shadow
BRUCE COCKBURN > Interviews

Songcraft Spotlight on Songwriters

Ep. 180 – BRUCE COCKBURN (“If I Had a Rocket Launcher”)

LISTEN

23 November 2021 – Our guest on this episode of Songcraft is Bruce Cockburn. The Canadian singer-songwriter’s more than 50-year career has produced 34 albums, 22 of which have been certified Gold or Platinum in his home country. He has won 13 Juno Awards, and is a member of both the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Bruce joins us to chat about his career and his new 2-CD career-spanning compilation, entitled Greatest Hits: 1970-2020, which will be released on December 3rd.


Bruce Cockburn Interview by Bob Gersztyn – bluesrockreview.com

Bruce Cockburn photo by Bob Gersztyn

2 November 2021 – Bruce Cockburn is a singer songwriter that is cross between Phil Ochs and Robert Johnson. Lyrically his compositions are politically and spiritually charged with driving hook-laden melodies while they are delivered using stellar guitar accompaniment. Cockburn is one of those performers that can entertain audiences equally as well with either an electric guitar and full band or solo with only an acoustic guitar. Musically he is a guitar virtuoso with a baritone voice that has mesmerized his fans for five decades. His songs cover a gamut of subjects ranging from politics and human rights to the environment and religion. His extraordinary guitar playing prowess covers a range of styles from jazz and finger picking country blues to hard rock with feedback laden guitar solos. Over the past five decades, he’s released over two dozen studio albums of original compositions and entertained audiences around the world. His travels through Central America along with Europe and Asia as far as Tibet during the 1980s gave him the subject matter for some of his best songs. At 76 years of age, he is still going strong, and prior to embarking on a concert tour beginning in December, “True North Records” is releasing a 30 song double CD of Bruce Cockburn’s Greatest Hits (1970-2020). Blues Rock Review talked to Bruce about his upcoming tour and delved into the message of his music.

How did you choose the 30 songs on your upcoming Greatest Hits (1970 – 2020)?

They are all singles. It’s a bit of an exaggeration I’d say but they were all songs that we would have liked to have been hits and some of them actually were. They are all the singles that were fired in the direction of radio.

I’m very familiar with your work because I’ve been following you since 1980 and have just about all your albums so I know that even if all of them weren’t radio hits they are the ones that stand out.

Among them certainly are the songs that people have kind of embraced more than others so we can use the term hits metaphorically. Some of those songs were not particularly noticed, others were, and some of them were noticed in certain regions and others in other regions and that kind of thing. So some of them like “Rocket Launcher,” “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” among others got significant national attention so that made them obvious. So basically it’s all the songs that had been singles and I think that we left one out that we intended to include.

What are your favorite three out of the thirty?

“Night Train” is one of my favorites of the songs I’ve written along with “All the Diamonds in the World” and “Mama Just Wants to Barrelhouse All Night Long.” Those are always songs that I liked to play myself the whole way along and not just to record or perform but myself, “I’m able to relate to those songs over and over, and over and over again. They’re the ones that stand out in my mind. “Going to the Country” I think stands up pretty well. It’s hard to pick favorites really.

|



Surviving Life with Les Stroud – Parts 1 & 2

18 November 2020 – Bruce Cockburn at my house in Muskoka – Part 1- Summer 2020

12 March 2021 – Bruce Cockburn at my house in Muskoka – Part 2.

reallesstroud (@Survivorman Les Stroud) Tweeted: I launch my new podcast in ONE WEEK with three at once: My own keynote at the Bushcraft Symposium, Bruce Cockburn at my house in Muskoka and David Suzuki in his yard by the ocean in Vancouver. On my Youtube and wherever you get your podcasts!


Bruce Cockburn & Foy Vance on The Vinyl Supper

Foy Vance Vinyl Supper poster

Bruce Cockburn’s episode of The Vinyl Supper podcast and video series with Foy Vance is out now! Pull a seat up to the table and find out what we’re eating and listening to during our last meals. Listen and watch at thevinylsupper.com.

On a very special 10th episode, Foy gets to speak with one of his idols: Bruce Cockburn. Bruce’s first album came out fifty years ago, and here he is on episode 10 of The Vinyl Supper with Foy Vance. His eponymous album was released on April 7th 1970, including classic hits “Going to the Country” and “Musical Friends.” In the past fifty years, he’s released 34 albums and played around the world.

Foy and Bruce bond over songwriting and what ‘the new normal’ has meant for them. Bruce calls back to an All-American favorite food, chicken and waffles, and rewinds over memories with All-American favorite musicians, Elvis and Little Richard. The two get serious with talks of the recent unrest in the states, and Bruce has some words of wisdom: “looters are not the creators of chaos.” They discuss the difference between condoning, condemning, and understanding.

In his own words, Bruce says of the last fifty years of recording: “I can only shake my head and mutter a word of thanks for all of it. Even if I’d been a planner by nature, I doubt I could have predicted how things have gone. And they’re still going!” Going they are indeed: Bruce’s songs have been covered by Jimmy Buffet, kd Lang, Barenaked Ladies, Jerry Garcia, Judy Collins, Chet Atkins, and many more.

This episode was recorded in July 2020.

Credit: Bruce Cockburn on The Vinyl Supper – Foy Vance


IN CONVERSATION WITH BRUCE COCKBURN By M.D. Dunn

This interview by Mark Dunn with Bruce is from August 14, 2019. It was published in Contemporary Verse 2 in 2019.

