point in my life where writing a memoir is a meaningful thing. Even 10 years ago it would have been too soon. Hopefully, it will appear as something meaningful to people.”
The book, co-written by friend and California-based journalist Greg King, will dig deep in the life of a man who has won numerous Juno Awards, was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2001, and has been covered and celebrated by more than 400 artists including, most notably, U2’s Bono, who is one of Cockburn’s biggest fans.
It will also give a glimpse into Cockburn’s deep political and spiritual thoughts as well as illuminate the origins of some of his most well-known material.
“The easiest thing to deal with was childhood and early life,” Cockburn said. “The memories are simple. A kid’s view of the world is simple. It’s fun to write about and uncluttered. As it got into the more complex world of adulthood it got harder, and that’s when I enlisted the aid of Greg King to work on it with me because I couldn’t get back far enough from it to see how to put it together.
“There’s a lot of background material in the book. There’s a lot of explanation, of what the context was for If I Had A Rocket Launcher or the environmental stuff — there’s a lot of extraneous stuff. I think it makes it different from your standard rock ‘n’ roll memoir.”
~ from Vancouver Sun by Francois Marchand.
12 June 2014 - Carleton University today conferred a Doctor of Music, honoris causa, on Bruce Cockburn in recognition of an outstanding career in music, along with a commitment to voicing environmental, First Nations and social causes.
“Communication must become everybody’s thing,” said Cockburn. “It doesn’t matter whether you are a scientist, a journalist, a painter, a nurse, a cop or an accordion player–we have to be able to hear and see each other’s reality.”
Cockburn was honoured during Convocation for the Faculty of Engineering and Design, some of the 3,359 undergraduates and 782 graduate students receiving their degrees over four days of ceremonies.
“Being prepared has to include the notion of teamwork, of community and of mutual support,” said Cockburn. “And as valuable as this support may be in the event of a disaster, it is also vital in the day-to-day we currently move through.”
Cockburn first began playing guitar in the late 1950s as teenager, although he never studied music when he attended Ottawa’s Nepean High School. After high school, he completed three semesters at the Boston-based Berklee School of Music in the mid-1960s. He played with several bands in the ‘60s before launching his solo career in 1970 with the release of a self-titled album. More than 31 albums followed.
“Bruce Cockburn is a Ottawa native and a Canadian singing and songwriting icon whose work has become synonymous with giving voice to human rights issues and environmental causes,” said Ian Tamblyn, Carleton’s artist-in-residence.
Known for hits like Wondering Where the Lions Are, Lovers in a Dangerous Time and If I Had a Rocket Launcher, Cockburn’s fans are worldwide. As of 2013, 22 of his albums have received Canadian gold or platinum certification. He has sold nearly one million albums in Canada alone.
Cockburn has helped raise funds for food distribution programs and highlighted First Nations’ efforts to preserve the rain forests of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Cockburn’s work has been recognized with numerous awards and honours. He became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982 and was promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002. The winner of 12 Juno awards, he also received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada’s highest honour in the performing arts. He has been inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
~ from Carleton University.
7 June 2014 - The intent wasn't to talk with Bruce Cockburn about Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Jean Chretien and Richard Nixon on Friday, hours before he received an honorary doctorate from Laurentian University.
The interview was to be about his 50-year career, his latest album, Small Source of Comfort, his memoir, Rumours of Glory, to be published in November, and the words of wisdom he intended to impart to graduates that afternoon.
But carefully crafted questions left at the office and an admission that encounters with heroes like Trudeau haven't always gone well prompted Cockburn, 69, to recall his own dealings with PET.
The first was in Cockburn's hometown Ottawa shortly after Trudeau was elected prime minister in 1968. The young singer-songwriter met him at a party thrown by mutual friends.
Cockburn asked Trudeau, whose Quebec lieutenant died shortly after he was elected, if the job was less exciting than he thought. Trudeau looked at him as if he were from another planet. When Cockburn's girlfriend, Kitty, whom he later married, spilled beer on Trudeau, he was gracious, though.
He next encountered Trudeau at a Winnipeg hotel where they were both staying and where the PM was being picketed by disgruntled farmers.
"I liked him. I mean he had his problems, things I disliked about his policies, but in general, I thought he was a great presence on the Canadian political scene and an interesting guy, so I sent a bottle of cognac to his room. The next thing I know, I'm in the Order of Canada."
Cockburn laughs after that anecdote, as he does frequently during a 30-minute interview in the dining room at the Holiday Inn.
Cockburn met Jean Chretien once and he said he was impressed. "He had a really great vibe in person." He liked the fact Chretien "took on that protester," referring to the incident in 1996 in which Chretien applied what became known as the "Shawinigan handshake" to a protester who got too close to him, grabbing him by the neck and shoving him down.
Cockburn admits if the protest had been about an issue he cares about deeply, such as the environment, he might feel differently.
In his speech to graduates, Cockburn intended to touch on a few issues.
"They've just spent years in a collective atmosphere and they're going to go off and ... probably are hungry to get away from that, (but) there's a lot of dark stuff looming on the horizon."
The way to respond to looming crises is with community, not with the individual, "not with every person for themselves."
He planned to make a passing reference to another theme: "The less virtual things are, the better they are ...
"You're going to get out there and get into relationships and have kids and try to have a career ... and it may not go the way you want it to and, even if it does, it's going to be tricky at times.
"We're not trained for that these days. We're trained to be doing everything with our earphones on."
It is quite a different world today's graduates are facing than when Cockburn was singing "Going to the Country" in 1970.
"It wasn't globalized, and even though there was news from everywhere and there was a war on, it didn't come home to us the way it does now."
With social media, people can say they're got a Facebook friend in Tehran, and that has a good side and bad side. While you might get to know what's going on in their part of the world, they're not really a friend.
"You're not going to be there for them when the cops come to the door, and they're not going to be there for you when you lose your job."
First, last and always, Cockburn is a singer-songwriter. He lives in San Francisco now and tours mostly in the U.S. at theatres and clubs.
He will play Northern Lights Festival Boreal this year, where he last performed in 1998.
You can't resist asking about the song "Call Me Rose" on his latest album; about Richard Nixon reincarnated as a single mother of two children living in a housing project. "I have no good answer for that ... I woke up one morning with that song in my head."
It begins: "My name was Richard Nixon only now I'm a girl. You wouldn't know it but I used to be the king of the world. Compared to last time I looked like I've hit the skids, living in the project with my two little kids. It's not what I would of chose. Now you have to call me Rose."
When he wrote it, there was an American campaign to rehabilitate Nixon's image. Cockburn recalls one pundit saying: "Richard was vastly misunderstood. In fact, he was the greatest president of the 20th century and possibly ever."
Cockburn, a Christian, says it's a song of redemption, "the idea that redemption is there, no matter who you are. You might have to pay for it ... so the price of his redemption is having to live this life of poverty and femaleness. Even then, he says at the end, 'Maybe the memoir will sell,' so he's still Tricky Dick.' "
His memoir is cowritten with journalist and friend Greg King, whom Cockburn enlisted when he got stuck around the 100-page mark when he was finding it difficult to address the complex issues of adulthood.
"It involves other people, which was a really big stumbling block for me. How do I write about other people without causing them pain, but still tell the truth?"
He admits there are people he doesn't worry about that with.
When asked if it was difficult opening up for the memoir, Cockburn says no.
"There's not very much in my life I would worry about anybody knowing. It's not like I've ever shot anybody. There's not very many secrets."
~from Sudbury Star - by firstname.lastname@example.org.
6 June 2014 - Listen here.
Live Stream from Laurentian University, ( The intro to Bruce is about 28:00 and his speech is about 34:00 )
~from CBC- Points North.
6 June 2014 - June 2nd, 2014 – Canada’s 27th Governor-General, Michaëlle Jean, and renowned singer-songwriter and activist Bruce Cockburn are among the recipients of Honourary Doctorates at Spring Convocation ceremonies at Laurentian University this year.
Bruce Cockburn, Doctorate of Letters: Winner of a Governor-General’s Performing Arts Award and 13 Juno Awards, Bruce Cockburn has released more than 30 albums over a career spanning four decades. As a folk-rock singer-songwriter, he has performed in venues around the world and continues to tour widely, while his songs have been covered by many artists, including Judy Collins, Jimmy Buffet, K. D. Lang, Chet Atkins, Maria Muldaur and Jerry Garcia. Mr. Cockburn is also renowned as a humanitarian and activist. He has served as an international representative of aid agency OXFAM and has been deeply involved with the global campaign to ban landmines, carrying out advocacy work in countries such as Mozambique and Cambodia. In 2002, Mr. Cockburn was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame for his powerful lyrics and his immense contribution to Canadian music. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Bruce being awarded his Honourary Doctorate of Letters award.
~from Laurentian University.
29 May 2014 - Bruce Cockburn has been honoured with the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award on May 7, 2014, at the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards gala in Toronto, during Canadian Music Week. Throughout his forty year-plus career, Bruce has expressed his core beliefs through his songs, philanthropy, social activism and support for humanitarian causes. This is evident in songs like "If I Had A Rocket Launcher", "Call It Democracy" and "Lovers In A Dangerous Time", his activism alongside The David Suzuki Foundation, Amnesty International, OXFAM, Friends of the Earth and others, along with his performances in aid of such groups as UNICEF, Bring Leonard Peltier Home, and Music Without Borders.
This honour, following a Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction, a Governor General's Performing Arts Award, an Order of Canada induction and 13 Juno Awards, including being named the Sustainability Ambassador for the 2013 JUNO Awards, Is an expression of the respect that Bruce has earned both nationally and internationally, as he continues to "kick at the darkness, till it bleeds daylight."
Here is the video of Bruce receiving this award and his speech .. do give it a listen.
"There's only one boat and we're all in it together."
Below is a transcription of Bruce's speech upon receiving this award. Many thanks to Joanie Jacobs for the transcription work.
BC (upon being introduced at the recipient of the Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award), Thank you very much.
*Holding up the glass trophy* , BC says : A tiny mountain or an iceberg broken off from some where. Umm.
Thank you guys for the kind words. I'm greatly honored to be the recipient of this year's Humanitarian Spirit Award. I think it's wonderful that there IS such an award, honoring the spirit of our concern for each other's well being.
That spirit is easily eclipsed by the less kindly things we humans get up to. The more we can do to nurture it the better. The honour is real. And I'm very pleased that you saw fit to think of me, to allow me the privilege of directing where the monetary part of this award should go. [Bruce gave $20,000 to USC and $10,000 to Unison]
I'm not sure I've done anything special to merit this. I think each of us has a moral responsibility to share what we can of our material and personal resources, especially those of us for whom life is less precarious than it is for many of our sisters and brothers. The world is full of pain, and anything we can do to lessen the amount of it is to the good.
When I was young, I didn't think much about it, other than to feel sorry for people going through hard times. As I traveled though, and saw up close how hard tim can be, that started to change. The human condition has a build in misery quotient, but there is often an identifiable cause and effect as well. In the developing world, I found over and over again that the economic structure that allows me to live as I do is built on the requirement that the poor live as they do.
It was a disturbing discovery. I understood that I had to make a choice between ignoring that fact and doing what I could to offset it. Ignoring it seemed just plain wrong. My parents provided me with a pretty strong moral framework.
The first time I received a sizable amount of money, it was clear that I had to share some of the bounty. I looked around for some trustworthy entity to give it to. My then mother-in-law was very close friends with a woman who a headed a charitable agency called the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada, Dr Lota Hichmonova. She was a colorful, warm and utterly committed person of great intelligence and energy. I felt I could rely on USC to put my ill-gotten gains to good use. That was in 1970. Things just kinda went on from there.
From periodic donations, my relationship with the NGO community evolved to where it included travel to some to the places where money becomes action, Central and South America, parts of Asia and Africa.
I had adventures, encounters which beget songs, which led to more travel. Now and then, I get asked what current issue I'm working on. Well, for one thing, I am not the one doing the work. I just try to say what I see. But in any case, there's really only one issue - how we treat each other and by extension, how we treat the planet that gives us life. Everything, *interrupted by applause*, Thanks, everything, all the specifics flow from that. We are under orders to love our neighbor. Can we tell ourselves we are doing that, if we stand by and watch her starve because of climate change? Or be victimized by repressive or corrupt leaders raking what they can off the system? There is only one boat and we are all in it together.
Thank you Canada Music week, thank you Slaight foundation, and thanks Canadian Radio for allowing the songs to get out to be heard. And last but not least, thanks Bernie for allowing all the extracurricular activities.
Have a good night everybody.
~ from CMW.net
13 May 2014 - The Canadian music industry gathered at Toronto’s soon-to-close Kool Haus over Canadian Music Week to honor more than 40 businesses and individuals at the 2014 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards, covering labels, agencies, management, promoters, radio, venues and retail (see full list below). Those were all announced on a screen via voiceover, while onstage time was dedicated to proper tributes for six honorees with a legacy and an impact.
Joining the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame were Attic Records founder Al Mair, musician Tom Cochrane, and Astral founder, CEO, and president Ian Greenberg, while folk music icon Bruce Cockburn received the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award and Rogers Media’s Paul Ski was given the Allan Waters Broadcast Lifetime Achievement Award. Liz Janik was selected for the Rosalie Trombley Award, celebrating women trailblazers in radio.
The evening began with a special video tribute to 81-year-old music legend Quincy Jones -- one of CMW’s celebrity interviews at the conference -- who took the stage after a rousing standing ovation to introduce his artist, 20-year-old Montrealer Nikki Yanofsky.
“The next performer is a young lady who I believe represents the next generation of female vocalists,” Jones said. “She is an accomplished singer-songwriter, performer that has shared the stage with heavyweights such as Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Celine Dion and many others, so you know that she is no joke.” He also mentioned he’s the executive producer of her just released album, "Little Secret."
Slaight Music’s Gary Slaight and artist manager Bernie Finkelstein gave out Cockburn’s humanitarian award, named after Gary’s father, Allan, who built the media empire Standard Broadcasting. The family is made up of noted philanthropists.
