Win a Bruce Cockburn prize pack worth $80.00 CAD which includes his latest album on vinyl, his 2 CD greatest hits collection and 2 tickets to see Bruce in Hamilton, Ontario on October 11, 2023 at First Ontario Concert Hall.
12 November 2023: Update
Canadian Musician Magazine has gone out of business.
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I have loaded the pdf file directly:Canadian Musician – July – August 2023
By Phil Kloer – Atlanta Journal-Constitution
6 June 2023 – Bruce Cockburn, the Canadian singer-songwriter who has known decades of success and accolades without ever quite becoming a household name, is 78 years old and on a roll. Just ask him.
In “On a Roll,” the opening track on his new album “O Sun O Moon,” Cockburn (pronounced CO Burn), sings “Time takes its toll/ but in my mind/ I’m on a roll.”
“There are issues that didn’t used to be there. Arthritic fingers take a little more babying and fussing with to get them to work than used to be the case,” he explains, regarding the “time takes its toll” lyric.
“I don’t have the energy I had when I was younger, there’s no doubt about it.
“And yet I feel like I have a better understanding of my relationship with God,” he continues, on a roll as it were. “I also feel like everything is lighter. There are real things to worry about in the world. But the way in which we concern ourselves changes over time. The things that used to be a great source of stress now are more like shaking your head and saying ‘Well, there you go.’”
Cockburn launched his musical career in 1970, and of his more than 30 albums, 22 are Canadian gold or platinum. A member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, he is best known for his songs “Wondering Where the Lions Are” (1979) and “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” (1984). His music flits from folk to pop to jazz to indigenous influences, and his lyrics range from love songs to Christian allegories to impassioned songs about political prisoners and climate change.
Cockburn’s current tour, in which he plays solo without a backup band, brings him and opener Dar Williams (another singer-songwriter, herself frequently a headliner at mid-sized venues) to Variety Playhouse June 18. Cockburn’s scheduled 2020 Atlanta concert was scrapped because of the pandemic, so the last time he played here was 2018.
Asked in a recent telephone interview why he is touring solo this time, he chuckles and chooses honesty. “I get to take home more of the money,” he says. “That’s not the only reason for doing it this way, but it counts.
“The solo experience tends to be a little bit more emotional for me,” he elaborates. “There is an exchange of personal energy between all of us in the room.”
In his eighth decade, his lyrics are pared down, but with plenty of wisdom embedded. “What will go wrong will go wrong/ What will go right will go right/ Push come to shove/ It’s all about love,” he writes in a love song to his wife, M.J.
“Orders,” one of the stronger new songs, is a take on the Golden Rule in which he lists all the people he is ordered by God to love, no matter how hard it is, including “the one we think we’re better than.”
“It took a lot of time to write that one. I don’t remember what triggered the idea. I wrote pages and pages and pages listing all the possible people we have to bite the bullet and love. Then it was whittling it down to a manageable size.”
But the biggest recurring theme is mortality.
“The whole album’s about death pretty much,” he says. “But I even feel lighter about that. Not about tragedy or pain or people dying when they shouldn’t. That’s all real and not something you can take lightly. It’s tragic when it’s a school shooting, but when its someone who has had a full life. … You have a life; you have to leave it at some point.”
He says he is comfortable pondering his own mortality. “When the moment comes, I’m probably going to be panic stricken like everyone else.” Again with the chuckle.
“But contemplating it from where I’m currently looking, it’s not that scary. It’s gonna be what it is. I have some concerns about what I’m going to encounter afterward. It could be what I imagine, or it could be nothing. But as that horizon gets closer, it just feels natural.
“My relationship with the divine is front and center in my life,” he continues. My fear, if there is a fear, is that I will come face to face with God and not recognize Him.” He drops another chuckle into the conversation. “I hope to get past that.”
Bruce Cockburn on releasing his 38th album
The Canadian singer-songwriter also tells the story behind his song To Keep The World We Know.
Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and a new Bruce Cockburn record. Believe it or not, the singer-songwriter has just released his 38th studio album, O Sun O Moon. He joined Q’s Tom Power to talk about the album and introduce us to one of its songs, titled To Keep The World We Know.
