The Charity Of Night

Bruce Cockburn - The Charity Of Night - 1997
The Charity Of Night – 1997

RELEASE DATE: February 4, 1997
PURCHASE: iTunes | True North

Not a knife throw from here you can hear the night train passing
That’s the sound somebody makes when they’re getting away
Leaving next week’s hanging jury far behind them
Prisoner only of the choices they’ve made

Night train

Ice cube in a dark drink shines like starlight
The moon is floating somewhere out at sea
I’m an island in the blur of noise and color
Alcatraz, St. Helena, Patmos and the Chateau D’If

Night train

And everyone’s an island edged with sand
A temporary refuge where somebody else can stand
Till the sea that binds us like the forced tide of a blood oath
Will wear it down – dissolve it – recombine it

Anyone can die here they do it every day
It doesn’t take much effort tho it goes against the grain
And the ultimate forgetfulness of violence
Sweeps the landscape like a headlight of a train

Night train

Ice cube in a dark drink shines like star light
Starlight shines like glass shards in dark hair
And the mind’s eye tumbles out along the steel track
Fixing every shadow with its stare

Night train
Night train

And in the absence of a vision there are nightmares
And in the absence of compassion there is cancer
Whose banner waves over palaces and mean streets
And the rhythm of the night train is a mantra

February 6, 1996 – Halton Hills

Musicians:
Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic and Electric Guitar and Vocal
Gary Craig: Drums, Percussion
Rob Wasserman: Bass
Jonatha Brooke and Patty Larkin: Vocals

Also On:
Anything Anytime Anywhere – 2002

(I woke up thinking about Turkish drummers
It didn’t take long – I don’t know much about Turkish drummers –
But it made me think of Germany and the guy who sold me cigarettes
Who’d been in the Afghan secret police
Who made the observation
That it’s hard
To live

Then I was reminded of the proprietor of a Vietnamese restaurant in Quebec who used to be head of the secret police in Da Nang – and it occurred to me I was thinking about all this stuff to keep from thinking about something else… Isn’t that just what secret police are all about???)

Somebody stands in a window
Watches the river roll
Trains rumble in the foreground
With the weight of approaching dawn

Flames from the refinery
Rise broken, red and riveting
And the high vault of heaven
Looks far away and cold

There’s howling in the factory yard
There’s pounding in my head
I’m swollen up with unshed tears
Bloated like the dead…

(Instrumental break)

Blood and ashes – time burning
On the skyline dark against the stars
A solitary horseman – waiting

Lashed to the wheel
Whipping into the storm
Get up, Jonah
It’s your time to be born

October 10, 1995 – Halton Hills

Musicians:
Bruce Cockburn: Resophonic and Electric Guitar and Vocal
Gary Craig: Drums
Gary Burton: Vibes
Rob Wasserman: Bass
Jonatha Brooke and Ani DiFranco: Vocals

Also On:
Rumours OF Glory box set disc 6 – 2014

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it’s pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage

I’ve proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip’s worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It’s as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you’ll wind up
Pacing the cage

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can’t see what’s round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage

June 24, 1995 – Philadelphia.

Musicians:
Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic Guitar and Vocal
Janice Powers: Keyboards
Rob Wasserman: Bass

Also On:
Anything Anytime Anywhere – 2002
Slice O Life – 2009
Rumours OF Glory box set disc 6 – 2014

Instrumental

released 1996 & 2005

Musicians:
Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic Guitar
Gary Burton: Vibes

Also On
Speechless – 2005

They turned their backs
I made it too hard
Every place they touched me
Is a laceration now

Sometimes a wind comes out of nowhere
And knocks you off your feet
And look, see my tears
They fill the whole night sky
The whole night sky

Derailed and desperate
How did I get here?
Hanging from this high wire
By the tatters of my faith

Sometimes a wind comes out of nowhere
And knocks you off your feet
And look, see my tears
They fill the whole night sky
The whole night sky

Sometimes a wind comes out of nowhere
And knocks you sideways
And look, see my tears
They fill the whole night sky
The whole night sky

