-- Personal: Relationships --
This page archives comments by Bruce Cockburn on his personal relationships.
January/February 1985 - Commenting on his marriage and children
[Interviewer is Eunice Amarantides]
EA: In your last three albums, you paint the darkness of civilization around
you. The only bright spots seem to be horizontal relationships with the
people next to you -- or a perpendicular relationship with God.
BC: That seems right. Unfortunately, I made a mistake with the relationship
that I started out with, my marriage relationship. I made the mistake a lot
of people make. I took it for granted. You grow enough just to get moving
and then you stop. So now I'm very conscious of avoiding that in all areas. I
certainly feel this artistically as well. You could say Mao comes in here.
His cultural revolution got out of hand in a horrible way, but he seemed
very much on the mark in terms of recognizing that countries and people need
shaking up. The minute you start living through habit is the minute things
go wrong. You lose your forward momentum. In a way, it was a great blessing
that my marriage did end. It was very painful, but everyone is better off for it.
Now I have to avoid making a trip out of that constant change thing.
EA: Do you have any kids?
BC: Yes. I have an eight-year-old daughter. She was my one ongoing worry
about the break-up of the marriage. But she seems to be doing O.K. She lives with
her mom, and I see her quite regularly.
-- from "Singing in a Dangerous Time" by Eunice Amarantides, TheOtherSide, p.68,
January/February 1985, © 1987 TheOtherSide.
19 December 1993 - Commenting on the inspiration for the Christmas album
He gave me that book when I was two. He got a set of Christmas cards, and
they were, each card had a different carol in it, music and lyrics. And he
decided that because I was so good at learning tunes at this early age that
he'd make me a book of Christmas carols, and he made it out of these
Christmas cards. And he used one of the card faces as the front of the book
and he put it together with loose leaf rings, and it was part of my
Christmas present that year, I guess. I've had it ever since, and it was the source
of, I suppose, at least half the songs on the record.
[singing] Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.
[speaking] I've always loved the music that I grew up with, and then to me, as a Christian, there's obviously a significance to that season that is not shared by everyone, but it's that
significance that has been part of the motivating factor for me wanting to
record that music, because obviously the spiritual side of Christmas is the
least apparent aspect of it, most of the time these days. But growing up,
while I didn't grow up in a religious family or anything, Christmas was
still thought of as Christmas in those days, it wasn't `The Holiday.' There was
still an element of the spiritual side of it that was remembered, and I
suppose for a lot of people, and probably still, Christmas was a time when
people who don't spend much time thinking about spiritual matters, are
reminded that maybe they should once in a while and actually do think some
serious thoughts for a week or two. So all of that kind of came into it,
and, as I said, growing up with the music and growing up with Christmas as a fun
thing as a kid, which I suppose is also an experience that's not shared by
everyone. I have one friend, when I said I was doing a Christmas album, he
said, `Well, don't talk to me about it. My memory of Christmas is hiding
under the kitchen table while Mom and Dad slugged it out.' You know, so not
everybody has those warm fuzzy recollections that we like to think go with
Christmas, but I do, and that was kind of part of it, too.
[singing] Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin mother -
-- from "Revisiting Traditional Carols with Bruce Cockburn" by Liane Hansen,
Weekend Edition, National Public Radio, December 19, 1993.
January 2000 - Commenting on sex, love, and humanity
[Interviewer is Joseph Roberts.]
Joseph Roberts: So in this time of sexually transmitted diseases and the
threat of AIDS it's as if we've abducted our sexuality, one of the last
remaining places where we can connect with our naturalness.
BC: You've got to think hard about it now, but somewhere in this
lies the key to the connection between sex and spirit and every culture's
particular quirks about sex. The need to think so hard about who you're
going to be intimate with and under what circumstances and whether or not you
want to include the use of condoms to make the sexual thing happen.
Okay, if you're just talking about getting off a lot of people are
prone to do that. Those are not really big questions. But if you're
thinking from the point of view of the human experience and what it means to
a person in a deep way then these thing do become important.
Sometimes when I think about these kinds of things I actually almost
convince myself that humanity is growing. I have in the past spent a lot of
time feeling that humanity is not really evolving the way some people like to
think it is and we've just been going over the same ground on a kind of
spiral but with more stuff each time.
But, sometimes I get glimpses that make it look as though maybe there
really is a maturing going on and human society is having to look around at
itself in a different way. If we don't fall prey to the childhood diseases
of nuclear war and environment destruction we actually may evolve into
something better than we now are.
JR: I'm thinking about how I personally have evolved from just wanting to get
laid to a place where I don't really want to have sex unless it's sacred and
there's an element of beauty. The sacredness of it reconnects me with the
whole universe and the doors of creativity flow open and I think that's a
gift we all carry in ourselves. A lot of people are afraid to open that door
because of all the other associations they have with it.
BC: Yes. And maybe because it's going to ask something of them. They
instinctively know that once you open that door you're not going to be
satisfied unless you're willing to give it its due. I think a lot of us
would rather just not know the world is bigger than our immediate concerns.
JR: It's bigger than both of us, bigger than the music or publishing
industry. I was in love when your album High Winds White Sky came out. I was released from the limited vision of what I had up to that time believed love to be. It was much, much more than I ever imagined.
There seems to be a depth of intimacy and connection way back in
Sunwheel Dance and now a track, The Embers of Eden CD, although it's packaged
BC: They are related to love. When I was writing the early songs I was a lot
less aware than I am now of where things were coming from. I just wrote
things when the words sounded right.
There were feelings that went into it that were sort of recognized but
part of developing the craft of writing and part of growing as a human, has
meant a greater precision about what I'm feeling and thinking and how I'm
expressing it. It's a real different process now.
Embers of Eden is a lot more grounded in history than High Winds White Sky was. The chorus part of Embers came from what can be seen from orbit, on the surface of the earth. One of the early astronauts said that the only things of human origin that you could make out from orbit were the Great Wall of China and the smoke from burning rainforests. That was such a
powerful image it stayed with me and eventually came out in a personal use
that had nothing to do with rainforests or the Great Wall of China. It was a
figurative use of that image.
-- from "Conversations with Bruce Cockburn", Common Ground, January, 2000, interviewed by Joseph Roberts. Submitted by Audrey Pearson.
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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.