Stealing Fire

Bruce Cockburn - Stealing Fire - 1984 / 2003
Stealing Fire – 1984 / 2003

RELEASE DATE: 1984
PURCHASE: iTunes | True North

* bonus tracks on the remastered 2003 reissue

This album was re-released on vinyl, 2 November 2010, through True North Records.

Don’t the hours grow shorter as the days go by
You never get to stop and open your eyes
One day you’re waiting for the sky to fall
The next you’re dazzled by the beauty of it all
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

These fragile bodies of touch and taste
This vibrant skin — this hair like lace
Spirits open to the thrust of grace
Never a breath you can afford to waste
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime —
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight —
Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time
And we’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

September 1983 – Toronto, Canada

Also On:
Waiting For A Miracle – 1987
Anything Anytime Anywhere – 2002
Slice O Life – 2009
Rumours Of Glory box set – disc 4 – 2014

Maybe the poet is gay
But he’ll be heard anyway

Maybe the poet is drugged
But he won’t stay under the rug

Maybe the voice of the spirit
In which case you’d better hear it

Maybe he’s a woman
Who can touch you where you’re human

Male female slave or free
Peaceful or disorderly
Maybe you and he will not agree
But you need him to show you new ways to see

Don’t let the system fool you
All it wants to do is rule you
Pay attention to the poet
You need him and you know it

Put him up against the wall
Shoot him up with pentothal

Shoot him up with lead
You won’t call back what’s been said
Put him in the ground
But one day you’ll look around

There’ll be a face you don’t know
Voicing thoughts you’ve heard before

Male female slave or free
Peaceful or disorderly
Maybe you and he will not agree
But you need him to show you new ways to see

Don’t let the system fool you
All it wants to do is rule you
Pay attention to the poet
You need him and you know it

January 1982 – Toronto, Canada

Also On:
Bruce Cockburn Live – 1990 / 2002
Rumours Of Glory box set – disc 4 – 2014

Dance music from the corner bar
Over dogs barking at a passing car
And your hair tumbles down like sahara gold

Hot night — streets are full of life
Carnival faces in rembrandt light
And your hair tumbles down like sahara gold

Half moon shining through the blind
Paints a vision of a different kind
And your hair tumbles down like sahara gold

Wet limbs striped with silver light
Locked together at the centre of the night
And your hair tumbles down like sahara gold

Night bloom filling up the room
With the salt and musk of lovers’ rich perfume
And your hair tumbles down like sahara gold

Animal grins and wild shining eyes
Laughing and shouting we’re a hundred storeys high
And your hair tumbles down like sahara gold

July 1983 – Toronto, Canada

Step outside — take a look at the stars
Catch a glimpse of the way things are —
Making contact…

Smell of sweet fresh oil on skin
When you move on me like the tide coming in —
Making contact…

So many ways to understand
One for every woman and man
Been that way since the world began

I hear the drumming of the surf and I have to dance
Stepping to the rhythm of circumstance —
Making contact…

I feel so huge — I feel so small
I feel so good I want to swallow it all —
Making contact…

Making contact
Swimming in an ocean of love

Making contact
Swimming in an ocean of love

We move together like the waves
Swimming in an ocean of love

Every night and every day
Swimming in an ocean of love

One world — one human race
Swimming in an ocean of love

One kiss from a smiling face
Swimming in an ocean of love

See that sign coming into view
Swimming in an ocean of love

Mother sea welcomes you
Swimming in an ocean of love

Making contact…

January 1984 – Tobago

Also On:
Waiting For A Miracle – 1987

Crashing in the kitchen, noises in the hall
Roll over and go back to sleep — it’s just a dream, that’s all
So how come the window’s broken?
What caused the glass to fall?
And who put that bullet hole in Peggy’s kitchen wall?

Police arrive — muddy up the floor
Dig out half the plaster — it’s a .38 for sure
Kick the neighbour’s door in
Saying better tell it all
Who put that bullet hole in Peggy’s kitchen wall?