“I’m greatly honored to be the recipient of this year’s Humanitarian Spirit Award,” said Cockburn. “I think it’s wonderful that there is an award honoring the spirit of our concern for each other’s well being. That spirit is easily eclipsed by the last kindly thing we do and get up to. The more we nurture it the better.”
Later, he added, “I don’t know if I’ve done anything special to merit this. I think each of us has a moral responsibility to share what we can of our material and personal resources, especially those of us for whom life is less precarious than it is for many of our sisters and brothers. The world is full of pain and anything we can do to lessen the amount of it, let’s do it.”
Comedian Tom Green joined the evening in progress as the host, asking, “Is everybody drunk yet? Is everybody having fun? . . . They asked me to host this because I’ve been in the broadcast industry and the music industry. I was nominated for a Juno in 1992 [with his hip hop group Organized Rhyme]. I lost to Devon for his song ‘Keep it Slammin’.' My song was ‘Check The OR’ -- ‘You like it so far?’.”
Astral (dissolved in 2013) co-founder Ian Greenberg called his induction “a priceless honor that I accept with humility because none of my achievements over the past five decades would have been possible without the [help] of so many people. I’m proud to say that Astral was forged in the spirit of family My brothers and I started he company because we needed a way to support our family and keep our siblings together after the death of our parents. But beyond the family aspect of it, Astral became a 50-year long love affair that now goes on with Bell Media.”
Al Mair was called “one of Canada’s original tastemakers” by Six Shooter Records’ Shauna de Cartier (who inducted him), noting how he ran school dances, was a DJ, and drove a red 1964 Pontiac Acadian convertible with a 45rpm player under the dash. Mair has a career-spanning five decades in the music business, most notably as the founder in 1974 of the since-defunct Attic Records, which went on to accrue 114 gold, platinum and multi-platinum records in Canada, the U.S., Japan, the UK, and Holland.
“I wanted to thank all the staff and the artists that we worked with Attic over the 27 years of fun,” Mair said. “I also want to recognize the people who helped us get established and get rolling.” He mentioned his first partner Tom Williams, who was in attendance at the awards, and some that were not, such as Les Weinstein and the Irish Rovers, who “were shareholders from Day One” and Allan Slaight, who “put us in touch with the venture capital company that came up with the money for us to do it.”
He also took the time to thank the Music Managers Forum for naming their annual award The Brian Chater Award, after the late music executive and tireless lobbyist. “No one deserves to be honored more than Brian did for what he did for the Canadian industry,” he added.
Mair also name-checked fellow honoree Paul Ski, with whom he went to Montreal’s 1967 Expo. Ski is now CEO of radio, responsible for overseeing Rogers Media’s 55 radio stations across Canada. ? Ski had said, “It’s an incredible honour to be recognized by my industry peers. Over the past 30 years, I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the best in this business and am truly humbled to receive this prestigious award.”
Tom Cochrane -- inducted by his good friend and fellow Hall of Famer Gil Moore, of the rock trio Triumph, who called him “a celebrated musical icon” -- performed a few songs and got the industry crowd on its feet. During his acceptance speech, the singer gave special thanks to his longtime friend Deane Cameron, with whom he was in a high school band and went on to become president of EMI Music Canada and signed him; his current label president Randy Lennox of Universal Music Canada; plus Bruce Cockburn, bandmates in Red Rider, The Feldman Agency’s Vinny Cinquemani, SOCAN “for collecting,” and others. He even rattled off the old and current broadcasters, including Corus, Newcap, Rogers, CBC, Slaight Communications, Bell Media, Sirius, American broadcasters and mom & pops.
“Our passion for music is the one thing that we have in common among a lot other things, being a proud Canadians in a lot of cases. I know we have some America brothers and sisters here tonight as well . . . Without music, it would be a pretty boring world . . . No man’s an island . . . We can’t do it by ourselves as writers and singers and we all love music so much, and we want to keep it alive. We have that in common, right?’
Among the winners of the basic 2014 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards were Universal Music Canada for Major Label of the Year; Dine Alone Records for Canadian Independent Label; Eone Music Canada for Independent Distributor; Universal Music Publishing for Music Publisher; Arts & Crafts for Management Company; The Agency Group or Booking Agency; Live Nation Entertainment for Promoter.
Toronto’s Massey Hall won Performing Arts Centre (Over 1,500 Capacity), Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre was awarded Performing Arts Centre (Under 1,500 Capacity), Toronto’s Molson Canadian Amphitheatre took home Major Facility Of The Year (Over 8,000 Capacity) and there was a tie for Major Facility (Under 8,000 Capacity) between two Ontario venues, Oshawa’s GM Centre and Kingston’s K-Rock Centre.
Montreal’s Osheaga was named Festival Of The Year; Orillia’s Casino Rama Casino/Specialty Venue and Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom the Club Venue Of The Year. In the retail category, Toronto’s Rotate This won Independent Record Store Of The Year; HMV was called Mass Merchant/Retail Chain of the Year; iTunes was awarded Digital Music Retail Service and Soundcloud nabbed best Digital Music Streaming Service.
~from Billboard.com - article by Karen Bliss.
May 2014 - Canadian Music Week is pleased to announce acclaimed Canadian music icon Bruce Cockburn as the 2014 recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. The award – bestowed to the singer/songwriter in recognition of his social activism and benevolent support of humanitarian interests and causes – will be presented in Toronto on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards gala held during Canadian Music Week 2014.
“My Father Allan and I have both respected Bruce Cockburn as an artist and humanist since his early coffeehouse days,” said Gary Slaight. ”His philanthropy and compassion for charitable issues is commendable and something all of us should strive to emulate – even if on a personal level. Bruce has long been deserving of such an award and recognition, and we are thrilled to see his efforts honoured this year.as the recipient of the Allan Slaight humanitarian award.”
“It seems to me that if we accept that it’s appropriate to love our neighbour, whether as people of faith or as people just trying to live well, then we all need to do whatever we can to look out for that neighbour’s welfare,” said Bruce Cockburn. ”I’m very honoured to be chosen as the recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. I hope the existence of the award will help to inspire ever greater numbers of people in the music community to throw their support behind the many ongoing efforts to make this world better.”
For more than 40 years, Bruce Cockburn has been revered as one of Canada’s most prolific singer/songwriters and advocates for human rights. His politically and socially charged lyrics have continuously brought Canada’s attention to causes around the world while his travels to such countries as Mali, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and Iraq have underscored his commitment to humanitarian and environmental relief.
A social activist since the early-eighties, Cockburn has worked throughout his career alongside such groups as the USC (Unitarian Service Committee), OXFAM, Friends of the Earth, Amnesty International, The David Suzuki Foundation and numerous other advocate groups speaking out and raising awareness about landmines, famine, Third World debt, native rights, unsustainable logging, climate change and air pollution. He has been at the forefront of efforts to ban landmines, which met a resolve with the signing of a United Nations treaty banning their use in 1997, and to obtain justice for North America’s Aboriginal peoples.
Cockburn’s progressive causes and political concerns permeate his repertoire, including such tracks as “If I Had A Rocket Launcher” (inspired by a visit to Central American refugee camps on behalf of OXFAM), “Call It Democracy” (a social commentary on the devastating effects of the International Monetary Fund’s policies in Third World countries), “The Trouble With Normal” (citing labour strikes, tenant struggles and Third World subjugation), “If A Tree Falls” (calling for an end to destruction of the world’s rainforests), “Mines of Mozambique”, and “Postcards from Cambodia” (both documenting the deadly impact of anti-personnel mines). A more recent example is the powerful “Each One Lost” (stemming from a trip to war-torn Afghanistan in 2009), a mournful ode to lost soldiers that can be found on his latest album, Small Source of Comfort.
Cockburn’s activism is equally notable in his live performances, touring internationally in support of his causes. He performed at a UNICEF concert in Kosovo, the UN Summit for Climate Control in Montreal, Live 8 in Barrie, Bring Leonard Peltier Home in 2012 in New York, Child Soldiers No More in support of ending the use of child soldiers in Victoria, the 100th Anniversary of Wounded Knee in South Dakota and Music Without Borders for the United Nations Donor Alert Appeal in Toronto to name a few.
His music, along with his humanitarian work, have brought Cockburn a long list of honours, including 13 Juno Awards, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, several international awards as well as seven honourary Doctorates. In 1982, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer in 2002. Last year, the Luminato festival honoured Cockburn’s extensive songbook with a tribute concert featuring such varied guests as jazz guitarist Michael Occhipinti, folk-rapper Buck 65, country rockers Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, country-folk singers Sylvia Tyson and Amelia Curran, pop artists the Barenaked Ladies and Hawksley Workman, and folk-pop trio The Wailin’ Jennys.
Earlier this year, Cockburn was named the Sustainability Ambassador for the 2013 JUNO Awards in an effort to raise public awareness about the organization’s environmental efforts in reducing their carbon footprint. An interactive exhibit dedicated to different sustainability themes featuring exhibits by Cockburn as well as Buffy Sainte-Marie, Neil Young and Sarah Harmer complemented the campaign.
Most recently, Cockburn donated a large share of his archives – including three guitars, scrapbooks, notebooks, recordings, and original song lyrics – to Hamilton’s McMaster University to be used as resource material for students and fans. Personal observations, schedules, correspondence and other meaningful memorabilia are included, offering a window into Cockburn’s imagination and creative process.
Bruce Cockburn continues to actively write and record music as well as support his humanitarian interests and causes. He will be releasing his memoir in May of 2014.
~ from CMW.net.
7 May 2014 - Cockburn is appearing in Ottawa on Saturday night as part of the Spur festival (spurfestival.ca) and on behalf of the Al Purdy A-Frame Restoration Campaign. 8 p.m., National Archives; tickets, $20. For more info on Spur click here.
These days Bruce Cockburn has settled in San Francisco. For a long-wandering troubadour, it’s a good place to land.
The climate is pretty nice and his wife and child live there too.
That doesn’t mean he’s not touring these days. In fact, the Ottawa-raised singer-songwriter is headed to his hometown in support of a poet.
There is a move afoot to restore the Ontario home of the late poet Al Purdy as a writers’ retreat. The home is in Prince Edward County.
So, Saturday night at Library and Archives Canada, Cockburn will perform in an event that is part of the Spur festival of art, culture and ideas.
“Al Purdy was a fantastic poet,” said Cockburn. “It’s just nice to be able to be part of anything that has something to do with him.”
Cockburn has a large playbook from which he can draw.
“I have more fun playing whatever is newest usually. Sometimes I have fun discovering a new way of doing an old song that’s more enjoyable. It is the case that people want to hear certain songs. They need to get some of what they want.
But you couldn’t do a show that would offer only the oldies. You have to mix it up.”
For the Purdy benefit he is just doing a few songs, he says. “I may chose wordier ones because it’s a poetry thing.”
When he thinks of the Purdy project, Cockburn is a bit envious.
“I’d love to have a retreat, but I don’t have any time to retreat anywhere.”
One reason for that is Cockburn, who turns 69 later this month, is the father of a two-year-old girl. And “she is lively.”
Cockburn remarried a few years ao and his wife is American. For a while they lived in New York, but his spouse got a job in San Francisco and the move happened. But he did spend some time commuting from the east to the west by car, no less.
“I liked the drive. I did so much driving across Canada in the ‘80s, I kind of missed it.” But eventually he made the move.
Musically Cockburn’s last album was released in 2011.
Since then he has spent most of his time touring and working on a memoir that will be released in November. He says he is doing the book now because he got an offer from a publisher that he couldn’t refuse.
“It was the right time. I’ve been approached over the years by various people who wanted to write my story and publishers who wanted me to do it but it always seemed to soon.
“Plus it seemed like my story and I didn’t want to hand it over to somebody else. It was my story to tell.”
Still it has ended up as a joint effort because he got bogged down after about 100 pages.
“I just didn’t know where to go.” So he enlisted a trusted journalist friend named Greg King.
“It was easy to write about childhood. It’s the distant past and it was simple. the memories are fewer and more concrete. But once you get into the mechanics of adulthood it gets complicated. I found it hard to sift all the information and put it in some kind of coherent fashion.
“It’s definitely my voice that you will read,” he insists.
Cockburn’s father died last year, but before that he would run things by him. “His memory was totally sharp. There are other witnesses that I can consult with. And I have my own vivid memories and this is my story.”
The memoir stops in 2004, after he returned from a trip to Baghdad.
There is a sequel, in theory, but he’s not anxious to write it.
Cockburn has been performing music but he is not writing it. The memoir has occupied that part of his creative self.
One of the things the Al Purdy folks want to do is an album of songs and Cockburn is considering taking part.
“I haven’t been writing. But I look forward to being in a position to seriously wonder if I’m going to write a song now.”
It’s not so much that his muse left, “I slammed the door. All the ideas and the space in my brain that gets those ideas is about the book.”
“My style of writing is very different from what is required for a book. You write a song, you are dealing with 30 lines. It’s finite and not very great number. The time frame it gets written in can be anything from a couple of hours to a few days. Sometimes that few days stretches over a long period. A book is concentrated over a long period.
“As it sits in my computer it is 478 pages and it’s taken time and energy to get to that.”
Memoirs prompt memories and Cockburn has been thinking about his Ottawa days.
“I dropped out of Berklee (College of Music in Boston, Mass.) at the end of 1965 and the next couple of years were with the band The Children learning to write with Bill Hawkins, which was the big benefit. I learned a lot about guitar from Sneezy Waters and Sandy Crawley and various other people but I learned about writing from Bill. That’s what got me started.”
He spends more time in the book on The Children than with the next group 3's A Crowd.
“When I joined 3's a Crowd it was not the original group with which I was acquainted. It was with David Wiffen and Richard Patterson who were left after original band broke up.
“David and Richard approached various of us to put a band together for a TV show (The band included Colleen Peterson, Sandy Crawley and Dennis Pendrith).
“I was looking for a way to go solo and this was an opportunity for a bunch of gigs that made sense to me. I took it. It lasted about six months with me in it.”
Cockburn’s family is still here, but he doesn’t get to come back and explore the changing city.
