-- Burn --
28 January 1974

Found on:

Joy Will Find a Way (1975)

Waiting for a Miracle (1987)

Look away across the bay
Yankee gunboat come this way
Uncle Sam gonna save the day
Come tomorrow we all gonna pay...

And it's burn baby burn
When am I going to get my turn

Something dead under the bed
Local diplomats hang their heads
Never mind what the government said
They're either lying or they've been misled...

And it's burn baby burn
When am I going to get my turn

Phillipines was yesterday    [updated lyrics June 2003] - Vietnam was yesterday    [updated lyrics March 2024] Iran and Chile was yesterday
Santiago and Greece today    [updated lyrics June 2003] - Kabul and Baghdad today    [updated lyrics March 2024] Niger and Syria today
How would they ever make the late news pay
If they didn't have the CIA?

And it's burn baby burn
When am I going to get my turn

Here it comes, the loaded gun
"Must keep the Commies on the run "    [updated lyrics June 2003] - gotta keep the bad guys on the run    [updated lyrics March 2024] must keep the bad guys on the run
You'd buy or bury everyone
For liberty and life
And just plain fun

And it's burn baby burn
When am I going to get my turn

Editor's note: Bruce changed a few lyrics [noted above] to this song to update it in mid-2003, and was singing it that way in concert. And in 2024 he changed the lyrics again.

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

  • January/February 1985: "...For instance, take an old song like 'Burn' . It's overtly anti-American. And it's trying to make the point Canada has very much the same client-state relationship that your average Latin American country has with the United States. Nothing quite as drastic is at stake. We're better off so there's no resistance to the relationship. We don't have a dictator; we don't have the military trip. But if we were ever to swing too far to the left it would Prague '68 revisited. That's what the song is trying to say in a very lighthearted way. Canadians relate to 'Burn' really well; we love to flirt with anti-Americanism in a humorous way because it makes us feel independent. But that's about as far as most of us take it." - from "Singing in a Dangerous Time" by Eunice Amarantides, TheOtherSide, January/February 1985. Submitted by Nigel Parry.

  • 1986: "Movies - a double bill one night in Toronto, Costa-Gavras' 'State of Seige' and Gillo Pontecorvo's 'Burn', it occurred to me that the colonial and post-colonial situations described weren't that different from that of ourselves re: the U.S. Less obvious, because we're doing well enough not to be obliged to struggle, but qualitatively similar. This song did rather well in Newfoundland, and I don't think it was the U.S. the people there connected it to, but the rest of Canada." - from "All The Diamonds" songbook, edited by Arthur McGregor, OFC Publications, 1986. Submitted by Rob Caldwell.

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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.