Thursday, April 26, 2007

"MInd & Spirit" -> The Might Bruce Cockburn

Hi there, the man to the left is Bruce, Bruce Cockburn. Bruce, I would like you to meet the reader of this blog.

There, introductions are made.

By the way, I met Bruce a number of years ago, when Bruce was still in his 30's. He is a bit older now, but he has a lot of good stories to tell you.

I'd like you to meet him, because he has a good chance of changing the way you look at life. The only way, however, to understand Bruce is to first understand what you are listening to now and contrast him to the music of today.

For starters, since Bruce is from Canada, let's talk about songs from somebody from this nation as a contrast.

If you listen at all to any modern music, you can't get away from the latest song by Avril Lavigne, which for all practical purposes is a remake of "Hey Micki, You're So Fine."

Here's a snips of some of the lyrics from this hit song, from her latest album:

Hey! Hey! You! You!
I know that you like me
No way! No way!
No it's not a secret
Hey! Hey! You! You!
I want to be your girlfriend

Now, mind you, I actually enjoy the beat, and the lyrics are fun. Afterall, the song could have been plucked out of the music from 25 years ago.

However, I have to wonder about the vacuous nature of the song. Perhaps Averil is a bad example. Aren't there more "thinking man's" type bands?

Or we could to bands with "more spiritual sides" such as Coldplay. The hit from their last album X&Y is the song "Speed of Sound." Let look at a few lines.

Ideas that you'll never find,
All the inventors could never design.
The buildings that you put up,
Japan and China all lit up.
The sign that I couldn't read,
or a light that I couldn't see,
some things you have to believe,
but others are puzzles, puzzling me.

Pretty much pap isn't it? Not much there (other than an enjoyable copy of the song Clocks, also by Coldplay).

So, know let us turn our attention to the brilliant music of Bruce Cockburn (pronounce Co-burn), who has a strong cult following. Probably best known for his angry song about a disaffected man desiring to down a helicopter flown by repressive South American government with a rocket launcher, he is generally not all that well known outside of his native Canada.

At an age of 61 years old, we might expect that Bruce has slowed in his approach to life. Maybe his poetry is dull, and his passion less bright. For an answer to this question, we can look to his latest album "Life Short Call Now."

Let's look at his song "This Is Baghdad."

Car bombed and carjacked and kidnapped and shot
How do you like it, this freedom we brought
We packed all the ordnance but the thing we forgot
Was a plan in case it didn't turn out quite like we thought

This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad

Back by a sense of musicianship and a voice that has cried out beauty for many years, Bruce is nothing but a shining light. Bono of U2 listens to Bruce, and is known to be a fan. His lyrics stretch, and some times even go over the top. However, Bruce is always stretching and always reaching. There have been lines of poetry in his songs that have stuck with my for years.

Perhaps, they should stick with you too.

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