But it was that city with a smalltown feel that made him, he says.
“I think one of the things that was really notable about Ottawa when I was growing up there was how easy it was to get out of. The exposure to nature that we got as a matter of course. The family had a cottage a little west of the Gatineau on Grand Lake. And my grandfather had a farm up near Old Chelsea.”
Cockburn lived on Highland Avenue three blocks from Nepean High School, his alma mater.
“I think it was a good place to grow up for people in my situation. It was a middle-class kind of atmosphere with an emphasis on education.
The Cockburns would ski at Camp Fortune and Bruce was a competent skier, he says. After many years he picked up skiing again in the 1990s. But recently because of hs daughter, he says, he hasn’t been able to go.
His father was in the Canadian military after the Second World War and was part of the occupying force in Europe.
“I’ve always been interested in history and in military aspects of history.”
As a performer, he has been in war zones including Afghanistan, on a mission to visit the Canadian troops.
“That was the first time I’ve been in a war zone with people that I could understand, who were my people. It was great to be in an atmosphere like that from that perspective It was educational.
“Our stuff was being run well and our people were doing a good job. It wasn’t a surprise to find that was the case. It was a surprise to find how much that was the case and how professional and together and informed the Canadian soldiers I talked to were.
“They knew what they were there for, unlike the American troops that I have also met in other war zones.
“They gave you the impression that they were there because somebody made them go, they had no choice. They were cynical.
“I have had a difficult time convincing my lefty friends that this was important. This was to right a wrong … that can’t be ignored.
“I sort of agree that you can’t have a country in the world these days where people go around throwing acid in women’s faces simply because they want to learn to read. There are some cultures that don’t deserve to persist.
“There are aspects of the Afghan culture — here I am Mr. white man talking about it — the admirable traits deserve promotion and the opposite ones deserve suppression or removal.
"That’s true of us too."
"When the correction comes for us, I’m sorry I won’t be there to help my little daughter through it.”
~ from © Copyright (c) Ottawa Citizen.
22 May 2014
22 May 2014 - Junk in the Trunk: Drive’s Daily Blog for Thursday May 22
Every week, Rich Terfry looks back in our Rear-view Mirror at a great song from the good ol’ days. This week, Bruce Cockburn and "Lovers In A Dangerous Time."
Bruce Cockburn's "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" could be a song about the internet generation, but it was written twenty years before the launch of YouTube.
In the early 80s, Bruce Cockburn was living in Toronto with his young daughter, who was just starting school. One day when she was about five years old, she came home from school and explained that she was shown a pig's lung to demonstrate the dangers of smoking. Both Cockburn and his girlfriend were smokers and he says some very passionate discussion took place around the dinner table that day.
It occurred to Bruce Cockburn that kids his daughter's age were growing up a lot faster than they did when he was her age. It was the age of AIDS, environmental concerns and nuclear tensions and information was being spread faster and more graphically than ever before. The image of his daughter playing with her friends in the school yard while the world was becoming a darker place haunted Cockburn. He wanted to write a song that would send a positive, encouraging message to his daughter and her generation.
In these times - when images and stories of environmental disasters, global warming, school shootings, cyber bullying, civil wars and international conflicts circulate at light speed on the internet - "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" is more relevant and sends a message more essential now than ever.
This song was a top 30 hit in 1984 and now stands as a classic. This is "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" by Bruce Cockburn on Rear View Mirror.
~from Junk-in-the-Trunk-Drives-Daily-Blog-for-Thursday-May-22 by Rich Terfry.
21 May 2014 -
Bruce Cockburn, certainly a hero of mine. Here is a very young Bruce playing in on campus at a small coffee house one evening. Don't recall the exact date, early 70s, as I graduated in 72. Though it might be a bit later as after U of C I went to photography school at the Banff Centre, so might be then, 73ish, and might be, have a vague memory, driving Canmore to Banff for the coffee house. ~ Keith McDougall - National Park Warden Ret.
Octopus - News and Reviews - May 25, 1970
Bruce Cockburn has got an album [ titled Bruce Cockburn ] out on True North, a new Toronto record company. It's one of the finest collections of music I've heard. You can put it on the player, sit down, and have a cup of good tea and let it's sounds drift around the room to you.
Which not, coincidentally, is how Bruce performs. At Le Hibou at week, he came on stage and took the house over completely with his music, involving us all in his expression of affirmation of life. Only the fickle were distracted by the traffic.
If you want to hear beautiful creative music, hear his album or hear him next time he is performing.
Photos Steve Finkelman - Optic Enterprises
Submitted to the CockburnProject by Rob Caldwell.
20 April 2014 - So last night (April 17) in San Francisco was the final date of the American West Coast tour. The tour started April 3, 2014 in Spokane Washington and came down the coast with three dates in Washington, 2 in Oregon, then over to Napa, CA and down to the southern California coast, then back up to Mendocino and Humboldt County.
The set lists we have, have been uploaded to the Setlist Archives. The concert reports have been nothing short of fantastic, sublime, transcendent. Raves reviews and sold out shows. Bruce was playing strong and full of heart and humor.
This photo was taken by Scott Docherty - www.redhare.com - and used with permission. Visit his Facebook Photo set for 60 more shots!
Direct Link: http://youtu.be/llUwiOsnOGc
20 April 2014 - The day was bright, sunny, warm & breezy. I was excited and happy that Bruce would be performing as close to 'in my backyard' as possible. I met him at the Mateel at load in, around 1pm and we had the opportunity to just sit and talk for awhile. I stayed for a bit of sound check. You can access the complete setlist with more photos.
I was anticipating many friends from near and far, and a party like atmosphere. I wasn't disappointed! Bruce came onstage, all in black with a beautiful black leather vest and immediately had the Mateel fans in the palm of his hand. Every song was performed with passion, blazing guitar skills, and fancy foot work. New sounds with echos and reverb, some reworking of older tunes.. it is like hearing the songs for a first time.
Bruce was quoted in an article recently, “No matter how dragged out I might be, which I occasionally am getting to a gig, once I get on the stage and it’s just between me and the people that are there, that all goes away and it’s replaced by what I perceive as a collective energy that happens with all of us in the room together. And that gives it life.” There was a lot of life in the room on Wednesday night. Thank you Bruce for coming to our little town and giving us such a wonderful show. I hope you will come back to our neck of the woods again soon.
~Written by Bobbi Wisby
18 April 2014 - The curtain rose Thursday night on yet another rebirth of the 133-year-old Napa Valley Opera House.
A Bruce Cockburn concert is two hours of lyrical and instrumental mastery. To an enthusiastic packed house, the 68-year-old Canadian folk legend graced opening night at City Winery Napa on Thursday with 20 original songs from 13 albums spanning four decades of celebrated work.
He was an ironic vision as he strolled out to begin, the outspoken pacifist dressed black-on-black, his trousers tucked into high combat boots, looking about as military as civilian clothes will allow. This may be a simple fashion choice, but his artistic interest in the play of opposites, which runs through his entire body of work, makes me wonder.
Cockburn combines lyrical imagery and complexity with stunning guitar work both as a very percussive rhythm player and as a soloist. For those unfamiliar with his repertoire, the songs can satisfy without interpretation on the sheer pleasure of the melodies and the performance. On repeated listening, he is drilling deeply into personal, political and spiritual themes.
A few lines from one of his most popular songs, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” itself a title loaded with tension, exemplify the kind of polarity that Cockburn is intrigued with:
“One day you're waiting for the sky to fall, the next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all.”
“Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight, got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight.”
Onstage, Cockburn is surrounded by instruments, some expected and some surprising. He moves between four guitars — two six-strings, a 12-string, and a steel National. To his right a standing mountain dulcimer waited almost the entire evening until he stepped up to it to close the main body of the show with the prayerful “Arrows of Light.”
Most surprising were four sets of towering vertical chimes, two on each side of him, which he ignited with foot pedals while performing the six-string instrumental, “The End of All Rivers,” and an intense solo on “Stolen Land.” In the latter, a song raging against injustice, the chimes were church bells juxtaposed with the explosive guitar work. Opposites again.
There were light moments. No Cockburn show goes without a sing-along on “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” his biggest commercial hit, with a call and response chorus likely to leave many an attendee with an earworm for a while.
Two of his three encores were distinctly unserious. The first, “The Blues Got the World,” is completed in all three choruses with “by the balls.” Several years after writing it, Cockburn said, “I remember sitting in the back of my camper, feet dangling off the tailgate, being highly amused at myself over this one.”
The second encore was “Anything Can Happen,” a hilarious meditation on all of the improbable things that could kill you at any moment, from botulism to the neutron melt to being drilled through the head by a shooting star. “Anything can happen,” he sings, “to put out the light. Is it any wonder I don't want to say goodnight.”
But those moments aside, Cockburn is a serious artist passionately addressing serious matters. His intensity during performance is palpable. Eyes typically closed, he immerses himself in the content. As he puts it, singing many of these songs “requires the necessary amount of commitment.”
In one of his most admired songs, “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,“ the peacenik folk singer rages “Cry for Guatemala, with a corpse in every gate. If I had a rocket launcher, I would not hesitate.”
“Some songs, like 'Rocket Launcher,'” he said, “are hard for me to do, because I have to go emotionally where I was when I wrote them.”
Cockburn is into his art, absorbed in re-creation. He is quietly appreciative of the audience's responses, dignified without being aloof, but seemingly with a healthy detachment from approval.
My single quibble about the show was what was left out. Two fan favorites, “Pacing The Cage” and “Tie Me at The Crossroads,” didn't make the setlist.
After a bit of muddiness at the start of the opening song, the new Meyer sound system performed beautifully, putting to rest concerns that the new configuration and flooring of the hall might be an acoustic problem.
This concert was a big experience, immensely enjoyable musically, and challenging to the heart and intellect. City Winery is off and running.
~ from Napa Valley Register by David Kerns.
18 April 2014 - Bernie Finkelstein would like everyone to know about "what promises to be a great event here in Prince Edward County Ontario on May 3. We are going to be screening the 65 minute long version of Bruce's "Pacing The Cage" video through a very special soundsystem. Both the director Joel Goldberg and myself (Bernie Finkelstein) will be in attendence at the screening and will be doing a Q&A about the film, Bruce and anything else, anyone wants to talk about. All of the proceeds for the screening will be going to the Save Ostrander Point Fund.
Clicking on poster (right) will open a pdf file for better viewing.
14 April 2014 - Bruce Cockburn headlined the grand opening of City Winery Napa on April 10, 2014. Here is my extended interview with the legendary Canadian folksinger.
DK: You’ve been touring for over forty years. Can you talk about how you stay fresh?
BC: Well I like what I do, that is part of it; it’s a big part of it actually. Like any other job, it has its ups and downs, but I am basically very happy to be able to do what I do for a living. You know, certain songs come and go. That’s another thing that fluctuates. Occasionally a song will just feel too stale to be able to pull it off with the necessary amount of conviction, and I’ll just have to let it lie for awhile. Generally after a period of time, from a few months to a couple of years, things come back. Sometimes on any given tour before it starts, I’ll be looking at the repertoire in a casual kind of way, just thinking if there is something else that I haven’t done for a long time that people would get a kick out of hearing.
So there are these kinds of little changes that happen. And from there, it is really just night to night. No matter how dragged out I might be, which I occasionally am getting to a gig, once I get on the stage and it is just between me and the people that are there, that goes away and it is replaced by what I perceive as a collective energy that happens with all of us in the room together. Then that gives it life and without the audience there it would be totally boring. I mean to sit around and play the songs to myself is useful, I do it all the time because I’ve got to keep in practice, but it is not satisfying the way it is when there is someone listening.DK: Do you have any particular routine that you do to prepare to walk out and perform?
BC: Yeah. It is a pretty mundane ritual but basically it involves drinking a couple of glasses of wine and gargling with warm salt water.
I spend a lot of time sound checking which not all artists do. Some people don’t like to sound check. Some of the people that I know, for instance, will do the quickest possible sound check and get out of there, but I like doing a long sound check.
A guy who knew more than I did way back when I was first starting to play professionally—before the first time I played in a big place with a band, in a big theater, opening for Cream, and I was kind of nervous—he said, “What you do is you come in and you do your sound check, and while you are here, while you are doing your sound check, you just look around and feel the place and make it your home.” And so I started doing that and I continue to. I like to spend a lot of time doing a sound check partly because it is a good warm-up for me, and the older I get the more arthritic my hands get and the more warm-up I need. That piece of advice has been a guidepost for a long time and that is my way of making myself feel like I belong in the place I’m in.
DK: Do you have to be really intentional about taking care of yourself physically around your voice and your hands?
BC: Well yeah, the short answer is yes. The longer answer is, I pay more attention to it now than I used to. Especially the hands, I used to take that pretty much for granted. But you know in the last decade, they’ve gotten a little stiffer and it takes a little longer to get them going. I can still do what I need to do but it is different from how it was. I don’t do much about it really other than a couple of glasses of wine.
It is the voice, actually, that is the thing I spend more deliberate time before a show with. I don’t do anything for my voice in the meantime, like in between tours, but when I’m preparing for a show I do that, the gargling routine. I just try and clear it all out and get it loosened up. I don’t think my voice is the thing that people come to the shows for, but it has to be able to carry the tunes and so I work at it to make sure it can do that.
DK: I was watching your Pacing the Cage DVD. In there, Jackson Browne is sort of in a state of amazement about your guitar playing. He is a pretty exacting musician himself. I don’t think he is easily impressed. Could you talk just a little about your guitar playing, how your styling evolved, who you might identify as your influences?
BC: The original influences were—well, the very first thing was Elvis’ band, Scotty Moore who played guitar with Elvis. I didn’t know his name at the time when those records were new. I was completely captivated by that guitar playing and by rock and roll in general., the rock and roll of that era. So Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Ritchie Valens, Duane Eddy, all that stuff. That was the music that made me want to be a guitar player.
