Music Monday: Two by Bruce Cockburn

On one hand music has a good beat and you can dance to it. (I just betrayed my age right there.) I look for lyrics. Songs can only have so much ‘hey baby hey’ until they turn my brain to mush. Today’s selections comes from one of my favourite artists.

Bruce Cockburn had his music played on mainstream rock radio in the 80’s, especially one song usually known by its remake. While The Barenaked Ladies did a great job with its stripped down version of ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Times’, the original has a more immediate rhythm in keeping with the tone of the lyrics. I love this song as a teenager, and I still listen to it numerous times as an adult. It’s more like a poem with a beat than a song. It’s metaphors, similes, and lush language washing over the ears to soak the imagination. Favourite line? This one:

When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime —
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight —
Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight

The song with the most meaning? ‘Pacing the Cage’. I first heard the song off a friend’s borrowed CD in 1996/97. I had left teaching after three years of trying to break in. I had gone straight to university from high school, tried to fulfill items from an imaginary checklist from getting my classroom to getting my husband. I discovered life doesn’t work that way, and most of all it’s someone else’s life. The song came at a time I asked myself ‘who am I living this life for anyway?’:

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

The lyrics quoted in the post came from a site called The Cockburn Project filled with information on his music as well as well as interviews plus posts about his recently published memoir Rumours of Glory.

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