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Examining a Lifetime in Music

Bruce Cockburn on The Agenda

Bruce was recently interviewed on the tv program The Agenda with Steve Paikin.
Click through to watch.

Air Date:
Sep 12, 2017
Length:
27:38
From his humble beginnings on a farm near Pembroke Ontario,[this is an incorrect statement-and is discussed in the interview] to the streets of San Francisco, Bruce Cockburn’s music has provided an acoustic backdrop to generations of Canadians. He joins Steve Paikin to discuss his career, activism, Donald Trump, and latest album, “Bone On Bone.”
Catching Up With Bruce Cockburn;



Listen to Bruce Cockburn’s New Album ‘Bone on Bone’ (USA & beyond)

by Brittney McKenna – No Depression

8 September 2017 – Bruce Cockburn is one of Canada’s most beloved songwriters, earning 12 Juno Awards and spots in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame over the course of his storied career, which spans nearly five decades.

It’s been six years since Cockburn released a studio album — 2011’s Small Source of Comfort — but the songwriter announced earlier this year his plans to release a 33rd LP, Bone on Bone. The new collection of songs, produced by Colin Linden, touches on many subjects close to Cockburn’s heart, including the poet Al Purdy, life in Trump’s America, and the complexities of personal spirituality.

Click through and Listen to the album in its entirety before its September 15 release date.

Credit: Listen – Bone On Bone – No Depression.


First Play and Q&A: Bruce Cockburn Bone On Bone (Canada)

7 September 2017 – by Andrea Warner – CBCMusic

“Take up your load, run south to the road,
Turn to the setting sun,
Sun going down, got to cover some ground,
Before everything comes undone.”
Bruce Cockburn

The gentle lilt of his guitar, that familiar voice a little more road-worn but still warm and wise, and those words. This is his first studio album in seven years, but few lyricists help us to know ourselves more deeply than award-winning singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn.

Above is the chorus from “40 Years in the Wilderness,” the third track off of Cockburn’s new record, Bone On Bone. CBC Music has the advance stream playing a week ahead of its Sept. 15 release. Listen via our player [for Canada], pre-order the album here and get a list of his Canadian tour dates here.

A week after Bone On Bone drops, Cockburn will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on Sept. 23 in Toronto, alongside Beau Dommage, Stéphane Venne and Neil Young. It’s a fitting honour for Cockburn, who, over the course of almost five decades in the music industry, has penned some of the most thoughtful and enduring folk and pop songs of the 20th and 21st centuries, including his U.S. breakthrough, “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” and the gorgeous “Lovers in a Dangerous Time.”

But after writing his 2014 memoir, Rumours of Glory, Cockburn wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to write anything ever again.

“I didn’t write any songs until after the book was published because all my creative energy had gone into three years of writing it,” Cockburn said in a press release. “There was simply nothing left to write songs with. As soon as the book was put to bed, I started asking myself whether I was ever going to be a songwriter again.”

Three years later, Bone On Bone is here.

Cockburn spoke with CBC Music over the phone from his home in San Francisco about writer’s block, finding his faith again and how the late Canadian poet Al Purdy helped kick start the making of Bone On Bone, his 33rd album.

The fifth song on the record is called “3 Al Purdys” and I love the fact that he was an entry point for you after your break with songwriting. What was your relationship to him and his poetry?

I actually didn’t have any relationship with him or his poetry really, until the invitation came to contribute to the film [Al Purdy Was Here]. I was aware of him certainly and I was aware of his reputation but I hadn’t really gotten into his stuff at all. When the prospect of doing something for the documentary was raised I went out and got his collected works and I was completely blown away and amazed that I’d missed it all those years. And regretful, because it would have been great to have met him, or at least to sort of been able to track the development of his work over the years. You can kind of do that looking at the book as a retrospective, but he really was an incredible poet and so Canadian. I can’t think of anyone other than Stompin’ Tom Connors who so exemplified a certain aspect of Canadian culture.

