-- Trickle Down --
March 2001. Toronto.
co-written with Andy Milne

Found on:

You've Never Seen Everything (2003)

Rumours of Glory - box set Disc 7 (2014) [compilation album]

Picture on magazine boardroom pop star
Pinstripe prophet of peckerhead greed
You say 'Trust me with the money -- the keys to the universe'
Trickle down will give us everything we need

Brand new century private penitentiary
bank vault utopia padded for the few
And it's tumours for the masses coughing for the masses
Earphones for the masses and they all serve you
Trickle down give /em the business
Trickle down supposed to give us the goods
Cups held out to catch a bit of the bounty
Trickle down everywhere trickle down blood
What used to pass for education now looks more like ignoration
Take the peopleís money and slip it to the corporation
Yellow rain golden shower pesticide firepower
Summon feudal demons of sweatshop subjugation

Workfare foul air homeless beggars everywhere
Picturephone aristocrats lounge around the pool
Captains of industry smiling beneficently
Leaking hole supertanker ship of fools
Trickle down give me the business
Trickle down supposed to give us the goods
Cups held out to catch a bit of the bounty
Trickle down everywhere trickle down blood
Take over takedown big bucks shakedown
Schoolyard pusher offer anything-for-profit
First got to privatize then you get to piratize
Hooked on avarice- how do we get off it?
Trickle down give me the business
Trickle down supposed to give us the goods
Cups held out to catch a bit of the bounty
Trickle down everywhere trickle down blood
Trickle down give me the business
Trickle down supposed to give us the goods
Cups held out to catch a bit of the bounty
Trickle down everywhere trickle down blood
Trickle down

Bruce Cockburn: Electric Guitar and Vocals
Rich Brown: Bass
Gary Craig: Percussion kit
Hugh Marsh: Violins
Ben Riley: Drums
Andy Milne: Piano

Editor's note: This song was first played in concert at the 26 June 2002, G8 Summit protests. It was next played at the Kate Wolf Music Festival. This is an edgy song with almost 'rap' infusion lyrics, about the perils of globalization.

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

  • 29 June 2002

    ""Hereís a very new song. This has only been sung once before in front of actual humans and that was a couple of days ago in Calgary. I really wanted to get it together for that occasion because it pertains to the business of the 8 most powerful hypocrites and their 20 or so most emphatic, committed, ass-lickers. Jees Iím talking really trash tonight, arenít I? I donít really talk like this. Anyway, some language just suits, you know. Sometimes those words are the ones that fit. But anyway there they were all meeting at this place. They chose a place called Cananasis in the foothills of the Rockies in Alberta where itís incredibly beautiful country. Itís home to all kinds of wildlife and some of it is endangered. And I suppose it was more endangered by the presences of the 5000 soldiers and couple of thousand of police that they put in there to make sure that no one but the wildlife got at the 8 famous hypocrites and there acolytes. We certainly didnít get anywhere near them anyway but thatís ok because who the hell wants to be near them. The song is called "Trickle Down" and itís a song I wrote with a young jazz pianist by the name of Andy Milne who is a terrific musician and composer and he approached me last year or maybe even the year before about collaborating on a couple of songs for an album he was doing and since Iíve never really done anything like that I thought it was pretty neat idea. We got together and wrote a couple of songs. Andy is kind of in the world of the avant-garde. He has a band that consists of the typical jazz rhythm section of piano bass and drums but in addition has an incredible harmonica player who kind of comes out of the modern classical mode and a female vocalist whoís extremely agile and a rapper. That combination is really heavy duty. I was quite out of my depth in that company. The other thing you should know, well, if you listened to Andyís records you would know this is true and if you donít listen I guess it doesnít matter so it isnít really like you should know but they donít play anything in 4x4 time. Everything is sort of 7 or 5 and mixtures of this and that and the other thing and Iím left counting on my fingers to see where we are and generally not finding it but it all worked out somehow in the end and we ended up with these songs that we recorded and it came out pretty well. In the process of learning this one in a form I could perform it in I simplified it a little. I cheated and put it in 4x4 time so you can actually, you guys, like me, we can all beat our foot to this. You know, hopefully anyway. This is Trickle Down."
    -- transcribed from the 29 June 2002, Kate Wolf Festival concert. Submitted by Doug Stacey.

  • April 2003

    "You look at war and environmental problems and you look at whatís causing them and whatís preventing us from solving them and the trail always leads to human greed. Somebodyís getting paid to keep it that way or make it worse. Everyoneís wondering what it all means and what we can do about it."
    -- from Bruce Cockburn's bio on Rounder Records.

  • September 2003 - Commenting on the jazz influence on Trickle Down

    AG: What led to your collaboration with pianist Andy Milne for the two songs on the new record [You've Never Seen Everything]?

    Cockburn: My friend [violinist] Hugh Marsh, who is very much in evidence on this record and who played with me a lot through the '80s, called up one day and said, "There's this guy Andy Milne, and he's doing pretty neat stuff and wants to meet you." Soon after that we went to New York and Andy came to the gig and introduced himself, gave me a couple of CDs, and said he was interested in collaborating on some songs. The stuff he gave me was amazing. I'd been having this big, long dry spell, and I thought, "This is a gift, a chance to try something I've never done to a significant degreeócollaborate with somebody else as a songwriteróand this is going to break the dry spell." We got together, and I had some lyrics that ended up becoming "Trickle Down," but the first thing we worked on was "Everywhere Dance," which we just started from scratch. Andy had a lyric idea, I just started writing stuff, and it immediately went left from where his idea was going, so there's not really a trace of his lyric idea left in the song. He put music to it, and that was it.

    AG: So the harmonies on that came from piano; they don't sound like something a guitarist would come up with.

    Cockburn: No, but it works great on the guitar. This is the wonderful discovery, because when I first heard it, I thought, "This is a song that I co-wrote that I'm never going to be able to play!" But in fact those harmonies fall naturally on the guitar. It was an interesting experience working with him. He's a very talented guy, and his band [Dapp Theory] is so different from anything I've ever worked with. They don't play anything in 4/4 timeóeverything is in five or seven or 11.

    "We did do a version of my song "Let the Bad Air Out," which they kindly did in four so I could play it. But it was a great learning curve. His band consisted of the standard rhythm section of piano, bass, and drums, plus a female vocalist; a harmonica player, Grťgoire Maret; and a rapper named Kokayi. Kokayi improvised parts to Trickle Down," that don't appear on my recordóhis presence didn't really work with my approach to the tune. In the original version [for Dapp Theory's CD Y'all Just Don't Know], it's half me singing and half Kokayi rapping. []

    AG: Grťgoire Maret's harmonica parts are so light and beautiful on this record. They remind me of Wayne Shorter's playing with Joni Mitchell.

    Cockburn: He is a beautiful player. He's got incredible ears. He just listens and finds the right place to go in with these not necessarily obvious notes. He sort of is to Toots Thielemans what Wayne Shorter is to Ben Webster. He's got that command of the harmonica, but he plays in a much more modern way than bebop style.

    -- from "Traveling Light Bruce Cockburn enlivens his new songs with forays into electronica and modern jazz," Acoustic Guitar, September 2003, by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers.

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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.