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Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Bruce Cockburn chat transcript

Chris Buerger: Hi Bruce! Peace.... Hope you had a good time with relatives & friends over the holidays. Looking forward to your new songs this fall (but more immediately to your March 1 concert at the Somerville Theatre!) Are you doing 1 or 2 instrumentals on your new recording? They're usually so interesting & intricate; they're a pleasure to listen to! Take care of yourself....

Bruce Cockburn: I don't know yet what we're going to do, there are a bunch of new songs. At this point...I don't think there's an actual new, finished, instrumental but there are some ideas floating around. No release date is set yet.

Graham Robertson: Hi Bruce. Why is "Wise Users" not on the album? Have you recorded it? I remember it from Greenbelt many moons ago.

Bruce Cockburn: We recorded that song for the Charity Of Night and we ended up with too much material for that album and it was the one song that didn't fit as well with the rest. I guess if I ever do a box set it will be on that.

julian: Dear Bruce; I'm wondering if you'd like to comment on your ability to 'multi-task' with guitar and singing, and on the guitar itself. I'm wondering if Lenny Breau has been an inspiration for you, and how you go about balancing melody, lyrics, harmony, rhythm and so on. Thanks for the great music and best of luck in the future.

Bruce Cockburn: I knew him slightly, I wouldn't say he was a great influence but a great inspiration as far as the things he could do which are far more complex than the things I could do. As far as multitasking I tend to prefer to think of what I do as making several elements into one.

Diane: Was the making of "My Beat", the CBC special difficult for you? It seemed that you went in and out of your comfort zone in front of the camera. Thank you for sharing your personal life with us. Are there plans to release it on DVD or broadcast it in the States?

Bruce Cockburn: Yes, I did go in and out of my comfort zone, but the point of the film was to show something of me...and me having agreed to do it...it made sense to letting it show whatever it needed to show. I wouldn't mind if there is an opportunity to make it available to people I would like to do that because I think it turned out pretty well.

Neal: This tour will be solo. Will the next (whenever it is) CD be more of a solo effort also?

Bruce Cockburn: I haven't thought about doing a solo live album although I haven't ruled out the possibility. The next album I do in the studio I expect to have a band perform..I don't know exactly when I'm going to do it or who is going to produce it. There are a lot of variables so it remains to be seen what form it's going to take.

John Raffaele: Hey Bruce. I am the person that bought your Green Flying V guitar two years ago from an internet auction. Legend has it that you made the terrific case that the guitar now lives in. Is that true? The case doubles as a fallout shelter for my whole neighbourhood...very sturdy. Great job if you did craft it.

Bruce Cockburn: I can't take credit for that. I have no idea who made that case but it wasn't me.

Gene: You are known for your anti-American history. Do you believe Canada is best defined as a reaction and contrast to the United States? If yes, could you expand on this thought? If no, could you offer your own definition of Canada, without reference to the US, and how these singularly defined qualities could be used to better define the North American relationship?

Bruce Cockburn: That's a big question, I think there is a history of Canada defining itself in terms of it's relationship to the U.S. in admiration and envy many of our political choices are made in terms of what reaction they're going to get in the U.S. I think a lot of people have been trying to find some understanding of what Canada is apart from that relationship. A lot of artists have tried to render that but nobody has really come up with a definitive statement and I'm not really capable of doing it -- what it is that makes us feel like Canadians is something in our hearts that is really hard to define. It's there though.

William H.: Hello Bruce I Saw on Life & Times that you recently moved to Montreal. What part of the town did you move into? (roughly so to speak)

Bruce Cockburn: The move to Montreal was for personal reasons. Partly, it was just a case of having lived in Toronto for 20 years and feeling like it was time to experience other kinds of surroundings. I really am enjoying being there (Montreal). I seem to be away more than I'm there but it's nice to have a different base in a different place that happens to have such a vibrant kind of life to it. I live in the central part of the city.

Ouida in Austin: As your worldview/perspective has expanded and changed over the years, how have your ideas about the nature of God changed?

