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11 December 1999 -- Colorado rock station KBCO, 97.3, hosted Bruce Cockburn in their Studio C for some live songs and an interview on December 8th. KBCO also sponsored a Cockburn gig the following night at the Gothic Theatre in Denver with Tori Amos.

KCBO's website has some very interesting features including a special section of Jeff Uhrlaub's black and white photography of guest appearances in Studio C. Collectors will be interested to know that both the photos of Cockburn in this article (presumably from his KBCO appearance earlier in the year), as well as a wide selection of photos of other performers can be ordered from Jeff via this page on KBCO's website.

KBCO releases "Studio C" compilation albums which have included Bruce's work. The second of their annually released albums (pictured right) has a version of Kit Carson on it. KBCO has just released their 11th annual volume but have not posted the track listing on their website as of yet. However, Bruce performed live in Studio C earlier this year, and may have made it onto this year's CD.

The interview:

KBCO: Greetings! We are live in Studio C with BC who is in town to play our holiday concert tomorrow night with Tori Amos and we thank him for that. The new release is called Breakfast in New Orleans... Dinner in Timbuktu and I was wondering if you'd be kind enough to play something for us.

BC: I'd be more than happy to. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the show tomorrow, too. Breakfast in New Orleans... Dinner in Timbuktu. This is the Breakfast in New Orleans Part. This is 'When You Give It Away'

[Plays 'When You Give It Away']

KBCO: Nicely done! Your lyrics always amaze me. Breakfast in New Orleans... Dinner in Timbuktu is your 25th release. With so many albums how do you keep it fresh? Do you ever get into a lyrical or musical rut? It's got to be hard. It's got to be difficult.

BC: Well, I'm saved from getting into a musical rut by the infrequency with which I write. I mean, there's 25 albums, but they happened over a long time. So, there's enough space in between songs and enough life experience - that's really what triggers the writing process. I have to be a little bit vigilant about repeating myself because I'm still the same person I was when I started out, although I know a lot more about a lot more things. A lot of the feelings are still there, right, so there are some times that you do catch yourself saying something that's been said before. But so far I've been lucky enough to avoid the worst excesses of that sort of thing.

KBCO: You're extremely popular in Europe and Australia. In Canada you have 20 gold or platinum albums and 10 Juno awards. Do you ever feel under appreciated in the States?

BC: Maybe in certain parts of the States. There's a certain patch of the Midwest where I feel somewhat under appreciated. I define it basically in terms of where I can tour and where I can't - Where there are gigs to be had and people won't come out to shows. There are not many places in the US like that anymore. In terms of radio play, the AAA format has been very good to me over the last few years particularly, so no complaints there.

KBCO: We love to have you here. Can you play another song for us?

BC: I'd be happy to. Coincidentally, this is also from the new album. (laughs) It has a kind of New Orleans connection although it's a bit of a tenuous one. I've got to change tuning for this, but only a little. Back in the early days of Jazz which was of course born in the New Orleans area, among the legendary practitioners of the music of the time were Jelly Roll Morton and Buddy Bolden. Jelly Roll actually wrote a song back then called 'Buddy Bolden's Blues'. And in 'Buddy Bolden's Blues', he says, 'I thought I heard Buddy Bolden shout, ''open up that window, let the bad air out!'' and what they're talking about was the literally funky air of the whore houses in which they were obliged to play that music. And it struck me at one point that perhaps there was a need for that sentiment to be expressed again because of what one might call the 'brothelization' of north American politics - not just in your country. So I took some liberties with Jelly Roll's Idea, and applied it to some other things as well.

[plays 'Let The Bad Air Out']

Above: Bruce Cockburn at KBCO. Photo by Jeff Uhrlaub.
Click to access Jeff's site and inquire about ordering this or other photos of Cockburn.

KBCO: I've always admired you because musically you've spent a lot of time put a lot of your effort into environmental causes and political causes in the'80's. I know you took a trip to Central America and Mexico which influenced a lot of your music. You've been doing some benefits on the west coast. I know that you performed in Kosovo in September and you were invited to Vietnam by the Vietnam Veterans of America. Can you talk about that?

