-- Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu (1999) --

Track Listing:

[1] When You Give it Away (4:53)
[2] Mango (5:00)
[3] Last Night Of The World (4:51)
[4] Isn't That What Friends Are For? (5:21)
[5] Down To The Delta (6:16)
[6] The Embers Of Eden (5:39)
[7] Blueberry Hill (4:58)
[8] Let The Bad Air Out (5:49)
[9] Look How Far (5:34)
[10] Deep Lake (6:49)
[11] Use Me While You Can (7:12)

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Album Info:

Production notes:
Released worldwide on 14 September 1999 Produced by Bruce Cockburn and Colin Linden
Recorded and mixed by John Whynot
Additional recording by Colin Linden and Mike Poole
Recorded at Reaction Studios, the Gas Station and Pinhead Recorders, Toronto; The Doghouse, Nashville.
Mixed at Sound City, Los Angeles.
Assisted by Tom Heron, Chris Stringer and Marek
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, New York City
Disc & traycard photo plus assorted original colour photographs by Sally Sweetland.
Additional B&W photography by Gayle Hurmuses.
Art direction, design and layout by A Man Called Wrycraft, Toronto, Canada.

Song credits:
All songs written by Bruce Cockburn ©1999 Golden Mountain Music Corp. (SOCAN), except "Blueberry Hill" which is written by Al Lewis, Vincent Rose & Larry Stock; Chappell & Co./Sovereign Music Co. (ASCAP).

Lucinda Williams contributed harmony to 'When You Give It Away", "Isn't That What Friends Are For", "Look How Far", and "Use Me While You Can"

Margo Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) contributed harmonies on "Mango" and the duet vocal on "Blueberry Hill"

Daniel Janke played kora (click for picture: a kora is a 21-stringed African harp) on "Mango", "Let The Bad Air Out", and "Use Me While You Can"

Richard Bell (The Band, Janis Joplin) played organ on "When You Give It Away", "Last Night Of The World", "Blueberry Hill", and "Use Me While You Can"

Percussionist Rick Lazar contributed to all the songs on the album except "Blueberry Hill" and "Use Me While You Can".

On "Deep Lake" bassist George Koller plays dilruba (click for picture: an Indian instrument that looks like a sitar but is played with a violin bow, and sounds exactly as you imagine the combination of these two instruments would). Believe it or not, the violin sounding instrument on "Down To The Delta" (that kicks in 3 mins 08 secs into the track), also played by Koller, is actually a double bass.


When You Give It Away
Bruce Cockburn: Electric Guitars, Vocals, Handclaps
Gary Craig: Drums
Richard Bell: Organ
John Dymond: Bass
Rick Lazar: Percussion
Carlos Del Junco: Harmonica
Stephen Donald: Trombone
Sally Sweetland: Handclaps
Lucinda Williams: Harmony

Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic Guitar and Vocals
George Koller: Bass
Ben Riley: Drums
Daniel Janke: Kora
Margo Timmins: Harmonies

Last Night of the World
Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
Gary Craig: Drums
Richard Bell: Organ
John Dymond: Bass
Colin Linden: Electric Guitar
Janice Powers: Keyboard
Rick Lazar: Percussion
Jonell Mosser: Harmony

Isn’t That What Friends Are For
Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
George Koller: Bass
Rick Lazar: Percussion
Janice Powers: Keyboards
Ben Riley: Cymbals
Lucinda Williams: Harmony

Down to the Delta
Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic Guitar
George Koller: Bass
Rick Lazar: Percussion
Ben Riley: Drums

The Embers of Eden
Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Steve Lucas:: Bass
Rick Lazar: Percussion
Janice Powers: Keyboards
Ben Riley: Drums
Jonell Mosser: Harmony

Blueberry Hill
Bruce Cockburn: Electric & 12-String Guitars, Vocals
Gary Craig: Drums
Richard Bell: Organ
John Dymond: Bass
Janice Powers: Keyboard
Margo Timmins: Duet Vocal

Let the Bad Air Out
Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Vocals
Steve Lucas: Bass
Rick Lazar: Percussion
Ben Riley: Drums
Carlos Del Junco: Harmonica
Stephen Donald: Trombone
Daniel Janke: Kora

Look How Far
Bruce Cockburn: Resonator & Electric Guitars, Vocals
Steve Lucas: Bass
Rick Lazar: Percussion
Ben Riley: Drums
Carlos Del Junco: Harmonica
Stephen Donald: Trombone
Janice Powers: Keyboard
Lucinda Williams: Harmony

Deep Lake
Bruce Cockburn: Acoustic Guitar
George Koller: Bass & Dilruba
Rick Lazar: Percussion

Use Me While You Can
Bruce Cockburn: Resonator & 12 String Guitars, Vocals
Gary Craig: Drums
Richard Bell: Organ
John Dymond: Bass
Daniel Janke: Kora
Lucinda Williams: Harmony

Editor's Note: This album was re-released in 2020 as part of the 50th Anniversay Box Set, re-mastered by Bruce's long-time producer Colin Linden, and is pressed on coloured vinyl.

2022: This album is being re-leased individually on 180 Gram Black Vinyl.


  • Cockburn Project review on album release date, 14 September 1999
  • Wilfred Langmaid review, in One Man's View, 16 October 1999

    Additional Notes:

  • 25 April 2007

    Bruce Cockburn's Breakfast In New Orleans Dinner In Timbuktu CD Artwork Is Part Of The Fifty Years Of Helvetica Art Exhibit at The Museum Of Modern Art (MOMA) In New York City.