Bruce’s translation of Aglukark’s chorus:
This is one world, one chance
It’s the only world we have
Here it is. This is it – one world
It’s the only world we have
[Source: Bruce on CBC Radio’s q Bruce Cockburn on releasing his 38th album | CBC Arts – Transcribed by Mark Dunn]
Interview with Bruce Cockburn produced by Mitch Pollock
Bruce Cockburn feat. Susan Aglukark – To Keep the World We Know (Lyric Video)
By Steven Rosen – citybeat.com
31 May 2023 – Over the course of his 53-year career as a solo recording artist, Bruce Cockburn has won admiration for the finely crafted imagery and poetically descriptive details of his personal and political songs, the subtly emotional quality of his vocals and the virtuosity of his guitar playing. He’ll be making a comparatively rare Cincinnati appearance at Ludlow Garage on June 16; Dar Williams is opening the show.
Granted, his fame is greater in his native Canada than in the U.S. There, he’s regarded on equal footing with fellow Canadians Leonard Cohen and Gordon Lightfoot as a major singer-songwriter. (Cockburn has lived in San Francisco since 2009). But he has had an appreciative U.S. following ever since he scored a hit single in 1979 with the gently catchy “Wondering Where the Lions Are.” It may be, he has said, the only top 40 song ever to contain the word “petroglyphs.”
His other songs — particularly “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” “Pacing the Cage” and “Waiting for a Miracle” — have become recognized here through either album rock airplay of his own versions or covers by such artists as Jerry Garcia, Shawn Colvin, Barenaked Ladies, Judy Collins and more. Though written earlier, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” and “Pacing the Cage” drew increased attention during the worst of the pandemic.
It really is a distinguished, accomplished career in retrospect. But at age 78, he’s not looking backward. On his new record, O Sun O Moon, his 38th studio album, he begins with a bluesy, soulful rocker built around this memorable refrain: “Time takes its toll/But in my soul/I’m on a roll.”
It seems a pretty upbeat notion, driven along by a hot electric guitar solo by Colin Linden, who also produced the record. So CityBeat’s first question to Cockburn during a phone interview is if the song is meant as a motivational statement for the audience that has aged along with him.
At first, he laughs, then addresses the inquiry with the kind of serious introspection that has been a constant in his career. “I think I’m talking to myself as much as to you,” he says. “But that’s all right if they (his audience) think that. We all hope people will pay attention to the album.”
“On a Roll” is a good example of how his songs can make you think and, for that matter, how much thought goes into the songwriting. Positive as that refrain seems, the verses aren’t morale boosters. An example: “Howl of anger, howl of grief/here comes the heat with no relief/social behavior/beyond belief/throw those punches, drop that ball/commit to nothing, excuse it all/here comes the future/here comes the fall.”
The song’s seeming positivity relates to Cockburn’s searching, questioning, non-violent view of Christianity, to which he’s long been devoted. “Looking around the world, it’s in a mess and that’s nothing new,” he explains. “In the Trump era in America and then post-Trump, the notion of bad manners sort of vanished, along with the notion of good manners. So there’s a reference to that and all these other things going on — this external chaos.
“But inside, well, I’m getting older — that’s time taking its toll,” Cockburn continues. “But at the same time, I feel like I’m getting closer to the relationship with the divine that I want and hope for. I can’t really define that relationship very well for you, but that’s been a theme of mine from the get-go, so it’s a hopeful statement on a personal level in spite of all the crap going on around us.
“It’s probably not for everybody, but I don’t think I’m alone on this,” he explains about his religious belief. “As the horizon approaches, you start thinking about what’s on the other side. I don’t want to meet God and not recognize him. That matters to me. That’s the driving principle behind my ongoing efforts to get that relationship in good shape.”
(Cockburn expresses those thoughts even more directly on the new album’s strong closing song, “When You Arrive”).
Born in Ottawa, he took an early interest in music, especially jazz, and went on to study composition at Boston’s Berklee School of Music in the mid-1960s before dropping out. He then found his way into rock and folk.
As his career and following developed, so, too, did his concern with war and economic inequities. One of his most memorable and controversial songs, 1984’s “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” came about after Cockburn visited a Mexican refugee camp for Guatemalans fleeing the brutality of their country’s military government.