So it starts there, but then very soon after that I started taking lessons. I got introduced to a broader range of music than I had listened to before, including jazz. This is still early and before I was out of high school, I had been introduced to folk music, country blues, and ragtime, this whole world of stuff that kind of all melded together. So at the same time that I was listening to what was then considered to be the cutting edge of jazz—this was in the early 60?s—I was also listening to Mississippi John Hurt, Mance Lipscomb, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. The music, especially of the folk spectrum, that was offered was the stuff that I was most interested in, and so I absorbed a lot of guitar, a lot of right hand guitar stuff from Brownie Mcghee and Mississippi John Hurt.
Then on top of that, because I was listening to all the jazz and and eventually ended up going to music school to study that, the left hand part of the guitar playing got much more complicated than what those older guys that I mentioned were doing. The most distinct way I can describe what I do guitar-wise is an amalgam of that early acoustic blues kind of playing with a lot of elements of jazz and reggae and other music that came along, and rock and roll.
DK: There have been, obviously, themes in your song writing: politics—by that I mean politics in a broader sense, world affairs—and spirituality and relationships. Can you say anything about the content of your writing these days?
BC: The most recent songs are the songs that are on the most recent album (Small Source of Comfort, 2011). I’ve been working on a book. It is almost finished and it is going to come out in November. It’s a memoir like the rest of the world is doing. All the energy that would have gone into songwriting, all that word energy, has gone into the book, so I haven’t written any songs. I look forward to getting back to that slightly different mind modality that songwriting represents, because the book is beginning to be a pain in the ass.
The songs on that album, like the rest of the my songs, really come from various experiences and reactions to things. There is one song in particular, Each One Lost, from my visit to the Canadian troops in Afghanistan. There is an instrumental piece that is titled with an image from there. The rest of the songs on the album are kind of the usual hodgepodge of spiritual concern and observation and just kind of reactions to human stuff that I’m confronted by.
The one exception to all of that, I suppose, is Call Me Rose, in which I assume the persona of Richard Nixon having been reincarnated as a single mom living in the projects. I’ve never written a song like that before, and I probably never will again but but I woke up one morning with this song in my head, and I have no idea where it came from. Well, I do have an idea where it came from but I don’t know for sure. It came at a time that there had recently been what I perceived to be a media campaign promoted by conservative interests in the US to rehabilitate the image of Richard Nixon. It just had all the ear marks of a PR campaign that someone had a budget for and when the budget ran out and it didn’t take, they just dropped it. So that is probably what put Richard Nixon in my mind.
DK: Each One Lost is a song I actually find hard to listen to because it is so painful and it feels so true and universal. It is at the same time incredibly simple and incredibly powerful. I looked at your recent set lists, over last year or two, and I noticed that you don’t do it live very much.
BC: No. For the same reason as you don’t like to listen to it. I like the song.I’m actually pretty proud of that song but I also find it painful to sing. It is the same with If I Had a Rocket Launcher, those are hard songs for me, because I have to go where I was when I wrote them.
DK: I didn’t want you to think that I didn’t like Each One Lost. It hurts to hear it and that is because it is so effective. There are very a few songs that have that kind of power.
BC: You know I cried for days after I wrote it. Every time I sang it, I couldn’t finish because I would be in tears. The event itself was so moving. That is really where the song gets its power. It is talking about something that is deeply painful for the people involved. These are people who signed up. The Canadian Army are not conscripts, these people signed up for that shit. But it is still brutally painful.
DK: Another question about distraction from song writing, other than trying to write a book. You are a relatively new dad. To what extent does that change your musical life?
BC: Well, it changes everything. It changes the amount of time I have to practice in a really big way, which is unfortunate but that is a fact of life. It makes that end of things less comfortable because I have to struggle for my little bits of practice time to get enough, you know. Otherwise it’s good. Other than that and the lack of sleep.I mean it is kind of like no country for old men. I don’t have the energy I had for this when I was in my 30?s but I have a lot better perspective on it. The material world or whatever doesn’t matter as much as it did when I was younger. And issues in general, I mean everything, you have a different perspective on everything.
DK: Do you think that being a new father is likely to influence the content of your musical writing?
BC: I wouldn’t be surprised. The real answer to your question is I don’t know. I never really plan the content of my songs until I get an idea and start to run with it. So since all the ideas I have started to run with in the last couple of years have gone into the book, I wait with bated breath to find out what I will actually do once the book is out of the way, and I can go back to being a songwriter.
7 April 2014 - As an Environmental Defence celebrity partner, Cockburn used his worldwide success to help share Environmental Defence's "Kick Out Toxics" message to thousands of Canadians during his "Small Source Of Comfort" Tour. Specifically, he helped to raise awareness and funding for Environmental Defence's campaign to kick out chemicals with links to cancer that are found in many commonly used household products in Canada. Most recently, he was the special guest at the 2014 Environmental Defence Gala.
(direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7s_7sRvk1c )
17 February 2014 - Co-sponsored by Elgin Theatre Guild and Fanshawe College Alumni Association
Princess Ave Playhouse
40 Princess Avenue, St. Thomas
February 16, 2014
The 150-seat Princess Avenue Playhouse was packed to the rafters with fans of the Ottawa-born, folk/rock guitarist, singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn last night.
Since it is general seating at the playhouse, I lined up like everyone else outside. Chilly yes, but I was quickly warmed by the friendly Cockburn fans surrounding me. They came from Essex and Goderich and beyond.
Honestly, I couldn’t believe the Canadian Music Hall of Famer – ETG’s biggest get yet – would play ETG’s intimate theatre.
I so appreciate Canadian content laws that were created to define and identify Canadian content in pieces of music for the purposes of increasing exposure of Canadian music on Canadian radio! By the 80s the percentage was increased to 30% and that’s when and probably why I first discovered Mr. Cockburn.
And now that I’ve experienced Bruce Cockburn from a front row pew, how do I do justice to this gifted poet with a velvet voice that is so pure I couldn’t believe the guy’s been doing this for five decades?!
I can only compare it to being privy to a private recording session for, pre-show, we look upon a stage jam packed with equipment, wires, guitars, speakers and at the back a web or net of what seemed like leaves providing the perfect backdrop. (Later the lighting would enhance the leaves at just the right moments).
With no opening act, and on time, through this maze, Bruce Cockburn suddenly appeared – at first a shadow, soon making his way towards the light.
No fanfare Cockburn. It truly was amazing to behold his unassuming stance. At no time was he going, “Is this my best angle?” Often he’d sing with his eyes closed, intense, raw, in the moment. And his tone, diction, clarity were astounding. The notes melted in his throat like butter.
Before he began each song, we marveled at his precision – taking moments to adjust equipment, tune his guitar, something he called, “tuning a centipede”.
During those moments, I’d wonder things like, what does a man like this have as his rider for dressing room requests? Probably as simple as, “Do you have a place where I can catch up a couple of winks uninterrupted?” Just looking at his tour schedule, I was exhausted!
As he introduced a song with, “Here’s an oldie!” and then set about tuning his guitar, the lady beside me shouted, “Okay, let’s go!” Cockburn smiled and said, “I appreciate the cue.”
Of course, he sang the glorious hits Wonder Where the Lions Are, Rumours of Glory but I appreciated them all like Night Train, Bohemian Three Step, Stolen Land.
He said an early experience on a flight from Japan to Vancouver inspired his song Grim Travellers. He sat beside a high-ranking, successful Japan banker who discussed his chess-playing with people’s lives and at one point Cockburn asked him, “What about the people?” “We’ll just move them.”
The older I get, the more I appreciate pure talent and truth. And as if by osmosis, Cockburn’s words and music have taught me to think while I listen.
When Cockburn sang, “Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime” (Lovers in a Dangerous Time) all I could think of was Sochi.
As my companion said there was not one thing in this concert that was not perfection.
Cockburn sang, “Where you going to go for some illumination?”
Our elder statesman and truth teller did not disappoint. Bravo!
ETG’s concert presentations are seeded by a gift from the Dorothy Palmer estate. That gift is putting the charming playhouse on everyone’s radar.
For more info: http://www.elgintheatreguild.ca/
~from Donald's Dish, written by Donald D’Haene. Photos of Bruce Cockburn solo by Mark Girdauskas; Photo of Bruce Cockborn and Donald D’Haene by Richard Martin.
14 February 2014 - When Bruce Cockburn steps onto the stage at the Grand Theatre next weekend, it will be a homecoming of sorts.
When Bruce Cockburn steps onto the stage at the Grand Theatre next weekend, it will be a homecoming of sorts.
The Canadian music legend -- responsible for such classic songs as Wondering Where the Lions Are, Lovers in a Dangerous Time and If I Had A Rocket Launcher-- lived for a number of years in a house he owns just to the east of Kingston before moving south about four years ago.
"I miss the house, and I miss the whole feel of that part of the world," the 13-time Juno Award winner said over the phone from San Francisco, where he has since settled with his wife and two-year-old daughter.
"It's kind of what I grew up with. My sense of nature, my visual image of nature, involves pine trees and rocks and, you know, all the stuff that you see in that area, the Canadian Shield."
Kingston is the last stop on his Canadian tour, so he hopes to have the chance to spend at least a little bit of time in this area before heading back to California.
Cockburn -- who received an honorary doctorate in divinity from Queen's University in 2007 -- isn't touring in support of a new album, as is often the case. His last recording, Small Source of Comfort, was released in 2011.
His latest project, in a way, is the documentary titled Pacing the Cage [DVD], which was released this past summer. It follows Cockburn on the road, during which he reflects on his life as a musician, on his spirituality, and on his activism.
The "activism" segment of the documentary offers some familiar sights to Kingston residents, as it chronicles, among other things, Cockburn's involvement in a fundraising concert for Queen's University professor Bob Lovelace, who was jailed in 2008 for opposing the mining of uranium north of Kingston.
"I recall it being a pretty good night," Cockburn said of that concert at Sydenham Street United Church.
While Cockburn is often viewed as an activist, he feels it's simply an offshoot of the songs he writes.
"I find myself in a situation that produces a song about a certain issue and then I get asked about it in interviews and then suddenly I'm an activist," he said over the garbled cellphone connection.
"On top of that, there have been many occasions where I've been asked by the people who are the real activists, the people in the (non-governmental organization) community or others, who are working on something and have asked if I would stand up on their behalf, and I've done that because it was a good thing to do. But those are the real activists."
Late last month, protest singer Pete Seeger passed away at age 94, and Cockburn was among those who performed at Seeger's 90th birthday party. Cockburn and Seeger had performed together as recently as last December at a benefit for Native American activist Leonard Peltier.
"I did some notable gigs with him over the years," he noted.
While other folk artists were greatly influenced by Seeger, Cockburn wasn't one of them. Seeger was more of an "indirect influence," he said.
"I was aware of (Pete Seeger), and he certainly was a positive presence for me at an early age," Cockburn said. "The teacher I had in Grade 3, I think, told us about him. We were doing a show and tell at the beginning of class -- you bring in a newspaper clipping and read it and people talk about it -- and so someone, I don't think it was me, brought in a clipping about the McCarthy trial, the Senate investigation into communism. The teacher mentioned Pete Seeger and what a hero he was for resisting it."
While Cockburn, who became a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2001, is still putting together the set list for his short Canadian tour, one thing's for sure: he won't be playing any brand-new material.
Cockburn's time these days is occupied penning his autobiography, which is due out in the fall.
"The book is taking up all of my creative energy at the moment," the 68-year-old noted.
"I haven't even thought about writing songs for a couple of years now because of the book."
While approached many times by writers wanting to write his biography, it was always, Cockburn felt, too soon. Plus, he wanted to write it himself.
And then publishing house Harper Collins came along with an interesting proposal.
"We'd like you to write a spiritual memoir," they told him.
"Well, what's a spiritual memoir?" he asked.
"Well, we don't really know, but we'd like you to write one," was the response.
He believes the publishers were keen on the idea after reading about him in William Young's Christian-themed novel The Shack, which sold 18 million copies. In it, Cockburn is mentioned as being a favourite of God's (and definitely Young's).
The book and he brought in a friend to help him co-write it.
"I'm pretty happy with the way it's turning out, I think," he said. "We'll see. I'm actually liking it and I'm totally set up with working on it. I would really like to get back to writing songs thinking to myself to I have to do this and have more time to practice and all that stuff." ~ email@example.com
Who: Bruce Cockburn
When: Saturday, Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Grand Theatre, 218 Princess St.
Cost: $59.50 and $49.50, plus handling fees and taxes.
For more: kingstongrand.ca for tickets, brucecockburn.com for the tour dates and the like.
~ from http://www.thewhig.com/2014/02/14/cockburn-comes-home - 2014 The Kingston Whig-Standard
12 February 2014 - Bruce Cockburn may be the only person in southern Ontario happy about the weather.
The iconic Ottawa folksinger who has been living in California for the past four years and is embarking on a short “tour-ette” of the province, said he welcomes the mid-February freeze.
“It's the major beef I have about San Francisco,” Cockburn said from Toronto. “It doesn't have any winter.”
The condensed tours -- this time with eight dates, including a Saturday night performance at the Sanderson Centre -- fit into Cockburn's changed lifestyle. At age 66, he became a father for the second time to daughter Iona, who is now two. His eldest daughter, Jenny, is 36 and mother to four children.
The composer and virtuoso guitarist whose music is often rooted in his humanitarian concerns has spent the past year reflecting on his life in order to write his memoir -- tentatively titled Pacing the Cage, also the name of a documentary film released last year.
“It was both agonizing and fun,” he said of the writing process. “I have been approached a number of time since the early 1980s by people who wanted to write my biography. But I felt it was my story to tell and I didn't want someone else to do it. And, until now, I didn't feel there was enough life to write about.”
After 40 years in the music business, 31 albums, and a load of politically- and spiritually-charged hits to his credit, Cockburn said it has been an interesting ride.
He was about 14 when he found his first guitar in his grandmother's attic and used it to play along to radio hits. He attended Berklee School of Music in Boston for three semesters in the mid-1960s before joining an Ottawa band.
Cockburn's first solo appearance was at the Mariposa Folk Festival in 1967 and, in 1969, he was a headliner. The following year he released his self-titled, first solo album.
Through the 1980s, Cockburn's songwriting became first more urban, more global and then more political as he became heavily involved with progressive causes.
