Media


Media Archives

1994-2003 / 2004 / 2005 / 2006 / 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018 / 2019 / 2020 / 2021 / 2022 / 2023


February 25, 2024

The Bruce Vortex 
by Frances Figart

 

There are times in our lives when something new approaches, and we somehow recognize it is for us. A form appears and intuition tells us to move toward it, though we may not fully understand why until later.

In February of 1985, I drove from Kansas, where I was in college, to central Kentucky to visit my parents. As soon as I got in range of WKQQ, the radio station I grew up on, I set the stereo to 98.1 FM. As all the familiar sights of the Bluegrass came into view—tobacco barns, fields of thoroughbreds, dry-stone fences—an unfamiliar song wafted out onto the airwaves.

Its opening bars conjured up the rich brown, green, pink, and orange hues of a tropical jungle. As the melody took shape, it elicited both excitement and sadness. Then a sensitive, vulnerable voice I’d never heard before started singing about helicopters and murdered kids and God as drums kicked in to emphasize a refrain I couldn’t believe I was hearing: “If I had a rocket launcher, I’d make somebody pay!”

1997-05-28 Seattle-daniel-keebler-50060002-frcr

Wow. I pulled the car over along the side of the state road, put it in park, and closed my eyes. I thought about another, older song that began with those same four words expressing desire, hope, a wish: “If I had a…” Pete Seeger had sung them in “If I Had a Hammer,” and I’d listened countless times to Peter Paul and Mary’s rendition as a child. That song—which calls for justice, freedom, and “love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land”—went on to become a protest anthem for the civil rights movement.

But this? This was something other.

This singer was so upset by guarded borders, hate, generals, torture, and “things too sickening to relate” that he was ready to take up arms against the perpetrators and retaliate! Yet this plaintive, intelligent voice could only belong to someone who was, under normal circumstances, a rational, level-headed guy. A nonviolent person. Someone I would be friends with. Someone like me.

Who was he singing about? Where was this problem? He mentioned an exotic sounding place I didn’t recognize where “one hundred thousand wait to fall down from starvation—or some ‘less humane’ fate.” Then I heard a place name I did know: Guatemala! One of my English Lit professors had been spending summer breaks writing about conflicts in Latin America, dividing his time between the Contras in the Nicaraguan revolution and a group of people helping some displaced Guatemalan farmers in Mexico who were being attacked by their own government—with financial backing from ours in the US. He would come back to the university every fall charged up about the issues, which I didn’t begin to understand. This guy must be talking about that same situation.

It hit me that what was coming through my JBLs was a far cry from Tom Petty wailing, “You don’t have to live like a refugee.” This strange new troubadour was invoking despair and outrage in me for a situation he had actually witnessed involving real refugees! Then I heard that peaceable voice invoke the guttural punch of a crusty old jazz singer. Did he really just say that if he had a rocket launcher “some son of a bitch would die”?

In five minutes, my whole world changed. I was reminded of the protagonist Beth Harmon in the book I was reading by Walter Tevis: The Queen’s Gambit, which was set in Kentucky, not far from where I was now parked. When orphaned Beth first saw a chess board, she knew this strange new landscape was “for her” and she couldn’t get it out of her mind. I had a feeling that I’d only seen the tip of the iceberg, that this song was just one small part of what had to be a much larger body of work. If this one piece of the jigsaw could do what it just did to me, then there was a lot more to learn from this artist.

I could discern this songwriter was on literary par with the poetess Joni Mitchell, through whose musical eyes I had been synthesizing the realm of relationships since I was eleven. Now I was 21. I could also tell this guy had an astute sensibility beyond the typical Top 40 fare and suspected this song had only made it onto my hometown rock-n-roll radio station because of the shock factor of its last line. And now listeners who might have no clue about the political situation referenced would perk up their ears and wonder, like I did, what the hell was going on—all because of this bad ass singer . . . what was his name?