The song shocked fans who regarded Cockburn as firmly non-violent; others saw it as a rallying call to arms against government-sponsored violence.
It’s a song Cockburn still finds a need to explain today — it’s about him being glad he didn’t have a rocket launcher handy. “The word ‘if’ gets overlooked a lot when people think about that song,” he says. “One of the things I was trying to say is that the enemy — in this case, the Guatemalan military — was inflicting horrendous abuses on its own citizens and forfeiting any claim to humanity by their actions. I was outraged by those things, and my outrage was motivating the song. I don’t think it was an appropriate response really, but I wanted to share with my peers how easy it is to get into that state of mind.”
When Cockburn includes the word “love” in his songs — and he does so on four different O Sun O Moon tracks — he doesn’t do it casually or as a songwriting cliché. His vision of love somewhat parallels his vision of beauty in life. On one of the new album’s loveliest ballads, the quietly hymnic “Us All,” he sings, “I pray we not fear to love/I pray we be free of judgment and shame/Open the vein/let kindness rain/rein/O’er us all.”
“Every now and then, something in your life triggers this sense of being part of the human picture — that feeling to me is love,” Cockburn explains. “When I think about what love is, it’s the glue that holds the universe together, or at least it allows us to tap into our sense of belonging in the universe.
“The love that we can share with other people is a manifestation of that. It’s kind of love at the local level, you might say.”
Bruce Cockburn plays Ludlow Garage at 8:30 p.m. June 16. Info: ludlowgaragecincinnati.com.
There is truth in the statement that some things get better with age. Case in point, Bruce Cockburn’s new album O Sun O Moon serves up a heaping helping of musical goodness.
Recorded in Nashville, this is Cockburn’s 38th studio release, and from the get-go Cockburn reminds us that he still has plenty to say. His brilliant guitar playing is complemented by a crew of superb musicians, and this has allowed him to experiment with some different styles over the course of the 12 tracks.
The album starts with “On A Roll” and Cockburn plays a bluesy lead guitar riff that immediately captures attention. He reminds us that he’s still here with the lyric, “time takes its toll, but in my soul I’m on a roll”. As with every track on O Sun O Moon, the production is first-rate, allowing every nuance to be heard.
“Push Comes to Shove” is the third track on the album, and this lovely acoustic number has a distinctly ‘Parisian café’ vibe. However, Cockburn reminds of his environmental activism with lines like, “I could sail what’s left of the seven seas”. The effect is poignant and bittersweet.
The most unusual song on this release, as also acknowledged by Cockburn, is “King of The Bolero”. Over a backdrop of New Orleans-style horns and a woozy clarinet line, it paints a vivid picture of an old barroom musician using imagery that Cockburn had in his head for years and finally decided to set to music. It is a standout, and if it makes its way into his live shows, it will quickly become a favourite.
The album closes with another jazzy number, “When You Arrive”. The lyrics describe Cockburn feeling his age, but also accepting the fact that he is getting older. His talents as a lyricist are on full display here, including a great line that says, “You’re limping along like a three-legged canine, backbone creaking like a cheap shoe”.
O Sun O Moon reminds us why Bruce Cockburn has had such a successful career, but amazingly, especially after 37 previous releases, that he also has something new to say. This is a fantastic album, from start to finish.
Thursday May 18th, 2023
[ direct link: https://youtu.be/dTM0kSMwsbc ]
Legendary Canadian singer/ songwriter Bruce Cockburn has not just released a new album but is also back on the road with a tour. Rudy Blair Entertainment Media (rudyblairmedia.com) speaks with the multi Juno Award winner about his thoughts on the late Gordon Lightfoot, his tour, the story behind one of his greatest hits “Wondering Where The Lions Are” ( https://bit.ly/3IfMEM7 ) and his latest album “O Sun O Moon” featuring the single “Colin Went Down To The Water”
Credit: Rudy Blair
(Video background created by Motion Graphics provided by https://www.tubebacks.com
May 25, 2023
by Graham Bollands
Album number 38, and twelve new songs as powerful as anything he has ever written.
