Bruce Cockburn
by John Barry, Poughkeepsie Journal

News Index

12 May 2011 -

A recent press release issued on Bruce Cockburn’s new album really caught my attention because it mentioned his mother:

"Bruce Cockburn has always been a restless spirit. Over the course of four decades, the celebrated Canadian artist has traveled to the corners of the earth out of humanitarian concerns—often to trouble spots experiencing events that have led to some of his most memorable songs. Going up against chaos, even if it involves grave risks, can be necessary to get closer to the truth.

'My mother once said that I must have a death wish, always going to what she called ‘those awful places," laughs Cockburn. 'I don’t think of it that way. I make these trips partly because I want to see things for myself and partly out of my own sense of adventure.'"

So I had the opportunity to speak with Bruce a couple weeks ago, about his new album, Small Source of Comfort, and my first question was about his mother.

Bruce Cockburn on his parents:

- His mother died last summer at 88. Up until 87 she was playing tennis and curling. On curling, Bruce said, "I never wanted to do it but she tried hard to get me to."

Cockburn’s mom and dad played piano and his father still does: "He would play by ear in the key of F. 30s and 40s tunes he grew up with. He was stuck in the key of F. My mother would play piano but she played light classical pieces. She only played from the music. Between the two of them, they definitely were musical in their own way. When I was really little, we used to sing together in the car. As we got to be more numerous and older, my parents tried singing and we’d be groaning in the back seat. After a while, they just gave up. They were very supportive of my attempts at music. It was my mum really who kept pushing me. I started guitar at 14. I just saw myself as a guitar playe. I couldn’t imagine myself as a singer. She said, "You know, people who play guitar sing."

On Gifts, from his new album, Small Source of Comfort, which Cockburn wrote years ago but dusted off for his latest release, he said, "There are a wholel lot of songs sitting around I wrote in the 60s that I hope no one gets to hear."

The first song Bruce remembers writing, is, It’s Not You Who’s Leaving Cause Baby I’m Heaving You Out.

He said it was typical of 1964 but added, "It’s not a very good one."

~from, by John Barry. 12 May 2011.

News 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.