Blaster on the back porch shaking up the lane
They’re drinking gin and joking — laughter falling down like rain
Everybody wears a halo
Never saw nothing at all
So who put that bullet hole in Peggy’s kitchen wall

July 1983 – Toronto, Canada

Also On:
Waiting For A Miracle – 1987
Rumours Of Glory box set – disc 4 – 2014

Rising like lightspill from this sleeping town
Like the light in a lover’s eyes
Rising from the hearts of the sleepers all around
All those dreamers trying to light the sky

Burning — all night long
Burning — at the gates of dawn
Singing — near and far
Singing — to raise the morning star

Rising like lightning in the pregnant air
It’s electric — I can feel its might
I can feel it crackling in my nails and hair —
Makes me feel like i’m dancing on feet of light

Burning — all night long
Burning — at the gates of dawn
Singing — near and far
Singing — to raise the morning star

Singing for the yellow and the brown and the black
For the red and the white people, too
Dovetailing strong points with the things we lack
Singing for the people like me and you

Burning — all night long
Burning — at the gates of dawn
Singing — near and far
Singing — to raise the morning star

July 1983 – Toronto, Canada

Also On:
Bruce Cockburn Live – 1990 / 2002
Rumours Of Glory box set – disc 4 – 2014

7. Nicaragua (4:47)

Breakfast woodsmoke on the breeze —
On the cliff the U.S. Embassy
Frowns out over Managua like Dracula’s tower.
The kid who guards Fonseca’s tomb
Cradles a beat-up submachine gun —
At age fifteen he’s a veteran of four years of war
Proud to pay his dues
He knows who turns the screws
Baby face and old man’s eyes

Blue lagoon and flowering trees —
Bullet-packed masaya streets
Full of the ghosts of the heroes of Monimbo
Women of the town laundry
Work and gossip and laugh at me —
They don’t believe I’ll ever send them the pictures I took.
For every scar on a wall
There’s a hole in someone’s heart
Where a loved one’s memory lives

In the flash of this moment
You’re the best of what we are —
Don’t let them stop you now
Nicaragua

Sandino in his tom mix hat
Gazes from billboards and coins
“Sandino vive en la lucha por la paz”
Sandino of the shining dream
Who stood up to the U.S. marines —
Now Washington panics at U2 shots of “Cuban-style” latrines
They peek from planes, eavesdrop from ships
Voyeurs licking moistened lips, ‘cause…

In the flash of this moment
You’re the best of what we are —
Don’t let them stop you now
Nicaragua

February 1983 – Managua

Also On:
Bruce Cockburn Live – 1990 / 2002
Rumours Of Glory box set – disc 3 – 2014

Here comes the helicopter — second time today
Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away
How many kids they’ve murdered only God can say
If I had a rocket launcher…I’d make somebody pay

I don’t believe in guarded borders and I don’t believe in hate
I don’t believe in generals or their stinking torture states
And when I talk with the survivors of things too sickening to relate
If I had a rocket launcher…I would retaliate

On the Rio Lacantun, one hundred thousand wait
To fall down from starvation — or some less humane fate
Cry for guatemala, with a corpse in every gate
If I had a rocket launcher…I would not hesitate

I want to raise every voice — at least I’ve got to try
Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.
Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry
If I had a rocket launcher…Some son of a bitch would die

February and April 1983 – Chiapas, Mexico, and Toronto, Canada

Also On:
Waiting For A Miracle – 1987
Anything Anytime Anywhere – 2002
Bruce Cockburn Live – 2002
Slice O Life – 2009
Rumours Of Glory box set – disc 3 – 2014

Battered buses jammed up to the roof
Dust and diesel the prevailing themes
Farmer sleeping on the truck in front
Feet trailing over like he’s trolling for dreams
Smiling girl directing traffic flow
.45 strapped over cotton print dress
Marimba-brown and graceful limbs
Give me a moment of loneliness

Dust and diesel
Rise like incense from the road
Smoke of offering
For the revolution morning

Headlights pick out fallen sack of corn
One lone tarantula standing guard
We pull up and stop and she ambles off
Discretion much the better part of cars
Rodrigo the government driver jumps out
He’s got chickens who can use the feed
We sweep the asphalt on our hands and knees
Fill up his trunk with dusty yellow seeds