June 27, 1994 – Cologne

Musicians:
Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic Guitars and Vocal
Gary Craig: Drums, Percussion
Rob Wasserman: Bass
Bob Weir: Vocals
Colin Linden: Mandolin
Janice Powers: Low, Wiggly Keyboards
Bonny Raitt: Slide Guitar
Joe Macerollo: Accordion

Also On:
Rumours OF Glory box set disc 6 & 8 – 2014

All day the mountains rose behind a veil of smoke from burning fields
And road dust dyeing black skin bronze and the road rolling like a rough sea
It’s quiet now, just crickets and a dog fight somewhere in the far away
In my heart I hold your photograph
And the thought of you comes on like the feel of the coming rains

Hot breeze ran its fingers through the long grass of a thatched roof eave
They stuck me in the only chair they had while they cooked cassava
And a luckless hen
They asked for one well three lanterns and 200 litres of fuel and
I said, “Who, me?”
And the time for planting’s coming soon
And the thought of you comes on like the feel of the coming rains

In the town neon flickers in the ruins
Seven crows swoop past the luscious moon
If I had wings like those there’d be no waiting
I’d come panting to your door and slide like smoke into your room

All day the mountains rose behind a veil of smoke from burning fields
And road dust dyeing black skin bronze and the road rolling like a rough sea
It’s quiet now, just crickets and a dog fight somewhere in the far away

In my heart I hold your photograph
And the thought of you comes on like the feel of the coming rains

And the time for planting’s coming soon
And the thought of you comes on like the feel of the coming rains

September 11, 1995 – Quelimane

Musicians:
Bruce Cockburn: Dobro and Electric Guitars and Vocal
Gary Craig: Drums, Tambourine
Rob Wasserman: Bass
Gary Burton: Vibes
Maria Muldaur, Jonatha Brooke and Patty Larkin: Vocals

Also On:
Rumours OF Glory box set disc 6 – 2014

Birmingham
Just behind the mountain
Sparse streelamps glow in hot half-moon haze
Shadows shorten into little black pools that elongate behind
We walk, talk some, laugh some
Worked hard, now wired, and hanging out
I’m curious what you might be all about
Curious, too, what that dark-shape in the hard shining cruiser might do
And you have no idea what you’re getting
out of of your own curiosity and tense energy
Tattoo on chest like the key to the puzzle of your pumping heart
Wearing your shadows all over your sleeve
Wearing the role of young upstart

Chorus:
Birmingham shadows fall
You show a little, I let something show too
It’s now or not at all
Out on the road, it’s always instant get-to-know-you

Under velvet trees, towering like the sides of a well
Before the empty two office blocks
Which we’re admonished not to enter
Policeman studies us, finds us confusing
More amusing than threat
Moves on, bemused
Pavement spirals down ahead like the fossil of a giant shell
Along the kingdom’s midnight marches
I wear my shadows where they’re harder to see
But they follow me everywhere
I guess that should tell me that I’m travelling toward light
I guess something you sang made me remember that
I guess I’m saying thanks for that
[Chorus]
[Instrumental Break]
Got a head full of horrors and a heart full of night
At home in the darkness, but hungry for dawn
I only remember scenes, never the stories I live
The good things about that is, it’s easy to forgive
Can’t make assumptions about any of this
We’re nomads following our own songlines
Who knows what could strike before we meet again?
But if I fall down and die
Without saying goodbye
I give you this: you’ll have lost a friend
[Chorus]

July 8,1995 – Halton Hills

Musicians:
Bruce Cockburn: Resophonic Guitar and Vocal
Gary Craig: Drums
Rob Wasserman: Bass
Gary Burton: Vibes

Also On:
You Pay Your Money And You Take Your Chance – 1997

There’s a broad river winding
Through this African lowland
The moon is held up orange and big
See it raise its hands
And the last ferry’s pulling out
With no place left to stand
For the mines of Mozambique

There’s a wealth of amputation
Waiting in the ground
But no one can remember
Where they put it down
If you’re the child that finds it there
You will rise upon the sound
Of the mines of Mozambique

Some men rob the passersby
For a bit of cash to spend
Some men rob whole countries dry
And still get called their friend
And under the feeding frenzy
There’s a wound that will not mend
In the mines of Mozambique

Night, like peace,
Is a state of suspension
Tomorrow the heat will rise
And mist will hide the marshy fields
The mango and the cashew trees
Which only now they’re clearing brush from under.

