“If a tree falls” — Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn (pronounced “coe-burn”), “If a Tree Falls.”  From his 1989 album, “Big Circumstance.”

Canada’s music copyright group SOCAN honored Cockburn in a program last month (all links added here):

The star-studded evening at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall is a chance for the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada to celebrate the best the Canadian music scene has to offer.

Bruce Cockburn performing at the City Stages f...

Bruce Cockburn performing at the City Stages festival in Birmingham, Alabama, United States. Photo: Wikipedia. Some guitar afficianadoes consider Cockburn in the top ranks of guitar wizards. A story we’re working to verify holds a reporter asking Eddie van Halen how it feels to be the world’s best guitarist, to which van Halen is said to have responded: “I don’t know. Ask Bruce Cockburn.”

Cockburn, who has had a 35-year career that produced hits such as Wonderin’ Where the Lions Are and If I Had a Rocket Launcher, will be presented with the SOCAN Lifetime Achievement Award.

Musician Bruce Cockburn gets the lifetime achievement award after 35 years as a singer-songwriter. (Canadian Press)  A Canadian Music Hall of Fame member and 12-time Juno award-winner, Cockburn will be serenaded by Serena Ryder as part of the ceremony.

He’s been around for 35 years, and I don’t have any of his stuff in my library?  How did that happen?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Jim Stanley.


6 Responses to “If a tree falls” — Bruce Cockburn

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Richard Conniff, whose blog and writings on science stuff I’ve recently found, dedicated most of a recent post to another Bruce Cockburn tune, “Wonderin’ Where the Lions Are.”

    Just fyi.



  2. His is one of our favorite Christmas albums (titled “Christmas”, it so happens).


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Cockburn is really good. I was disappointed in Rolling Stone’s ignoring a number of great guitarists from the “folkie” side, people who should be in the top 25 or so — Paul Simon, James Taylor, Leo Kottke, and of course Cockburn (not necessarily in that order).

    Didn’t know about Speechless. I’ll track that one down. Thanks.


  4. Lars says:

    Actually, Ed, Cockburn is a very good guitarist, and has at least one recent instrumental album (Speechless – 2005) consisting entirely of his own compositions. However, fellow frostback though Cockburn might be, I’d have thought of Kottke first as well.


  5. Ed Darrell says:

    I’d like to track down the van Halen/Cockburn story. Frankly, I wonder who would have asked the question and not expected to get Leo Kottke as the answer. But I digress.

    I tried to confirm the story. Best I got was third hand on the internet. Thought I’d call van Halen’s publicist and ask — but that’ll probably be Tuesday.


  6. Jim says:


    As you know, I am a HUGE Cockburn fan. His songs like “Call it Democracy” and “Trickle Down” definitely speak a prophetic word to power. Puts me in mind of Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit”.

    His tender, “slice of life” ballads and songs often speak to places in my heart no musician has ever reached. In his “Southland of the Heart”, he crafts words like no other. And he has a deeply spiritual ethos in much of his music which reflects his Christian faith. But unlike nearly all the bozos in Contemporary Christian Music (the great Michael Card being an exception), Cockburn isn’t afraid to touch on issues of war, care for creation and the oppression of minorities and the poor.

    I would, however, suggest than the Van Halen story is an urban legend. Perhaps I am wrong, but I have heard numerous versions of it applying to several little-known guitarists. Other versions have Jimi or Eric Clapton in the place of Eddie Van Halen and the very talented Phil Keaggy in the place of Cockburn. I think those stories are probably all baloney.

    But yes, Cockburn is quite good with the guitar. As good as he is with the instrument, however — he’s even better with the pen.



Please play nice in the Bathtub -- splash no soap in anyone's eyes. While your e-mail will not show with comments, note that it is our policy not to allow false e-mail addresses. Comments with non-working e-mail addresses may be deleted.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: