Bruce Cockburn [web site | Amazon.com] has always been a restless spirit. Over the course of four decades, the celebrated Canadian artist has traveled to the corners of the earth out of humanitarian concerns—often to trouble spots experiencing events that have led to some of his most memorable songs. Going up against chaos, even if it involves grave risks, can be necessary to get closer to the truth.
"My mother once said that I must have a death wish, always going to what she called ‘those awful places,'" laughs Cockburn. "I don’t think of it that way. I make these trips partly because I want to see things for myself and partly out of my own sense of adventure."
Many of his compositions come from his travels and spending time in places like San Francisco and Brooklyn to the Canadian Forces base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, jotting down his typically detailed observations about the human experience.
Those songs, along with his humanitarian work, have brought Cockburn a long list of honors, including 13 Juno Awards, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and several international awards. In 1982, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer in 2002. The Luminato festival honored Cockburn's extensive songbook with a tribute concert featuring such varied guests as jazz guitarist Michael Occhipinti, folk-rapper Buck 65, country rockers Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, country-folk singers Sylvia Tyson and Amelia Curran, pop artists the Barenaked Ladies and Hawksley Workman, and folk-pop trio The Wailin' Jennys.
Never content to rest on his laurels, Cockburn keeps looking ahead. "I'd rather think about what I'm going to do next," he once said. "My models for graceful aging are guys like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stopped working till they dropped, as I fully expect to be doing, and just getting better as musicians and as human beings."
"Fans of Bruce Cockburn’s extraordinary acoustic fingerpicking will be thrilled with Small Source of Comfort,
his 31st studio album. Cockburn's shimmering arpeggios, syncopated
riffs, and hypnotic single-note lines blend elements of Mississippi John
Hurt, Jerry Garcia, Leo Kottke, and Brazilian greats Luiz Bonfa and
Oscar Castro- Neves, yet remain entirely his own. Of the album's 12
tunes, five are instrumentals, so there’s plenty of crisp, ringing
fretwork to keep guitar aficionados happy. Yet Cockburn’s poetic—and
passionately political—lyrics and burnished, world-wise vocals take
center stage, supported by earthy, clattering percussion, dub-thick
bass, and occasional jangling resonator slide guitar (ably played by
producer Colin Linden). Jenny Scheinman’s soaring violin adds a sensuous
touch to the music, which sounds like it was recorded right in your
living room by old friends who truly enjoy rubbing musical shoulders.
The Zen meditation bells that periodically chime accentuate the wisdom,
sadness, humor, and beauty inherent in Cockburn’s songs and shamanistic
—Premier Guitar magazine