Album notes: "One of the guiding principles which I tried to hold to in making this album was that pieces as familiar as this one are still songs, written by songwriters, with lyrics that often make sense and are beautiful. In some cases it seemed that a little nudge in one direction or another would help to revive their 'songness'. This was written in the last century by Lewis Redner and Phillips
December 1993 -
Simon Mayo: - Historical accuracy of the Christmas story -
We've got a special guest on the show today, apart from yourself. We're
doing this whole thing called the bishop and the actress, and the bishop in
question is the Bishop of Durham. Now, over here he's kind of known as a
doubting bishop, and he's very controversial. And he's been saying this week
in a lot of the papers the fact that the three wise men and the shepherds and
the star and all that stuff doesn't really matter, it's a bit of a myth. What
would you say to that?
BC: I would say that we have no way of knowing, really, whether it's a myth
or not. I think that's a matter of personal belief, and I don't think it
matters very much whether we believe it is true or not. I think as a myth it
suggests a larger truth, and as fact it suggests a larger truth, so really
it's that larger truth that matters.
SM: So whether it's a historical fact doesn't bother you.
BC: It doesn't bother me at all. I mean, I have no personal way of knowing
other than by faith, and my own faith tends to think that it's kind of maybe
true or maybe not. I don't really know. I like the idea of it being true, and
it kind of appeals to the romantic in me to think that it's true, and so I
don't really question it. But obviously I don't have any way to verify that
fact. So, in the absence of that, if somebody else wants to believe it's not
true, that's fine with me as long as they're paying attention to the
essentials that the story is pointing at.
SM: OK, so let's stick to the traditional Christmas card approach then for O
Little Town Of Bethlehem.
BC: How dare you call this the traditional Christmas card approach.
SM: I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
BC: That's quite alright. I'm moved to remark too that the Bishop of Durham
is in better shape than some of the bishops over here. Being notorious for
doubting is a lot better than being notorious for paying too much attention
to small boys.
SM: Good point, Bruce.
BC: Good point, yes.
-- from "Simon Mayo interviews Bruce Cockburn" (from Canada), BBC Radio 1, December 1993, Transcribed and submitted to the project by David Newton.
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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.