Bruce Cockburn is an inspired singer-songwriter and an exceptional guitarist, and on ‘O Sun O Moon’, his 38th studio album, this award-winning Canadian artist demonstrates that he is not letting up and that he still has plenty to say. “Time takes its toll, but in my soul I’m on a roll,” he sings on the opening track, and without a doubt he is. On the eve of his 78th birthday, Cockburn has released twelve new compositions as powerful as anything he has ever written.
Exquisitely recorded in Nashville with his long-time producer, Colin Linden, ‘O Sun O Moon‘ exudes a newfound simplicity and clarity, as Cockburn, who is renowned for tackling themes such as politics, human rights and environmental issues, focuses on more spiritual than topical concerns this time around. His mood is reflective, and many of the songs strike gentle tones, from the jazz sway of ‘Push Comes To Shove’ to the folky drones of ‘Into the Now’ and the beautiful ‘When The Spirit Walks In The Room’, and from the string-laden ‘Us All’ to the hymn-like ‘Colin Went Down to the Water’- an achingly sad song describing the drowning of a friend. And ‘Haiku‘, the only track with no vocals and a throwback to his last studio recording, 2019’s Crowing Ignites which was a collection of all instrumental songs, is a wonderful four-minute showcase of his fleet-fingered guitar work. That’s not to say that there aren’t louder and more upbeat moments, most notably the urgent, driving resonator guitar on ‘On A Roll‘ which Cockburn plays with all the vigour of his veteran blues heroes, and the buzzing dulcimer on ‘To Keep The World We Know‘, where he is joined by co-writer of the song, Susan Aglukark, to voice concerns about the growing threat of global warming.
In keeping with so many Cockburn albums, the musicianship is superb. Along with long-term friends Linden (guitars), Janice Powers (keyboards) and Gary Craig (drums), the album features bassist Viktor Krauss, drummer Chris Brown, accordionist Jeff Taylor, violinist Jenny Scheinman and multi-instrumentalist Jim Hoke. And his guest vocalists include Shawn Colvin, Buddy Miller, Allison Russell and Sarah Jarosz, who also plays mandolin, along with Ann and Regina McCrary, daughters of gospel great Rev. Samuel McCrary, one of the founders of the Fairfield Four. The McCrary sisters shine brightest on the title track, the full name of which is ‘O Sun by Day O Moon by Night’. They sing the euphoric chorus of the song which relates, during spoken verses, a dream Cockburn had in which he makes the journey to heaven. “In the dream, which was really powerful,” says Cockburn, “I see myself silhouetted on a ridge with this jar of blood pouring it on the soil. It wasn’t scary or disturbing at all.”
The album’s jazzy closer, ‘When You Arrive’, finds Cockburn confessing to feeling his age when he sings “You’re limping like a three-legged canine, backbone creaking like a cheap shoe.” But it’s clearly a song of acceptance, about eventually slipping one’s mortal coil, as he’s joined on the chorus by all of his guest vocalists, singing “bells will ring when you arrive.” He may be feeling his age, but this superb album demonstrates that there’s a huge amount of life in him yet, and it has every chance of standing as one of the best of his long and distinguished career.
Credit: Graham Bollands
27 May 2023
All About Love
O Sun O Moon, Bruce Cockburn (True North)
There was talk a little while ago, of Bruce Cockburn’s new album being like some of his (much) earlier work. For some of us that hopefully meant a resurrection of the Tom Verlaine-esque guitars on parts of 1978’s Further Adventures of, or the acidic despair and social observation of divorce album Humans and its follow up, the even grittier Inner City Front. But actually what it turns out to be is a return to the kind of music Cockburn made even before those: O Sun O Moon is a laid back singer-songwriter album, exquisitely arranged and produced, with vocals and acoustic guitars to the fore.
Cockburn is 78 and still going strong. He’s been making albums since 1970, I’ve been seeing him in concert since the late 70s; I even wrote my undergraduate dissertation on his work. Every time I think I might not worry about listening to new Cockburn albums any more he releases one that tries something different and re-energises my interest. At times that has been a renewed political engagement, at others a change in his band line-up, producer or just the fact he manages to succinctly capture the moment.