If I Had A Rocket Launcher, Call It Democracy, Stolen Land, and If A Tree Falls, some of Cockburn's most successful songs, are also the most politically charged.
He says it was his travels that inspired him to write lyrics that reveal his passion for human rights, political issues and Christianity.
“My personal motivation was travelling and meeting people and seeing the crap people have to deal with,” said Cockburn. “We live the way we do because other people don't live that way. It became important to mouth off about that.”
Saturday's concert at the Sanderson will support the Kindness Project of Freedom House, a non-denominational downtown church. The concept behind the project is simple: to change cities with kindness.
The first fundraising concert for the Kindness Project was held last year when Canadian rock band Lighthouse performed, raising $12,000 for the charity.
“I think it's great,” said Cockburn of the cause. “I'm glad to be able to help. A sense of community increasingly is all we've got. If we can further and foster a sense of community that's really good.”
Cockburn's music and his humanitarian work have brought him a long list of honours, including 13 Juno Awards, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and a Governor General's Performing Arts Award. In 1982, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer n 2002.
Cockburn, who says he is itching to get back to songwriting after focussing on his book writing for the past year, said his love of performing has grown as he ages.
“I was afraid of it in the beginning. I hated the thought of getting up in front of people. I had to get over it. Now it's a privilege to share myself and my life with people who are interested.”~ firstname.lastname@example.org
AT A GLANCE:
What: Bruce Cockburn concert in support of the Kindness Project of Freedom House.
Where: Sanderson Centre
When: Saturday at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $45. Limited availability at the box office, 88 Dalhousie St., by calling 519-758-8090 or at www.sandersoncentre.ca.
~ from Brantford Expositor.
13 February 2014 - Here's a link to a Facebook media set of Bruce at the Humanities Theater, in Waterloo, Ontario.
At right, a photo from last night's Bruce Cockburn concert at @UWaterloo #Grebel50th pic.twitter.com/DZXpYMgIOV - Conrad Grebel.
5 February 2014 - The Two Row Times was fortunate enough to have an exclusive telephone interview with Bruce Cockburn from his home in San Francisco. Cockburn just got back from an extended tour of dates to rest up and visit with his family before heading out on the road again on a new string of dates including a stop at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts in Brantford, February 15th.
The Canadian troubadour was born May 27th, 1945, in Ottawa, Ontario. At age 14, he picked up a guitar and began his life’s journey of mastering both his instrument and his craft as one of the most important songwriters of our age.
Since those early formative years, he has amassed an astounding 32 Juno Nominations of which he has won 11. Cockburn has also earned a list of awards too long to mention and has appeared on Saturday Night Live, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration among many other high profile events.
But, Cockburn is not just a very successful singer songwriter. He is also one of the world’s more outspoken celebrity humanitarians, environmental and Native Rights activists today.
Cockburn grew up in the hippy movement of the 1960’s and cut his musical teeth, and his social and political awareness on the so-called, “protest” bands and singer/songwriters of the era, which still seems to drive his creativity today, albeit in a deeper and at times more intense way.
TRT asked him if he feels any different from those days when racial equality and the Vietnam War were the topics of the new radical youth movement known as the ‘New Left’.
“I hope I have changed some,” he said about those early days. “In some ways we are always changing. In other ways we don’t change because we carry so much baggage with us when we go into anything. We hope that with life experience, and people we meet, we manage to change our perspective on what people are dealing with. I think it certainly happens to me and happens to everybody, unless they need some help or are impaired in some way. When we start out in life we feel like we are the centre of everything and we gradually have to unlearn our centrality. To some extent, time has softened me too,” he admits. “I’m more capable in recognizing other points of view than I was.”
But his social and environmental awareness actually began some years earlier.
“My parents, especially my father – although he wasn’t inclined to be what we call an activist today – was very aware of the world around him. I guess I was encouraged by example to be aware of what’s going on around me which gave me a bent towards social justice.”
He also points to one in particular, Elsie Beachant, his Grade 3 teacher, as being important to his own political curiosity and appreciation and openness to other points of view.
“She used the classroom at least once a week to read clippings from the newspaper and talk about them,” he recalls.
“One day, somebody brought in a clipping that talked about demonstrations by student ‘radicals’ in Turkey,” he remembers. “Somebody asked, what’s a radical, and nobody knew the answer. She said a radical is someone who thinks things need to be changed and is willing to get out on the street and make a public statement about that.”
He recalls his class reading about the U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy trials during the Communist witch-hunt of the late 1950’s.
“She was talking about Pete Seeger and what a hero he was,” Cockburn recalls.
He has since had the opportunity to meet and play on the same venue as Seeger more than a few times, the latest time being the “Free Leonard Peltier” concert in New York a couple of years ago when Seeger was still performing into his 90’s.
Seeger died in New York City, January 27th, only days before we spoke with Cockburn.
“He was a powerful force for good in this world,” he says.
Cockburn says he can’t really point to anything in particular that started him singing about and speaking out on issues of concern and against the unfairness of racism and corporatism, but rather, he says all of those seeds cast throughout his life, even at a very young age, fell on fertile ground.
Cockburn has had his finger on the pulse of the world for a very long time, and that includes Aboriginal Rights and Treaty Rights for North, Central and South American Indigenous peoples.
“I started to become aware of Native issues when I started touring out west,” says Cockburn. “Growing up in Ottawa, if I knew any Native people, I didn’t know they were Natives.”
Like most non-Native kids in Canada, he grew up recognizing both the positive imagery of Native life, like campfires and an affinity for nature, as well as the negative Hollywood stereotypes.
“Out west, I started to meet some Aboriginal people and got pretty friendly with a couple of them,” he says.
They started telling the singer about things that were foreign to most Canadian’s image of a Native’s place in society.
Through these relationships, Cockburn also began to learn about the real history of Canada, which he and his generation had not heard of before.
“I was getting acquainted with individuals who had lived the experience that opened up my eyes about that,” Cockburn says. “And once you got your eyes opened, you start seeing it everywhere.”
As one might expect, Cockburn is very supportive of Neil Young’s recent “Honour the Treaties Tour,” which focused on both the ecological disaster of the Alberta tar sands, and the protection of the Native people living downstream from the site whose rights have been bulldozed away for the love of money.
“I think, good on him,” says Cockburn about Young. “It’s good that he is drawing people’s attention to that issue, and in particular, to the whole question of Aboriginal people in North American society. I think the urgent stuff is all around the treaties and around large Native urban centres. And there are issues around that too, like poverty and substance abuse.”
As far as he is concerned, “one cannot give these issues too much attention.”
“If you are a person with any kind of moral concern and you care about what happens to your fellows, then you have to take a position on that,” he challenges. “And there is only one position to take. They say that people need the jobs. That’s colonial thinking. It’s like saying, well let’s take all the ivory out of the Congo because we can. Jobs are not justification for what they are doing to the land and the Aboriginal people on it.”
In our conversation, we told Cockburn about the Great Law of the Haudenosaunee, and the wisdom found within it. He showed definite interest in finding out more and said he would look it up online and do some reading about it.
~ from http://tworowtimes.com/news/local/two-row-times-talks-with-bruce-cockburn/
In conversation with Bruce Cockburn
Famed Canadian performer, songwriter set to headline Kindness Project benefit concert
By Colleen Toms, Brant News
5 February 2014 - Bruce Cockburn will headline the second annual benefit concert in support of the Freedom House Kindness Project at the Sanderson Centre on Saturday, Feb. 15.
The last time Bruce Cockburn was in Canada, he was stranded in Toronto for three days after wind chill temperatures of -40 C caused a "ground hold" at Pearson International Airport.
“We were sitting on the tarmac for six hours waiting to take off,” Cockburn said. “As soon as they said we weren’t going anywhere, my wife got on the phone and booked us a hotel room. It was chaos, a lot of people were getting displaced from flights.”
Still, Cockburn, who was born in Ottawa and now resides in San Francisco, looks forward to returning to the ice and snow.
“I’m enjoying being here, but I still feel very much like a Canadian” he said during a telephone interview from his home. “I’m looking forward to a little hit of winter.”
Cockburn will headline the second annual benefit concert in support of the Freedom House Kindness Project at the Sanderson Centre on Saturday, Feb. 15. Funds raised from the concert will be used to develop kindness-based curriculum for area schools.
“(Bullying) seems to be more and more prevalent these days,” Cockburn said. “I went to school a long time ago and experienced some bullying, but I don’t feel it was the same as the way it is portrayed in the media these days.”
Cyber-bullying is a much more relentless and vicious form of bullying that victims are unable to escape from, he added.
“When bullies were ganging up on you physically you could avoid it by taking a different route home or by going out the other door,” Cockburn said. “With the internet, kids can’t do that, and when you get to an age where you start worrying about your reputation, it becomes a big problem. Whatever we can do to mitigate that is important.
“I have a two-year-old daughter growing up in this atmosphere that is now considered the norm and I’m concerned about the possibility of her being impacted by that.”
Becoming a father again at age 68 has made Cockburn look at life differently. He also has a 36-year-old daughter and several grandchildren.
“In some ways, it’s a different perspective than when I was in my 30s,” he said. “A lot of things mattered to me then that don’t matter now. I felt pressure to perform, to pay attention to the world and I’ve done a lot of that over the years. Now I can still pay enough attention, but I don’t have to be driven crazy by it the same way. I think I have a greater capacity to love and be loved. I think I might be a little bit nicer.”
Well-known as a staunch activist, Cockburn said he feels a lot of satisfaction in the ability to use his music as an impetus for change.
“The ability to travel and experience a lot of the world, not just touring to perform but through invitations to go to interesting places that comes with the public visibility that I have, that has made a big difference in my life,” he said. “Performing for people gives me a great sense of satisfaction, if I do it right.”
Using his music as a means to effect change is important to Cockburn, but he believes every person has a role to play when it comes to protecting the planet.
“I think it comes down to everybody to do what they can,” Cockburn said. “I heard over and over again as a kid to leave the campsite the way you found it. Because I have an audience I am able to communicate to a lot of different people. What I can do to leave the campsite better is to share what experiences I have.”
Over his 40-plus year career Cockburn has released more than 30 albums – which included hits like Lovers in a Dangerous Time, If I had a Rocket Launcher and If a Tree Falls – won 13 Juno awards, was named an officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
His most recent album, Small Source of Comfort, was released in 2011 and Cockburn recently released a documentary [video] titled Pacing the Cage. In November 2014, his first memoir will be released by Harper Collins.
“It’s the first time I felt like it was appropriate,” Cockburn said. “It always felt 'too soon.' I mean, Avril Lavigne has a biography out – what’s with that? She hasn’t had a life yet. To me, I had to wait until I had a story to tell and I felt it was my story to tell.”
Cockburn’s solo performance at the Sanderson Centre will include a collection of songs from his early days, as well as his recent works. Tickets cost $55 for orchestra seats and $45 for balcony seats and are available through the Sanderson Centre box office.
~ from Our Windsor, by Colleen Toms.
2 February 2014 - WATERLOO — When Conrad Grebel University College decided to present a concert in celebration of its 50th anniversary, the alumni committee searched for an artist who reflected the Christian liberal arts college's teaching philosophy.
They found the perfect representative in Bruce Cockburn.
Cockburn returns to the familiar digs of the Humanities Theatre to perform a solo concert Feb. 13. A small number of tickets remain unsold.
Fred Martin, the college's director of development, said acknowledged that the renowned Canadian singer/songwriter was "at the top of the list."
"His music has always been popular with students and alumni, and his humanitarian work and voice for social justice … have always struck a chord."
As it turns out, the chord resonates both ways.
In an interview from behind the wheel of a car travelling somewhere in California, Cockburn confirms he has always enjoyed performing in front of students.
"The energy and sense of imagination are palpable," Cockburn acknowledges, adding he doesn't design repertoire specifically for college or university audiences.
Cockburn maintains a number of associations with institutions of higher learning.
McMaster University conferred an honorary doctorate on Cockburn to add to his Order of Canada, multiple Junos and numerous awards and accolades. The 68-year-old artist donated his archives to the university.
With a career extending back to the mid-1960s, frequent world travels (both music and humanitarian tours), and more than 30 albums to his credit, there isn't much Cockburn hasn't done professionally.
Still, after nearly 50 years in the public eye, new insights into the man and his music continue to emerge.
In a recent DVD, Bruce Cockburn: Pacing the Cage, the singer/songwriter reflects on his life and career as a film crew follows him around while on tour.
The behind-the-scenes, up-close-and-personal documentary features appearances by Bono, longtime collaborator Colin Linden, longtime manager Bernie Finkelstein, author Michael Ondaatje and retired Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, among others.
Initially, Cockburn thought the idea was "horrible," but concedes the project "turned out pretty well."
Describing it as "a sweet, little film," he suggests "it is less colourful than it might have been" had it "been grittier."
He has a chance to provide a grittier picture of himself this fall when Harper Collins releases his memoir which, incidentally, is also called Pacing the Cage (originally a line from his song of the same title).
"It wasn't my first choice for a title, but people seem to like it," he admits. "I didn't want people getting confused. The book is quite different from the film."
Written with the assistance of a co-writer, the 500-page memoir ends in 2005.
"I didn't have any trouble writing the early stuff, but I needed perspective on the adult stuff, since a lot of people I write about are still alive."
He solicited the help of a longtime, American journalist friend to "help (me) make sense of things" and "provide a structure."
Because the memoir ends prematurely, room is left for a sequel, but Cockburn says he is "in no rush" to tackle a companion volume.
"This has been difficult enough," he asserts with a laugh.
Cockburn has been approached many times by authors who wanted to write biographies, but he always rejected the idea.
"I thought I hadn't lived long enough to develop an overview of my life."
When the proper time arrived, he decided "it was appropriate for me to tell my own story."
When Pacing the Cage hits the bookstores, one of Canada's greatest singer/songwriters will continue to be a creative pilgrim in progress.
Bruce Cockburn in Concert
U. of W. Humanities Theatre
8 p.m. Thursday (Feb 13)
Tickets available at the Humanities Theatre box office at 519-888-4908. Only a few balcony seats remain at $42.90.
