||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2010)|
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (July 2013)|
Bruce Cockburn performing at the City Stages festival in Birmingham, Alabama, United States
|Born||May 27, 1945|
|Origin||Ottawa, Ontario, Canada|
Bruce Douglas Cockburn OC (// KOH-bərn; born May 27, 1945) is a Canadian folk/rock guitarist and singer-songwriter. His most recent album was released in March 2011, and his musical career spans over 40 years. He has written songs in styles ranging from folk to jazz-influenced rock to rock and roll. Just as his musical style has varied through the years, his song lyrics have dealt with a broad range of topics. A review of Cockburn's lyrics reveals a passion for human rights, political issues and Christianity over his long musical career.
- 1 Life and career
- 2 Soundtracks
- 3 Covers and tributes
- 4 Awards and honours
- 5 "Humans"
- 6 Equipment
- 7 Discography
- 8 Chart singles
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes and references
- 11 External links
- 12 Song collections and biographies
Life and career
Cockburn was born in 1945 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and spent some of his early years on a farm outside Pembroke, Ontario. He has stated in interviews that his first guitar was one he found around 1959 in his grandmother's attic, which he adorned with golden stars and used to play along to radio hits. Cockburn was a student (but did not study music) at Nepean High School, where his 1964 yearbook photo states his desire "to become a musician." He attended Berklee School of Music in Boston for three semesters in the mid-1960s. In 1966 he joined an Ottawa band called The Children, which lasted for about a year. In the spring of 1967 he joined the final lineup of The Esquires. He moved to Toronto that summer to form The Flying Circus with former Bobby Kris & The Imperials members Marty Fisher and Gordon MacBain and ex-Tripp member Neil Lillie. The group recorded some material in late 1967 (which remains unreleased) before changing its name to Olivus in the spring of 1968, by which time Lillie (who changed his name to Neil Merryweather) had been replaced by Dennis Pendrith from Livingstone's Journey. Olivus opened for The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream in April 1968. That summer Cockburn broke up the band with the intention of going solo, but he ended up in the band 3's a Crowd with David Wiffen, Colleen Peterson, and Richard Patterson, who had played with him in The Children. Cockburn left this band in the spring of 1969 to pursue a solo career.
Cockburn's first solo appearance was at the Mariposa Folk Festival in 1967, and in 1969 he was a headliner. In 1970 he released his first, self-titled, solo album. Cockburn's guitar work and songwriting skills won him an enthusiastic following. His early work featured rural and nautical imagery, Biblical metaphors, and the conviction that heaven is close despite hardship. Raised as an agnostic, early in his career he became a devout Christian. Many of his albums from the 1970s refer to his Christian belief, which in turn informs the concerns for human rights and environmentalism expressed on his 1980s albums. His references to Christianity in his music include the Grail imagery of 20th-century Christian poet Charles Williams and the ideas of theologian Harvey Cox.
While Cockburn had been popular in Canada for years, he did not have a big impact in the United States until 1979, with the release of the album Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws. "Wondering Where the Lions Are," the first single from that album, reached No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US in June 1980, and earned Cockburn an appearance on NBC's hit TV show Saturday Night Live.
Cockburn was married from 1969 to 1980 to Kitty Cockburn, and has a daughter Jenny (born in July 1976) from that marriage. He wrote the song "Little Seahorse" in late 1975 about the time when his daughter was in utero. It appears on his album In the Falling Dark.
Through the 1980s Cockburn's songwriting became first more urban, more global and then more political; he became heavily involved with progressive causes. His growing political concerns were first hinted at in three discs: Humans, Inner City Front, and The Trouble with Normal. These concerns became more evident in 1984, with Cockburn's second US radio hit, "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" (No. 88 in the US) from the Stealing Fire album. He had written the song a year earlier, following a visit to Guatemalan refugee camps in Mexico that were attacked before and after his visit by Guatemalan military helicopters. His political activism continues to the present. Cockburn has travelled to many countries (such as Mozambique and Iraq), played many benefit concerts, and written many songs on a variety of political subjects ranging from the International Monetary Fund to land mines. His internationalist bent is reflected in the many world music influences in his music, including reggae and Latin music.
In 1991 Intrepid Records released Kick at the Darkness, a tribute album to Cockburn whose title comes from a phrase in his song "Lovers in a Dangerous Time." It features the Barenaked Ladies' cover of that song, which became their first Top 40 hit and was an element in their early success. This lyric was also referenced by U2 in their song "God Part II" from their album Rattle and Hum.
In the early 1990s Cockburn teamed with T-Bone Burnett for two albums, Nothing but a Burning Light and Dart to the Heart. The latter included a song, "Closer to the Light," inspired by the death of songwriter Mark Heard, who was a close friend of Cockburn and Burnett. Cockburn frequently refers to Heard as his favourite songwriter and was one of many artists who paid tribute to Heard on an album and video titled Strong Hand of Love. On the album Cockburn performs the title song.
