-- Tabs, Chords & Tunings: Use Me While You Can --
Transcribed by Steve Meger

Tabs Index

Disclaimer: The following tab is intended for private enjoyment and educational purposes and should not be read as an encouragement for members of the general public to play the song live. The lyrics and music of "Use Me While You Can" are the intellectual property of Bruce Cockburn, his management, and record companies, etc,.


Use Me While You Can is transcribed from the Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu album.


Double drop D tuning  (low DADGBD high)

 D9      000210
 D9sus   000010
 D5      000230
 C+9     x32010
 G/B     x20030
 G+9     xx0200
 Am9     x02410
 Em+9    224000  (use index finger to fret lowest two strings)
 F6/9    330010

h  hammer-on
p  pull-off

Some riff suggestions:


  D9                         D5                    D9sus

(spoken over improvised blues guitar riffs in D)

There's a black and white crow on the back of a two toned sheep
in a field of broken yellow stalks below looming cliffs
high above the plain little grey houses
blend with giant jagged boulders
and pale weathered stumps
life in the ghost of the bush
wind whips the acacias and strange forked palms
that cluster around the water hole
suddenly, out of the blowing sand
a milk-white camel appears
turbaned rider, blue robe billowing
bounces with the shambling trot
wears a sword and a rifle on his back
and around his neck, a transistor radio
you blink and like ghosts, they're gone

under the wan disk of sand-masked sun, a woman grins
spits expertly into the path of a struggling black beetle . . .
six feet away
hoists her water bucket onto her head and strides off up the trail

Main riff:

  D5                      <                               <
  ,   .   ,   .   ,   .   ,   .   ,   .   ,   .   ,   .   ,   .   


Sun a steel ball glowing

          C+9           G/B
behind endless blowing sand

D5      C+9      G/B       G+9
sun a steel ball glowing

D5                C+9            G/B               Am9     Em+9
dust of fallen empires slowly flowing through my hands

  use me while you can

Pearl held in black fingers
is the moon behind dry trees
pearl held in black fingers
bird inside the rib cage is beating to be free
use me while you can

F6/9                                                D9
 I've had breakfast in New Orleans, dinner in Timbuktu

F6/9                                        D9
 I've lived as a stranger in my own house too

F6/9                                                   D9
 dark hand waves in lamplight  cowrie shell patterns change

 and nothing . . . will be the same again

Bullet in a sand storm
looking for a place to land
bullet in a sand storm
full heart beats an empty one
in the deck they dealt to man
use me while you can

use me while you can


Em+9   C+9


Tabs Index

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.