“That was the Canadian artist Bruce Cockburn,” said the DJ, pronouncing the “ck” in “cock” like he wasn’t supposed to, which I would soon find out because I was now on my way to Bear’s Wax Records to see if I could find the album. Stealing Fire was there alright, and the enthusiastic store owner had a world of information for me, including how to pronounce Bruce’s last name, and the fact that the album had been released in 1984, “Rocket Launcher” got pegged as a single, and had just now broken through to the US Billboard charts. He considered Bruce the Canadian Bob Dylan and told me he’d been recording for more than a decade already.

~~~

Within an hour’s time, I had entered an unexpected vortex that has now lasted 39 years. Bruce joined my personal Top Five favorite singer–songwriters at that time—the aforementioned Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Pete Townsend, Neil Young, and Todd Rundgren—making it the Top Six. Over the years, the lineup has shifted, but no matter who I’ve been listening to, Bruce has continually held the pinnacle ranking. In that age-old imagined scenario of going to a desert island and having to choose only one artist’s work to take with you, mine would always be his.

Stealing Fire was where I entered the whirlpool, but I rapidly went back in time to acquire and listen to all the albums Bruce had crafted up until that point. Then, I followed along with him into the future, swiftly purchasing each new offering as it became available and turning on all who would listen. Thirty years ago, in February of 1994, Daniel Keebler started the print version of Gavin’s Woodpile, and I began to receive it a short time thereafter. When Bruce wasn’t touring in the areas where I was living, I traveled to see him whenever possible. For years his songs were on my mix tapes; when CDs became popular in the late the ’80s, I began to duplicate the entire discography that I already had on vinyl. During the times of greatest emotion, whether it be deep sadness or expansive joy, only Bruce’s music and lyrics could match the complexity, reflect what I perceived as the dignity of my feelings. 

Bruce was coming from a Christian viewpoint, yet he had an inclusive world view that treated all cultures and religious beliefs with equal respect. This offered me a huge and needed comfort zone. Being raised Southern Baptist, but never having had my parents’ religious convictions, I rejected God in my late teens because I only had one framework for viewing the concept—and it just wasn’t working for me. I couldn’t accept that a creator had a gender and would choose only one group of people to participate in eternity. I considered myself an atheist when I found Bruce in 1985, yet I still identified closely with most of the viewpoints expressed in his songs because foundationally my language, culture, and social milieu were based in Christianity. My alignment with him came not from religion, but from the fact that, like me, he (or at least his persona in his songs) struggled with his faith just as he struggled with the atrocities humans perpetrated on other humans and on the planet. His was not the haughty fundamentalist Christianity of someone who pretended to have all the answers and doled them out blindly without question or thought. He grappled with the ramifications of all the horrors and all the ecstasies, whipping into the storm.

In the early ’90s I was so inspired by seeing him play in Cincinnati that I came out of the concert, “A Dream Like Mine” ringing in my mind and heart, and said to my companions, “I’m going to go to another country and save an endangered species.” What I ended up doing with that energy was looking in my own backyard and finding someone who needed help closer to home. I started a nonprofit to give low-income women in Eastern Kentucky a better chance at economic stability.

Later that decade I would send Bruce a note to ask if I might talk to him at a show in Chattanooga on The Charity of Night tour. I wanted to see if he might entertain the idea of doing a fundraiser for my nonprofit. He sent me a postcard from a New York hotel and told me to come backstage after the show. I drove from Lexington to Chattanooga, the concert was fantastic, and after the lights came on, I went up to someone breaking down the equipment and said, “Bruce told me to come and see him after the show.” I was sure I would be cursorily dismissed. “What’s your name?” asked the roadie. “Frances.” “Oh yeah, he’s expecting you.”

I was taken down a tiny hallway that led to an even more diminutive dressing room where I spent an unforgettable half an hour with Bruce. We talked about everything from hands and feet to rock climbing and horseback riding to languages, writing, and poetry, to family and relationships to the books we were reading. I felt wholly inadequate to express myself—not because of any distance Bruce created; he was quite relaxed, encouraging, and friendly. I was simply overcome with the cumulative admiration I had been nurturing for so many years that revolved around this person and all that he had been willing to share, that I was rendered woefully inarticulate.

Recently, I was delighted to find that M. D. Dunn gave this phenomenon a name on page 6 of his new tribute to Bruce, You Get Bigger as You Go. He calls it “The Bruce Effect” and laments in reference to an interview he conducted with Bruce, “I am embarrassed by how nervous I was: voice stammering, quavering.” He goes on to describe exactly what happened to me: “There can be moments in a conversation with Bruce when one’s mind goes to mush, the circuits overload, and everything shuts down. It’s nothing that Cockburn does; and for people with an appreciation of his music, it has nothing to do with fame or celebrity. Anyone who understands the significance of the man’s music and activism cannot help but be occasionally overwhelmed.”

Considering my own bumbling attempts at communication with Bruce that night in Chattanooga, I am glad to know others have had similar experiences. Bruce ultimately told me I could try to get Bernie Finkelstein to let him do a fundraising gig, but it would be a hard sell. We never did it. But I still consider that meeting to be one of the most important events of my life on earth.