In 1998 Cockburn travelled with filmmaker Robert Lang to Mali, West Africa, where he jammed with Grammy Award-winning blues musician Ali Farka Toure and kora master Toumani Diabate. The month-long journey was documented in the one-hour film River of Sand, which won the Regard Canadien award for best documentary at the Vues d'Afrique Film Festival in Montreal. It was also invited for competition at the International Festival of Environmental Films in Paris.
Some of Cockburn's previously published material had been collected in several albums: Resume, Mummy Dust, and Waiting for a Miracle. His first greatest hits collection was Anything Anytime Anywhere: Singles 1979–2002, released in 2002.
In January 2003 Cockburn finished recording his 21st album, You've Never Seen Everything, which features contributions from Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Sam Phillips, Sarah Harmer, Hugh Marsh, Jonell Mosser, Larry Taylor and Steven Hodges. (Taylor and Hodges, formerly of Canned Heat who performed at Monterey and Woodstock in the 1960s, may be known best for their work with Tom Waits).
Cockburn performed a set at the Live 8 concert in Barrie, Ontario, on July 2, 2005. Speechless, an instrumental compilation of both new and previously released material, was released on October 24, 2005. His 22nd album, Life Short Call Now, was released on July 18, 2006.
Canadian senator and retired general Roméo Dallaire, who is active in humanitarian fundraising and promoting awareness, appeared on stage at the University of Victoria with Cockburn. The October 4, 2008, concert was held to aid child soldiers.
In 2009 Cockburn travelled to Afghanistan to visit his brother, Capt. John Cockburn, and to play a concert for Canadian troops. He performed his 1984 song "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" and was temporarily awarded an actual rocket launcher by the military. Cockburn has stated that, while unsure of the original Invasion of Afghanistan, he supported Canada's role there.
Cockburn released his studio album Small Source of Comfort in 2011. A cheerful and experiential instrumental recalling Rouler sa Bosse from "Salt, Sun and Time" and entitled Lois on the Autobahn is a tribute to Cockburn's mother, Lois, who succumbed to cancer in 2010.
Cockburn wrote and performed the theme song for the children's television series Franklin. He composed and performed, with Hugh Marsh, the music for the National Film Board of Canada documentary feature Waterwalker (1984), directed by Bill Mason. He also composed two songs for the classic English-Canadian film Goin' Down the Road (1970), directed by Donald Shebib.
Covers and tributes
Cockburn has had his songs covered by artists as diverse as Barenaked Ladies ("Lovers in a Dangerous Time"), Judy Collins ("Pacing The Cage"), Jimmy Buffett ("Pacing the Cage", "Anything Anytime Anywhere", "All the Ways I Want You", "Wondering Where the Lions Are" (in the movie Hoot), Michael Hedges ("Wondering Where the Lions Are"), Lori Cullen ("Fall"), Anne Murray ("One Day I Walk", "Musical Friends"), Dianne Heatherington and Ani DiFranco ("Mama Just Wants to Barrelhouse All Night Long"), The Rankin Family ("One Day I Walk"), Dan Fogelberg ("Lovers in a Dangerous Time"), Donavon Frankenreiter ("Wondering Where the Lions Are"), Vigilantes of Love ("Wondering Where the Lions Are"), Tom Rush ("One Day I Walk'), George Hamilton IV ("Together Alone"), the Jerry Garcia Band ("Waiting for a Miracle"), Holly Near ("To Raise The Morning Star"), and k.d. lang ("One Day I Walk"). In addition, fellow Canadian singer songwriter Steve Bell recorded an entire album of Bruce Cockburn songs titled My Dinner With Bruce, and jazz guitarist Michael Occhipinti released an album containing jazz arrangements of Cockburn's songs.
Awards and honours
Cockburn was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982 and was promoted to Officer in 2002.
On March 5, 2001, during the 30th Annual Juno Awards ceremony, Cockburn was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The Cockburn tribute during the awards included taped testimonials from U2's Bono, Jackson Browne, Cowboy Junkies' Margo Timmins, and Midnight Oil's Peter Garrett. The Barenaked Ladies performed their version of Cockburn's "Lovers in a Dangerous Time". Best Female Artist nominees Jann Arden and Terri Clark performed "Wondering Where the Lions Are", and Sarah Harmer performed "Waiting for a Miracle".
The Canadian Association of Broadcasters honoured Cockburn by inducting him into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony was held on October 22, 2002, in Vancouver as part of the Gold Ribbon Awards Gala at the organization's 76th annual convention.
