May 01, 2015
In his new memoir, Rumours Of Glory, Bruce Cockburn shares stories from a career that began in the mid-1960s, following a stint at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. The Canadian troubadour also offers accounts of his world travels, social activism and spiritual life. There are plenty of musical memories as well, which are reinforced by a 9-CD box set of the same name, with tracks selected by Cockburn from his 31 albums to offer parallel audio accompaniment.
In your book, you describe your rather unique reaction to hearing yourself on the radio for the first time back in 1970.
I had been writing songs for a few years in a bunch of different bands. So I had these bodies of songs and I felt choked up on them. I felt that having to carry all these songs in my head was getting in the way of writing new ones. So I wanted to make a record, and in my imagination, that record would allow me to forget about those songs because they would have been there and accounted for, so I could get on to writing new ones. Of course, what I didn’t realize was that it doesn’t work like that—when you record those songs, then everyone wants you to play those songs.
On the day my album came out, I was in the Yorkville area, which was the Toronto equivalent of Haight-Asbury or the Village in New York, and was the center of the counterculture scene. This was at a time when free-form FM radio was really just taking off and all the stores in that area would listen to this particular radio station called CHUM. So I’m in a store and they were playing my music. No one knew me but I felt like I had a big finger pointing at me. It was terrifying.
So I left the store and went into a different store that had the same radio station on and they were playing the whole album. You could do that kind of thing back in those days. I felt like I would never have a sense of privacy again. It was a very excruciating experience and I felt I had to duck and hide.
April 15 2015 – In our current issue, Andy Whitman interviews legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn, who is this year’s recipient of Image’s Levertov Award and will play a live concert on April 23, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. Read the full interview in issue 84.
Image: The late seventies and early eighties were a time of profound change for you. Looking back on that transformation, what advice would this newly enlightened Bruce Cockburn offer to the old Bruce Cockburn? And, turning it around, what cautions would the old Bruce Cockburn offer to the new Bruce Cockburn?
BC: The new Bruce Cockburn would say, “Lighten up,” and the old Bruce Cockburn would say, “How?” That’s the gist of the inner battle that was taking place.
I had a conversation at one point with an artist in Toronto whose studio space we were using. We were shooting a video, I think. We were chatting, and he said something like, “Having fun is what it’s all about, after all.” And I just looked at him like, “What?” “Well, isn’t it?” he said. And this other guy with a heavy German accent said, “We’re supposed to be having fun.”
It had never occurred to me that anything was supposed to be about having fun, other than very specific things like watching a movie.
At the time, my conclusion was that this was a worldview that this guy had embraced. And my worldview was about duty. It was not about fun at all; it was about doing what you were supposed to do. If I stepped back from the idea of duty, from the perhaps neurotic or unduly Victorian element of it, for me, life was ultimately about doing the next appropriate thing. Whether I thought of it is as duty or embracing the possibilities, appropriateness had a lot to do with it.
But being hung up on duty can interfere with your appreciation of the appropriateness of something that comes up spontaneously, and that would be a caution that the new Bruce would offer the old Bruce. The old Bruce would say, “It’s all about doing what you’re supposed to do. There’s a job to be done, and the job is to be the right kind of human being. People who have no moral base, or who don’t have one that I can see easily, are wasting their energy and time and pissing away their God-given talents and souls on having fun.” The new Bruce would say, “Yeah, but they’ve got something you don’t. They’re open to others and they can hear each other, and you’re not, and you can’t.”
Hi, As many of you know Bruce has been a supporter of the USC for many many years now. The USC has come up with a great program Celebrate Seeds. Here’s what the USC has to say about it. ~ Bernie Finkelstein
Feb 12, 2015 – It’s time to celebrate seeds! A medley of Canadian musicians and USC Canada are celebrating good seeds and everything they mean for human health, environmental protection and food security.
“Join the celebration! Watch this video to find out why I’m (we’re) celebrating seeds and farmers who save them. Let’s get the conversation rolling about this important food issue:
Seeds are important to me (us) because they are at the base of all of our food. Growing good food from good seeds helps to ensure that not only will crops to adapt and grow resiliencies, but they’ll also maintain biodiversity, flavour, abundance and choice. Learn more @USC Canada – Seeds of Survival and all the great benefits of good seeds.
Have you ever thought about where your food is coming from, not where you bought it or where it was physically grown, but where it REALLY comes from? Maybe it’s time that we all looked a little closer at where everything began. Human beings once used more than 7,000 different plant species to feed us. Today we rely on only 12 of them. Learn more about how to make a difference and join the celebration.
We’re celebrating seeds because of the power of their enormous diversity that is key to withstanding all kinds of shocks and changing conditions. We’re losing this diversity to uniformity. 75% of the global seed supply is controlled by only 10 companies. There are hundreds of rice varieties in the world but 65% of the rice we eat comes from only 4 varieties; 75% of the potatoes we eat come from just 4 varieties.
Find out more at http://bit.ly/1zgT6aQ
Jan 28, 2015 – The March 2015 issue of Acoustic Guitar will feature an excerpt from Bruce Cockburn’s new memoir, Rumours of Glory, in which the Canadian singer, songwriter, and guitarist talks about why, at 23, he left ’60s-era folk-rock to focus on solo acoustic music. He’d met fingerstyle guitarist Fox Watson, who taught Cockburn how to play in alternate tunings.
“I was sort of disdainful of open tunings back then because I didn’t like most of what people did with them—playing the same four chord formations in different tunings, trying for a specious variety in their sound without going to the trouble of actually learning their instrument,” Cockburn writes. “But when Fox played in any of several tunings he used, what came out was fluid as a mountain creek and agile as a gull.”
