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.”