Dust and diesel
Rise like incense from the road
Smoke of offering
For the revolution morning

Guitars and rifles in blue moonlight
Soldiers stretched out on sparkling grass
Engine broke down — they took us in
now we make music for the time to pass
Tired men and women raise their voice to the night
Hope the fragile bloom they’ve grown will last
Pride and passion and love and fear
Burning hearts burning boats of the past

Dust and diesel
Rise like incense from the road
Smoke of offering
For the revolution morning

March 1983 – Interamerican Highway, Nicaragua

Also On:
Rumours Of Glory box set – disc 3 – 2014

Yanqui wake up
You know it’s time to go
The sun is almost up and we want to be alone

Yanqui head spin
Better get some rest
Tomorrow we can talk about the way you insulted the guests

Ivan’s outside
Sulking in the yard
Everyone got bad communication when the time gets hard

Not a nice guy
But he’s got troubles of his own
Anyway it’s best if you both just leave the rest of us alone

Yanqui go home
You had too much
Better go sleep it off
Party’s over —
Time to meditate on it
Time to tally up the cost

Yanqui wake up
Don’t you see what you’re doing
Trying to be the Pharoah of the West bringing nothing but ruin

Better start swimming
Before you begin to drown
All those petty tyrants in your pocket gonna weigh you down

You’re my friend but I say
Yanqui go home
You had too much
Better go sleep it off
Party’s over
Time to meditate on it
Time to tally up the cost

1983

Also On:
Rumours Of Glory – German release 1985
Stealing Fire – 2003
Rumours Of Glory box set – disc 3 – 2014

Under the skin insect glint is shot thoughts
Hemispheres of sparks, eyes that won’t close
Observe and doing change all things

Falls through Love objects
this gathering of accidents
into dynastic triumph of things
I long for dawn at end of mind

Traveling light deluge of birth and death
quiver of events trembling to be
Shot into the face of time
Call it the Sundance

Everything you do, everything you say
Whether false or true
in some kind of way, touches something
Everything you take, everything you leave
Every move you make
Pulls the fabric of the weave of everything
Call it the Sundance

Everything you do, everything you say
Whether false or true
in some kind of way, touches something
Everything you take, everything you leave
Every move you make
Pulls the fabric of the weave of everything
Call it the Sundance

1983

Also On:
Stealing Fire – 2003



With 1984’s Stealing Fire, Bruce Cockburn’s words and music took a greater urgency than ever before. The previous year, he made his first trip to Central America on behalf of the international development group OXFAM. While in southern Mexico, he visited a refugee camp that had recently been attacked by the helicopters of the U.S.-backed Guatemalan army.

The horrific experience sparked the anger-filled “If I Had A Rocket Launcher”, a song which brought him unprecedented attention – garnering heavy radio airplay and regular video rotation on MTV.

Stealing Fire is full of many of Cockburn’s most powerful political songs, yet it boasts some of his most romantic numbers as well. From “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” to “Making Contact” whether issuing calls to action or cries for help. Bruce Cockburn’s poetry demands affection.

Upon its release Stealing Fire immediately staked a claim as one of the most compelling albums by singer-songwriter in the 1980s. Nearly twenty years later, the album’s impact is undiminished.

Album Info:

the musicians are:
bruce cockburn – guitar and voice
jon goldsmith – keyboards
fergus marsh – bass and stick
miche pouliot – drums
chi sharpe – percussion

words and music by bruce cockburn
except on “maybe the poet” words by bruce cockburn,
music by bruce cockburn, kerry crawford, jon goldsmith, and fergus marsh, and “to raise the morning star”, words by bruce cockburn, music by bruce cockburn and fergus marsh

published by golden mountain music corp. (BMI)
© 1984 golden mountain music corp.

recorded at manta sound, toronto, march-april 1984
engineer: john naslen
assisted by: ron searles
mastering by: mike reese, mastering lab, los angeles
produced by: jon goldsmith and kerry crawford
for true north productions
art direction: bart schoales
cover painting: blair drawson
photography: george whiteside

direction:
the finkelstein management company limited.
98 queens street east, suite 201,
toronto, ontario, m5c 1s6, (416) 364-6040