That was more than four decades ago. Since then, Cockburn has returned to playing electric guitar in rock bands, but he never left an acoustic guitar far behind, and he’s developed a style that is unmistakably his. In this special half-hour edition of Acoustic Guitar Sessions, senior editor Marc Greilsamer talks at length with Cockburn about his love of acoustic guitars and the singer-songwriter performs three tunes: the instrumental “Bohemian 3-Step,” “Waiting for a Miracle” and his most famous song, the politically fierce “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.”
[ direct link ]
April 28, 2015: UPDATE: Photos from the event from Image Journal’s Facebook page
April 23 2015 Fremont Abbey, Seattle, WA
Bruce Cockburn: The Flow of Love – published by SeattleDailyPhotoVid
Bruce was the recipient of the 12th Annual Denise Levertov Award given by Image, a quarterly journal of the arts and faith, and Seattle Pacific University. Bruce performed a short and splendid set before a small, very appreciative audience. They were then treated to a question and answer segment that ranged from his art and life and his recent memoir to the state of the world and Canadian perceptions of the USA. This short clip is the first question from that session.
21 December 2014 – An evening of music and celebration.
For twenty-five years, the literary journal Image has been a showcase of contemporary art inspired by faith. Image and its suite of programs (including two annual seven-day workshops for artists, writing fellowships, and seminars) deepen the wisdom, compassion, and cultural engagement in our world by enabling communities to draw more fully on the virtues of art and imagination.
Image’s Denise Levertov Award is named for one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets. Levertov, who spent her last years in Seattle, embraced the landscape and culture of the Pacific Northwest. Her identity as a Christian believer–a pilgrim whose faith was inextricably entwined with doubt–became another important facet of her work, particularly in her later poetry. The Levertov Award is presented annually in the spring to an artist or creative writer whose work exemplifies a serious and sustained engagement with the Judeo-Christian tradition.
27 July 2014 – So by now you may have heard of David Suzuki’s National Blue Dot Tour. I’m proud to say that Bruce Cockburn will be joining David in Concert in Edmonton at the Winspear Theatre on October 28. This won’t be the first time Bruce has been involved in a show with David as about 10 years ago or perhaps even longer, they did a show together in Ottawa. [poster below]
The Blue Dot tour has an incredible number of great Canadian artists playing in different cities along the way including Neil Young, Feist, The Barenaked Ladies and Jim Cuddy. Check your local market to see who’s playing in your hometown or a town near you. Also attached is a postcard that will alllow to join the Blue Dot Movement and find out more about the event. ~ Bernie Finkelstein
12 June 2014 – Carleton University today conferred a Doctor of Music, honoris causa, on Bruce Cockburn in recognition of an outstanding career in music, along with a commitment to voicing environmental, First Nations and social causes.
“Communication must become everybody’s thing,” said Cockburn. “It doesn’t matter whether you are a scientist, a journalist, a painter, a nurse, a cop or an accordion player–we have to be able to hear and see each other’s reality.”
Cockburn was honoured during Convocation for the Faculty of Engineering and Design, some of the 3,359 undergraduates and 782 graduate students receiving their degrees over four days of ceremonies.
“Being prepared has to include the notion of teamwork, of community and of mutual support,” said Cockburn. “And as valuable as this support may be in the event of a disaster, it is also vital in the day-to-day we currently move through.”
29 May 2014 – Bruce Cockburn has been honoured with the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award on May 7, 2014, at the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards gala in Toronto, during Canadian Music Week. Throughout his forty year-plus career, Bruce has expressed his core beliefs through his songs, philanthropy, social activism and support for humanitarian causes. This is evident in songs like “If I Had A Rocket Launcher“, “Call It Democracy” and “Lovers In A Dangerous Time“, his activism alongside The David Suzuki Foundation, Amnesty International, OXFAM, Friends of the Earth and others, along with his performances in aid of such groups as UNICEF, Bring Leonard Peltier Home, and Music Without Borders.
This honour, following a Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, an Order of Canada induction and 13 Juno Awards, including being named the Sustainability Ambassador for the 2013 JUNO Awards, Is an expression of the respect that Bruce has earned both nationally and internationally, as he continues to “kick at the darkness, till it bleeds daylight.”
Here is the video of Bruce receiving this award and his speech .. do give it a listen.
“There’s only one boat and we’re all in it together.”
[ direct link ]
Canadian Music Week
May 2014 – Canadian Music Week is pleased to announce acclaimed Canadian music icon Bruce Cockburn as the 2014 recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. The award – bestowed to the singer/songwriter in recognition of his social activism and benevolent support of humanitarian interests and causes – will be presented in Toronto on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards gala held during Canadian Music Week 2014.
“My Father Allan and I have both respected Bruce Cockburn as an artist and humanist since his early coffeehouse days,” said Gary Slaight. ”His philanthropy and compassion for charitable issues is commendable and something all of us should strive to emulate – even if on a personal level. Bruce has long been deserving of such an award and recognition, and we are thrilled to see his efforts honoured this year.as the recipient of the Allan Slaight humanitarian award.”
“It seems to me that if we accept that it’s appropriate to love our neighbour, whether as people of faith or as people just trying to live well, then we all need to do whatever we can to look out for that neighbour’s welfare,” said Bruce Cockburn. ”I’m very honoured to be chosen as the recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. I hope the existence of the award will help to inspire ever greater numbers of people in the music community to throw their support behind the many ongoing efforts to make this world better.”