Sunday, May 28, 2006


Bruce CockburnIt turns out (wood s lot tells me) that yesterday was Bruce Cockburn's birthday.

I don't have much to say about Bruce, and don't even listen to his music much if at all any more; at a certain stage, it somewhat lost its appeal. But, back in the day, songs such as "Nicaragua" and "Dust and Diesel" were a large part of the motivation for me to go to Central America in the 1980s, and so to start the process that has led to my teaching Latin American studies for a living.

And one of the highlights of being in Nicaragua in 1988 was to find out that he was in town, cycle to his hotel, grab him and chat for an hour or so. Later, he played a small concert at an Arts Centre in Managua, of which I no doubt have the only bootleg recording in existence.

Meanwhile, he also was one of the first Canadians I had heard much about. And I know that next week, in Toronto, songs such as "The Coldest Night of the Year" will come to mind, as I too try to take in "Yonge Street at a glance."

We saw him play Vancouver three years ago (on my birthday). At some point, while Bruce was tuning up (as he endlessly does between songs), a woman shouted out "Sexy Beast!" It was so un-Canadian, and so unlike Bruce's followers, so unlike Bruce, that it took the whole theatre aback for a moment. Bewildered, he shook his head, thanked her politely, and went on with the next song.

So here's to Bruce (belatedly).

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