BC: Which one of those things would you like me to talk about?

KBCO: I believe it was to ban land mines.

BC: There's a connection among several of the things that you mentioned. That connection is the issue of land mines. We did a series of shows in California - we being EmmyLou Harris, who organized this thing, and Steve Earl - they were on all of the shows, I was in on three of them. The other sort of revolving cast included John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Patty Griffin, a host of others - really good people, good shows, and generated quite a bit of public interest in the issue of land mines.

If you live in North America, which we do, you don't tend to run across those things, unless you're in the military and have done service overseas. But when you travel in countries where land mines are a problem, you can't ignore it. At the very least, you're limited in terms of the places you can go because these things are sitting there in the ground waiting to get you. People who live there, of course, don't have the luxury of not going where they live, so they go out in the woods to gather firewood or fruit to eat or the kids go out to herd cattle or other farm animals or whatever and they hit mines and they blow up.

And of course, they don't blow up dead, they survive the encounter and they're missing pieces at that point and they're condemned to a life of suffering and a life of being a burden to their families and on the social systems that they're a part of. It's a terrible and relatively easily solve-able problem in the world. It's a plague not unlike AIDS in a way. It's a 20th century creation. The cure, unlike AIDS, is very easily in sight. It's just a matter of people deciding that we don't need them any more.

A lot of countries have made that decision - there's 136 or 137 countries that are signatory to an international treaty banning the manufacture and the use of land mines. Unfortunately the US isn't one of those countries. So the purpose of doing shows like the ones we just did is to help get people aware of the need to help get the US involved in that. To be fair, to keep it in perspective, the US is doing good work in terms 'de-mining' of taking the mines out of the ground that are there, and there's about 100,000,000 of those, so there's a lot of work to be done in that department.

KBCO: I just want to say thanks and that your efforts don't go unnoticed. Now tomorrow's show will be a holiday show and I was told that perhaps you could do a Christmas song for us.

BC: Well I don't have my Christmas repertoire together but when I did the Christmas album I did a few years ago, I came up with a version of 'We Three Kings' that was supposed to include the recitation of the T.S. Elliot poem 'Journey of the Magi', because I never liked the lyrics of 'We Three Kings' - the Christmas carol. It's a beautiful tune with some of the suckiest lyrics ever written (laughs) (clears throat) in my humble opinion.

So I had this instrumental version of it, and we actually did a version of it with Lou Reed reading the poem on one of the Christmas radio shows that I did. I don't know the poem well enough to recite it, so I'll have to give you the instrumental version without that.

The reason it didn't end up on the Christmas Album is that T.S. Elliot's heirs or successors didn't feel that his poetry would be well served being on a 'pop' record. So they didn't want me to use it. But they were conveniently ignoring 'CATS' which is all T.S. Elliot's poetry. But sour grapes will get you nowhere.

[plays 'We Three Kings']

KBCO: I understand that you made a deal with the devil (our Studio C producer) to do a special request. Would you like to set that up for us?

BC: This is an old song which is why i suppose it is something like a deal with the devil but hardly that, given the nature of the song. It's a song I sort of let lie fallow for quite a while but I had another special request to do it on Italian TV earlier this year. It ended up in the soundtrack of an Italian film and there was the need to go and to it on TV. So I had to learn it again and I've been doing it now and again since, and I'm kind of glad because I feel pretty good about. This is called 'Lord of the Starfields'

[plays 'Lord of the Starfields']

Special thanks to Philip Jongejan for this transcript, who has been a BC fan since he "was a kid, living in Toronto in the 70's." Philip owns his own company - North End Sound - which specialises in concert sound in the Denver, Colorado area, arranging sound systems for local acts in festival and corporate settings and the occasional big name gigs, which have included Don Maclean, the Association, and Bill Halley & the Comets.

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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.