Bruce Cockburn: Boy....I'm not quite sure how to measure the change but I do find there has been change in my understanding of what/who God is. It's a little hard to articulate. But I think, for me in the beginning there was a tendency to relate to the biblical God...with the beard in the sky, I think that rather than thinking of God as outside us and looking down on us, the presence of the divine is in all of us.

Rick A: Bruce, I have always enjoyed watching the movie - Goin' Down the Road. The movie works on so many levels and it still speaks volumes even today. Adding to the greatness of the movie - were your songs. Can you tell me if there ever was a soundtrack to the movie (doubt it) and if not, which album of yours would contain the songs from that movie?

Bruce Cockburn: It was a subject of some controversy at the time. I'd never done a film score before and I was excited to do one because it was new but really I felt the songs I wrote for that were artificial. There were designed to be part of a film and so I elected not to record those songs whether on an album or on a soundtrack and that got me in all sorts of trouble with the director...there was a lot of bad feeling around it but that was my feeling at the time. I was probably more uptight about it than I needed to be but that's how I was in those days.

Anonymous: bruce; who rocks your backside. besides the old 97s

Bruce Cockburn: I have no idea who they are...lately I've been listening to a lot of electronica, Leonard Cohen, Ani DiFranco...a lot of jazz, kind of everything.

Dave Cawley: Hi Bruce. Speaking of boxed sets, so you have much left over from the years or do you use most things up within a short period of time? BTW, Thanks for all the great music!

Bruce Cockburn: I tend to use what's there. There are however some things that are around that didn't get released so..if we ever do get around to a box set there will be some stuff people haven't heard before. Now that I'm in the hall of fame I suppose a box set can't be too far away.

shoukatali: what about u think U.S bobing isfghsnistan.

Bruce Cockburn: Well, the whole episode of September 11 is so tragic that it's hard to answer that quickly. But, it was a terrible tragedy and like it or not the Americans had to respond in some way. It's unfortunate that they had to respond as they did. It's up to the rest of us in the world to try to increase whatever diplomatic pressure we can bring to bare to hopefully ease the situation and keep that kind of stuff from spreading. I have a lot of American friends and I'm involved in American politics to a degree in the land mine issue. It's not a black and white picture for me. The events of September 11 caught most Americans by surprise because most Americans aren't aware of what their country does in the rest of the world. There's not really any excuse but it's a fact and a fact that we have to work around.

JOHN POWELL: One of my son's favourite shows is "Franklin The Turtle". While reading the credits about a month ago, I was shocked to see that you sing the theme song for the show. What I was wondering is, how that opportunity came about and why the song is sung by someone else when the series airs in the U.S.?

Bruce Cockburn: (Laughs), I actually didn't know it was sung by someone else in the U.S. I've had a lot of Americans tell me they've heard me sing it. It was something that was offered that I'd never done before and I thought that it turned out okay. I don't want to do it for a livelihood or whatever.

Bryan: Hi Bruce. I was just wondering if you were / have been working with Ben Riley on your latest projects. He is a great musician and I think he is a great fit for your team. Thanks for the great music!

Bruce Cockburn: yeah, he plays on the two new cuts..Anything Anytime Anywhere and of course on the singles that he was already on in recent years.

Anthony : I am currently reading the book "Walk On - The Spiritual Journey of U2" In it, the author mentions the faith that you have and the discussions in years past that you have had with Bono regarding the how to show your faith in a materialistic and self-centred rock world. Is this true?

Bruce Cockburn: We've had conversations that touched on that but I don't know if I'd call it discussions. What we mostly did was agree with each other that it was an issue that had to be dealt with.

Joe Hunt: Hi Bruce, Fascist Architecture is one of my all time favourite songs. Could you share what events, thoughts, feelings inspired you to write it?

