-- Career: Christian Music Scene --
This page archives comments by Bruce Cockburn on the Christian Music scene.
18 March 1988 - Commenting on how his music is percieved by the christian music scene
Cockburn has a reputation as some sort of mystic Christian pop star. Typically,
the singer shrugs off the tag --
BC: "I was, and am, a Christian; 'mystic' is a term that gets thrown around rather loosely," he says -- but admits to having been fascinated by the response it earned him.
"The record company we were with back then was trying to promote my stuff in
the secular market and being told it was too Christian, and was then going
to the Christian market and being told it wasn't Christian enough," he laughs.
"but I did acquire a lot of listeners who were Christian also, because
there's great hunger for some thinking music in that scene. People who are
reluctant to get to involved in 'secular' music are faced with having to
listen to a lot of drivel, mostly, and they know that. Or some of them know
"So when somebody like me comes along offering music with a little broader
perspective to it, but still Christian, they like it."
"Some of them got a little nervous when I started talking about politics,"
he adds, "because you're not supposed to do that if you're a certain type of
Christian -- especially if you're a songwriter. I got a lot of letters from
people, especially after the album Stealing Fire,' and there were a lot of people in the Christian scene who found If I Had A Rocket Launcher very
difficult. Because they weren't used to thinking about those things.
"There were a lot of Christians who did understand it, the more liberal, for
want of a better word, turn of mind," he points out. Nonetheless, "A lot of
people wrote letters urging me, exhorting me, not to lose the way. At no
point was I threatened with excommunication, but there was definitely a kind
of standing back and going, 'What is this?' on the part of a lot of people."
Cockburn may upset even more listeners with one of his new songs.
Gospel Of Bondage, which, he says, is "addressed to the so-called Christian right in America." But he doesn't worry. "I am a Christian songwriter," he says. "I just don't fit the Christian music scene."
-- from "The Social Commentaries of Bruce Cockburn" by J.D. Considine, Sun Pop Music Critic, Baltimore Sun, March 18, 1988.
Q: Have you paid a price for being a Christian in the middle of a very secular
BC: Possibly, I donít really know. Certainly there were some listeners that
expressed some consternation when I first announced myself as a Christian.
But I guess the ones that really got bothered by it stopped buying my
records; and other people started buying them for the same reason.
There are a lot of people on the Christian scene who are not satisfied with
the limitations of the art thatís offered. Itís been a long time since the
Church supported artists like Heironymous Bosch. You get this blandness, and
people get fed up with the blandness, and I was, I guess, a little breath of
fresh air for some of those people. But then when I became less overtly
Christian in the songs and started dealing with the world more, some of them
got upset and dropped by the wayside. I remember getting an angry letter from
somebody because I put "shit" in a song. How could I be a Christian and use
that language? Well, sorry, but you have some thinking to do, honey. I get
tired of talking about Christianity per se, this is not directed at you but
Iíve been interviewed about it a lot, and in England, for instance, where I
first got introduced to an English audience through a Christian arts festival
called the Greenbelt Festival it has been an impediment to be thought of as a
Christian because I donít get on the radio. They think: Oh, yeah, thatís
that Christian artist. They donít listen to what I do.
BC: Yeah. So in England I didnít get listened to by anybody who wasnít sort of
around the Christian scene, or at least not very many. But thatís the only
place itís ever been a problem. Otherwise there was as much give as there was
take. And over the years the people who have continued to listen to me from
the beginning, IĎm really grateful for, because theyíve been on a funny
journey. Theyíve been through some weird changes and put up with it, at
least, and presumably more than that, in order to stay interested.
-- from "The Cockburn Transcripts", Saturday Night-Online, March 2001.
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This page is part of The Cockburn Project, a unique website that exists to document the work of Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn. The Project archives self-commentary by Cockburn on his songs and music, and supplements this core part of the website with news, tour dates, and other current information.