-- Indian Wars --
25 January 1990. Toronto, Canada.

Found on:

Nothing But A Burning Light (1991)

Rumours of Glory - box set Disc 5 (2014) [compilation album]

Out in the desert where the wind never stops
A few simple people try to grow a few crops
Trying to maintain a life and a home
On land that was theirs before the Romans thought of Rome

A few dozen survivors, ragged but proud
With a few woolly sheep, under gathering cloud
It's never been easy, or free from strife
But the pulse of the land is the pulse of their life

You thought it was over but it's just like before
Will there never be an end to the Indian wars?

It's not breech-loading rifles and wholesale slaughter
It's kickbacks and thugs and diverted water
Treaties get signed and the papers change hands
But they might as well draft these agreements in sand

Noble Savage on the cinema screen
An Indian's good when he cannot be seen
And the so-called white so-called race
Digs for itself a pit of disgrace

You thought it was over but it's just like before
Will there never be an end to the Indian wars?

  • Song notes: Musicians

  • Bruce Cockburn - Acoustic Guitar and Vocals
    Jackson Browne - Resonator Guitar & Vocals
    Mark O'Connor - Violin & Mandolin

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

  • 1991 - "Jackson [Browne] has invited me to be part of a couple of different things that he's been doing over the years. He's been very involved with native people as well, and because we were recording in L.A. and he was there, I thought it would be really nice if he would join in on one or more of these songs, and he was into doing it, so we got him by the studio one day. We had recorded a version of 'Indian Wars' with the whole band. Our intention was to just get Jackson to overdub some harmony vocals with it. When we started working on it, we realized that the feel wasn't really there, just in... it wasn't happening, and my performance wasn't really what it should have been. So, T-Bone [Burnett] said "Well why don't you guys just get guitars and go in there and play the thing", you know, he's getting sort of fed up at that point with how long it had taken us to get that song together, and he said, you know, just go in there and play it. So, we did and Mark O'Conner was waiting around to do his overdubs, so he came in with us too and we did the thing live off the floor as a trio with Jackson playing the dobro guitar and singing the low harmony in it, and Mark playing the violin." - from "Nothing But A Burning Light, The Radio Special CD" (1991). Taken From: open ended interview clip #11. Submitted by: Mark Barnes.

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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.