And there’s so much pathos and humour in his work.

When I got asked to write a song, I had not written anything for a while. All the time I was writing my memoir and I couldn’t really get into the concept of songwriting because all the creative energy was going to the book. I was kind of wondering, “Am I going to write songs again?” The invitation came to do this and it was like, “OK, this will be the kickstarter.” I immediately thought of this image of this homeless guy who comes across as being penniless for his art. I pictured him kind of in the wind, coattails blowing and he’s ranting on the street. Well, not really ranting, he’s reciting Al Purdy’s poetry, he’s obsessed with his poetry. The chorus is “I’ll give you three Al Purdys for a 20-dollar bill,” I think Purdy would’ve approved of that, probably.

I think so too.

Basically the guy’s like, “You look at me, you see a homeless bum, you think I’m ranting. But you’ve got to pay attention to this, ’cause you can spit on the prophet, but pay attention to the word.”

I think a lot about those themes, and they’re in your work, too, the obligation of humanity to see a little bit deeper than we sometimes want to.

I agree with you. When you encounter the surface of something, there’s a massive depth behind it. Allow for that even if you don’t know what’s in there, so that you have the chance to discover more. It’s important to kind of approach everything in life like that.

Can we talk a little bit about ‘Forty Years in the Wilderness’? I think this is one of the most extraordinary songs I’ve heard this year and I’d love to know a little bit about what went into writing it.

I was in church one day and the sermon was about Jesus descending from heaven and he realizes who he is, or what his mission is let’s say. One of the gospels basically describes him as kind of jumping up and running off into the desert. He spends 40 days in the desert and in the story he’s tempted by and being offered all sorts of great worldly things, which he rejects. This [sermon] happened right about the time, not to the date, but more or less 40 years since I’m a churchgoer. And I’m back in church and I’m hearing this, and I’m thinking, well — it’s not quite correct to say why, but a large part of me not being a churchgoer was learning about the world.

It hit me at the end of the ’70s, way back when, that if I was going to love my neighbour as myself I’d better find out who my neighbour was. I embraced urban life at that point, which previously I’d been very suspicious of, and I made a point of kind of socializing myself in a very different way from how I had been before that point. And over time, I mean, didn’t just happen overnight, but ah, you know, I had a lot of adventures. I met a lot of great people and some not-so-great people and I travelled to some amazing places and I pretty much fell away from going to church, although I did not fall away from my belief in God and my desire for a relationship with God.

My wife who was going through her own spiritual searching was kind of steered toward this particular church [in San Francisco] and had gone pretty regularly for several months before she managed to convince me to actually go and I went and I completely fell in love with the place — well, not with the place but with the people and the spirit that’s there.

Your guitar playing is really the centrepiece for so much of the record and I was really curious about how the guitar has helped shape you as a storyteller over the years. It seems like it’s an extension of your storytelling.

I almost think of it the other way around. I’m a songwriter because I wanted to be a guitar player. I started off wanting to play rock and roll guitar, under the influence of Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent and Elvis. I never did end up playing that music, per se, but that got me wanting to play the guitar and, you know, over the years, the earliest years of playing I began to imagine myself being in the jazz world and playing, you know, composing music mainly, but playing on the guitar. I never got the chops together to be a jazz musician.

Well the reason I didn’t is that I felt after I got to know it more, that it wasn’t really where I was being invited to go. I was interested in all kinds of other music as well by the time this kind of turning point, decision-making wise. I was heavily under the influence of Bob Dylan and singer-songwriters/folk music of the ’60s. My mother said, “Well, you’re gonna have to sing, you know. Play guitar and sing too.” And I’m going, “Nah, no way, I’m not singing.” She had a lot to do with convincing me that that singing was something I could pull off, even though I was terrified of doing it.

