Cockburn reaches within in songwriting
By David Steinberg / For the Journal

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8 March 2013 - Canadian folk singer Bruce Cockburn makes a stop at the KiMo Theatre on Tuesday.

Some of you may remember President Nixon’s resignation from office in 1974 during the Watergate scandal and his declaration, “I am not a crook.”

Bruce Cockburn, one of Canada’s most esteemed folk singers, may have found a path of redemption for the disgraced Nixon. In Cockburn’s song Call Me Rose, Nixon – he died in 1994 – returns to Earth as a single mother of two living in the projects.

The song is on his 2011 CD, Small Source of Comfort, and has Nixon singing, “I was the boss of bosses the last time around/I lived by cunning and ambition unbound/the suckers said they’d stand behind me right or wrong/as if they thought that hubris was the mark of the strong…”

Cockburn said he woke up one morning with that song in his head, though songwriting is usually a more deliberate process for him.

“I was at a loss to explain to myself where it came from. There it was. I couldn’t ignore it,” he said in a phone interview from Ponte Vedra, Fla.

Cockburn said the song relates to his recollection of a media campaign years ago in the United States to rehabilitate Nixon’s image.

“For about a month every time you’d turn on the TV you’d hear that Nixon was misunderstood and that he was one of the greatest presidents of the 20th century,” he said.

The song also comes out of Cockburn’s own “inner sorting out of issues with regard to male power.” Nixon, he said, had his good points and bad points as a person and a president.

“He famously got caught. He seemed like a suitable figure for the song to talk about,” Cockburn said.

The album also has songs dealing with other themes. There’s a lament Each One Lost about two Canadian soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan. Cockburn witnessed their coffins being carried on a tarmac to a waiting plane.

Another song, the instrumental, The Comets of Kandahar reflects on the thrilling sight of jet fighters taking off in the dark.

For his Tuesday, March 12 KiMo Theatre concert, Cockburn will bring six- and 12-string guitars, a dobro, a dulcimer and maybe a charango, an Andean stringed instrument.

Besides touring, he is writing the long-overdue first draft of a memoir and helping to care for his 15-month-old daughter.

~from The Albuquerque Journal, Cockburn reaches within in songwriting - By David Steinberg

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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.