~~~

As anyone who follows Bruce understands, there is no way to pick even a set of favorite songs; it just doesn’t work like that. We all love the entire body of work and how it constantly unfolds as a whole. Yet I can point to a few personal highlights.

Both “Coldest Night of the Year” and “Last Night of the World” share details of a very specific moment in time that yet reflects our own lives back to us in the generalities. “I drove all the people home; I was the one with the car”—who can’t relate to that? “I've seen the flame of hope among the hopeless, and that was truly the biggest heartbreak of all.” This line circles me back to the refugees who inspired Bruce to write the song that helped me and many others in the US to find him. These nostalgic yet hopeful songs about what might have been or could yet be help us to feel more connected to the people on the periphery of our lives who always made us wonder about the quantum possibilities.

If it’s love songs you seek, they don’t come any better than “Don’t Have to Tell You Why,” “See How I Miss You,” “All the Ways I Want You,” “Bone in My Ear,” “Live on My Mind,” “The Coming Rains,” “Wait No More,” and “See You Tomorrow.” Bruce has an uncanny talent for infusing songs about romantic love, sexual desire, and domestic bliss with the more expansive sensual connection to the divine that is our true love story.

Tunes like “Creation Dream,” “How I Spent My Fall Vacation,” “Understanding Nothing,” “Open,” “Put it in Your Heart,” “Tried and Tested” and “Burden of the Angel Beast” act as fuel providing the energy, endurance, and determination necessary to persevere in the quest for greater creativity and deeper connection. I have come to think of “Get Up Jonah” as one of the best spiritual poems ever written—and when you add the musical composition, the whole concoction blasts out into the stratosphere, taking the listener with it.

For years I have used “Love Loves You Too” as a closing exercise in Myers Briggs Type Indicator trainings to help various groups understand and appreciate personality differences and our multitudinous human roles. “Joy Will Find a Way,” “Hoop Dancer,” “Going Up Against Chaos,” “Strange Waters,” “Use Me While You Can” and “To Fit in My Heart” have each contributed profoundly to my ever-widening spiritual perspective—over and over again.

“Child of the Wind,” an epic piece which ironically ended a rare dry spell in Bruce’s creativity and is one of his finest compositions ever, taught me to step outside the view of God I didn’t like and see the much bigger picture:

Little round planet
In a big universe
Sometimes it looks blessed
Sometimes it looks cursed
Depends on what you look at obviously
But even more it depends on the way that you see

Works like “Call it Democracy,” “If a Tree Falls,” “Stolen Land,” and “The Trouble with Normal” continually vindicate my views of world (and especially American) policy. As Bruce posits in his dazzling memoir, Rumours of Glory, politics actually demand art. “If an artist’s job is to distill the human experience into something that can be shared, then the political, as much a part of that experience as God or sex or alienation, deserve[s] to be seen as raw material. The arts contribute significantly to social movements and cultural cohesion.”

Dunn wisely points out that we “grow into the music we love. Sometimes we are not ready for it, but the music waits. It works quiet magic in the background of our lives, each note leading us to the next discovery.” This was the case for me with Joni Mitchell as a child morphing into a young woman, and the same has been true for me with Bruce as an adult on a circuitous path of learning that is finally getting a little less curvy.