Once I was learning folk songs and blues tunes, it wasn’t a very big step to start writing songs. It was the guitar that started it all. And I’ve always loved the instrument and loved making music on the instrument, whether there was a song to be sung or not, you know?


LISTEN: Bruce Cockburn, ‘Forty Years in the Wilderness’

July 26th, 2017 / By Bluegrass Situation Staff –

Bruce Cockburn 2017 - photo Daniel Keebler

Artist: Bruce Cockburn
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Song: “Forty Years in the Wilderness”
Album: Bone on Bone
Release Date: September 15, 2017
Label: True North Records

In Their Words: “There have been so many times in my life when an invitation has come from somewhere … the cosmos … the divine … to step out of the familiar into something new. I’ve found it’s best to listen for and follow these promptings. The song is really about that. You can stay with what you know or you can pack your bag and go where you’re called, even if it seems weird — even if you can’t see why or where you’ll end up.” — Bruce Cockburn

Credit: The Bluegrass Situation



Bruce Cockburn Announces His First Studio Album In Seven Years – Bone On Bone

For Release On Vinyl, CD And Digital Download
September 15, 2017

BONE ON BONE

Bruce Cockburn - Bone On Bone

States I’m In – Slide Show YouTube Video
States I’m In – Soundcloud Stream (Album Version)
States I’m In – Spotify (Album Version)
Pre-order from True North Records
Pre-order on iTunes
Pre-order on Amazon
Bio – and – Bio – Bone On Bone google doc
Bruce Cockburn – At A Glance – or – At A Glance google doc
New Bruce Cockburn photo

TORONTO, July 12, 2017 – Bruce Cockburn has announced the September 15, 2017 release of his first full-length album in seven years, Bone On Bone (True North Records). The release coincides with his induction into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame, and the launch of his longest touring schedule in decades.

Few recording artists are as creative and prolific as Bruce Cockburn. Since his self-titled debut in 1970, the Canadian singer-songwriter has issued a steady stream of acclaimed albums every couple of years. But that output suddenly ran dry in 2011 following the release of Small Source of Comfort. There were good reasons for the drought. For one thing, Cockburn became a father again with the birth of his daughter Iona. Then there was the publication of his 2014 memoir Rumours of Glory.

Bruce Cockburn - promo photo by Daniel Keebler

“I didn’t write any songs until after the book was published because all my creative energy had gone into three years of writing it,” Cockburn explains, from his home in San Francisco. “There was simply nothing left to write songs with. As soon as the book was put to bed, I started asking myself whether I was ever going to be a songwriter again.”

Such doubt was new to the man who’s rarely been at a loss for words as he’s distilled political views, spiritual revelations and personal experiences into some of popular music’s most compelling songs. What spurred Cockburn back into songwriting was an invitation to contribute a song to a documentary film about the late, seminal Canadian poet Al Purdy and he was off to the races.

Bone On Bone, Cockburn’s 33rd album, arrives with 11 new songs and there’s a prevalent urgency and anxious tone to much of the album, which Cockburn attributes to living in America during the Trump era. But, more than anything, Bone on Bone amounts to the deepest expression of Cockburn’s spiritual concerns to date. The 12-time Juno winner and Canadian Music Hall of Fame’s “Forty Years in the Wilderness” ranks alongside “Pacing the Cage” or “All The Diamonds” as one of Cockburn’s most starkly beautiful folk songs. “There have been so many times in my life when an invitation has come from somewhere…the cosmos…the divine…to step out of the familiar into something new. I’ve found it’s best to listen for, and follow these promptings.

“Forty Years in the Wilderness” is one of several songs that feature a number of singers from the church Cockburn frequents, for the sake of convenience referred to in the album credits as the San Francisco Lighthouse “Chorus.” “Among other songs, they contribute call-and-response vocals to the stirring “Stab at Matter.” Other guests on the album include singer-songwriters Ruby Amanfu, Mary Gauthier, and Brandon Robert Young, along with bassist Roberto Occhipinti, and Julie Wolf, who plays accordion on “3 Al Purdys” and sings with the folks from Lighthouse, together with LA songwriter Tamara Silvera.

