Mulligan Stew September 23rd 2017- Bruce Cockburn special – with Colin Linden

 

Met up with Bruce and Colin at the Vancouver Island music festival this summer in Courtney Comox.

They had just finished recording Bruce’s 33rd album Bone on Bone.

Produced by Colin Linden, Cockburn’s longtime collaborator, the album is built around the musicianship of Cockburn on guitar/vocals and the core accompaniment of bassist John Dymond and drummer Gary Craig. (Same guys who back Blackie and the Roadie Kings and all three members separately. Plus many others.)

 

I couldn’t wait to ask Colin this question “Am I crazy or is this the best thing you’ve heard out of him in years?”

“Am I crazy or is this the best thing you’ve heard out of him in years?”

“it may be the best record”, says Colin.

Colin has produced 9 of the last 10 Cockburn albums.. almost 26 years together.  He knows his music.

“If he had released just the demos, with just him, it would have been his best ever”

Think about that.  Bruce Cockburn is a 12 time Juno winner. Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee. Songwriting Hall of Fame Inductee.

He turned away from traditional Christianity in the mid-70’s but finds his own spirituality in his recent home in  San Francisco..in a 200 person church in the neighbourhood. He likes the music and choir so much he invites them into the studio to share the songs he’s written.

Songs by-the-way that he thought would never come after 3 years of writing his book Rumours of Glory.

But come they did..starting with a song that’s going to become one of his finest ever 3 Al Purdy’s,  a brilliant, six-minute epic that pays tribute to Al Purdy’s poetry.

As sung/spoken by a “street person” with a long coat flapping in the wind.

“I’ll give you 3 Al Purdy’s for a 20 dollar bill”

Did I mention that the songs rock?  Well, not exactly rock but groove and move.

Jesus Train

Café Society

Stab at Matter

12 Gates to the City  “ I wrote the last two verses so – I gave myself permission to speak for God, in this case.

Colin Linden and I agree that Forty years in the Wilderness ranks with Cockburn’s best ever song. As good as anything he’s written.

In our interview Bruce says “I believe in the Divine, something at the Centre of the Universe”

photo-KevinOReilly

Two other songs should be noted. The environmental warning “False River” came about at the invitation of Yvonne Bloomer, the poet laureate of Victoria, British Columbia. Bloomer was seeking a poem about the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline. “Pipelines have their own perils that we’re all aware of,” says Cockburn, “so I started writing what was meant to be a spoken-word piece with a rhythm to it. But it evolved very quickly into a song.”

“States I’m In,” which opens the album, conjures up feelings of mystery and dread. He adds: “Maybe it’s also a play on words about me living in the States.”

Speaking of the last 9 years he’s spent living in the USA..if you listen..you can find references to the politics, crime and headlines of the day.  It’s all there.

And wait until you hear his comments about Donald Trump..

Bone on Bone is an album so good – his co-write with Bonnie Raitt didn’t make the cut.

In our hour you’ll hear 7 songs from Bone on Bone and two singular Canadian voices..Bruce Cockburn and Colin Linden.

 

We are blessed to have them in our lives.

Enjoy!!

-TDM

TOUR DATES:

Jan 23 Calgary Jack Singer
Jan 24 Edmonton Winspear Centre
Jan 27 Vancouver Centre For the Arts

Bruce Cockburn Bone on Bone

Few recording artists are as creative and prolific as Bruce Cockburn. Since his self-titled debut in 1970, the Canadian singer-songwriter has issued a steady stream of acclaimed albums every couple of years. But that output suddenly ran dry in 2011 following the release of Small Source of Comfort. There were good reasons for the drought. For one thing, Cockburn became a father again with the birth of his daughter Iona. Then there was the publication of his 2014 memoir Rumours of Glory.

“I didn’t write any songs until after the book was published because all my creative energy had gone into three years of writing it,” Cockburn explains, from his home in San Francisco. “There was simply nothing left to write songs with. As soon as the book was put to bed, I started asking myself whether I was ever going to be a songwriter again.”

Such doubt was new to the man who’s rarely been at a loss for words as he’s distilled political views, spiritual revelations and personal experiences into some of popular music’s most compelling songs. What spurred Cockburn back into songwriting was an invitation to contribute a song to a documentary film about the late, seminal Canadian poet Al Purdy and he was off to the races.

Bone On Bone, Cockburn’s 33rd album, arrives with 11 new songs, including “3 Al Purdys,” a brilliant, six-minute epic that pays tribute to Purdy’s poetry. Cockburn explains its genesis: “I went out and got Purdy’s collected works, which is an incredible book. Then I had this vision of a homeless guy who is obsessed with Purdy’s poetry, and he’s ranting it on the street. The song is written in the voice of that character. a brilliant, six-minute epic that pays tribute to Purdy’s poetry.

Cockburn’s rugged fingerpicking style on the Dobro perfectly matches Purdy’s plainspoken words and the grizzled voice of his street character. A similar guitar style can be heard on two of the next songs Cockburn wrote, the gospel-like “Jesus Train,” and “Café Society,” a bluesy number about people who gather at his local coffee shop to sip their java and talk about the state of the world.

There’s a prevalent urgency and anxious tone to much of the album, which Cockburn attributes to living in America during the Trump era. But, more than anything, Bone on Bone amounts to the deepest expression of Cockburn’s spiritual concerns to date. The 12-time Juno winner and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee turned away from traditional Christianity in the mid-1970s toward a quest for the more all-inclusive mysticism he documents in his memoir. And it’s that kind of spirituality that figures prominently in “Jesus Train” and “Twelve Gates to the City.” In “Looking and Waiting,” Cockburn sings of “scanning the skies for a beacon” from the divine.

