-- A Dream Like Mine --
17 August 1990. Dawson, Yukon Territories.

Found on:

Nothing But A Burning Light (1991)

Anything Anytime Anywhere, Singles 1979-2002 (2002) [compilation album]

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

Greatest Hits (1970-2020) (2021) [compilation album]

When you've got a dream like mine
Nobody can take you down
When you've got a dream like mine
Nobody can push you around
Today I dream of how it used to be
Things were different before
The picture shifts to how it's going to be
Balance restored

When you know even for a moment
That it's your time
Then you can walk with the power
Of a thousand generations


Beautiful rocks -- beautiful grass
Beautiful soil where they both combine
Beautiful river -- covering sky
Never thought of possession, but all this was mine

When you know even for a moment
That it's your time
Then you can walk with the power
Of a thousand generations


Bruce Cockburn - Electric guitars and Vocals
Larry Klein - Bass
Booker T. Jones - Organ
Denny Frongheiser - Drums
Micahel Blair, Ralph Forbes - Percussion
Sam Phillips - Backing Vocals

Album notes:
"'A Dream Like Mine' grew from the book of that title by M.T. Kelly" - from the 'Nothing but a Burning Light' album notes.

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

  • 14 June 2008

    Sarah Harmer joined Bruce on A Dream Like Mine with amazing harmonies. I had never heard him tell the story associated with A Dream Like Mine before. He had been asked to write a song for a movie soundtrack based on a book that he had never read. He had a basic knowledge of the book and thought that A Dream Like Mine would be suitable. The producer did not share this line of thought and chose not to use the song, Bruce figured the deciding factor was because he had not bothered to read the book.
    -- from the Artists for Bob concert, submitted by Nancy Bouwma

  • Circa 1992

    Johnny Walker: A song which sort of grew out of a book of the same title, written by MT Kelly. What does the book talk about, Bruce?

    BC: The book is a novel which is set in a situation which depicts a native community in confrontation with industrial interests and the law over use of land. In the case of the book, it's a logging company that wants to clear-cut a certain area, and it's traditional native land and they don't want to see it happen.

    JW: It's interesting because a couple of times on Radio 1 FM I've read out a letter by a chief of the Sowanish tribe of Indians, I think, Chief Seattle, replying to the President of the United States back in about 1854, who wanted to buy his land, and one of the lines from it was: "My tribe is going to become extinct. But the day will come when the spirits of my people will once again roam across these lands." And there seems to be a real sort of upsurge in consciousness in the wisdom and understanding that native Americans have.

    BC: Yeah. There's both a very healthy recovery of strength of spirit on the part of the native people themselves in the last couple of decades, that shows itself in increasingly strong and cunning political manoeuvrings, political organising, and also in the way they relate to their own past. Because most native people in North America were so dislocated by the white onslaught that very little of the actual way of life of these people was preserved, except in very far-flung areas in the far north, for instance. But even there, disease and modern ways have cut into it a lot and so there's a great process of kind of self-conscious process of self-discovery that's going on among the native people as well, that's a really nice thing to see.
    -- from Radio Interview, BBC Radio 1, 1992, Interviewer is Johnny Walker. Transcribed and submitted by David Newton.

  • 1991

    "The Book 'A Dream Like Mine' was kind of an oblique influence on the song. But what attracted me most about that was just the central image of the dream of the warrior coming back, and just the phrase itself 'A Dream Like Mine', in the context of justice for Indian people. At the same time as I became aware of that, the OKA thing was going on in the summer of '90, the confrontation between the Mohawks and the Canadian Army. And I was imagining myself, over a period of time, in that situation, trying to picture what I would feel like were I there at the treatment center facing that military might with the determination to right an obvious wrong, what to me was an obvious wrong and so on, how would I feel. And those kinds of thoughts combined with the imagery from the book to produce the song 'A Dream Like Mine'."
    -- from "Nothing But A Burning Light, The Radio Special CD" (1991). Taken From: open ended interview clip #5. Submitted by: Mark Barnes.

  • June/July 1992

    "[Commenting about the title] It's the name of a Canadian novel by M.T. Kelly. The setting is a Native American community in confrontation with industrial interests and the law over land use in their area. They're losing, so an old man of the tribe, kind of a shamanistic character, conjures up out of dreams a sort of eternal warrior figure to come to life to try and right the wrongs that are being done. The implication is that he is always in the background waiting to be called up when the need arises. It was that sense of community, that sense of an unbroken link to the past that caught my attention. At the same time I was discovering that book and the images in it, we had a thing going on here between the Mohawk Indians and the Canadian army. That put those images in a very concrete perspective. I was trying to imagine what it would be like to be one of those Mohawk warriors and come face to face with the armed forces of the Canadian army. In the end, it didn't turn out as bad as it could have, but it was dangerous and unfortunate kind of episode and that's what inspired the song."
    -- From an interview by Lahri Bond entitled, "Bruce Cockburn an Update", in the June/July 1992 issue of Dirty Linen (#40). Anonymous submission.

  • 2021

    "Jonathan Goldsmith and I were invited to score a film being made of a Canadian novel by the same name. The director hated our ideas, but I came up with a title song that took on its own life..."

    ~ from the liner notes of Greatest Hits (1970-2020)

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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.