Americana Group

November 2019

The main topic was of the Americana Group meeting in November was an audio/visually illustrated talk given by Carl on the musical career of Bruce Cockburn, which spans close to 50 years.
After a short career in unremarkable psychedelic bands, in 1969 Cockburn set out on a solo career, releasing his first album in 1970. He was recognised in the Juno Awards (Canadian equivalents of the Brits and Grammys) winning folk singer of the year for three years running in the 70s. It wasn’t until the late 70s that he had material released outside Canada. He also experienced a slow conversion to Christianity, elements of which began appearing in his music. He first appeared in Britain in the early 80s and began building a small and loyal following. The big change in his music came following a trip on behalf of Oxfam Canada to Central America, where he witnessed the horrific, bloody impact of US Foreign Policy on the inhabitants of the area, most notably Guatemalan refugees. This led to much controversy being engendered by his song If I Had A Rocket Launcher. Condemned in some quarters as a call to violence, Cockburn denied this, saying it was an expression of rage on behalf of the beleaguered refugees. His music also came to embrace environmental concerns and the wider political world with songs such his anti International Monetary Fund tirade Call It Democracy. He also came to question his Christian faith, especially as his marriage collapsed and he sought to identify its commonalities with other religions and faiths while questioning aspects of the doctrine. In parallel with his changing worldview Cockburn was developing as a musician and became in time to be recognised as an extremely skilful guitarist. In 2001 Cockburn received a Juno Award for Lifetime Achievement. He has released 26 studio albums along with four live collections and had numerous compilations culled from his oeuvre.

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