~from The Record.com, by Robert Reid rreid@therecord
28 January 2014 - Sadly Pete Seeger passed away yesterday at the age of 94. I asked Bruce Cockburn to say a few words that we could post both here and on his Facebook page.
Bruce and Pete's path's kept on crossing at certain times over the past many years. Bruce address's some of those moments below but there were several more including having the opportunity to perform at Pete's Clearwater Festival as well as the celebration of Pete's 85th birthday and his work at Singout Magazine at a concert held at the Keswick Theatre in Philadelphia.
For me it was always a great thrill to be anywhere near Pete Seeger. All I can say is that he should be on Mount Rushmore.
I've also put up a wonderful performance from Pete's 90th birthday party at Madison Square Gardens. It's the McGarrigle family and Bruce doing "Dink's Song (Fare Thee Well) during that show.Dink's Song
From Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Concert (The Clearwater Concert) at Madison Square Garden, 5/3/09. Featuring Bruce Cockburn, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and Rufus and Martha Wainwright.
Here's Bruce's quote:
"The last time I saw Pete Seeger was in December of 2012, when we both performed in New York at a benefit in aid of freeing US political prisoner Leonard Peltier. Although age had affected his voice, he was a fountain of good energy, as he had been all his life. The first time I heard of Pete was when my Grade 3 teacher held him up as a heroic example of moral courage, following his refusal to testify before McCarthy's House UnAmerican Activities Committee. In between, he was an inspiring element of the folk music scene, and a model of how to be a responsible citizen of the planet we all share. I was lucky enough to share a stage with him on several occasions, including, among others, opening for him at a show in Montreal decades ago, protesting at the gates of Ft Bragg in Georgia against the continued existence of the notorious School of the Americas, and his monumental ninetieth birthday bash at Madison Square Gardens. He was a pro. He will be missed."
~ from Bernie Finkelstein's Facebook Page
17 January 2014 - Bruce Cockburn is doing what many dream of doing: quit his day job to become a writer.
But it's really only a sabbatical.
Cockburn, 68, is at work on his memoir and daydreaming about meeting his deadline and returning to songwriting. In the meantime he'll perform Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. at Belleville's Empire Theatre.
“Pretty sure I'll be able to think about music again,” he says through static on the phone.
He's walking around his neighbourhood San Francisco, where he now lives with his wife, M.J., and their two-year-old daughter, Iona.
With chronically self-deprecating humour – and apologies for the poor reception on his phone – Cockburn sounds relaxed but soon describes the pressure of writing his memoir. It shares a title, Pacing the Cage, with a Cockburn song and a new documentary film about him. It's set for a November release.
“Then I'll just have to go around justifying it,” he says, chuckling.
There are notes of optimism and relief in his voice as he talks about the possibility of writing music again and explains he simply hasn't had the headspace or time.
“The book's taken up all the creative energy and imagination for now.
“The book has turned out to be much more of a burden than I imagined it would.
“It started off easy because I started off writing about my early childhood. That far away in time, the memories are concise. They're sharp, they're clear, they're short, and they're not complicated by concerns for the feelings of people I don't know anymore.”
But the term “tell-all” isn't something that'll appear on the jacket.
“I'm not naming people if I feel it's going to compromise them somehow.”
Cockburn says he'd written 100 pages himself but then called for help as he “got bogged down” and struggled with the book's structure.
He recruited fellow Northern California resident Greg King as co-author. King's photos have appeared in Newsweek, Rolling Stone and Smithsonian magazines; he's also president of Siskiyou Land Conservancy.
King now writes a chapter in Cockburn's voice; the artist then tweaks the text, ensuring it still sounds like him.
“It sounds like it is me talking – and it is, in fact, me talking.”
Cockburn's also the focus of the documentary film – also called Pacing the Cage – covering his 2009 tour.
“The process of making it was fun.
“It's a bit of an ego stroke, having this camera follow you around.
“I think they caught they flavour of me on tour very well.”
He compared it to hearing your recorded voice for the first time.
“It doesn't have the kind of automatic humiliation factor that it did in the beginning.
“Then you realize how it's everybody sees you anyway.”
The only problem: “I think there's some bad hair in the film,” says Cockburn, laughing.
He says he's now much more comfortable in the spotlight, but it took years of work.
“Some people are lucky enough to have the show-off gene.
“I'm sure I have the inflammation as much as anyone, but the way I was raised, it wasn't appropriate behaviour.
“In the beginning I was very, very reluctant to be exposed at all.
“I wanted to people to come to the music. I wanted people to come to the shows. I didn't want to be a 'personality' in public. I wanted to be anonymous.
“Of course it doesn't really work like that.”
He says he'd never been called “sir” and found it “so embarrassing” to be recognized and treated as a celebrity.
“I felt like I was being drawn into this class hierarchy.”
Yet now, he joked, “if somebody doesn't do it, you're offended.
“There's a sort of insidious element to it in that way.”
Cockburn says he isn't keen to invite his fans into his private life and is “not a fan of social media.” Manager Bernie Finklestein, however, maintains his client's busy Facebook page.
Though some are billing his current tour as being in support of his 32nd album, 2011's Small Source of Comfort, Cockburn says the tour's setlists are “all over the place,” mixing old and new tunes.
His live act didn't have much of a band component until the 1980s and he's again performing alone.
And soon, he says, there may be more music to play.
“I'd love to write another song,” he says, “but when I think of ideas, I have to put them in the book, because the book has to get done.”
And in the meantime, he says, all the attention feels pretty good.
“Hey, man. It's my 15 minutes of fame,” he laughs. “It's great!”
~from Intelligencer - Cockburn's 15 Minutes of Fame, By Luke Hendry.Tickets: $57.82 at the theatre, 321 Front St., 613-969-0099 ext. 1 or Empire Theatre
15 January 2014 - Bruce contributed his voice to the song, Hellbender, by a band called Fire Dog. The song is a tribute to a salamander of the same name. You can listen to the track and purchase the music at the
Fire Dog website.
Christmas Card by McMaster University
made from The Bruce Cockburn Archives at McMaster University
12 December 2013 -
Here's a beautiful Christmas card that McMaster University Library has made from two pages out of one the many notebooks that Bruce has donated to the University.
It's made from Bruce's original hand written lyrics and drawings (which they neatly show on the card) for Christmas Song which he wrote on December 25, 1973. The tune later appears on his 1974 album Salt, Sun & Time.
The Mcmaster Library will be sending out this card to their various friends and associates. Their art department has done a wonderful job in my opinion. We thought you might like to take a look at this.
~ from Bernie Finkelstein
30 October 2013
27 October 2013 - Bruce was in Mannheim at the Alte Seilerei, good show with humour and humanity. ~Markus Starz
More videos from this show
25 October 2013 - Bruce performing a song, [Call it Democracy from "World of Wonders". He performed a solo show in Lahti, Finland on October 25, 2013. This was from the second of his two sets.
13 October 2013 - Our goal is to create a pro-active dialogue on suicide, mental health and all the issues that lead up to suicide. I don’t believe there is a more powerful way than to have legendary Canadian recording artist and internationally recognized humanitarian Bruce Cockburn join our team.
~ from Behind the scenes with Bruce Cockburn, visit this site for more information on this subject and lots more Bruce photos.
7 October 2013 - Since the release of his first studio album in 1970, Canadian folk rock artist Bruce Cockburn has gone on to release 30 additional records, has teamed up with T-Bone Burnett, was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and is the recipient of six honorary doctorates.
He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame during the 30th annual Juno Awards ceremony in 2001, and became an inductee into the Canadian Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2002.
In 2006, Cockburn became the very first recipient of the Allan Waters Humanitarian Juno Award, just one of the 11 Juno Awards he's had the honour of receiving throughout his career.
This past Saturday evening, Mr. Cockburn opened the 2013 Algoma Fall Festival season with a solo acoustic performance at the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
Included in his two-set performance were When You Give It Away, Tokyo, Night Train, Lovers in a Dangerous Time, Wondering Where the Lions Are, Pacing the Cage, Call it Democracy, Stolen Land, and All the Diamonds.
He also included the instrumental The End of All Rivers, following which a solitary audience member proclaimed, simply: "Beautiful."
"Thanks," said Cockburn in return. "I try not to suck. Sometimes without success."
It was refreshing to see that in addition to his clear and distinct voice, his dry sense of humour remains intact after 40 years in the public eye.
It was also a pleasure to observe a respectful audience engaged in the live performance experience rather than peering at the artist through a tiny cell phone or compact camera screen.
~ from SooToday.com - There are many great photos on this site, so make sure you go check them out!
3 October 2013 - Bruce Cockburn doesn't pack his bags planning to write songs about what he'll encounter on his travels.
But there are times he'll see something that spurs him to put pen to paper.
That's what happened when the veteran Canadian folksinger wrote If I Had a Rocket Launcher for his 1984 album, Stealing Fire.
The song, a minor hit in the United States, was based on Cockburn's experience visiting a refugee camp for Guatemalans in Mexico.
“I didn't go to Central America looking for material to come up with a song,” said Cockburn in a recent telephone interview from San Francisco.
“I've never gone anywhere with that intention.”
He was surprised when his record label wanted to release the five-minute track as a single.
“It shows you how much I know about audience reaction,” said Cockburn.
“The business people could see the potential in this song. Radio people were coming back to (my manager) Bernie (Finklestein) saying, 'Yeah, we'd play that.' I'm going, 'How could they possibly play that song?' But they did.”
A song from Cockburn's most recent album, Small Source of Comfort, saw a similar start.
He lobbied the federal government to travel to Afghanistan to meet with Canadian troops including his brother, a doctor. Hockey legend Guy Lafleur and rock band Finger Eleven were part of the delegation that visited Canadian troops in 2009.
During a rest stop en route to Afghanistan, Cockburn participated in a ramp ceremony for two Canadian soldiers being returned home.
"It was a very, very moving experience which is what I tried to capture in that song (Each One Lost),” he said.
“That's not an angry song. It's topical in its way because those ramp ceremonies were a feature in Canadian life for a number of years and hopefully it won't be again for awhile. It was actually a very touching thing to be part of, and an honour, to be part of it.”
Two Sault Ste. Marie natives, Master Cpl. Scott Vernelli and Sgt. John Faught, were killed in action in Afghanistan.
Cockburn took notes during his time with Canadian troops and wrote Each One Lost the day after he returned to North America.
“I just had such a vivid memory of that experience that it wanted to be a song,” he said.
“When I sing that song those feelings still come back. The scene is still very present.”
Cockburn has recorded numerous songs with a social message – from concerns about First Nations (Stolen Land, Indian Wars) to taking a jab at the International Monetary Fund (Call It Democracy).
His 1988 album, Big Circumstance, featured If a Tree Falls in the Forest about the razing of rainforests, Where the Death Squad Lives and Radium Rain.
Cockburn doesn't spend time debating if he has too many songs with a message that may weigh down listeners.
“The songs are a product of whatever I was experiencing during the time they were being written,” he said.
“Everybody's got their own idea of what they want to listen to. You can't really second guess, at least I can't anyway ... If I were trying to write something more stereotypical (as a pop song) then I would try to second guess how much they're going to like it. But that's not really my goal. I write the songs the way they seem to want to be written. I have to take my chances with how people receive them.”
Cockburn is a rare songwriter who notes the city, and year, where each of his tracks are penned on album sleeves and, now, booklets. It's record-keeping he started after noting some of his favourite poets, possibly T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas or Allen Ginsberg, making similar efforts.
“After awhile it started seeming like it mattered in some way,” said Cockburn.
“It's not critical to an understanding of the song in most cases. Once and awhile it is. I think there was some songs that come from situations that it's helpful to know that I was in that situation when I wrote that song ... It does leave a kind of trail for anybody who's interested enough to want to try to track the comings and goings of the creative force.”
Cockburn's setlists can potentially be drawn from the more than 30 albums he's released since his self-titled debut in 1970.
But his choice “automatically gets narrowed down” because he can only keep 50 to 60 songs “in a playable condition.”
“There's a lot to choose from,” said Cockburn.
“That's not such a bad thing really.”
He plans to draw largely from his last three to four albums (Small Source of Comfort, Life Short Call Now, Speechless, You've Never Seen Everything). But there'll also be material from throughout his career including God Bless the Children – the closing track from his 1973 album Night Vision.
He'll switch up one to five songs a night. If there's an encore, his song selection “can open right up.”
Cockburn still has a house near Kingston, Ont., but primarily calls San Francisco home now. He's married and has a daughter, Iona, who turns two in November.
He's eased back on touring since her birth. His appearance at Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre as part of Algoma Fall Festival is the last of a short tour of Northwestern Ontario.
“I tend to spend as much time as I can here at this point,” said Cockburn.
~ from SaultStar.com
Dryden, Ontario September 29, 2013
~from Murray Harrison
Bruce Cockburn at Prescott Park, Portsmouth NH September 1, 2013
16 August 2013 - Here are many great photos and a review of the August 16 in Golden, BC, Canada
28 August 2013 - Canadian Music Week is pleased to announce acclaimed Canadian music icon Bruce Cockburn as the 2014 recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. The award - bestowed to the singer/songwriter in recognition of his social activism and benevolent support of humanitarian interests - will be presented in Toronto on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards gala held during Canadian Music Week 2014.
"My Father Allan and I have both respected Bruce Cockburn as an artist and humanist since his early coffeehouse days," said Gary Slaight. "His philanthropy and compassion for charitable issues is commendable and something all of us should strive to emulate. Bruce has long been deserving of such an award and recognition, and we're thrilled to see his efforts honoured this year.
"It seems to me that if we accept that it's appropriate to love our neighbour, whether as people of faith or as people just trying to live well, then we all need to do whatever we can to look out for that neighbour's welfare," said Bruce Cockburn. "I'm very honoured to be chosen as the recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. I hope the existence of the award will help to inspire ever greater numbers of people in the music community to throw their support behind the many ongoing efforts to make this world better."
