Editor's Note: This old song was brought out from the archives for the tour following the release of Cockburn's September 1999 album, Breakfast In New Orleans, Dinner In Timbuktu.
15 February 2000
"He said the song was inspired by a event that happened in the Middle Ages in Northern Europe called the "Feast of Fools" where the social order was allowed to be reversed, at least for the day. The village idiot or the least fortunate member of the village was paraded around with a fake crown on his head, and pelted with cabbages and less edible projectiles (my polite rephrasing of Bruce's actual noun) and everyone could tell the King where to go (also my polite rephrasing) without getting impaled on a stake. The aristocracy probably hid out for the day, but they tolerated this safety valve because they knew it was necessary. It was also a way of dealing with things without anyone getting killed. The song ends on a note of hope, after all. He wrote the song in  but he said it now seemed relevant again, and in a way that it wasn't when he first wrote it. Bruce said several times that we are going from this age of "neo-liberalism" to this age of "neo-feudalism" with respect to the world economic order. When he said that it worth looking at what happened in the Middle Ages, where they had that same kind of social structure."
- Reported by Audrey Pearson on Humans, 15 February 2000.
1 March 2000
Introducing the song at his March 1 concert at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Bruce said that he decided to play it again after many years because he feels its message still rings true "as we've gone from neo-conservatism to neo-liberalism to neo-feudalism." He also said "it's about turning things upside down...in the Biblical sense." [Editor adds: At an earlier gig in Tucson, BC cited the "the meek will inherit the earth" verse from the Bible.]
- Submitted by Dave Hedenstrom
25 March 2000
[After mentioning the inspiration for the song] "I actually got a glimpse of something that may have resembled the Feast of Fools without the election [of the King of the Fools] part.
It happened a few years ago when we played a festival in Denmark during the summer in the midnight sun. The midnight sun in Denmark is not exactly blazing in the sky, but it never really gets dark; it just gets to be this mysterious
twilight for several hours.
This was a festival in sort of an extremely large walled enclosure containing about ninety thousand people. And ninety thousand people parading about over the same piece of grass for days produced lots of mud, and there was nowhere to go and everybody was really, really drunk. Ninety thousand really, really, really drunk people urinating in the mud and having sex in the same mud. It was remarkable.
I suspect the Feast of Fools probably looked a little bit like that without such numbers. But along with all the mud, drunkenness and everything else, in the image of "Feast of Fools" there's something that resonates with the meek
inheriting the Earth and those kinds of concepts--something deep and
spiritual--and it's in that light or at least from that place that the song
- from a live performance at Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada; 25 March 2000.
Submitted by David Macklin
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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.