Montana Public Radio

Bruce Cockburn: Fifty Years Of Spreading Light Through Music

Dec 3, 2019

The audience at a Bruce Cockburn concert gets boisterous over  “If I Had A Rocket Launcher” and reflective with the opening chords of “One Day I Walk” and “Wondering Where the Lions Are.” More than five decades into his career, Cockburn’s guitar craftsmanship and gravelly-to-smooth voice convey wide-eyed wonder, full-on fury and everything in between, delivering the mixture of opinion, observation and quietly stinging humor that characterizes his songs. 

2017’s Bone on Bone is Bruce Cockburn’s 33rd album, and it’s safe to say that time has not mellowed the Canadian legend (he’s the recipient of thirteen Juno awards, a Governor General’s Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award and multiple honorary doctorates--and he’s an inductee into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame). From the opening track, “States I’m In” until the last track, “Twelve Gates To The City,” Cockburn remains righteously furious at social injustice everywhere he finds it. An underlying invitation to kindness in his songs creates a tension between anger, tenderness, and the numinous. Cockburn says, "Part of the job of being human is just to try to spread light, at whatever level you can do it."  

(Broadcast: Musician's Spotlight,  12/3/19. Listen on the radio Tuesdays, 7 p.m., or via podcast.)