When my mother died in 2012, I’d been her caregiver for over a year. She transitioned just after midnight. A close friend and I stayed up the rest of that night cleaning and rearranging the house. Bruce’s was of course the only music that was possible to hear during this stunning, elongated moment of dire grief. I had Humans on and “The Rose Above the Sky” came around—I had heard it hundreds of times and never understood what it meant until that instant:

Something jeweled slips away
'Round the next bend with a splash
Laughing at the hands I hold out
Only air within their grasp
All you can do is praise the razor
For the fineness of the slash 

~~~

Since I first encountered the music and got sucked into “The Bruce Vortex,” a week hasn’t gone by that I haven’t listened to him. Some of my deepest friendships and even a few of my professional relationships revolve around a connection to Bruce’s art.

I have seen Bruce loping onto the stage in his humble yet confident way and felt I could detect a kind of burden being carried, a yoke that tethers him to his role as a performer of these truths for which he has been such a powerful and translucent conduit. Sometimes I have sensed that, more than anything else, he’s bound and driven by an unshakable brand of spiritual stewardship.

Largely because of Bruce’s influence, I transitioned from nonbeliever to untroubled agnostic—the stance of “I don’t know all the answers about whether or not there is a God and that’s okay—I’m not designed to know.” But over time, I came to see in a different way. I now understand that nothing’s too big to fit in my heart. God doesn’t look the way I was raised to believe it would. I understand spirit differently than I ever thought possible. Through the combination of several spiritual practices and listening to Bruce, I can say, like him, that “in my soul, I’m on a roll.”

According to some wisdom traditions, when a student is ready, their guru shows up. They get an overwhelming feeling of love and adoration from being in the presence of the sadhu or holy one. But it is not the guru that is the object of adulation or worship. It is the divine manifesting through another human that causes the feeling of overwhelming joy. In his seminal bible of the counterculture, Be Here Now, Ram Dass explains that spiritual guidance appears when we need it and can be “in the form of a teacher or a lover or an enemy or a pet or a rock or a chemical or a book or a feeling of great despair or a physical illness or the eyes of a person you pass on the street.” Some people are put off by the notion that a human being can radiate the power of the divine. But I understand the concept of the guru through the alchemic effect that Bruce’s work has had on my life.

Last summer, I was privileged to be able to see Bruce play in Atlanta. Everyone I encountered there was smiling, and many were crying from the joy of being in his presence again. I had brief but deep conversations with several people I had never met, exchanging embraces when we parted ways. Like Zen meditation or shamanic ceremony, the path of Bruce Cockburn’s music is not for everyone. But for those who take up the mantle, the benefits are immense.

frances-figert

In Rumours of Glory, Bruce explains how he “wasn’t sure the listening public would accept ‘Rocket Launcher.’ I was afraid that if it did, I would be promoting a violent response to the violence the song deplores.” I’m so thankful today that, as he says, “common sense won out,” and Bruce decided it was worth the risk to tell the story of what was going on beside the Río Lacantún.

 

Frances Figart (rhymes with “tiger”) is a writer, editor, and creative director living in East Tennessee. Today is her 60th birthday. She has tickets to see Bruce on May 2 in Austin. You can reach her at ffigart@gmail.com.



February 16, 2024
Cashbox Canada

You Get Bigger as You Go – A Personal Interview with Author M.D. Dunn
by Lisa Hartt


Cashbox Cover Feb 16 2024-small

I have just finished reading “You Get Bigger as you Go”, Bruce Cockburn’s Influence and Evolution by author M.D. Dunn.

What a wonderful rabbit hole to fall into! I As the reader, I was immersed for weeks in Bruce’s music, playing the tracks from all the albums that Dunn delves into, as I read the book. I followed the timeline along with Mark Dunn’s research and exploration of all Cockburn’s albums. This book explores the profound influence and remarkable evolution of Cockburn’s music. A renowned Canadian singer songwriter and guitarist, Cockburn has entertained and educated listeners for over five decades.

Speaking with Mark recently about the book, we discussed the fact that Bruce is like a war correspondent, a journalist observing through his lens of music the times we live in, complimented by the poetry of his complex guitar phrasing. Cockburn digs deep into the pathos of the song.

Mark reflected that: “Bruce is almost always the narrator in these songs, and they are not always about him, but they are always a reflection of his point of view.”