IN CONVERSATION WITH BRUCE COCKBURN by By M.D. Dunn

Bruce Cockburn laughs a lot. It might surprise people familiar with only his
heavier songs or the many causes he has championed. He even makes jokes, clever
and funny jokes. His conversation is punctuated by belly laughs and a wit that
runs from dry and cutting to outright silliness. Truth is, this legendary songwriter doesn’t recognize his own legend.

Throughout his 50-year career, which he calls a “careen,” Cockburn has
participated in numerous grassroots actions: working to help ban landmines in
Mozambique and elsewhere, supporting the Haida and the Lubicon Cree in land
rights disputes, promoting sustainable farming, and witnessing the desperation
of refugees in Central America. Many of these concerns end up in his songs and
have perpetuated the image of a cold intellectual, a worldly and jaded observer of human folly.

Continue Reading:
bruce_cockburn_14aug19_dunn_cv2


Bruce Cockburn: Life during isolation and social distancing

18 April 2020 – In recent days, I have posed this question via email to a handful of creative artists and citizens of note:

“During this time of social distancing and isolation at home, what are examples of the music you are listening to, the books you are reading, and/or the television or films you are viewing?” (If you wish, please feel free to also share your thoughts on the effects this isolation is having on your creativity or on your world).

This edition features the email response of recording artist Bruce Cockburn.

You might think, in this time of isolation, that there would be an opportunity for catching up on all sorts of things: household tasks that we’ve been putting off, books waiting to be read, etc, but for me the reality is that with my wife teleworking and my 8-year-old “teleschooling” and having ZOOM play dates, and all of us together 24/7, I’m quite a lot busier than what used to be normal. That said, I have been listening and reading: Fernando Pessoa’s novel The Book of Disquiet, William Gibson’s Agency, poetry by Charles Bukowski, Joan Logghe and Wislawa Szymborska. For music, it’s pretty random. Recent listens include YouTube videos of David Russell’s stunning guitar playing as well as various performances by Voces8, Charles Mingus’ Tijuana Moods (an old favorite), the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, and Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht..I haven’t watched any TV. That’s something I mostly do in hotel rooms. My daughter and I watched the second Smurfs movie the other day, which I love!

We are lucky in that my wife is still working. I feel for the baristas and waiters and cab drivers and everyone who depends on being able to move around and congregate for work. There’s an undercurrent of worry we all feel. My daughter feels some stress that gives her trouble getting to sleep sometimes. I feel somewhat fatalistic about COVID-19 with respect to myself.

I suppose each of us has to find whatever ways we can to put our “house arrest” to good use, even if it’s only resting, which a lot of us probably need. After a month, it still feels like a novelty. The challenge of coming up with creative ideas of how to pass the time, maintain friendships and acquire toilet paper is still kind of entertaining in itself. I’m not sure that will remain true if we have to live like this for too long.

~from jerryjazzmusician.com


Bruce Cockburn article – interview by Mark Dunn

Iconic songwriter releases a haunting, masterful second instrumental
album.

Interview with Bruce Cockburn from a recent issue of the mighty Penguin Eggs Magazine. Bruce gives his usual articulate answers to my half-baked questions, offers insight into the acoustic guitar cutaway/full bout debate, and names some guitarists who have impressed him. ~ by Mark Dunn

Interview by Mark Dunn - 14 August 2019

Bruce Cockburn: A Journey Celebrated in Music

Bruce Cockburn views time as his most precious currency. The 74-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter intends to spend well what he has left, his role models being aging musicians such as John Lee Hooker (1917-2001) and Mississippi John Hurt (1892-1966), bluesmen who played their harps until their lips trickled blood, and strummed and pined through their last shaft of sunlight.

“In the context of contemplating retirement, I admire the old blues guys who never stopped working until they dropped,” says Cockburn. “That’s what I fully expect to be doing myself.”

Most of those blue legends kept playing out of financial necessity, of course, but they also loved what they did. “Growing old gracefully, I’ve learned, is much different than simply keeping going,” explains Cockburn. “We either die or we get old – those are the choices. At this point, I’ll choose growing old, and I’ll choose getting better as a musician, and as a human being.”

Over five decades, Cockburn, whose music has been formed by political dissent, religion, romance, and spiritual awakening, has released 34 albums over his lengthy career. He stresses that his work has experienced a large resurgence, now that he himself in his 70s, a period in life when many other people his age are shutting down the store, and segueing from living to passing away.

Indeed, a conversation with Cockburn isn’t merely a chronological recap of his life; it’s a vivacious discussion about today and tomorrow and the viaduct that links the two. It’s all about his willingness to explore new fields as an artist and as a human. His interaction with his fans, he says, has matured in novel ways in recent years. Up until a few years ago, he had resisted greeting audiences, or signing autographs following shows. Now all that is something he commonly does – and something he enjoys.

“There’s an element of unreality to those encounters,” says Cockburn. “When you are on stage, by default, you are larger than life, and that’s a distortion. If you stick around long enough to converse with people, it gets better and more interesting.

“I now have a multi-generational fan base, including kids who were raised on my stuff, among other things. These are people who’ve hung in there all these years, and now they’ve brought their own kids; what kind of huge compliment is that? The alternative is watching the audience turn into skeletons attached to the walls with cobwebs.”

|