Stealing Fire (Bruce Cockburn album)

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Stealing Fire
Stealing Fire album cover.jpg
Studio album by
RecordedMarch – April, 1984
Manta Sound, Toronto, Ontario
GenrePop rock, folk rock
LabelTrue North, Gold Mountain, A&M
ProducerJon Goldsmith
Kerry Crawford
Bruce Cockburn chronology
The Trouble with Normal
Stealing Fire
World of Wonders

Stealing Fire is an album by Bruce Cockburn released in 1984. It featured the hit singles "If I Had a Rocket Launcher", an angry political commentary on refugees under fire, and "Lovers in a Dangerous Time". John Naslen received a Juno Award for "Recording Engineer of the Year" for his work on this album, and producers Goldsmith and Crawford received a nomination for "Producer of the Year".

Background and writing[edit]

After a trip to Central America on behalf of the Canadian arm of the charity Oxfam, Cockburn crafted an album featuring world-music influences and lyrics concerning life in the third world. He was moved by the plight of Guatemalan refugees in southern Mexico ("On the Rio Lancantún one hundred thousand wait"), and wrote the song "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" which reached a high of #88 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts with an associated music video regularly played on MTV. Despite the apparent threat of violence in the lyrics, Cockburn would later state, "this is not a call to arms; this is a cry."

The single "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" contains some of Cockburn's most recognizable lyric writing form, with the picturesque line "got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight". This line would be picked up by U2's lead singer and lyricist Bono who would use it in the U2 song "God Part II" (from their 1988 Rattle and Hum album) with his own line "I heard a singer on the radio late last night / Says he's gonna kick the darkness till it bleeds daylight". For this reason, Cockburn is credited in the liner notes to Rattle and Hum. U2 would also later attempt a cover of Cockburn's hit song "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" in rehearsal, but did not formally record the results.

"Lovers in a Dangerous Time" and "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" were covered by the Canadian bands Barenaked Ladies and Cottage Industry, respectively, on the 1991 Cockburn tribute album Kick at the Darkness. The Barenaked Ladies cover was released as a single.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4.5/5 stars [1]

In a retrospective review, Allmusic critic Brett Hartenbach wrote the album "passionately and eloquently details what [Cockburn] had seen while in Nicaragua and Guatemala... despite a few less than compelling tracks, is the work of an artist at his peak. It also contains some of the most intensely significant material by a singer/songwriter in the 1980s."[1]

In 2018, the album won the Polaris Heritage Prize Jury Award in the 1976–1985 category.[2]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Bruce Cockburn except as noted.

  1. "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" – 4:06
  2. "Maybe the Poet" (Cockburn, Jon Goldsmith, Fergus Marsh) – 4:51
  3. "Sahara Gold" – 4:30
  4. "Making Contact" – 4:47
  5. "Peggy's Kitchen Wall" – 4:46
  6. "To Raise the Morning Star" (Cockburn, Marsh) – 5:51
  7. "Nicaragua" – 4:44
  8. "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" – 4:58
  9. "Dust and Diesel" – 5:24

Two songs recorded during the Stealing Fire sessions, "Yanqui Go Home" and "Call It the Sundance", did not make the final album cut due to the length of the album. They would later be released in 2003 on the remastered CD edition of the album.

Album credits[edit]


  • Bruce Cockburn – guitar and vocals
  • Jon Goldsmithkeyboards, background vocals on "Maybe the Poet" and "Peggy's Kitchen Wall"
  • Fergus Marsh – bass and stick
  • Miche Pouliot – drums
  • Chi Sharpe – percussion
  • Rick Shurman – ground effects on "Maybe the Poet"
  • Vein Dorge, Jerry Johnson, Mike Malone, Rick Tait – horns on "Making Contact"
  • Joel Feeney – background vocals on "Lovers in a Dangerous Time"
  • Paul Henderson – background vocals on "Lovers in a Dangerous Time"
  • Shawne Jackson – background vocals on "Maybe the Poet", "Making Contact", "Peggy's Kitchen Wall", "Morning Star"
  • Carole Pope – background vocals on "Maybe the Poet", "Making Contact"
  • Leroy Sibbles – background vocals on "Maybe the Poet", "Making Contact"
  • Tim Ryan – background vocals on "Making Contact"
  • Judy Cade – background vocals on "Peggy's Kitchen Wall"
  • Kerry Crawford – background vocals on "Peggy's Kitchen Wall"
  • Colina Phillips – background vocals on "Peggy's Kitchen Wall", "Morning Star"
  • Sharon Lee Williams – background vocals on "Peggy's Kitchen Wall", "Morning Star"



  1. ^ a b Hartenbach, Brett. "Stealing Fire > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
  2. ^ "Rush, Alanis Morissette, Kid Koala Among Polaris Heritage Prize Winners". Exclaim!, October 23, 2018.
  • Liner notes from the 2003 remastered CD edition of Stealing Fire.

External links[edit]