Bruce Cockburn FAQ - Music

BiographyMusicLPs, Tapes, CDs

Q25: What kind of guitars does BC have/play?
A: I think on Big Circumstance, he used a custom made pair of Strat style electrics, one 6 & one 12 string. They were both gun metal blue with black pick guards, I think they were also made by Manzer, though I could be wrong . On Nothing But A Burning Light, the electric guitar was a Fender Jazzmaster, I think it's called. One of those sort of surf guitars made by Fender in the 60's. He also played that blue electric National. With acoustic guitars, his first few albums were played on a Martin dreadnaught; with Salt, Sun and Time, he began to play a Larrivee cutaway. In the early eighties, when he started to play acoustic with a band, he started to use a handmade Yamaha acoustic, I think the Model was L55 or something like that, with a Takamine pickup. He had one brown Yamaha (the one in Rumours of Glory) and one blue one. During the early eighties, he continued to use his Larrivee for solo performances (see the back of Humans for BC with his Larrivee cutaway) Now he plays the Lisa Manzer. The fret markings on the Manzer are Mayan calendar symbols.
(Source: Bryan Paul Thomas. Archive: v01.n262)

Q26: Since BC doesn't use picks or fingerpicks, how does he keep his fingernails from wearing completely off?
A: He puts "Krazy Glue" on his nails, and Bruce doesn't recommend applying it when drunk. Apparently Bruce likes to use a combination of flesh and nail when picking (more tonal subtlety), so he doesn't like his nails too long.
(Source: Andrew Rate. Archive: n01.v182.)

Q27: What artists does BC listen to?
A: Bruce Cockburn's Desert Island Discs (in no order) his ten favorite albums that he gave to Pulse magazine when they ran a 1991 article on him.
Blonde on Blonde -- Bob Dylan
Kind of Blue -- Miles Davis
A Love Supreme -- John Coltrane
The Chirping Crickets -- Buddy Holly
King of the Delta Blues Singers -- Robert Johnson
Passing Thru -- Chico Hamilton
Get Close -- The Pretenders
Tijuana Moods -- Charles Mingus
88 Elmira Street -- Danny Gatton
Ragged Glory -- Neil Young
(Source: Rick Evans. Archive v01.n214.)

In addition, on the 6/27/95 broadcast of the World Cafe radio show, Bruce was the guest d.j.
He selected these cuts: Isabel's Table Dance (Charles Mingus), Visions of Johanna (Bob Dylan), Out of Range (Ani Difranco), Natty Dread (Bob Marley), Acknowledgement (John Coltrane), The Gilded Cage (The Story), Rite of Spring (Stravinsky), Heroes (David Bowie), That's Alright Mama (Elvis Presley).

Q28: I heard that U2 quoted BC in one of their songs and that they covered a BC tune.
A: Please state that in the form of a question. Yes, God Part II has the following verse: "Don't believe in the 60's in the golden age of pop/You glorify the past when the future dries up/Heard a singer on the radio late last night/Says he's gonna kick the darkness till it bleeds daylight *" Further down is "*Bruce Cockburn." (Nice of them to give credit.)
(Source: Steve Graham, Mark Friesen. Archive: v01.n145.)

A: U2 does a cover of If I Had A Rocket Launcher live, but it is not officially recorded.
(Source: Mark Friesen, Dave D. Cawley. Archive: v01.n145.)

A. Another U2/Cockburn connection is the photographer Anton Corbijn, who did the cover and booklet of Nothing But A Burning Light and the booklet for U2's Achtung Baby.
(Source: Archive: v01.n145.)

A: In Propaganda U2 World Service Magazine issue #24 Summer 1996 in an article entitled "Bono in Swansea" by Robin Denselow was the following info: RD: "Is Bruce Cockburn, who's a Canadian singer, an influence on you? I've been told you recorded Rocket Launcher." Bono: "Yeah. 'If I had a rocket launcher some son of bitch would die', is the lyric. It's a good song and we did record it, but we didn't put it out because it wasn't as good as his version."
(Source: Daniel Lorenz Johnson. Archive: v02.n101.)

Q29: Are there any known covers of BC material out there?
A: These are a few (for an extensive list, go to Frank Brusca's site):

Waiting For a Miracle by Jerry Garcia Band (1990), Together Alone on Canadian Pacific by George Hamilton IV (1969), One Day I Walk by Tom Rush, Up on the Hillside on Coast to Coast Fever by David Wiffen (1973), Lovers in a Dangerous Time on The Wild Places by Dan Fogelberg (1990?), plus Anne Murray has supposedly covered Musical Friends.
(Source: Rob Caldwell. Archive: v01.n211.)

A: Claudia Schmidt took Bruce's For the Birds and added her own prose poem over the music on her album New Goodbyes, Old Hellos (or vice versa!)
(Source: Deb Messling. Archive v01.n211.)

A: Going to the Country and Going Down Slow by Valdy.
(Source: Chris Sullivan. Archive v01.n212.)

A: Pam Mark Hall did Lord of the Starfields in 1980.
(Source: Marie Westhaver 9-17-96)

Q30: Are there any collections of other artists doing BC material?
A: Kick at the Darkness is on the Intrepid label (N21S 0008). Following comments by Alain: Highly recommended. The nice songs we find on this album include: Lovers in a Dangerous Time - The Barenaked Ladies, A Long Time Love Song - Martin Tielli and Jane Siberry, Lord of the Starfields - Swing Gang, Feet Fall on the Road - Five Guys Named Moe, Silver Wheels - All Her Brothers Are Drummers, All the Diamonds in the World - Rebecca Jenkins, Stolen Land - Chris Bottomley, Waiting for the Moon - Fat Man Waving, One Day I Walk - The Skydiggers, Red Ships Take Off in the Distance - Bobby Wiseman. It has very sweet moments and I recommend it despite the occasional terrible songs (3 out of 13, not bad, and easy to program out on a CD player.) Most of the songs are sung by female singers. (Source: Alain ?. Archive: v01.n145.)

Q31: Where can I get BC sheet music/guitar tablature?
A: From the Ottawa Folklore Center:
OFC Publications, 111 Banks St. South, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1S 3X4. Phone: (613) 730-2887. They publish: All the Diamonds (1969-1979) (29 songs) Cdn$19.95 ISBN 0-919141-03-X and Rumours of Glory (1980-1990) (25 songs) Cdn$21.95 ISBN 0-919141-04-8. They both have words, melody, chords, and TAB. Here's the rub: they have no overseas agents, you have to order direct from OFC. Shipping and handling to overseas costs a bundle. (Source: Steve Watson. Archive v01.n63.)

A: Also check out

Q32: Why does BC seem to have more bands than albums?
A: BC mentioned in an interview that he rotated his bands to keep things fresh. He didn't want to slide into something "comfortable" and not be challenged.
(Source: Bill Pringle. Archive v01.n122.)

Q33: I've always wondered how BC goes about letting a band member go. Is there any animosity between BC and ex-band members? Hugh Marsh in particular ?
A: In Fergus' case BC did not ask him to play for Nothing But A Burning Light. Fergus knew it was coming. I think BC avoided telling him directly and Ferg was dissappointed that BC did not tell him. There is no animosity between anyone. Hugh and BC remain good friends along with Judy Cade (of Wanna Go Walking fame). In Ferg's case it was a minor communication problem.
(Source: Allen ?. Archive: v01.n122.)

Last updated: 07 Jun 2005