“It’s a song of faith and frustration,” says Cockburn of the latter. “…Tired of looking in from the outside. My MO has always been to be aware of the divine…that dimension…always dealing with being stuck in a kind of observer’s position with respect to all that. I know it’s there. I don’t really see as faith so much as knowledge. Others may have different ideas about those things, but for me, I don’t have to struggle to believe in God, or the notion that God cares what happens to me. But I do have to struggle with being in a conscious, intentional relationship. That underlies a lot of these songs.” 

“Forty Years in the Wilderness” ranks alongside “Pacing the Cage” or “All the Diamonds” as one of Cockburn’s most starkly beautiful folk songs. “There have been so many times in my life when an invitation has come from somewhere…the cosmos…the divine…to step out of the familiar into something new. I’ve found it’s best to listen for, and follow these promptings. The song is really about that. You can stay with what you know or you can pack your bag and go where you’re called, even if it seems weird…even if you can’t see why or where you’ll end up.”

“Forty Years in the Wilderness” is one of several songs that feature a number of singers from the church Cockburn frequents, for the sake of convenience referred to in the album credits as the San Francisco Lighthouse “Chorus.” “The music was one of the enticements that drew me to SF Lighthouse. As I found myself becoming one of the regulars there, and got to know the people, I felt that I really wanted all these great singers, who were now becoming friends, to be on the album. They were kind enough to say yes!” Among other songs, they contribute call-and-response vocals to the stirring “Stab at Matter.” Other guests on the album include singer-songwriters Ruby Amanfu, Mary Gauthier, and Brandon Robert Young, along with bassist Roberto Occhipinti, and Julie Wolf, who plays accordion on “3 Al Purdys” and sings with the folks from Lighthouse, together with LA songwriter Tamara Silvera. 

Produced by Colin Linden, Cockburn’s longtime collaborator, the album is built around the musicianship of Cockburn on guitar and the core accompaniment of bassist John Dymond and drummer Gary Craig. Also very much part of the sound is the accordion playing of Cockburn’s nephew John Aaron Cockburn and the solos of noted fluegelhorn player Ron Miles (check out his stunning work on the cascading “Mon Chemin,” for example). 

Two other songs should be noted. The environmental warning “False River” came about at the invitation of Yvonne Bloomer, the poet laureate of Victoria, British Columbia. Bloomer was seeking a poem about the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline. “Pipelines have their own perils that we’re all aware of,” says Cockburn, “so I started writing what was meant to be a spoken-word piece with a rhythm to it. But it evolved very quickly into a song.”

“States I’m In,” which opens the album, conjures up feelings of mystery and dread. “It’s literally a ‘dark night of the soul’ kind of song,” Cockburn explains, “as it starts with sunset and ends with dawn. It passes through the night. The song is about illusion and self-delusion, looking at the tricks you play on yourself.” He adds: “Maybe it’s also a play on words about me living in the States.”

Cockburn, who won the inaugural People’s Voice Award at the Folk Alliance International conference in February and will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in September, continues to find inspiration in the world around him and channel those ideas into songs. “My job is to try and trap the spirits of things in the scratches of pen on paper and the pulling of notes out of metal,” he once noted. More than forty years after embarking on his singer-songwriting career, Cockburn keeps kicking at the darkness so that it might bleed daylight.

PLAYLIST:

Mulligan Stew with TD Mulligan Sept 23 2017 www.mulliganstew.ca
cry baby (live) Janis Joplin Pearl (bonus tracks)
if you love somebody (live) Sting all this time
pulling back the reins (live) kdlang live by request
www.canadahouse.com Coming UP – Bruce Cockburn/Bone on Bone www.mulliganstew.ca
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes (live) Paul Simon Live in NYC
Mulligan Stew – Year 22 with Terry David Mulligan NEXT – Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Cockburn interview Bone on Bone Album out now
Jesus Train Bruce Cockburn Bone on Bone
Bruce Cockburn interview Bone on Bone
Stab at Matter Bruce Cockburn Bone on Bone
Bruce Cockburn interview Bone on Bone
Twelve Gates to the City Bruce Cockburn Bone on Bone
Bruce Cockburn interview Bone on Bone
3 Al Purdys Bruce Cockburn Bone on Bone
mulligan Stew – with tdmulligan NEXT – Colin Linden on Bruce Cockburn www.mulliganstew.ca
Colin Linden Interview Colin Produced 9 of last 10 BC albums
False River Bruce Cockburn Bone on Bone
Bruce Cockburn interview Bone on Bone
40 years in the wilderness Bruce Cockburn Bone on Bone
Bruce Cockburn interview Bone on Bone
Cafe Society Bruce Cockburn Bone on Bone
Great balls of fire (live) Jerry Lee Lewis Live
Mulligan Stew on a Saturday Night TD Mulligan www.mulliganstew.ca
Midnight Rambler (live) The rolling stones Get yer ya ya’s out
Drifting Blues Fleetwood Mac The ORIGINAL Fleetwood Mac
Hey Joe Jimi Hendrix Smash Hits
Mulligan Stew www.coyotesbanff.com
Living in the USA (live) Steve Miller band Ultimate Hits
TD Mulligan NEXT WEEK – Alan Doyle and Bob Rock
ahead by a century The Tragically Hip Yer Favourites

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