-- All The Diamonds --
Stockholm. 25 July 1973.

Found on:

Salt, Sun and Time (1974)

Circles in the Stream (1977)

Mummy Dust (1981)

Waiting for a Miracle (1987)

Rumours of Glory - box set Disc 2 (2014) [compilation album]

Greatest Hits (1970-2020) (2021) [compilation album]

All the diamonds in this world
That mean anything to me
Are conjured up by wind and sunlight
Sparkling on the sea

I ran aground in a harbour town
Lost the taste for being free
Thank God He sent some gull-chased ship
To carry me to sea

Two thousand years and half a world away
Dying trees still grow greener when you pray

Silver scales flash bright and fade
In reeds along the shore
Like a pearl in sea of liquid jade
His ship comes shining
Like a crystal swan in a sky of suns
His ship comes shining.

Known comments by Bruce Cockburn about this song, by date:

  • 30/31 August 1979

    I'm a songwriter by profession and a performer. And I'm also a Christian and the two have not always gone side by side. I was a songwriter before I was a Christian. I have a lot of songs that are specifically Christian in their verbal content and alot of them that are less specially so -- or at least less easily identified as that which causes some people concern because they think that I, or any Christian artist should be putting out the word all the time in highly discernible fashion.

    This is a song I wrote the day after I actually took a look at myself and realized that I was a Christian in fact -- which I guess, is a kind of conversion. It was a very long term, slow one, not the light and voice from heaven like St. Paul. But when it finally was over, I had to look at my life and either commit myself to it or pass. Fortunately I was invited to commit myself to it and I wrote this song right after. It was written in Stockholm. It's called All the Diamonds in the World.

    -- from Bruce Cockburn: Live at Hastings Lake, Alberta, Lutheran Student Movement National Study Conference. Recorded 30 & 31 August 1979. Transcribed by Stephen Larson. Submitted by Nigel Parry.

  • 1986

    "A boat ride through the Stockholm archipelago - barren islands, sun on waves - the balance tipping toward a commitment to Christ. The words seemed to want a church-like music, so I used more chords than usual. It must have worked. My friend, Paul Stoddart, the Vancouver poet, would-be rounder and confirmed agnostic exclaimed on first hearing it, "It sounds like a hymn!" "

    - from "All The Diamonds" songbook, edited by Arthur McGregor, OFC Publications 1986. Submitted by Rob Caldwell.

  • 3 April 1992

    Biographical accounts of Cockburn's life tend to use such words as "fundamentalist" and "mystic" to describe his beliefs. But it seemed a good idea to let the man himself explain what he believes, since, especially in the U.S., such words are highly charged.

    They sure are," Cockburn said with a laugh before discussing his faith. "I became a Christian in 1974, officially, to myself," he explained. "Before that, I was kind of heading that way, but I didn't perceive it as a real personal involvement requiring any kind of commitment until after a certain point in the summer of '74, and then I started writing about it. The song 'All the Diamonds in the World' was the song that sort of marked that turning point. Like anything else that's new, just like Alcoholics Anonymous or any other kind of thing where you discover some great new thing, you want to go out and tell everybody about it, whether they want to hear it or not. I was suffering from that to a certain extent, not so much in the songs, but in the way I would present myself to people in interviews or onstage to a degree.

    - from "Bruce Cockburn - A Burning Light and All the Rest" by William Ruhlmann, Goldmine magazine, 3 April 1992. Anonymous submission.

  • 4 November 2006
    Bruce commented at the November 4th, 2006 concert at the McPherson Playhouse in Victoria, BC, that All the Diamonds is his father's favorite song that he's written.

    - from an anonymous concert attendee.

  • 15 June 2010

    On Wednesday (16 June 2010) at Massey Hall, iconic recording artist Bruce Cockburn and guest stars will perform some of his best-known material. Cockburn talks over the set list with Brad Wheeler.

    The image-laden song from 1973 was written in Stockholm on the day after Cockburn realized he was a Christian. He comments now on Christianity, and how he views the song so many years later.

    "Itís emotional, in a way. It marks a signal moment in my life. Itís there. But I have to think when I perform it now, because I donít want to be associated with certain aspects of the Christian culture and tradition. Iím not so inclined to think of the imagery of what we associate with Christianity Ė the guy on the cross with the beard. Itís not so much that, as it is about what we call the Holy Spirit."

    - from Bruce Cockburn Set for Luminato Honours - 40 Years of songs to Live By by Brad Wheeler.

  • 2017 - "My first overtly Christian song. It was when I started calling myself a Christian. I'd become that, in everything but the commitment. And having made the commitment, it was necessary to use the term. This song commemorates that commitment. Because of the lyrical content, the musical style was self-consciously hymn-like. The chord changes were quite churchy, which was quite different for me then, and remains so." - from Bruce Cockburn - a life in seven songs by Brad Wheeler - Globe and Mail. (Inteview date: September 11, 2017)

  • 2021 - A crisis in a relationship, the recognition of the need for help beyond my own resourcees..the glint and shimmer of sun hitting the waters of the Stockholm archipelago.."

    ~ from the liner notes of Greatest Hits (1970-2020)

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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.