Author M.D. Dunn takes us on an obsessive and humorous quest to track Cockburn’s cultural footprint and reflects on his own early introduction to Bruce’s music and how writing the book became a 7-year quest of immersing himself in the complete catalogue and as Mark says, “There is not a bad album in the catalogue”. The book is interspersed with interviews with Bruce, and meetings and interviews with many of the key players, like the legendary Bernie Finkelstein, close friends, and colleagues of Bruce’s, to get a clear picture of his generosity of spirit, his spiritual journey, his activism, and his love of nature. Black and white photographs from the archivist Daniel Keebler help to illustrate the different life passages of Bruce at home, in the studio, and on the road.

We talked at length about the passage in the book where Mark describes that we all come to Bruce’s music at different times in our lives. For him it was a cassette tape that was unlabeled with no liner notes in a thrift shop when he was fourteen “Joy Will Find a Way” which affected him so profoundly. For me it was “Goin’ To the Country” released in 1970. And so, wherever you come to Cockburn’s music, that is THE album for them. As a Montrealer, I believed we always had the ‘cool’ music first in Canada. Bruce always included French Lyrics on his albums and in his songs, so he was played extensively in Montreal on CHOM FM, the station of global inclusivity and diversity at the time as well as CJFM, the softer rock station of the City.

During our lively conversation, the author and I delved into the place of Bruce’s activism and how much great courage and self-discipline it takes to walk that path and be committed. How in one passage in the book, Bruce wrestles with the thought that the last line of “If I had a Rocket Launcher”, could be seen as a call to violence. He had been in such rage and grief writing that song after witnessing the refugee camps that had been decimated, killing women and children in South America. Cockburn worried that the rage was palpable in that song. Bruce says in the book: “It is still painful to sing that song. I put myself where the song is. It is painful. I don’t like singing it.” The book really delves into the trajectory and platform of his activism and there are interviews with people who accompanied him to Guatemala and Nicaragua that illuminate his integrity and shyness around acclaim for his participation. What Cockburn writes is thoughtful and researched and chosen out of a deep expression of belief in the group he is representing and not for opportunistic reasons.

Following the journey of Bruce Cockburn’s spirituality is also a revelation in the book and now makes so much more sense to me considering the descriptions of the albums created the maturity developmental period in this book’s timeline. The music gives us clues as where Cockburn is on his faith journey. It is wonderful that M.D. Dunn extrapolates the world news as we explore Bruce’s discography. It makes so much sense to me through reading this book, how mature he was as a thinker and an artist for change.

Mark and I spoke about the journeys we must all be on and that our choice of music is our companion, our guide, our Gandalf. This book is like that, it opens every moment for discussion and very beautifully speaks to the poetry of Cockburn’s lyrics, as we search our own journey on the timeline for similarities.

M.D. Dunn photo

I especially like how the author timelines Cockburn’s quest for spirituality. We the reader have the opportunity through descriptions of different albums and interviews to immerse ourselves in Cockburn’s journey. Asked in 2021 his concept of God Bruce says “It’s tricky, I got into a sense of God, the cosmic-ness of God that I think about most often. it’s a little like pantheism. God is in everything. Nothing exists without god’s permission, would be a Christian way of saying it. Having set the universe in motion. It doesn’t mean that “he takes an interest in every single detail. If you can imagine a person. While there is this cosmic thing, there is also a presence in the heart (brings both hands to his chest) that’s inescapable for me. And I want to know more about it. I never feel I know enough about it, that I have a clear enough channel to it. I like the Kabbalist notion of “Ein Sof” which is “The Boundless. In other words, you can say anything you want about God, but you’re never going to cover it. And so, all the images in a way are suitable, but limited. And you must be aware of the limitations of that imagery.”

Dunn writes: Cockburn’s spirituality is often described as ‘bordering on the mystical’. He has read widely and with an open mind, drawing from Christian studies, the Kabbalah, the occult, and Buddhism, among other traditions, to form a faith system that seems fluid and ever evolving but still Christian. Suffice it to say that Cockburn believes in a personal savior that transcends all physical limitation. It’s The Boundless, as he says, Boundless without end.