Rusted husks of blown up trucks
Line the roadway north of town
Like passing through a sculpture gallery
War is the artist
But he’s sleeping now

And somebody will be peddling vials of penicillin stolen out of all the medical kits sent to the countryside.

And in the bare workshop they’ll be molding plastic into little prosthetic limbs
For the children of this artist
And for those who farm the soil that received
His bitter seed…

The all-night stragglers stagger home
Cocks begin to crow
And singing birds are starting up
Telling what they know
And after awhile the sun will come
And we’ll see what it will show
Of the mines of Mozambique

September 11, 1995 – Quelimane

Musicians:
Bruce Cockburn: Resophonic and Electric Guitars and Vocal
Gary Craig: Drums, Percussion
Rob Wasserman: Bass
Janice Powers: Mongolian keyboard thing
Jonatha Brook: Backup Vocals and Arrangement

Also On:
Rumours OF Glory box set disc 6 – 2014

See you standing in the door against the dark
Fireflies around you like a crown of sparks
You blow me a kiss that blurs my vision
Blurs the human condition

You’re the ocean ringing in my brain
You are my island ripe with cane
Catch the scent of strange flowers when you pass
Fluid motion like the wind in grass

It’s your eyes I want to see
Looking into mine
Got you live on my mind
All the time

Light me like incense in the night
Light me like a candle burning bright
Light me like a searchlight in the sky
Time means nothing when I look in your eyes

It’s your eyes I want to see
Looking into mine
Got you live on my mind
All the time

It’s your eyes I want to see
Looking into mine
Got you live on my mind
All the time

circa January 1993 – Maui

Musicians:
Bruce Cockburn: Resophonic and Electric Guitars and Vocal
Gary Craig: Drums
Rob Wasserman: Bass
Janice Powers: Keyboards
Gary Burton: Vibes
Jonatha Brook: Harmonies

Also On:
Rumours OF Glory box set disc 5 – 2014

Big city Europa – July of 64 – It’s 5AM
Weather blowing bitter off the Baltic.

Car slows beside him as he walks
Hubcaps slow revolution
Jaundiced-looking pockmarked face, round in window
Short greasy black beard

Couple of language stabs, settle on English
“It’s cold – I give you ride.
Don’t you want to kiss me?”

This goes on halfway across the cobbled bridge
Driver pulls ahead – gets out by the construction fence
Ambles towards him rubbing the bulge in his pants

In his jacket is the revolver
The hand is already in the pocket for warmth and fingers slide easily around wood grips

Slow as that predator’s footsteps the gun comes out
Arm straightens, sight blade bisecting yellow forehead
Wind – blue metal streetlight – Faint twilight shining on the corners of stones.

Wave on wave of life
Like the great wide ocean’s roll
Haunting hands of memory
Pluck silver strands of soul
The damage and the dying done
The clarity of light
Gentle bows and glasses raised
To the charity of night

Slow revolution – 1985 – crosswise in a hammock in the hot volcanic hills
Its 3AM the night after the air raid
From the ridge she watched A37s, like ugly gulls,
Make a dozen swooping passes over some luckless town
Maybe ten kliks beyond the border
In the distance the Pacific glimmered silver

Now lascivious laughter floats on the darkness from the police post next door-
Male voices – and a woman’s –
Little clouds of desire painted around the edges with rum
In the muddy street a pig suddenly screams

Wave on wave of life
Like the great wide ocean’s roll
Haunting hands of memory
Pluck silver strands of soul
The damage and the dying done
The clarity of light
Gentle bows and glasses raised
To the charity of night

Pacific glimmers silver
Moon full over shadow mansion
West coast – Can’t say when
There is incense and the heat-driven scent of flowers

Tongue slides over soft skin
Love pounds in veins brains buzzing balls of lust
Fingers twine in wet hair
Limbs twist and roll

On the dresser wax drips in slow motion down the long side of
A black candle
Ecstatic halo of flame and pheromone-

Wave on wave of life
Like the great wide ocean’s roll
Haunting hands of memory
Pluck silver strands of soul
The damage and the dying done
The clarity of light
Gentle bows and glasses raised
To the charity of night

