Bruce Cockburn is a poet, songwriter, political activist, guitarist and singer.
His songs have been featured on network tv. His lyrics have been quoted by U2 (“Gotta kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight,” in U2’s God, Part II. From Cockburn’s, Lovers in a Dangerous Time).
Cockburn’s artistic output is stunning – a catalog of 30 albums over 40 years.
As Wikipedia notes, “Twenty Cockburn records have received a Canadian gold or platinum certification as of 2013, and he has sold nearly one million albums in Canada alone.”
I’m sure many singer-songwriters would be thrilled to lay claim to writing just one of Cockburn’s 300 songs. It’s almost impossible to single one out. They’re all gems, and if you’re a Cockburn fan, you have your own list of favorites.
Here’s a snippet of Cockburn’s lyrical poetry. From Closer to the Light, mourning a death…
There you go
Swimming deeper into mystery
Here I remain
Only seeing where you used to be
Stared at the ceiling
‘Til my ears filled up with tears
Never got to know you
Suddenly you’re out of here
Gone from mystery into mystery
Gone from daylight into night
Another step closer into darkness
Closer to the light
Cockburn was recently inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. This part of his acceptance speech offers a powerful perspective on art and the human experience…
“Though I didn’t understand it at the time, I came to realize that art, including the art of songwriting, is about sharing the human experience. Music is a spiritual bonding agent, a means of sharing deep feelings of all times. When you add words, the sharing becomes pointed — specific. A song can offer inspiration, distraction, solace, solidarity – a sense that we are not alone in our feelings. The human ability to create songs is precious and vital. We have always done it and I think we always will — the artifice of machines (and ISIS) not withstanding.”
More of Cockburn’s thoughts can be found in this interview, conducted right before his recent induction.
Cockburn and his band are currently on tour in support of his new album, Bone on Bone. The new songs are great and only add to his legacy.
There was a tour stop in Philadelphia last night. The concert started with Tokyo and ended in Stolen Lands. In between those two songs was a journey through Cockburn’s creative life. My only complaint? I wanted to hear every single one of his 300 songs.