ISSUES:
-- Political Issues: Censorship --

Issues Index


Introduction:

This page archives comments by Bruce Cockburn on censorship.


  • March 1987 - Commenting on censorship

    "Call it Democracy", a thumbnail history of U.S. economic exploitation in underdeveloped countries, is remarkable for reasons beyond its ../lyrics or music -- it was one of the first songs to bear the mark of the censor, in accordance with last year's agreement between the recording industry and pro-censorship forces led by the Parents Music Resource Center. On the first pressing of the jacket of the American version of the record, the lyric was surrounded by a black border, and the lines "You don't really give a flying fuck," and "IMF dirty MF" are highlighted in yellow.

    "I think it's really stupid, and it's tempting to believe there's a connection (between the political content of recent music and people wanting to censor it)," he says. "But I haven't seen any real evidence of that effect. The connection may go the other way, too. When you get very uptight mentality trying to enforce itself on the rest of the population, people are driven to react."

    (Cockburn's record label agreed the yellow highlighting was over the top, and eliminated it from later pressings. Ironically, that half-hearted warning may make early copies of "World of Wonders" collector's items.)

    "Personally, I think the whole moral majority, hard-right, virulent anti-communist thinking that's centered around America First is pathological and dangerous. I never sat down and said, "I have to write songs to counter what these other people are saying." But one of the reasons I stopped making such a public issue of being a Christian has to do with not wanting to be identified with that version of fundamentalism."
    -- from "Bruce Cockburn - A Voice Singing in the Wilderness" By Steve Perry, Musician Magazine, March 1987.


  • 3 April 1992 - Commenting on censoring World Of Wonders

    "You know who noticed that was the American record company," Cockburn said, "'cause that came out when the whole Tipper Gore thing was really peaking [the Parent's Music Resource Center's campaign against x-rated lyrics], and they were talking about stickering records and everything, and I can't remember now even who the independent label we were dealing with was [Gold Mountain], let alone which was its major distributor [MCA]. But that big label, anyway, was determined that there should be a sticker on that record or else we had to print the lyrics on the back of the record [jacket], and they did [print the lyrics], and they highlighted in yellow [the potentially offending lines]!"

    "It was just such absolute nonsense. I mean we were laughing about it, except that it was kind of tasteless. But it was such a joke. They got over that. I guess that people just realized that by doing this they were aggravating the situation, if anything. But it's just such a load of crap. My mother didn't like it. She said, "Did you have to use that word?"
    -- from "Bruce Cockburn-A Burning Light and All the Rest', Goldmine, by William Ruhlmann,April 3, 1992, 1992 Krause Publications.


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    Issues Index

    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.