Bruce Cockburn is sufficiently Canadian that his name may ring no bells. But I think If I Had a Rocket Launcher made a few waves back in the day and may jog a memory. He’s an interesting guy, and this is a nice, lilting melodic song about wanting to kill people.

Bruce Cockburn

Cockburn (rhymes with “flow-burn”) is Christian, political, a dazzling (mostly acoustic) guitarist, and a decent singer and songwriter, with a pleasing throaty baritone. He’s been doing it for a long time; when I was the part-time University stage manager forty years ago, I put him on several times, and every show was a highlight.

When you’re listening to a Cockburn tune or watching a video, zone in for a moment and focus on the guitar playing; there is a lot happening, all the time, fast and graceful and with odd harmonies shooting off in all directions. One of the shows I managed Bruce was hurting pretty bad with the flu, but The Show Must Go On, and during the encore, he kind of lost it, got down on his knees at the front of the stage with an electric guitar and ripped out this howling electric firestorm; not exactly what the audience was expecting but I bet they all remember that evening; I sure do. While we’re on the subject, here’s Cockburn playing some acoustic blues on a National Steel guitar, oh my those chords.

Now, as for If I Had a Rocket Launcher, what can I say? There are a lot of places right now in the world where if I were one of the poor brown people getting killed, if I had one I would too. Except for I can’t sing or play guitar nearly as well.

This is part of the Song of the Day series (background).

Links · Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, live video: acoustic, electric.


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From: Andreas Schödl (Jan 31 2018, at 01:34)

Mr. Bray, first of all thanks for Song of the Day :)

If I had ... ran on our public radio a few month ago and it struck a chord (if you allow the pun).

It led to me buying the Anytime, Anywhere greatest hits collection, where I discovered that "A Dream Like Mine" and "If A Tree Falls" are by Mr. Cockburn, too, which are some kind of mainstays on our "oldie station" and were instantly recognizable to me.

I like it when something seemingly unconnected comes along and reveals itself as some kind of puzzle piece you never knew was missing :)


From: Walter Underwood (Feb 08 2018, at 09:01)

Dammit, he's playing in Berkeley tonight and I can't go.

Used to play a lot of Bruce Cockburn when I was a DJ at KTRU around 1980.

That brings back memories. Like the biggest false endings ever in "Steel Eyes" by Shawn Phillips (on Second Contribution).


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