O Sun O Moon is a surprise turn away from political and social satire or commentary to a more personal, and also seemingly more straightforward, blues and folk based music, where texture and arrangement are the focus. It’s subtle, enticing music that isn’t afraid to remain stripped back but also welcomes clarinet, upright bass, accordion, glockenspiel, saxophones and marimba into the mix as and when required.
Cockburn sounds relaxed and slightly gruff vocally throughout, quiet and contemplative, whilst the album sounds as though it was recorded next door. It’s warm and enticing, with love – be that romantic, spiritual or sexual – often posed as not only the answer but a command from above:
The pastor preaching shades of hate
The self-inflating head of state
The black and blue, the starved for bread
The dread, the red, the better dead
The sweet, the vile, the small, the tall
The one who rises to the call
The list is long — as I recall?
Our orders said to love them all
The one who lets his demons win
The one we think we’re better than
A challenge great — as I recall
Our orders said to love them all
There’s also what reads as more zen acceptance than despairing resignation, as long as his lover is there:
What will go wrong will go wrong
What will go right will go right
Push come to shove?
It’s all about love
The sight of your smile fills my heart with light
(‘Push Come to Shove’)
Overall there’s sense of what-will-be-will-be and contentment. Wars and politics aren’t bothering Cockburn much at the moment, he’s not angry but more concerned with domestic routine (he has moved from Canada to San Francisco, and has a teenage daughter) and ageing gracefully. In fact dying gracefully. ‘O Sun O Moon By Night’ is a reflective song that looks backwards in time and forwards in hope:
Pain brings understanding
Your mistakes will set you free
To sink into the spirit?
To clear your eyes to see
O sun by day o moon by night?
Light my way so I get this right?
And if that sun and moon don’t shine
Heaven guide these feet of mine?
whilst the final song, ‘When You Arrive’ starts with the lovely lines ‘Breakfast is Mahler and coffee? / Dinner’s Lightnin’ Hopkins and rye’, but notes that
You’re limping like a three-legged canine
Backbone creaking like a cheap shoe
Dragging the accretions of a lifetime?
But you ought to make another mile or two
before optimistically suggesting that the dead will welcome him in the end. (Yes, I know it says ‘you’re limping’ but I read it as poetic license.):
And the dead shall sing?
To the living and the semi-alive
Bells will ring when you arrive
Cockburn is an astonishing musician, performer, songwriter and political activist. Over the course of 38 studio albums he’s charted the ups and down of life, relationships and friendships, faith and doubt, embraced the urban and rural, pointed out political lies and encouraged revolutionary fervour. He’s visited and documented refugee camps, war zones and tropical paradises, campaigned for various causes and charities, turned nature into mystical visions and kept making great albums. This is one of them.
18 May 2023
BRUCE COCKBURN: Canada’s Revered Singer-Songwriter And Activist – A Journey Through His Soulful Lyrics & Life Reflections
My special guest today is the remarkable BRUCE COCKBURN a celebrated Canadian singer-songwriter and virtuoso guitarist whose music has been enthralling listeners for more than half a century. Bruce’s work is characterized by its profound exploration of spirituality, love and nature offering a thoughtful perspective on the world around us. His songs are celebrated for their eloquent lyrics and enchanting melodies which are deeply rooted in his personal journey and experiences. From his early days as a folk-rock artist in the 60s to his current endeavours Bruce continues to inspire and captivate audiences with his timeless music.
The key moments in this episode are
00 00 02 – Introduction
00 03 21 – Bruce Cockburn’s Music Career
00 07 10 – Political Songwriting
00 11 09 – Pursuing Music Passion
00 14 42 – Songwriting Process
00 19 20 – Bruce’s Journey to Christianity
00 24 25 – Wondering Where the Lions Are
00 33 10 – Changes in Bruce’s Music
00 36 40 – Bruce’s Interest in Aid Organisations
00 38 12 – The Beneficiary of the System
00 44 20 – Canadian Music Hall of Fame
00 45 50 – Rarities Album
00 48 06 – The Frontman
00 50 49 – Bruce’s Career summarised
I hope you enjoy my chat with this incredible musician and amazing human.
Credit: Sandy Kaye