For more than 40 years, Bruce Cockburn has been revered as one of Canada's most prolific singer/songwriters and advocates for human rights. His politically and socially charged lyrics have continuously brought Canada's attention to causes around the world.
~from Broadway World
26 August 2013 - Toronto, ON – As celebrated Canadian artist and humanitarian visits Algonquin Theatre on August 27 and 28 in Huntsville, ON, Bruce Cockburn will join Environmental Defence in its efforts to inspire change and ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
Music legend, Cockburn has a long list of honours, including 13 Juno Awards, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and several international awards. In 1982, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer in 2002.
Believing that environmental action is the responsibility of all Canadians, Cockburn is using his worldwide success to help share Environmental Defence’s “Kick Out Toxics” message to thousands of Ontarians during his tour. Specifically, he is helping to raise awareness and funding for Environmental Defence’s campaign to kick out chemicals with links to cancer that are found in many commonly used household products in Canada.
“I'm very pleased to be able to assist Environmental Defence in raising awareness both of the concerns around environmental issues in general and of household toxins in particular, and of the value and possibility of meaningful action. Widespread public involvement in these issues is critically needed. I feel there are many individuals among my audience who understand this and who will welcome the chance to support the work of this very worthy organization," said Cockburn.
During each of the stops on Small Source Of Comfort tour, fans and concert-goers will have the opportunity to sign-up and become Environmental Defenders - monthly donors with Environmental Defence. Pledging to give monthly ensures Environmental Defence can respond quickly to critical environmental and health issues.
In 2011, a report by Statistics Canada revealed that cancer is now the leading cause of death in this country. A staggering more than 40 per cent of Canadians will experience cancer over the course of a lifetime. More and more there is evidence which demonstrates a link between environmental factors and breast and prostate cancer, and leukemia, drawing attention to the need for increased protection from exposure to carcinogens in our daily lives.
“We are honoured that Bruce Cockburn has chosen to support our work during his tour and to help raise awareness about an issue that touches the lives of thousands of Canadians,” said Sarah Winterton, acting executive director of Environmental Defence.
Every day, Canadians are exposed to toxic chemicals in their personal environment. Before breakfast, the average Canadian uses 15 personal care products with over 100 toxic ingredients.
Over time, all of these exposures to toxins add up, affecting our health and the health of our environment. Environmental Defence is educating the public on this issue and is calling upon increased transparency on ingredient labels and to ban toxic chemicals from household products. Environmental Defence relies on the generous support of Canadians to make this work possible.
For a complete list of tour dates and to purchase tickets for Small Source Of Comfort tour visit: http://brucecockburn.com/
ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca) Environmental Defence is Canada's most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
For more information, or interview requests, please contact: Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232, email@example.com
For more information about Bruce Cockburn, please contact: Bernie Finkelstein, firstname.lastname@example.org
7 August 2013 - EDMONTON - An ideal Folk Fest headliner: Bruce Cockburn. Bruce Cockburn is one of the mainstage acts, headlining Aug. 10 at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.
Writer of a handful of the great Canadian songs, advocate and adventurer to war-torn horizons worldwide, and truly one of the most intuitive guitar players still picking, 68-year-old Cockburn was eased into the recent retrospective film Pacing the Cage with testimonies and on the-spot-covers by famous figures including Sarah Harmer, Jackson Browne and Bono. As we’ve seen here live from the slope many times, the onscreen performances of standards like Wondering Where the Lions Are, If I Had a Rocket Launcher and Lovers in a Dangerous Time tensely shine with a sort of stolen hope, ephemeral little moths of songs resounding for decades due to simple, echoing beauty.
We talked to him about the cinematic portrait earlier in the year, but with Cockburn you never stay in one place for long.
Journal: “There are a lot of fantastic quotes from the movie — ‘I think we’re f---ed’ is one that really rings.”
Cockburn: “Good headline, eh?”
Journal: “I’ll pitch that one to my editor. What do you think of it?”
Cockburn: “They did a great job of capturing as much of me as I’m willing to make public, and certainly the flavour of being on the road.”
Journal: “You looked back and considered your life. At 68, did you make more of a difference than you thought you might?”
Cockburn: “I never thought about it at all. When I dropped out of music school at the end of ’65, I had no idea what I was going to be doing, whether I would be able to survive off music or not. I dove in. I just tried to follow the same kind of urges that got me started in the first place. Over time, involvement with one thing or another, songs came out that had an effect on people, and the involvement certainly had an effect on me.”
Journal: “You have people from David Suzuki to Sylvia Tyson lauding you. Bono can rattle off your lyrics from memory. It must be gratifying.”
Cockburn: “It is. It’s particularly nice people thought about it. It’s nice to be taken seriously.”
Journal: “I love the imagery of ‘the magnetic strip’s run thin’ on Pacing the Cage. It reminds me of Bilbo Baggins saying he feels like a piece of toast thinly buttered. Is your mortality in your head a bit?”
Cockburn: “It’s always kind of been there. I was never a fan, but the best thing Jim Morrison said was no one gets out of life alive. There’s the sense of the inevitable ticking closer, but I look at my dad who’s 95 and he feels the same way.”
Journal: “Did you have a relationship with your grandparents?”
Cockburn: “My grandfather on my mom’s side had been a forester, and in the days when he was a forester there was no such thing as ‘the environment.’ He had a clear conscience about what he did and no one could argue with that. He taught me a lot about appreciating the bush out on his farm outside of Ottawa, how to tell a jack pine from a white pine. He cultivated in me a love of the forest at a very young age, the relationship between us and that. By modern standards he would be considered an exploiter of the forest, but in his era it seemed unlimited. He did have a sense of responsibility. For awhile he ran what amounted to forestry policing itself, which consisted mainly of not setting accidental forest fires. (Laughs.) But between that and doing a lot of canoe tripping in Algonquin Park, I got this love of the wilderness.”
Journal: “Pierre Trudeau wrote that every Canadian should take a canoe trip.”
Cockburn: “I really think so. When I was in Mozambique at one point, we’d flown into this camp for internally displaced people, but from the air you could see the Zambezi River and I asked, ‘Do people use the river for transportation?’ ‘No. No,’ he says, and I asked why not. ‘Hippos and crocodiles.’ This is something Canada is free of — we have bears, which you’re very unlikely to run into, and mosquitoes, which you’re extremely likely to run into. Other than that …”
Journal: “There’s a central irony in If I Had a Rocket Launcher I’ve always wanted to ask you about. You’re so angry about violence you’re brought to fantasizing about blowing someone up, which is of course where war comes from in the first place. It’s a very shocking protest song.”
Cockburn: “It came out of a sense of outrage, bigger than anger. There was no appropriateness about any of it. You’re in a war (in Guatemala), you have a counter-insurgency going — but that doesn’t mean you go and strafe the refugee camps. It was subhuman behaviour and as such, warranted being stopped by any means. The people in the helicopters seemed to have forfeited their claim to humanity. I don’t believe this is true (now), but this is what it felt like: righteous anger. Once it was written, I had to wrestle with, ‘Do I sing this for anybody or not?’ I never worried about hypocrisy, I never claimed to be a peacemaker. I just think peace is better than war.”
Journal: “Do you think there’s something about humankind that just doesn’t work when there’s too many of us? We seem to be escalating the scale of a number of economic, environmental and political problems lately.”
Cockburn: “The issue of peace isn’t only about numbers, though that’s a big factor. Tribal societies have been fighting each other since Day 1. In Mozambique I came to the sense that war is the default condition of mankind. Every now and then we get these waves of calm where we can flourish as a species, make art and do well. But inevitably we descend into this chaos again. I’m not smart enough to figure out the whys and wherefores of that. (Laughs.)
Journal: “Have you ever fired a real rocket launcher?”
Cockburn: “I narrowly missed an opportunity to do that. The closest I’ve come is a machine-gun, once with an Ontario Provincial Police group that was training, and once with Canadian troops in Kandahar — not at anyone, just at paper. I was in Cambodia and only found out afterwards you can rent stuff like that and play with it, even rocket launchers. They’ll take your money, take you out to the range and show you what to do. Which I probably would have gone along with.”PREVIEW
7 August 2013 - Bruce Cockburn isn’t the type of artist who speaks to hear the sound of his own voice. He’ll shout from a mountaintop when it involves an issue he is passionate about, or a cause he supports.
But when it comes to his own music, he is content to let things happen.
That shouldn’t suggest he is closed to the idea of press and publicity. Ask him a question, and Cockburn will always give you an answer. Almost always, it’s an incredibly thoughtful one.
At this point, longtime fans of the singer-songwriter (whose career as a recording artist got underway in 1970) likely know where he stands on most matters.
But that doesn’t make Pacing the Cage, a documentary on the singer-songwriter released in June, any less enthralling.
The film unfolds like a long-form discussion on the topic of his art and influence, touching on everything from Cockburn’s politics to his religious beliefs.
Even though it was produced by his manager, Bernie Finkelstein, with Cockburn’s participation, the film doesn’t spoon-feed viewers or attempt to pull back the curtain on the complex native of Ottawa.
It simply examines him as an artist, writer and guitar player, and lets the music do the rest.
The film unfolds somewhat languidly. There is a linear narrative, to be sure, but even when Cockburn is speaking, he seems to present information about himself as a conversation starter, as opposed to a definitive answer to a specific question.
Though he is a public person who values his privacy, Cockburn said he eventually got used to the constant cameras during filming.
He was caught off-guard after seeing the final product, however.
“I don’t think there is anything in the film that I wasn’t aware of previously. But it does give you a different perspective seeing it unfolding on a screen,” he said. “It’s a little weird, actually.”
In the documentary, Cockburn, 68, says he feels as comfortable on the road as he does at home, which makes sense.
He has been performing since the mid ’60s, in various bands at first, before going solo for good in 1969. “It’s more about having a nomadic nature than anything else, I think,” he said of his endless tours.
“It’s a chicken-and-egg thing. I do what I do because it allows me to do what I do. But I would have the same affinity for travel if I had to find some other means of getting it done.”
It has been a remarkable run for Cockburn. Among his many awards and achievements are 11 Juno Awards since 1971, including his most recent one in 2012.
He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and one of the country’s most revered humanitarians, with numerous honorary doctorates and degrees, including one from the University of Victoria.
He will be back on local soil next week for a performance at Butchart Gardens, only the second in the area since his Oct. 4, 2008, appearance at the school’s Farquhar Auditorium, during which he shared the stage with retired Gen. Romeo Dallaire.
The fundraising event was for a program, developed by UVic researchers, aimed at reintegrating child soldiers into their communities.
It is one of the many causes that Cockburn (who currently lives in San Francisco with his wife and young daughter) publicly supports.
He will forever be considered a political person, in part because of the material he performs in concert. It can be exhausting carrying such a weight all the time, so Cockburn lets as much light shine into his life as possible.
“You have to laugh. It would be hard to get through life without a dark sense of humour. The crap is out there, and the crap is genuinely crappy. There’s no getting around that. I may have paid attention to that more than some people do, and it gets to me at times how bad people can be, and how thoughtless.
“But at the same time, there’s that capacity we have for laughter and joy and beauty and love, which is also just as real. It’s important to not get hung up looking at just one side of it.”
He is known for covering tough territory in his music, but there is a side to Cockburn that the public does not often see, or chooses not to recognize.
Among the talking heads feting Cockburn in Pacing the Cage — Jackson Browne, Sylvia Tyson, Bono and Michael Ondaatje, to name a few — is his friend guitarist and producer Colin Linden, who describes Cockburn near-perfectly at one point.
“He takes the music very, very seriously, and he takes the causes that he is involved in very seriously,” Linden said. “He doesn’t take himself that seriously.”
Cockburn is front and centre throughout the film, and in his typically thoughtful way, talks playfully about things that make him tick.
Often during the film, he has a wry smile on his lips, as if to suggest he is letting viewers in on a little secret.
In the end, he feels the film gives an accurate portrayal of him as a person and artist, even though he blushes at the sight of his famous friends offering accolades.
“More disturbing in a way than what might be revealed about me was the legion of interesting people saying nice things about me,” Cockburn said with a laugh.
“These people were going on and on, and it’s like, ‘Come on, guys. This is embarrassing.’ ”
~ from The Times Colonist by Mike Delvin.
1 August 2013 - There are few Canadian songmen who have embodied the very essence of troubadour to the degree that Bruce Cockburn has.
More than a household name, his concerts find their way on the bucket lists of any given Canadian folkie.
The heavily decorated, 13-time Juno Award winning, Canadian Music Hall of Famer and international humanitarian will be opening up the 14th season for the Cochrane Valley Folk Club (CVFC) on Aug. 9 at the Alliance Church at 7:30 p.m. The show is sold out and is just one of the many North American tour dates for the folk icon this summer.
Accompanied by violinist and jazz composer, Jenny Sheinman (best known for her work with the likes of Norah Jones, Bill Frisell and Lucinda Williams) and drummer, Gary Craig, the trio will be celebrating more than four decades of Cockburn’s music at the foothills church, including famous hits such as Wondering Where the Lions Are (which earned him status south of the border in 1979) and Lovers in a Dangerous Time (which became a number one hit for The Barenaked Ladies later on).
“I imagined I would become a composer for a large ensemble – that’s what I was studying to do…but then I found Bob Dylan. And then we all got excited about the music…the Stones, Jimi Hendrix…” reminisces Cockburn on his mid-sixties stint at Berklee School of Music in Boston and the early years of trying on different hats with various bands in a time when festivals were more than an overpriced weekend spent listening to the latest YouTube nominee.
Touting his 31st album, Small Source of Comfort (2011), Cockburn is still filling rooms with his artistic, rhythmic guitar, soulful blending of folk, jazz, a hint of blues and an assortment of world music garnered from years of globetrotting and playing for humanitarian aid the world over – be it brought on by his trip to a Guatemalan refugee camp in 1984 – inspiring the anthem If I Had a Rocket Launcher”; his 1998 travels to Mali, West Africa alongside filmmaker Robert Lang; or his 2009 voyage to Afghanistan to visit his brother, Capt. John Cockburn, and play music for the troops.
