Bruce Cockburn Celebrates 50 Years with Hits Album and Tour

by Kevin Wierzbicki

The much beloved singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn has reached a major milestone in his illustrious career and is celebrating the 50-year mark with a hits compilation and a North American tour. Released just before Christmas 2021, Greatest Hits (1970-2020) is a 2-CD set featuring 30 songs that Cockburn hand-picked himself from his more than 30 releases.

Cockburn's star began to really rise in 1979 when he had the whimsically-presented hit "Wondering Where the Lions Are" but his earliest days are represented with several cuts here too including "Going to the Country" and "Musical Friends," both released in 1970 although they were written in the '60s. The compilation also includes favorites such as "If a Tree Falls," "The Trouble with Normal," "Call it Democracy," "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" and "If I Had a Rocket Launcher." In a nice touch, the CD's booklet features commentary from Cockburn about each song. For 1981's "The Coldest Night of the Year" the inspiration is pretty simple as Cockburn states, "A straight ahead chronicle of a January night in Toronto." The explanation is more complex for "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" though, as Cockburn relates that his songwriting inspiration came from a horrifying situation in Central America. "Think RPG. Two jungle camps by the Guatemalan border, eight thousand frightened, starving Mayans, terrible accounts of massacre and atrocity told against the coming and going of throbbing, predatory helicopter engines..." Whether he's in awe of the world around him or disgusted by it, Cockburn is without a doubt one of songdom's finest writers, with a great knack for putting difficult situations into words.

Cockburn is also a fine guitar player and his prowess will be on full display in his upcoming shows along with 50th anniversary reminiscences and keen observations. Bruce is on tour through the end of May and in June he'll be playing a couple of festivals. Find all tour dates here.

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