Produced by Colin Linden, Cockburn’s longtime collaborator, the album is built around the musicianship of Cockburn on guitar and the core accompaniment of bassist John Dymond and drummer Gary Craig. Also very much part of the sound is the accordion playing of Cockburn’s nephew John Aaron Cockburn and the solos of noted fluegelhorn player Ron Miles (check out his stunning work on the cascading “Mon Chemin,” for example).

Cockburn, who won the inaugural People’s Voice Award at the Folk Alliance International conference in February and will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in September, continues to find inspiration in the world around him and channel those ideas into songs. “My job is to try and trap the spirits of things in the scratches of pen on paper and the pulling of notes out of metal,” he once noted. More than forty years after embarking on his singer-songwriting career, Cockburn keeps kicking at the darkness so that it might bleed daylight.

Bone On Bone Track Listing:

1. States I’m In
2. Stab At Matter
3. Forty Years In The Wilderness
4. Café Society
5. 3 Al Purdys
6. Looking And Waiting
7. Bone On Bone
8. Mon Chemin
9. False River
10. Jesus Train
11. Twelve Gates To The City

TOUR DATES

For more information, please contact:
Eric Alper, Publicity
True North Recordsv P: 647-971-3742
E: Eric@TrueNorthRecords.com

Photo by Daniel Keebler.

Press Release Bone On Bone

You may download the pdf as well.

Bruce Cockburn - Bone On Bone - Press Release pdf

Bruce Cockburn reflects on impact of Rocket Launcher

July 7, 2017 –

It has been 33 years since the release of Bruce Cockburn’s darkly infectious hit, If I Had a Rocket Launcher, a stirring commentary on the injustices the Canadian singer-songwriter experienced during a visit to Central America.

Today, the song remains as valid — and potentially misunderstood — as ever.

“A lot of people relate to it currently, in terms of Iraq or Afghanistan or Syria, any number of places,” Cockburn said in a recent interview in advance of his July 15 appearance at the Vancouver Island Music Festival in Comox.

“Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be running out of war and pain.”

Cockburn recalls the “scary” experience of playing the song for 2,000 Christians at a music festival in England in the 1980s, and everyone enthusiastically singing: “If I had a rocket launcher … some son of a bitch would die.”

For reasons like that, he is not comfortable with people singing along to the song.

“There’s nothing joyful or celebratory about it. It’s truthful, but that’s not a pleasant truth to me. I don’t like reliving it.”


Cockburn playing free show in Prince George tonight

July 4, 2017

Rock ‘n’ roll poets are few, but Bruce Cockburn is one of those rare legends of both instrument and word.

His songs have been quoted in books and movies and even in other songs (by U2 in God Part II). Cover versions of his songs have catapulted other acts to stardom (Barenaked Ladies). And his name has been evoked in global conversations for humanitarian efforts and social development.

Other stars like Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffett and Emmylou Harris are outspoken fans. Steve Bell, one of Canada’s most notable Christian performers, did an entire album of Cockburn covers.

Cockburn is, by any estimation, a master of the guitar. He plays a finger-style that was honed on jazz at the Berklee School of Music but the raw material was carved from the blues found around his Ottawa upbringing, then steeped in international concepts he picked up along the way. When Cockburn travels, he always brings a little something home.

He also has a healthy appetite for poetry, from which his abundant lyrics emerge.

He’s written some lightning bolts, the most famous of which is “gotta kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight” found tucked in the folds of his classic hit Lovers In A Dangerous Time.

It is hardly alone. Sizzling metaphors and turns of phrase engorge the sails of his music career.

He told The Citizen that he studies master poets and reads it for fun as well, but he knows his place on that bookshelf.