October 29, 1994 – Schenectady, NY

Musicians:
Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic Guitar and Vocals
Rob Wasserman: Bass
Gary Burton: Vibes
Colin Linden: Mandolin
Joe Macerollo: Accordion

Also On:
Rumours OF Glory box set disc 1 – 2014

I’ve seen a high cairn kissed by holy wind
Seen a mirror pool cut by golden fins
Seen alleys where they hide the truth of cities
The mad whose blessing you must accept without pity

I’ve stood in airports guarded glass and chrome
Walked rifled roads and landmined loam
Seen a forest in flames right down to the road
Burned in love till I’ve seen my heart explode

You’ve been leading me
Beside strange waters

Across the concrete fields of man
Sun ray like a camera pans
Some will run and some will stand
Everything is bullshit but the open hand

You’ve been leading me
Beside strange waters
Streams of beautiful lights in the night
But where is my pastureland in these dark valleys?
If I loose my grip, will I take flight?

You’ve been leading me
Beside strange waters
Streams of beautiful lights in the night
But where is my pastureland in these dark valleys?
If I loose my grip, will I take flight?

November 7, 1995 – Halton Hills

Musicians:
Bruce Cockburn: Resophonic and Electric Guitars and Vocal
Gary Craig: Drums, Percussion
Rob Wasserman: Bass
Jonatha Brooke and Patty Larkin: Vocals

Also On:
You Pay Your Money And You Take Your Chance – 1997
Rumours OF Glory box set disc 6 – 2014



Includes an impressive supporting cast consisting of Gary Burton, Gary Craig, and Rob Wasserman, plus special guests Jonatha Brooke, Ani DiFranco, Patty Larkin, Maria Muldaur, Bonnie Raitt and Bob Weir.

Album Info:

Produced by Bruce Cockburn and Colin Linden
Recorded and mixed by John Whynot
Additiional recording by Colin Linden
Recorded at Reaction Studios, Toronto with additional recording at The Plant, Sausalito, Bob Weir’s studio, and Electro Magnetic Sound by Pinhead Recorders
Transfers at Manta/Eastern Sound
Rentals courtesy Casa Wroxton Studio
Mixed at Kingsway, New Orleans

Assisted by Ormond Jobin, Tom Heron, Tom Paddock, Michael McGuinn, Jo Rossi and especially Ethan Allen.

Mastered by Stephen Marcussen at Precision Mastering
Assisted by Ron Boustead

Jacket Illustrations and Album Design by William Sienkiewicz
Photo by Macolm Burn
Layout assistance by Karin Doherty

All songs written by Bruce Cockburn
All songs © 1996 Golden Mountain Music Corp. (BMI)
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Traductions: Jane Macauley, Marcel Moussette

Thanks to Bernie Finkelstein, Justin Deneau, Sy Potma, Danny Greenspoon, Janice Powers, Frank Finistory, Karen Brady, Malcolm Burn, Kim Lafleur, Daniel Broome, Caryl McCowan, Chris Brady for BBQ & firetruck, Daniel Keebler/Gavin’s Woodpile, Peavey Musical Instruments.

Thanks to the following for support, inspiration, lighting-a-fire-under-the-ass, and other gifts, intentional or not: Sue, Michael O’Connor, Rex Fyles, Sandra Wood and Chude Mondlane, The Maputo Police Department for leaving the various body parts attached, Deminers everwhere, Ani for reminding me what energy is for, John and Matt for the biochemistry, the Humans, Susan Gitlin-Emmer (“Lady of the Northern Light”), the Book of Psalms, Kel and Jon for the introduction to Cormac McCarthy, C. Woodman for her wisdom, the folks at City Stages, God for always keeping the ladder in place.

Jonatha Brooke appears courtesy of Blue Thumb Records
Gary Burton appears courtesy of Concord Records
Ani DiFranco appears courtesy of Righteous Babe Records
Patty Larkin appears courtesy of High Street/Windham Hill
Colin Linden appears courtesy of Columbia Records/Sony Music Canada
Maria Muldaur appears courtesy of Telarc International Corporation
Bonnie Raitt appears courtesy of Capitol Records
Rob Wasserman plays an N.S. Double Bass, Rob Wasserman Signature Six-String Model, designed by Ned Steinberger