-- Burden Of The Angel/Beast --
20 November 1992. Halton Hills, Ontario, Canada.

Found on:

Dart to the Heart (1994)

From the lying mirror to the movement of stars
Everybody's looking for who they are
Those who know don't have the words to tell
And the ones with the words don't know too well


Could be the famine
Could be the feast
Could be the pusher
Could be the priest
Always ourselves we love the least
That's the burden of the angel/beast

Birds of paradise -- birds of prey
Here tomorrow, gone today
Cross my forehead, cross my palm
Don't cross me or I'll do you harm


We go crying, we come laughing
Never understand the time we're passing
Kill for money, die for love
Whatever was God thinking of?


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

  • 1994: "It's an observation of an aspect of the human condition. The inability to grasp where we are at any given moment and go with it. Which is unfortunately too common a problem." - from "Closer to the Light with Bruce Cockburn" by Paul Zollo; SongTalk, vol. 4, issue 2, 1994. Submitted by Rob Caldwell.

  • 22 November 1994: [At the philosophic core of "Dart to the Heart" is a song about how humans tend to operate like animals in their worst moments, then show godly potential in their best. Cockburn calls it "Burden of the Angel/Beast," and says he isn't sure himself whether the angelic or the beastly occupies the greater part of human nature.] "Today, I tend to think it's the latter, but it varies from day to day. It depends on the mood and what you've just encountered. I think we're just stuck with who we are, and [human nature] is always going to have both sides. I don't think we're redeemable in that sense. "I think we are redeemed spiritually but in terms of our earthly existence, [that beastly potential] is always there, no matter how much you try to let yourself do good. We are the weird animals we are, and we seem to be straddling this gap with one foot in the animal world entirely and the other foot in something we've never been able to entirely define for ourselves." - from "Bruce Cockburn: Interior Motive" by Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times, November 22, 1994. Submitted by Nigel Parry.

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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.