This sense of humanity developed in the late seventies. Cockburn blames it on a decision to simply love thy neighbour more, following his own low point after his first marriage ended.
“I took advantage of the opportunities that were offered – spiritually and physically – doors kept opening. I ended up becoming more tuned in to people…and that ties in with the basic premise to love my neighbour,” said the Ontario native and devout Christian, adding that the era he grew up in contributed to his social conscience.
“There was a consciousness of what was happening in the world and a real sense of right and wrong (instilled during childhood).”
But it was long before the world traveller began boarding planes and playing for the less fortunate that his love for world music began injecting its way into his songs.
“(In the early days) I made a point of not listening to pop music, but to allow other cultures in…I didn’t want to sound like other singer/songwriters…I’m very critical of what comes out at this point. Even though we change as people when we get older, we’re still the same…I’ll write something down and realize I said that 20 years ago.”
Viewing himself as “sort of a guitar-playing songwriter” Cockburn, who is currently entrenched in writing his memoirs, has left the bulk of the production side of his career to be handled by long-running partner, Bernie Finkelstein; the two have worked through all stages and phases of Cockburn’s musical history since 1970.
The politically-minded songwriter recognizes the challenges modern musicians face. His advice is for aspiring musicians to aside pre-conceived notions of grandeur and to play from the heart.
“It’s so fashionable to be famous now and I think that’s a mistaken premise…if you’re not prepared to stick it out and not be successful than don’t even bother,” said Cockburn, stressing the importance of integrity in music.
While the Cockburn show is sold out, visit cochranefolkclub.com to purchase tickets to future season shows.
~ from the www.cochraneeagle.com.
Photos by Brian FitzGerald from this show are archived here.
1 August 2013 - Bruce Cockburn, the legendary Canadian singer/songwriter is busy writing his first book, with the deadline for the first draft of his long-awaited spiritual memoir due near the end of last month. Cockburn was approached by a publisher a few years ago to tell the tale of his life’s work and since spirituality is a part of his everyday life, it was a natural fit.
Being a first-time author aside, Cockburn is presently on tour in support of his latest DVD documentary release “Bruce Cockburn: Pacing the Cage,” with a live performance at the Esplanade Aug. 8 with his band.
“The record business, you know back in the day, when we first starting making records we would make an album and it would come out a month later,” said Cockburn, adding there is no release date for his forthcoming book hopefully soon to be hot off the press. Quite honestly, Cockburn noted he doesn’t know how it works, as he hasn’t published a book before, so it’s all new to the seasoned veteran performer.
“Nowadays, you make a record and it takes six months to a year before they get around to putting it out the major labels,” added Cockburn. “I would expect the publishing industry to be somewhat similar.”
With writing poetry everything’s compressed, according to Cockburn, but with a book containing decades of personal reflections and anecdotes he said one must go in the opposite direction. “It’s very filled in and it’s got a lot of detail.”
Song-wise, for more than 35 years and just about as many albums, Cockburn has been no stranger to a string of hits including Lovers in a Dangerous Time, If I Had a Rocket Launcher, If a Tree Falls and Wondering Where the Lions Are. Cockburn has been involved in numerous charitable, activist and humanitarian efforts, is a winner of 13 Juno Awards, has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Recently, Cockburn donated personal archives including notebooks, musical arrangements, gold records, letters, scrapbooks, nearly 1,000 recordings and three guitars to McMaster University, where he was the recipient of an honourary doctorate in 2009.
In 2009, Cockburn also released a live solo album entitled Slice of Life the footage from the recently released documentary is from the same tour of the live album. “Of course the film has a lot more in it than the music. There are complete performances of some songs but there’s also a lot of talking. I’m quite happy with it. I think it’s an accurate portrait of a part of me that I wanted to show,” said Cockburn.
“I’m 68. I guess it’s time for a retrospect. I’ve been approached many times over the years by people that wanted to do a book on me but it always seemed like it was premature for one thing. In your forties and even in your fifties, it’s too soon for something like that,” said Cockburn.
26 July 2013 - Thank your god for Bruce Cockburn, Canada’s singer/songwriter grounded in grace. He stands in the mid-period pantheon between the past of Mitchell, Cohen, Lightfoot and the present of Plaskett, Hayden and Collett. He pairs elegance with eloquence.
Cockburn has added fire, force and vitality to the Canadian songbook. He is alone in this wide land as all the greats are. He is singular in song and singular in statement.
Cockburn travels and on his journey through life and landscape he sees, hears, documents his thoughts, emotions, reactions into the lightest of touch and the heaviest of subject. He is corporeal, weighty, profound both as a player and as a lyricist. He paces this cage wondering where the other lions are.
Spend a night with his songs, his more than 30 full-length albums and listen carefully -- to a skilled guitarist who draws from blues, jazz, folk, country and from everyone he has ever met from his world tours -- both personally and professionally. Bruce Cockburn is human, oh so human.
Pacing The Cage is a new DVD which combines a solo tour document with insights on his crafts and appearances from fans -- ordinary and celebrated. Jackson Browne, Bono and Michael Ondaatje are among those fans of the man from the nation’s capital.
Mixing Super8 footage and video technology, filmmaker Joel Goldberg has created a work worthy of Bruce Cockburn’s long history as activist and artist. The old meets new may be a tip of the chapeau to the famous album cover for Night Vision, which uses the late Alex Colville’s painting Horse and Train.
The film presents Cockburn as a man still seeking, a man unfinished. He demands perfection from himself but is forgiving of the errors of others. He still kicks at the darkness, still curses those inflicting injustice upon the earth’s indigenous peoples, still spits vitriol in spite of his spirituality. But the music he makes creates a calm in the eye of this storm we are born into.
His guitar is more powerful than any rocket launcher. His songs are as soothing as a dark ride on a night train as shadows of places yet to be explored recede into the distance. Bruce Cockburn’s music is rooted in the poignancy of those moments.
Pacing The Cage is as much a document of where Cockburn has not been as it is a document of where he has. It, as he does, stands unfinished. Pacing The Cage is just another beginning for this man of many beginnings. It is available through True North Records.
19 July 2013 - Bruce Cockburn has never shied away from the spotlight.
An Officer of the Order of Canada, 11-time Juno Award winner, Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee, singer-songwriter and master guitar player, Cockburn is not only a national icon, he’s an international activist, using his voice and celebrity to shed light on the suffering of people around the world.
Topics like politics and religion are never taboo for Cockburn, who has made it his life’s work to not only share his music, but to share the stories of people from every corner of the world from Africa to Central America.
In fact, Cockburn has put his life on the line on several occasions to travel to war zones, seeking out the story for himself, only to share the plight of the people he met through music. His hit song If I had a Rocket Launcher is just one of the many songs that came out of those trips.
“I started writing it during my first trip to Central America in ‘83 and finished it when I got back to Toronto. I visited the Guatemalan refugee camps in southern Mexico,” says Cockburn. “The government wasn’t allowing anyone to work with those refugees ... We had to sneak in. There were 100,000 refugees from some of the most brutal repression anyone’s faced anywhere. I spent a few days in two camps and, in a nutshell, the incredible dignity that they were able to maintain in the face of extreme deprivation, living on a diet of three tortillas a day per person, they managed to hold it together. That was poignant enough, but at the same time, you can hear the sounds of the Guatemalan military’s helicopters patroling the border only a couple hundred yards away and they were known to strafe the camps. The people piloting the helicopters had forfeited any claim to humanity I felt.”
Cockburn began writing If I had a Rocket Launcher when he got back to his hotel “with beds and meals. Yet, the sense of outrage was very strong. Strong enough to produce that song,” he says.
Cockburn got the chance to visit Canadian troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2009 when his brother, then a captain in the Canadian Forces was there on a six-month tour. On his way over, the plane made a stop at Camp Mirage, the Canadian Forces’ staging ground in the Middle East, and Cockburn got a front row seat to one of the most profound experiences of his life — a ramp ceremony.
“Just as we were assembling to get on the plane, a flight came in with two dead soldiers on board, so we became a circumstantial part of the ramp ceremony. It was very, very moving. The whole group was in tears. The Governor General was crying as the coffins came off, carried by the deceased’s comrades. The whole thing was so sober — completely free from hysteria or grandstanding.”
On the “Morale Mission,” Cockburn played a set for the mostly French-Canadian soldiers at the Kandahar Air Field, before going “outside the wire” for some smaller performances at Forward Operating Bases throughout the province. Instead of being afraid as most civilians would be, Cockburn was excited at the chance to get out and see more of the country and visit with troops. “We were traveling with Walter Natynczyk, so we got the best security they had” he says, referring to the former chief of defence staff. “There was a funny moment at the end of one performance,” he says. “I sang If I had a Rocket Launcher... They related to that song the best in that context and got all excited over the last line of the song. Then someone came running over ... the general was standing on my left and hands me a shoulder-fired missile launcher. So there I am holding a rocket launcher for a photo op ... but the minute I reached for the controls did he ever take it away fast.”
Two songs from Cockburn’s latest album, Small Source of Comfort, were written during that trip.[Those songs are Each One Lost and The Comets of Kandahar]
Cockburn has also travelled to Mozambique, Nepal, Cambodia, Vietman and Iraq over the years.
“Each trip has had own specific reasons, but in general it’s all about education and adventure I suppose, having grown up with the travel bug in me,” he says, crediting the writers of the Beat Generation with inspiring him to keep moving. “Ginsberg and Kerouac in particular,” he says.
Cockburn grew up in Ottawa, but left in the ‘70s and never looked back. But he still very much considers himself a proud Canadian.
Of all the accolades, awards and honours, Cockburn says it’s the Order of Canada that stands above the rest — even though he thought about sending the medal back when he heard Brian Mulroney was inducted.
“I felt like it meant something bigger than that, even though he’s a politician that I vehemently disagree with. It means a lot to me to have that recognition from the nation. It reflects my love for Canada. I don’t live there now because I have a family in San Francisco but I feel very much a Canadian. ... All the other stuff, the music business awards, they’re a nice compliment but that’s not what I do music for.”
He’s received seven honourary doctorates from Canadian universities, including UVic (Doctor of Law, 2007).
“It was funny — I got that degree at spring convocation and at the same time, my then girlfriend, who’s now my wife, was getting a law degree in New York after struggling for three long years. She found it pretty amusing.”
At 68 years old, Cockburn has found himself a father for the second time around. When he’s not touring, he’s a stay-at-home dad to 19 month-old daughter Iona.
His older daughter is now 36, and the mother of four kids of her own — four grandchildren who call his new daughter auntie.
Between practising for his upcoming tour and writing a “spiritual memoir,” due by the end of July, Cockburn has got his hands full.
“I try to practise, but with the baby it’s very difficult. I have to negotiate with God just to take a shower,” he says with a chuckle. “My wife works a regular job. I take the baby to and from day care and have a few hours to do what I can during the day — regular things like laundry, groceries and email. That will change of course. It’s a temporary condition.”
With 31 albums over four decades, Cockburn’s career as a singer-songwriter is enduring.
“If someone asks what I do, I tell them I’m a singer-songwriter, but that’s become problematic. In the beginning it seemed exactly the right term, but now people refer to Katy Perry as a singer-songwriter, so I don’t know if I can be called that or not. It’s what I do, but if I had the chance to explain further, I’d explain that the lyrics are really important and there’s a lot of guitar in what I do.”
His extensive career is the subject of Pacing the Cage, a documentary recently released by True North Records featuring appearances by songwriters Jackson Browne, Sylvia Tyson, Bono, Sarah Harmer, Colin Linden, best-selling authors Michael Ondaatje, William Young, Lt. Gen Romeo Dallaire and his manager Bernie Finkelstein.
Cockburn still spends a lot of time on the road touring and is looking forward to coming to Victoria’s Butchart Gardens Wednesday, Aug. 14 with a three-piece band.
“With a band there’s more opportunities to stretch out on some things,” he says. “There’s a lot more you can do with the jam factor.”
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and is included with general admission to the gardens. Twelve-month pass holders will get a 25 per cent discount on this special event. Capacity for the outdoor concert maxes out when the parking lot is full. Advance tickets are available online at butchartgardens.com, which essentially secures a parking spot. Those coming by bus won’t have to worry about a sell-out. There is no assigned seating. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and go early to get the best spots. Take advantage of Butchart’s gourmet picnics available by pre-order and stick around after the concert for the night illumination show — a play of light and shadow set against the backdrop of the world-renowned gardens.
~from Bruce Cockburn live Aug. 14 at Butchart Gardens
16 July 2013 - Alex Colville dies at age 92. His painting, Horse and Train, was used on the cover of Night Vision.
Here is the orginial painting:
~ from Bernie Finkelstein, "Sadly the great Canadian painter Alex Colville died on July 16, 2013. As many of you may know Alex kindly let Bruce use his painting Horse and Train for Bruce's 1973 release Night Vision. I've just dug up a picture of Bruce and Alex receiving their gold records for Night Vision in 1974. Also in the picture is yours truly Bernie Finkelstein, CBS Records president Terry Lynn and CBS marketing director Bill Bannon. This was a great day as it was Bruce's first gold record and to share it with Alex Colville was a terrific honour both both Bruce and myself."
Taken at a gold record presentation (for Night Vision) to Alex at the Windsor Arms in Toronto in 1974.
23 July 2013 - Published on Jul 23, 2013, CIRCA Feburary 26, 2013
Bruce Cockburn exists in the lofty precincts of Canadian music along with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot.
Born in Ottawa, Cockburn attended Berklee School of Music in Boston before returning to Ottawa and joining his first band The Children. Cockburn's first solo appearance came in 1967 at the Mariposa Folk Festival and three years later he released his first solo album entitled simply Bruce Cockburn.
Over the next 40 years Cockburn would release 31 albums, and with them a string of hits from Wondering Where The Lions Are to Lovers in a Dangerous Time to the politically charged If I Had a Rocket Launcher.
Described by Bono as a Zen songwriter, singer, activist and psalmist Cockburn continues to bring his political and spiritual sensibilities to his music.
Ken Rockburn caught up with Bruce Cockburn while on tour in Annapolis, Maryland.