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BRUCE COCKBURN > News > Image Journal

A Conversation with Bruce Cockburn by Andy Whitman – Image Journal

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.”


The Denise Levertov Award with Bruce Cockburn

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.





Bruce Cockburn - Fremont Abbey - Denise Levertov Award - April 2015 - Photo Daniel Keebler
Bruce Cockburn – Fremont Abbey – Denise Levertov Award – April 2015 – Photo Daniel Keebler

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.


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