-- Rumours Of Glory --
31 December 1979. Burritt's Rapids.

Found on:

Humans (1980)

Rumours of Glory (1985) [compilation album]

Waiting For A Miracle, Singles 1970-1987 (1987) [compilation album]

Bruce Cockburn Live (1990) & (2002) [live album]

Rumours of Glory - box set Disc 3 (2014) [compilation album]

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

Above the dark town
After the sun's gone down
Two vapour trails cross the sky
Catching the day's last slow goodbye
Black skyline looks rich as velvet
Something is shining
Like gold but better
Rumours of glory

Smiles mixed with curses
The crowd disperses
About whom no details are known
Each one alone yet not alone
Behind the pain/fear
Etched on the faces
Something is shining
Like gold but better
Rumours of glory

You see the extremes
Of what humans can be?
In that distance some tension's born
Energy surging like a storm
You plunge your hand in
And draw it back scorched
Beneath it's shining like
Gold but better
Rumours of glory

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

  • 1980

    "There's often a great beauty for me in the play of opposites. You can't understand good or be good without an understanding on some level of the evil. Now I stress 'on some level' because I'm not in favor of the philosophy that would have people go out and steep themselves in evil in order to understand. I don't think any of us are that far from it that we need to exercise that degree of effort in order to learn about evil. We've all got lots of it in us and it's not hard to see. At the same time, people who try to be good and only good and only do the good things all the time, while it's worthy to try to do, if you expect that you are going to succeed at it then you're in for trouble. You know because the other side is always going to be there."
    -- from the RCA "Special Radio Series" LP, Volume Two (1980). Submitted by Steve Brace.

  • Circa 1981

    Based on whatever observations I've done of history there's nothing I've seen that indicates people have the ability to straighten themselves out as a [song?] he says ruefully. Grim Travellers starts out from terrorism, but it's about the fact that none of us are free from the darker qualities that are part of human nature in general. It's a fairly hopeless song. One of the reasons why we followed it with Rumours of Glory is that it gives the other side of the coin-that however negative we can be, we can also depend on each other and are capable of great love.
    -- from "Bruce Cockburn's Quiet Optimism", High Fidelity, 1981, by Stephen Holden.

  • 1990

    "Got the idea for the 1st verse on a bitter winter night somewhere on Highway 7 between Toronto and Ottawa. Got the 2nd verse from NYC. Got real reggae players to record it. This is probably the most used song title- a concert film, A German compilation CD and now a song book."
    -- from "Rumours of Glory 1980-1990" (songbook), edited by Arthur McGregor, OFC Publications, Ottawa, 1990. Submitted by Rob Caldwell.

  • 1990

    "The same sort of thing happened to 'Rumours of Glory' for different reasons. There I had just been looking around for a way I could do it solo and I couldn't. I didn't really like the original guitar thing I had for it anymore, at least not by itself, and so I had to think of some other way to do it and, and that kind of, I don't know what to call it, kind of ragtimey rhythm came out, um, that seemed to carry it and I actually like the song much better in the version that we do now than in the original version. But, uh, and the other songs I suppose didn't have change that much but some had to and some wanted to. 'Rumours of Glory' just wanted to and 'Maybe the Poet' had to. [chuckles]"
    -- from "Interview and Segments" a CD released in 1990 by True North/Epic. Anonymous submission.

  • 7 July 1998

    BC: [in response to someone shouting for Rumours of Glory] "Excuse me?"

    [someone repeats 'Rumours of Glory']

    BC: Every now and then somebody says to me "how come you never play any of your old good stuff? Rumors of Glory. I actually, I don't think I should try to play Rumours of Glory as I think I'll fuck it all up. I'm absolutely certain of that. It's probably been 10 years since I played it. Um, so thanks for asking..."
    -- from a performance at Shank Hall, Milwaukee, WI, 7 July 1998. Submitted by Doug Stacey.

  • 2021

    "Dusk in Manhattan---streets filled and emptied as people rushed from office to sub-way. All those hearts, and a cross in the icy sky. Image upon image, adding up to more than the sum of their parts..."

    ~ 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.