Saturday, June 07, 2008

There's roads and there's roads
And they call, can't you hear it?
Roads of the earth
And roads of the spirit
The best roads of all
Are the ones that aren't certain
One of those is where you'll find me
Till they drop the big curtain....Bruce Cockburn

I have been a fan of Bruce Cockburn since the 1990's even though Cockburn has been on the music scene since the late 1960's. Cockburn is not a household name in this country but he is somewhat of a legend in his native country Canada. My introduction to Cockburn's music was the result of a fluke encounter unless one wants to attribute it to fate or providence which is o.k. with me. I was sitting in my pastors office one afternoon and I picked up a denominational church magazine and read a review of his album, Nothing but a Burning Light. I found the article intriguing and his "over the hill Generation X" look somewhat rolled the dice and went down and purchased the album without ever having heard any of his songs. I then went home... sat on the patio... and listened to the album maybe three or four times before I came back into the house. It was an instant connection and the rest is history. Shortly thereafter I bought another album and loved it as well...but...the big bonding moment came when I attended a three week conference at Humboldt University later that summer. One afternoon I walked into a little hole in the wall record store and it was there I found almost all of Cockburn's cassettes. I purchased maybe eight or nine of them and feasted on the music of Cockburn for the entire three weeks....

There is a lot I like about Cockburn's favorite aspects of his music are the rhythm and the lyrics. Most of Cockburn's songs are on the slow side which fits my own preferred pace of life. Although I can hang with the likes of Pearl Jam and Green Day, on most days, when I am home or in the car I prefer the slow, drip, drip, sound of a good Cockburn song...regarding his lyrics...Cockburn's lyrics are poetic and considered some of the best in the industry...but...don't take my word, here is a sampling of some of the lyrics from some of my favorite Cockburn songs. I'll begin with the last stanza from one of my favorite Cockburn songs, A Child of the Wind.

Little round planet
In a big universe
Sometimes it looks blessed
Sometimes it looks cursed
Depends on what you look at obviously
But even more it depends on the way that you see


Not a knife throw from here you can hear the night train passing
That's the sound somebody makes when they're getting away
Leaving next week's hanging jury far behind them
Prisoner only of the choices they've made
And everyone's an island edged with sand
A temporary refuge where somebody else can stand
Till the sea that binds us like the forced tide of a blood oath
Will wear it down - dissolve it - recombine it

Anyone can die here they do it every day
It doesn't take much effort though it goes against the grain
And the ultimate forgetfulness of violence
Sweeps the landscape like a headlight of a train
Ice cube in a dark drink shines like star light
Starlight shines like glass shards in dark hair
And the mind's eye tumbles out along the steel track
Fixing every shadow with its stare
And in the absence of a vision there are nightmares
And in the absence of compassion there is cancer
Whose banner waves over palaces and mean streets
And the rhythm of the night train is a mantra


Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it's pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage

I've proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip's worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It's as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you'll wind up
Pacing the cage

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can't see what's round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage


Wild things are prowling - storm winds are howling tonight
Everything's transforming into pure crystals of light
The heart is a mirror; it throws back the blaze of love
Bathed in that glow it's no secret what I'm thinking of
I want to wait no more
Wait no more
Wait no more
Sipping wine with angels in this torch-lit tavern by the sea
What does it take for what's locked up inside to be free?
Fold me into you, you know where I'm dying to be
When my ship sets sail on that ocean of deep mystery
I want to wait no more
Wait no more
Wait no more
What does it take for the heart to explode into stars?
One day we'll wake to remember how lovely we are
Lightning's a kiss that lands hot on the loins of the sky
Something uncoils at the base of my spine and I cry
I want to wait no more
Wait no more
Wait no more


I've seen a high cairn kissed by holy wind
Seen a mirror pool cut by golden fins
Seen alleys where they hide the truth of cities
The mad whose blessing you must accept without pity

I've stood in airports guarded glass and chrome
Walked rifled roads and landmined loam
Seen a forest in flames right down to the road
Burned in love till I've seen my heart explode

You've been leading me
Beside strange waters

Across the concrete fields of man
Sun ray like a camera pans
Some will run and some will stand
Everything is bullshit but the open hand

You've been leading me
Beside strange waters
Streams of beautiful lights in the night
But where is my pastureland in these dark valleys?
If I loose my grip, will I take flight?

You've been leading me
Beside strange waters
Streams of beautiful lights in the night
But where is my pastureland in these dark valleys?
If I loose my grip, will I take flight?

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