“In a way, writing songs gives you an out. You can get away with – and sometimes you’re obliged to get away with – things that wouldn’t really stand up on the page very well, because they have to go with the music,” he said.

“I can say yeah, I’m a pretty good guitar player for a songwriter, or I’m a pretty good songwriter for a guitar player. It’s not really poetry, what I do, but it’s so much like it I hold myself to that standard.”


A Conversation With .. Bruce Cockburn – FYI Music News

Jun 30, 2017 – by Bill King

We lived in what was stamped a “hippie haven” in the early seventies – Gothic Avenue, which borders Quebec Avenue – in High Park, Toronto. The brown rice/alternative lifestyle sanctuary was a haven for writers, musicians – in fact the late Billy Bryans lived only a few steps away and was playing in a band called Horn. Music was big fun and discovery. You could start in the early morning after a hit of a hash/tobacco joint and walk in on neighbours. Music played day and night, in fact it was all about checking out the person next door’s album collection.

The progressives blasted Emerson, Lake and Palmer – the countrified – Pure Prairie League – and the folkies loved their Tea for the Tillerman/Cat Stevens and a newcomer rising on the Canadian scene, Bruce Cockburn.

Even if you didn’t pay much attention you learned who the artists were were through peripheral listening. I had Bruce’s voice memorized as well as his fluent guitar playing. Cockburn stuck with you like he belonged in your life. Right time, right place!

The debut – Bruce Cockburn, produced by Eugene Martynec, came with a single that seemed to follow Canadians everywhere – Going to the Country. I know the inhabitants of Gothic Avenue were served a new side each year we survived the developers wrecking ball – High Winds, White SkySunwheel Dance, Night Vision, Joy Will Find a Way and In the Falling Dark.

Come September, Cockburn is inducted into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame (CSHF)and releases his thirty-third recording, Bone to Bone. I connected with Bruce from his San Francisco home and collected his thoughts on a number of issues, episodes and events.

You have a couple of big events in September – induction into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and your 33rd recording – Bone to Bone. Your thoughts?

Any particular order? The exciting thing for me of course is the album – it’s been awhile since I’ve had an album out. I’m happy with the songs and how it came out. I’m anxious to get it out and get people to hear it. The Songwriter’s Hall of Fame thing is nice. There’s a lot of ‘halls of fame’ in the world. In one way, it’s delightful to be recognized by the scene – people who enjoy what I do and people who are close enough to it to appreciate what I do. That means a lot. I can also remember thinking, getting inducted into some kind of hall of fame means you should already be dead or about to be. I don’t feel like that now. It feels pretty good. I also remember being somewhere and there was the towing and removal hall of fame – every industry has one. This is a national one and a big deal – it’s nice and I’m very appreciative.

It’s about songwriting too – something very special.

It’s nice to be recognized by the people who understand what you do.

You have a healthy attitude about your career. It’s spanned decades and there is no reason to retire – just keep making music..

Yes – as long as I can keep doing it, that’s what I want to do. I don’t take it for granted or assume my feelings would ever change – it could, but hasn’t so far. I like what I do and I like performing the songs I write for people. It’s the way they get to hear them best and the way I get to share them in the presence of actual human feedback. As long as I’m physically able to do it, I expect I will.

Do you still enjoy your time on stage?

I’ve always been terrified on stage and that hasn’t really changed that much. Terrified would be overstating now but back in the beginning it was terrifying, now it’s just kind of stressful. When you perform your songs to actual human beings in a live situation, that’s where the song really lives and becomes meaningful. If nothing else, the experience of being there focused on the same thing with a whole bunch of people is a pleasant sensation. Then afterwards, it feels good for a few minutes and then you start thinking about all of the things you did wrong and then it takes a day or two before you start feeling good about it again. Along with the precarious situation is the idea of making a living without having a boss. Being able to travel – some people would find it as having an adventurous lifestyle. It’s a great thing – a gift and not everybody gets to do it.


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