The cover artwork for his 1999 album Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu, which is dominated by bold text in the Helvetica font, was included in the exhibition "50 Years of Helvetica", which ran from April 2007 to March 2008 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
In 2007 he received three honorary doctorates, the fourth, fifth and sixth of his career. In early May he received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, and later in the month he received an Honorary Doctor of Letters at the convocation of Memorial University of Newfoundland for his lifelong contributions to Canadian music, culture and social activism. He was then awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia. Cockburn previously received honorary doctorates from York University in Toronto, Berklee College of Music, and St. Thomas University in New Brunswick. His most recent Honorary Doctorate was awarded by McMaster University in 2009.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2013)|
Cockburn has played guitars manufactured by a number of companies and luthiers over the years. Many early photos show him playing guitars made by the Canadian instrument-maker Larrivée. His request for an acoustic with greater access to higher frets directly led to Jean Larrivée's "C" series of guitars. These innovative acoustics incorporated a cutaway, a previously rare feature on flat-top acoustics. Cockburn has owned at least two guitars made by Toronto luthier David Wren, a student of Larrivée, but these guitars were lost in a fire.
In recent years, Cockburn has been performing on guitars custom-made by Linda Manzer, a Canadian luthier and another of Larrivée's protégés. Cockburn also plays a Resolectric guitar model from the National Guitar Company, and a steel-bodied Dobro resonator guitar. Cockburn has frequently used two early 1990s black Charvel Surfcasters, one tuned standard and the other in drop-D tuning. Cockburn has also begun playing a Baritone guitar made by Ontario-based luthier Tony Karol.
- Bruce Cockburn–1970
- High Winds, White Sky–1971
- Sunwheel Dance–1972
- Night Vision–1973
- Salt, Sun and Time–1974
- Joy Will Find a Way–1975
- In the Falling Dark * −1976
- Further Adventures Of * – 1978
- Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws * – 1979
- Humans * – 1980
- Inner City Front * – 1981
- The Trouble with Normal * – 1983
- Stealing Fire * – 1984
- World of Wonders – 1986
- Big Circumstance – 1988
- Nothing but a Burning Light – 1991
- Christmas – 1993
- Dart to the Heart – 1994
- The Charity of Night – 1996
- Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu – 1999
- You've Never Seen Everything – 2003
- Speechless – 2005
- Life Short Call Now – 2006
- Small Source of Comfort – 2011-03-08
* = Reissued with additional tracks 2002–2003
- Circles in the Stream+–1977
- Bruce Cockburn Live* —1990
- You Pay Your Money and You Take Your Chance—1997
- Bruce Cockburn—Live on World Cafe—2002 (Bonus disc from Borders Books and Music)
- Slice O' Life—Solo Live—2009
+ = Reissued by Rounder Records, but no additional tracks
* = Reissued with additional tracks 2002–2003
- Resume *—1981 (US only)
- Mummy Dust *—1981 (originally released in Canada only)
- Rumours of Glory *—1985 (Germany only)
- Waiting for a Miracle: Singles 1970–1987 *—1987 (Canadian version is 2 discs, American version is 1)
- If a Tree Falls *—1990 (Australia only)
- Anything Anytime Anywhere: Singles 1979–2002 *—2002
- Speechless *—2005 (all instrumental album)
* = These releases compile previously released material, but also include one or more newly recorded tracks
- "Ribbon of Darkness," a track on "A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot"
- "Strong Hand of Love," a track on the Mark Heard tribute albums Strong Hand of Love (1994) and Orphans of God (1996)
- "Lord of the Starfields" (with Rob Wasserman), "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" (with Rob Wasserman), and "Cry of a Tiny Babe" (with Lou Reed, Rosanne Cash, and Rob Wasserman), all on The Best of the Columbia Records Radio Hour, Volume 1 (1995)
- "Last Night of the World" on the WXPN compilation album, Live at the World Café - Volume 9 (1999)
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1970||"Going to the Country"||–||4 ||–||–||Bruce Cockburn|
|1971||"One Day I Walk"||64||–||–||–||High Winds, White Sky|
|1972||"It's Going Down Slow"||–||12||–||–||Sunwheel Dance|
|"Up on the Hillside"||–||21||–||–|
|1975||"Burn"||–||–||–||–||Joy Will Find A Way|
|1979||"Wondering Where the Lions Are"||39||7||21||–||Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws|
|1981||"Rumours of Glory"||–||36||104||–|
|"Fascist Architecture (I'm Okay)"||–||1 ||–||–|
|"Coldest Night of the Year"||42||–||–||–||Mummy Dust|
|1982||"You Pay Your Money and You Take Your Chance"||–||21||–||–||Inner City Front|
|1984||"Lovers in a Dangerous Time"||24||8||–||–||Stealing Fire|
|"If I Had a Rocket Launcher"||49||–||88||–|
|1986||"People See Through You"||37||4||–||–||World of Wonders|
|"Peggy's Kitchen Wall"||88||–||–||–|
|"See How I Miss You"||81||–||–||–|
|1987||"Waiting for a Miracle"||50||12||–||–||Waiting for a Miracle|
|1989||"If a Tree Falls"||8||–||–||20||Big Circumstance|
|"Don't Feel Your Touch"||43||–||–||–|
|"Shipwrecked at the Stable Door"||92||22||–||–|
|1991||"A Dream Like Mine"||16||5||–||22||Nothing But A Burning Light|
|1992||"Great Big Love"||27||12||–||–|
|"Mighty Trucks of Midnight"||67||12||–||–|
|"Somebody Touched Me"||49||8||–||–|
|1994||"Listen For The Laugh"||18||9||–||–||Dart To The Heart|
|"Scanning These Crowds"||42||21||–||–|
|1995||"Someone I Used To Love"||–||36||–||–|
|1997||"Night Train"||25||10||–||–||The Charity of Night|
|1999||"Last Night of the World"||–||28||–||–||Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu|
- 1 ^ "Going to the Country" peaked at No. 4 on the RPM Adult Contemporary (A/C) chart in November 1970. However, at the time, and for the Adult Contemporary chart only, RPM only charted A/C songs that qualified as Canadian Content. This policy was changed mid-way through the song's chart run, and all A/C records regardless of national origin were eligible for the chart. Under these new criteria, "Going to the Country" peaked at No. 11 in December 1970.