In conclusion: I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves and lives for the back stories in Bruce Cockburn’s music, and for those who embrace our Canadian perspective. The book is so well written and researched that it was very hard not quote or wish to discourse on every topic. There was so much meaning and integrity of language throughout the whole tome.

M.D. Dunn (you can call him Mark) has written and performed music for more than thirty years and released nine albums as of 2023. A teacher and a poet, Dunn’s writing has been published in the Globe and Mail, the Literary Review of Canada. The Rumpus, Public works Magazine, Contemporary verse 2, and many other outlets. He lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, where he teaches writing at Sault College. Find him online at www.mddunn.com.

As the author says: “The book is not perfect, and there is much more work to be done with Bruce Cockburn’s music and its cultural presence. I hope that this small offering might continue and advance the discussion.”

Fermata Press is a micro press for quirky books about music, who are dedicated to giving readers insightful, engaging, and strange books. Contact at FermataPress.com.


February 3, 2024
American Songwriter

The Insurgent Anger Behind “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” by Bruce Cockburn
by Bryan Reesman


Even peace-loving types can get fed up. And that is the anger and angst that Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn tapped into for his folk-rock classic “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.”

Cockburn, whose 38th studio album O Sun O Moon came out in May 2023, has always been known for his artistic passion and social and political consciousness. His music has spanned a wide range of influences as well. On his 1984 album Stealing Fire he recorded many intense political songs, including “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” and “Nicaragua.” The former song had a lyric (got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight) that U2 later referenced in the song “God Part II.” The Irish band reportedly considered covering “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” but never did.

Intense Inspiration

When it came out, “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” actually received a good amount of radio airplay and was shown on MTV. The incendiary song was inspired by Cockburn’s first trip to Central America that was coordinated through Oxfam in 1983. After visiting a Guatemalan refugee camp in southern Mexico that had been attacked by Guatemalan army helicopters—who untruthfully claimed it was a haven for guerrillas fighting the country’s American-backed dictatorship—he was inspired to write the song. It chronicled what he had seen in Central America and expressed the anger and outrage he felt or what he had experienced and witnessed.

Here comes the helicopter—second time today
Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away
How many kids they’ve murdered only God can say
If I had a rocket launcher … I’d make somebody pay”

While like their predecessors, the folk singer/songwriters of the ’80s certainly espoused peaceful solutions to political and military problems. But Coburn takes a darker turn here and as he does, each of the song’s four choruses grows more intense.

If I had a rocket launcher …
(Chorus No. 1): I’d make somebody pay.
(Chorus No. 2): I would retaliate.
(Chorus No. 3): I would not hesitate.
(Chorus No. 4): Some son of a bitch would die.

In the mid-1980s, some Canadian radio stations were reportedly uncomfortable playing that last chorus so the song was faded out in an edited version. The single was not a big hit at the time, having reached No. 49 on the Canadian charts and No. 88 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is one of only two Cockburn songs to ever chart in America.

But don’t let the chart numbers fool you. This song was actually a rallying call to metaphorical arms and its impact and popularity grew over time. (“Lovers in a Dangerous Time” from the album has also been influential and covered by Frazey Ford, Oysterband, Dan Fogelberg, and Barenaked Ladies, the latter scoring their first Top 20 hit in Canada with it in 1991.)

Mixed Messages

About “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” Cockburn told the Vancouver Sun in 2017, “A lot of people relate to it currently, in terms of Iraq or Afghanistan or Syria, any number of places. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be running out of war and pain.”

But audience reactions can vary. Cockburn recalled that at one of his own concerts he was scared by witnessing 2,000 Christians at a British music festival in the 1980s enthusiastically singing to the last chorus. “There’s nothing joyful or celebratory about it,” he told the Sun. “It’s truthful, but that’s not a pleasant truth to me. I don’t like reliving it.”

Conversely, when he played Santiago, Chile to support banned artists during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, a Chilean singer translated each line Cockburn sang into Spanish. “When we got to the end, the audience was on its feet,” Cockburn recalled. “That was also quite chilling. These people had a different perspective on it.”

