-- Wise Users --
Written 1996 -- released 1996 & October 2014

Found on:

Rumours of Glory - box set Disc 8 (2014) [compilation album]

Rarities (2022) - digital release

Hear me you business blackmailers
When I see what you've done to the wild
I feel like a man standing over
The corpse of his murdered child

Use it wisely
Use it wisely ... go on
Reap your harvest, Wise Users
'Til everything is gone

Haul the last fish from the ocean
Poison the beds where they spawn
Drag the last tiger to market
So some prick can stand tall in Taiwan

Use it wisely
Use it wisely ... go on
Reap your harvest, Wise Users
'Til everything is gone

And if you lay drunk in your wasteland
I'd take your wallet and spit right in your eye
No point in explaining this action
You'll never get it 'til the day that you die

Use it wisely
Use it wisely ... go on
Reap your harvest, Wise Users
'Til everything is gone

If I gave you a gun with one bullet
For the honor left so far behind
Would you think what you've willed to your offspring
For nothing unto nothing consigned

Use it wisely
Use it wisely ... go on
Reap your harvest, Wise Users
'Til everything is gone

And yes, I believe there is beauty
And yes, I believe in truth
And in the seemingly infinite hunger
Of humans for destroying them both
Use it wisely
Use it wisely ... go on
Reap your harvest, Wise Users
'Til everything is gone

Bruce Cockburn - Guitar, Vocal
Hugh Marsh - Violin

Produced by Bruce Cockburn
Engineered by Colin Linden
Recorded at Studio Pinhead Recorders, Toronto 1996
From the album Honor: A Benefit For The Honor The Earth Campaign (Daemon 19012-2, 1996)

  • Editor's Note - Released on Bruce Cockburn's Rumours of Glory Box Set October 2014.
    - First released on the assorted artist compilation "Honor- A Benefit for the Honor the Earth Campaign" (1996).
    - 2022: Re-released on digital album Rarities

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

  • 16 June 1995

    "I'll throw a new one at you. I have sung it a couple of times in front of people but it's new all the same. New, new in my case.. while I allow myself a broad definition of that term. Anything that was written after the last album came out is new and this is one of the older new ones and, as such, I actually know how to sing it 'cause....some of the newer new ones I'm a little sketchy on. This one came out of a couple of things. One was an unfortunately unsuccessful attempt that I was involved in with some other people to rescue 16 Siberian tigers [Editor's note: the total number of tigers was 69] from a farm in China, near Shanghi, where they were being raised for meat and body parts. Tiger meat is a big thing in some places. Unfortunately for the tigers, unfortunately for the likes of us that have to put up with people who think that's a good thing, who think that in order to get a hard-on they have to fucking eat a tiger penis. That stuff makes me sick and we tried to get these things out of this farm. There was a big scam that was going on because a while back some people in China got the idea they could appeal to western zoos and get money and the way they did it was by suggesting they could institute a tiger breeding program for these Siberian tigers which are an endangered species and they would then have a supply to send to these various zoos around the world and they got a lot of money for doing that. What they were really breeding them for was tiger penis soup and stuff like that. And when the international agreement on the trade of endangered species came into effect recently, or when China became party to it rather, for a moment or two the bottom fell out of that trade so these tigers were being allowed to starve to death on this farm in cages and we thought we might be able to get them out but we didn't.

    The other thing this song came from is the organization or loose aggregation of groups that exists in North America under the term Wise Use movement. It's in this context an oxymoronic term. There's nothing, nothing wrong with wisdom and certainly nothing wrong with use of things we were given but somehow when you use those things without wisdom, even if you say it's wisdom, it's not a good thing and it hasn't been a good thing for a long time and it's not going to get any better.

    And these people, with the financing and the fact that they are the brainchild of industry and they are financed by industry and you'll hear a lot about private property rights and about people keeping their jobs and that sort of shit. They'll keep their jobs for another six months until whatever it is they are doing is gone and then they'll be out of a job then so, and then they'll be crying about government support and how come there isn't more government. So don't believe any of that stuff..."
    -- from a concert transcription, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Telluride, Colorado, June 16, 1995. Transcribed and submitted by Doug Stacey.

  • 15 January 2002

    Why is "Wise Users" not on the album [Anything, Anytime, Anywhere - Singles 1979-2002]? Have you recorded it? I remember it from Greenbelt many moons ago.

    Bruce Cockburn: We recorded that song for the Charity Of Night and we ended up with too much material for that album and it was the one song that didn't fit as well with the rest. I guess if I ever do a box set it will be on that.
    - from Canoe Online Chat with Bruce Cockburn, 15 January 2002. Submitted by Suzanne D. Myers.

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