Monday, January 14, 2008

Bruce Cockburn

One of my favorite all-time singer-songwriter-guitarists is Canadian artist Bruce Cockburn. I began listening to him in the early 80s, and bought everything he put out.

As a lyricist Cockburn is brilliant, stunning, shocking, subtle. Cockburn is a champion of the mixed metaphor. In his music, Cockburn mostly asserts rather than suggests.

His music is spiritual - God-and-Jesus-oriented. It's political and social, grounded in Cockburn's spirituality.

I'm listening tonight to these tunes:

- "Feast of Fools" - try this one for starters. The great, final apocalyptic banquet and who gets invited. Watch how he strings the words together. And be in awe.

- "Lord of the Starfields" - the glory of God in creation. A song of praise to the Creator. Not your ordinary worship song due to its brilliant poetic lyrics. "Oh Love that fires the sun keep me burning"... why can't others write like this?

- "Lovers In a Dangerous Time" - Peril and glory, fragility and stability, finitude and grace, all mixed together in a real-life portrait of authentic, non-denial-filled love.

- "Red Ships Take Off In the Distance" - great guitar stuff.

- "One Day I Walk" - Man, do I love this song! Again, watch the lyrics. Truth...

- "Rumors of Glory" - Here's Cockburn at his mixed-metaphorical best. Metaphor 1 is the light, cheerful, Latin-type music. Metaphor 2 is the horror of war.

- "What About the Bond?" - This is my all-time favorite wedding song. I have imagined signing it at a wedding. It's a total in-your-face statement about covenant and vows. If you are married, are you a person of truth? If I had this song when I married Linda I'd have sung it at my own wedding.

- "Grim Travellers" - The socio-political alienation of ordinary people from the makers of money and war. Against the Nietzschean Robert-Duvallian Apocalypse Now-ish power and control addicts.

- "Festival of Friends" - When I think of my real friends I usually think of this song. The eschatological reality of life after death. The meaning of fellowship. The GREAT HOPE.

- "The Strong One" - The loneliness & responsibility of the leader...

- "Nicaragua" - The mixed metaphors create severe cognitive dissonance if you really listen to this one. Sweet, beautiful Spanish melodies form the background for extreme pain and death and violence.

Has anyone else poured more sheer creativity and brilliance into a song? If so, who are they? Thank you Bruce for sharing your gifts with we mortals.