Bruce Cockburn: The title image comes from Italy, from an early trip there in the late 70s when I was introduced to the concept of fascist architecture. Mussolini had tried to build these huge structures but what they really do is dwarf you, that was a metaphor for the structures we build within ourselves. At the time I wrote it, my then marriage was in it's final stages. So there is that personal side but the main point was just the idea of just being broken open by an intervention I guess.

the morningstars: helloooo bruce! we are dreaming that someday you may put out an all instrumental album. have you ever considered this? yippee kay aye and love always

Bruce Cockburn: ECM didn't want an instrumental, they wanted an album of songs more or less like Falling Dark but it couldn't be put together for legal reasons. An instrumental album, we've talked about it...another kind of compilation probably. I would kind of like to do that. It's not high on anybody's list as a priority but it's something I would like to do.

Dave Cawley: If you were to give someone one of your albums to give them a good introduction to your music, which would it be? I personally use Dragon's Jaw as a good jumping off point.

Bruce Cockburn: That would be a good choice. My inclination would be of course to point them to the compilation that just came out...it is all singles, it doesn't have the more evolved kinds of pieces but if they want to know who it is they're being sung at by, that's as good a way to find out as any.

Jonathan Tieszen: Hi Bruce! The acoustic version of World of Wonders that you've been playing in live settings the past few years is a favourite of mine. What prompts you to re-write the music to some of your previously recorded songs, and is there any chance this particular version will show up on a recording in the future?

Bruce Cockburn: Most of the songs are designed when I write them ..to be workable as a solo or as a band. Sometimes a song is meant for a band and that's what happened with World Of Wonders. The original guitar part doesn't have enough substance to it to be a workable solo so I came up with a different one. There are no plans to put it on an album that way but who knows.

Sarah: Bruce, there is a newsletter about you called Gavin's Woodpile. Do you know about this?

Bruce Cockburn: Yes I know about it and Daniel who is responsible for that newsletter is a very likeable individual. I'm not sure why he wants to spend so much of his time on me but it's kind of nice. I don't have any other kind of involvement other than being aware of it. But it's got a useful purpose and he's a good guy so...

Nathan: What is happening with your collaboration with jazz pianist Andy Milne?

Bruce Cockburn: We recorded three pieces together for an album of his back in the summer and he has now final mixes of it. I think he's got it finished now. I have no idea when it will appear. I'm very pleased with the songs we did. Two new songs and a reworking of a song of mine called Let The Bad Air Out.

Steve of Victoria: Hi Bruce Would you ever consider reforming one of your bands from the early eighties which included the Marsh brothers and Jon Goldsmith?

Bruce Cockburn: John Goldsmith doesn't like to tour...but I would like to work with Hugh Marsh again. That may happen. He plays on the two new songs that we just recorded but there are no concrete plans to tour with him. But he would be a great addition.

Mike Nagy: Love your music and love your lyrics. What is the meaning behind "got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight"?

Bruce Cockburn: What I meant was that we can't settle for things as they are...just throw up our hands, there's another song called The Trouble With Normal that says things in a different way -- if you don't tackle the problems they're gonna get worse.

Jim Fitzgerald: Your song, "Pacing The Cage," has had an interesting impact on my life. I won't go into details, but I was just wondering how you felt about the recording of the song by Jimmy Buffett and the use of it in the Paul Jay documentary, "Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows," about Bret "The Hitman" Hart.

Bruce Cockburn: I thought it was pretty interesting use of the song in the documentary. I thought it was a good song. Buffet's version of the song to me is so respectful that it almost suffers from that. He didn't really bring anything new to it. He's done a version of another song of mine called "All The Ways I Want You" which is perhaps a little bit more in his style, was able to make more of that song and he did a really beautiful version of that.

Ren in Ottawa: Of all the artists you performed with at the 'Music Without Borders' concert in Toronto, which artist or group impressed you the most?

Bruce Cockburn: It would be sort of a toss up between Alanis and The Hip. Probably Alanis, I like her as a songwriter. It was great to see her work out live.

Bruce Cockburn: Thank you all for being part of this and I appreciate your questions. Sorry I can't spend more time, maybe we'll get to do this again at some point.

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