If you were a Christian and a Canadian in the seventies or eighties, Bruce Cockburn was as important as U2 for Christians in the eighties, nineties and beyond. For the first decade of Pacific Theatre, if people wanted to know what the company was about, I'd say "As Bruce Cockburn is to music, Pacific Theatre wants to be to theatre."
The man's now being honoured with Image Journal's prestigious Levertov Award - which went to one of our favourite poets, Luci Shaw, the year before last. So with Cockburn, it's not only talk (and a chance to meet the guy), but also a concert. Well worth the trip to Seattle - if I weren't onstage that night in the preview of FREUD'S LAST SESSION, I'd have already booked my ticket.
Over the course of four decades, Bruce Cockburn has released more than thirty albums mapping the territory of the human experience. His sound is marked by a blend of folk, blues, jazz, and rock, and his signature vocals range from coarse and gravelly to reedy and longing. In his pursuit of love, both divine and human, he has spun songs of grief, joy, and bewilderment--and even humor. "I'm good at catching rainbows," he sings, "not so good at catching trout."
His honors include thirteen Juno Awards and an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. He has also been awarded the Order of Canada, one of the highest honors in the nation.
Cockburn's memoir, Rumours of Glory, was released just three months ago. An excerpt from it was featured in issue 82 of Image. Rolling Stone says, "Rumours of Glory offers a call to life, embracing the mysteries of existence and the search for love and beauty, wherever one finds it."
"Relationships of the heart require exposure of the soul. You are more vulnerable slipping into bed beside your lover than you are setting up a freelance meth lab in Sinola.
"After a few years of Kitty and me being together, coming apart, and getting back together a few times, I determined that we needed to move the relationship forward somehow. I asked Kitty to marry me, and she said yes. On the penultimate cay of the decade we were married at Saint George's Anglican Church in downtown Ottawa.
"The church setting was mostly an aesthetic choice for me, though more deeply meaningful to Kitty. I took very seriously the idea of making a promise before God, but I didn't care whether we did it in a field or church or somebody's backyard. It was beautiful, but I wasn't attached to the place. I was seeking a deep and mystical bonding with the beautiful woman I loved, which I got, but I also got something else, quite unexpectedly.
"With Father Playfair's guidance we repeated our vows, then exchanged rings. At that moment, when I held Kitty's hand to place her ring, I became aware of a presence standing there with us - invisible to the eye but as solid and obvious as any of the people in the room. I felt bathed in the figure's energy. I shivered, said to myself, "Well, I don't know who or what this is, but we're in a Christian church, so it's got to be Jesus." Who else would it be? He spoke no words, but the presence was real, male, and loving.
"The church where Kitty and I were married was a human construct built to accommodate and celebrate the possibility of a relationship with God. But I don't think it was about the building. It is the opening, the baring of souls to each other and therefore to the divine, that allows these communications to occur. I will say, though, that we seemed to be in the right place at the right time, doing right by God in his house, and that might have helped."
Portions of the excerpt from "Rumours Of Glory" reprinted in Image Journal No 82, Fall 2014