- 2 ^ The song "Fascist Architecture" was released to radio under the title "I'm Okay." It peaked at No. 1 on the RPM Adult Contemporary (A/C) chart in March 1981. However, at the time, and for the Adult Contemporary chart only, RPM once again only charted A/C songs that qualified as Canadian Content. This short-lived policy was again abandoned later in 1981.
Notes and references
- "Classifieds: birth announcements". Ottawa Citizen. May 28, 1945. p. 16. "Ottawa Civic Hospital"
- Interview archived at http://canada.aol.com/webcentres/community/chats/archive.adp?guest=Bruce_Cockburn
- Bruce Cockburn – Bio
- "I was brought up as an agnostic... and when I first became a Christian in the Seventies I didn't really know what it was I'd adopted." Faith in Practice: Holding on to the Mystery of Love, by Bruce Cockburn as told to Cole Morton, Third Way, September 1994, page 15.
- Adria, Marco, "Making Contact with Bruce Cockburn," Music of Our Times: Eight Canadian Singer-Songwriters (Toronto: Lorimer, 1990), p. 97.
- McPherson, David, "Bernie Finkelstein's Golden Mountain", Words and Music, Fall 2012
- River of Sand
- Victoria Times Colonist, April 17, 2008
- Cockburn visits brother in Afghanistan, CBC News
- Creation Dream by Michael Occhipinti. Cockburn plays on the track "Pacing the Cage" .
- "The Biz: Deals and Moves in Canadian Arts". The Globe and Mail. April 24, 2007. Retrieved April 24, 2007.
- Marketing & Communications | index
- "Diamond Jubilee Gala toasts exceptional Canadians". CBC. June 18, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
- Humans originated in 1990, and was hosted on various private servers until moving to Yahoo! Groups in 2001.
- From the liner notes: "Thanks to the following for support, inspiration, lighting-a-fire-under-the-ass, and other gifts, intentional or not: Sue, Michael O'Connor, Rex Fyles, Sandra Wood and Chude Mondlane, The Maputo Police Department for leaving the various body parts attached, Deminers everywhere, Ani for reminding me what energy is for, John and Matt for the biochemistry, the Humans, Susan Gitlin-Emmer ("Lady of the Northern Light"), the Book of Psalms, Kel and Jon for the introduction to Cormac McCarthy, C. Woodman for her wisdom, the folks at City Stages, God for always keeping the ladder in place." 
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Bruce Cockburn|
- Official website
- Bruce Cockburn at AllMusic
- Bruce Cockburn at the Internet Movie Database
- Bruce Cockburn – a view from the Woodpile (photos of Bruce at work)
- True North (Cockburn's label / manager) page
- Gavin's Woodpile- The Bruce Cockburn Newsletter
- The Cockburn Project, documenting the work of Cockburn
- [chriscomerradio.com/bruce_cockburn/bruce_cockburn6-24-03.htm radio interview 2003 with Bruce Cockburn]
- Humans, an e-mail discussion group about Cockburn's music
Song collections and biographies
- All the Diamonds A collection of early music by Bruce Cockburn. Ottawa Folklore Centre Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- Rumours of Glory The second volume of Bruce Cockburn songs. Ottawa Folklore Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- Video interview on CBC News: The Hour from November 24, 2005. (Discusses his view of the world, with personal stories drawn from his own experiences travelling overseas.)
- Ernest Brown: Pioneer Photographer with original soundtrack by Bruce Cockburn.