Twist Ending

In August 2009, Cockburn visited his brother Capt. John Cockburn, a doctor who was serving with the Canadian Forces at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. He performed this song for the troops to great applause. On a lark, the commander of Task Force Kandahar, Gen. Jonathan Vance, presented the singer/songwriter with a rocket launcher.

“I was kind of hoping he would let me keep it,” Cockburn quipped to the CBC. “Can you see Canada Customs? I don’t think so.”


February 3, 2024

James Toth Presents… ‘Imaginational Anthem Vol. XIII – Songs of Bruce Cockburn’

 songs of bruce cockburn

Bruce Cockburn is one of the most celebrated Canadian artists of all time. Unlike fellow Canadians Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell or Neil Young, Cockburn has not been fully embraced by a younger generation of indie musicians and younger fans. Tompkins Square recruited well-respected indie artist James Toth, known for his work with Wooden Wand, to curate the 13th volume of its guitar series, Imaginational Anthem, out April 5, 2024. Although there is a focus on Bruce as a guitarist, there are also vocal tracks on the album. Indie stalwarts Bill Callahan, Matt Valentine, Luke Schneider and Jerry David DeCicca all step up and pay tribute to this musical hero, proving that Cockburn is not only influential, but also the keeper of a deep catalog of songs ripe for discovery by a younger generation. PURCHASE HERE.

Foxglove – Eli Winter

40 Years In The Wilderness – Jerry David DeCicca (featuring Bill Callahan)

Up On The Hillside – Matthew “Doc” Dunn

Fall – Powers Rolin Duo

Pacing The Cage – Lou Turner

Waiting For A Miracle – Wet Tuna

One Day I Walk – Armory Schafer

You Don’t Have To Play The Horses – Jody Nelson

All The Diamonds – Kyle Hamlett Duo (featuring Luke Schneider)


YGBAYG-cover-1

January 17, 2024
SooToday.com

Meet Bruce Cockburn (virtually) at the Sault Museum

Canadian music giant's life captured in a new book by local author Mark Dunn; free event on Feb. 11 will include a reading, door prizes and Cockburn answering questions


Canadian music icon Bruce Cockburn will be in Sault Ste. Marie virtually next month promoting a new book that celebrates his long and remarkable career.

You Get Bigger as You Go: Bruce Cockburn's Influence and Evolution was released in December and has topped Amazon bestseller lists in multiple categories, reaching No. 1 in folk and country biographies. 

The Sault Ste. Marie Museum will host a launch for the book by local author and musician Mark Dunn. There will be door prizes, book sales, a reading from the book, and music. Cockburn will take questions. The event is free, but space is limited. Reserve a spot through the museum's website, or drop in to the gift shop.

The book is available for purchase in SSM at The Rad Zone and the SSM Museum Gift Shop, through bookstores, and online through Amazon, Chapters, and elsewhere.

Book launch:  You Get Bigger as You Go: Bruce Cockburn's Influence and Evolution

Sunday, Feb. 11
2:30-4:30 p.m.
Admission is free, but space is limited 
Reserved seating


January 17, 2024
Sault Ste. Marie Museum

You Get Bigger As You Go
Bruce Cockburn Book Event

The event will be held on February 11, 2024, from 2:30pm - 4pm in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

You Get Bigger as You Go: Bruce Cockburn's Influence and Evolution made #1 on Amazon.ca, Folk and Country Musician Biographies in just over a week.

YGBAYG-cover-no-text

We will be hosting an event with Mark Dunn (local author and musician) who just completed a book on Bruce Cockburn. This event will feature music, some reading from the book, light refreshments, and a special guest joining us virtually… Mr. Bruce Cockburn himself. Tickets for this event are limited.

Bruce Cockburn has enthralled audiences with his insightful lyrics and innovative guitar playing for over half a century. Hit songs like “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” and “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” are just part of the story. In You Get Bigger as You Go: Bruce Cockburn’s Influence and Evolution, musician and writer M.D. Dunn takes the reader on a humorous and obsessive quest to track Cockburn’s significant cultural footprint. Interviews with producers, musicians, activists, fans, as well as Bruce’s career-long manager, the legendary Bernie Finkelstein, and with the enigmatic Mr. Cockburn himself form the core of this critical assessment and appreciation. In these conversations, Cockburn and friends celebrate a life of music and social engagement.

You Get Bigger as You Go: Bruce Cockburn’s Influence and Evolution is the perfect beginner’s guide to the music and the artist, and a fun addition to any fan's library. Photographs from archivist Daniel Keebler span decades and show Cockburn in his natural habitat, on stage and in the studio.


© Daniel Keebler 1993-2024