    The colourful cover design of Bruce Cockburn’s Breakfast in New Orleans Dinner in Timbuktu is now on display as a part of the 50th Anniversary of the Helvetica typeface at New York City’s MOMA. It was chosen as a shining example of the use of the Helvetica typeface.

    Breakfast in New Orleans Dinner in Timbuktu was released worldwide in 1999 and featured the songs `Last Night Of the World’ and `When You Give it Away.’ The album jacket was designed in Toronto by leading Canadian graphic artist and designer, Michael Wrycraft. The exhibit runs at MOMA until April 2008.

  • 19 June 2007

    Blues-rock mainstay Richard Bell dies at 61.

    Richard Bell, one of the great instrumentalists of his generation and a pillar in the Canadian roots music scene, died Friday in Toronto at the age of 61 after a year-long battle with multiple myeloma.

    Like so many of his peers, Bell broke onto the national scene in the '60s, as a member of The Hawks, Ronnie Hawkins' backup group. By the late '60s, he had been lured by artist manager Albert Grossman to take the piano chair in Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band and for the next two decades, spent most of his time in the U.S., playing with the biggest names in blues and roots music.

    Following Joplin's death, Bell quickly became a first-call player, landing tours and sessions with Bonnie Raitt, John Sebastian, Bob Dylan, Valerie Carter, Bobby Charles, Rick Danko, Paul Butterfield and many other respected and critically acclaimed acts of the day.

    By the early '90s, Bell once again began to play a more prominent role on the Toronto scene, working on many projects in which Colin Linden was involved.

    Bell split his time commuting to Woodstock, New York, as he had been drafted into a new edition of The Band with founding members Levon Helm, Rick Danko, and Garth Hudson.

    Bell co-wrote the title track for The Band's comeback recording, Jericho, and his multifaceted keyboard playing was also featured on two subsequent Band albums, High On The Hog and Jubilation.

    Over the past decade, Bell's talents were also captured on recordings by The Cowboy Junkies, Rita Chiarelli, David Wilcox, Burrito Deluxe and Pork Belly Futures.

    For the first time in years, Canadians were given ample opportunity to hear Bell in concert settings as he toured the country numerous times with Bruce Cockburn, Linden, and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.

    "I grew up playing the blues, it's my thing," said Bell in an interview a few years ago.

    In May, Bell was told his myeloma had returned and he was hospitalized as his health rapidly deteriorated.

    from - Peter North, The Edmonton Journal

    Known comments by Bruce Cockburn about this album, by date:

  • July 1999

    Responding to the question whether Breakfast In New Orleans, Dinner In Timbuktu is a return to his older work -- since he uses old rhythms -- Cockburn is straightforward:

    "No. I see this album more as a sequence of The Charity of Night. That album was about the search for light in the dark. The new album is about healing. Healing of all impressions one sees and that have a major impact on you. In that way it was logical to include in the songs, elements from the past. Perhaps there was an unconscious drawing from old elements. My way of writing songs has not changed. It is an organic, almost biological urge, that comes regularly to the surface. There is the urge, but the ideas are not always there. It is a matter of waiting until there is the idea. But then two or three songs arrive in succession. Then, I often have images in my head."
    - "The Rage of Bruce Cockburn", by Gerard Vos, Platenblad, translated into English by Arjan El Fassed, July, 1999.

  • 14 August 1999

    Robyn Lewis: "The album is a far cry from the worlds of loss and desolation visited on albums past. The album is more personable than the material Cockburn is better-known-for-and it's more observational about emotional relationships than about the world at large.

    BC: "It's harder to find the dramatic things in it... Each album had some sort of message-y stuff in it, and there is no end of issues worth paying attention to and writing about, but it would get boring for people if I only did that, too..."

    RL: "Though the content of his most recent humanitarian efforts is not presented in the lyrics, it is certainly reflected in the musical stylings on the album.

    BC: Toumani Diabete, who plays the kora, [a West African harp] and I play together in the film, and in the course of doing so, it fell together automatically, and that gave me the thought of having the kora on the album..."

    "I'm always interested in the spiritual showing up in songs from one degree to another. This album is more cheerful and isn't focused on darkness."
    - from "Rykodisc's Cockburn Serves Up 'Breakfast': Singer/Songwriter's 25th Set Takes A More Personal Perspective" by Robyn Lewis, Billboard, Vol.111, Issue 33, 14 August 1999. Anonymous submission.

  • September 1999

    "This album is more acoustic than most of the records I've done for awhile--though not for any particular reason other than that's what was around when I was writing the songs... Although I play a Linda Manzer live--because is has a pickup--I used a Collings in the studio and miked it with a Neumann U89 condenser."

    [Cockburn describes his picking technique as] "a combination of Mississippi John Hurt and futile attempts at playing jazz when I was still in high school." [Although he loosely describes his style as "jazzy," he isn't a fan of jazz harmony.] "I've never been big on complicated chord structures," he says. "Early on, I started listening to Ravi Shankar and Arabic music, where they don't care about chords at all. I really related to the hypnotic quality of droning sounds, and the geometric shapes you can build by placing melodic movement on top of a droning bass part."

    [...Nearly all the songs on Breakfast involve at least one string in non-standard tuning.] "If you're a fingerpicker," says Cockburn,"it makes sense to fool around with changing the bass note so you can play in different keys, and it's also a simple way to free up a lot of your left hand to play more complicated things."

    - from "Bruce Cockburn: The Troubadour Effect", Guitar Player, September 1999, Vol. 33 Issue 9 p.35. Anonymous submission.

  • 30 September 1999

    "I didn't think of it when I was recording it, but it definitely has more light in it -- or a different kind of light. When I think of Charity of Night I think of street lights reflecting off automobiles. This album has a lot more light in it -- or at least sunlight, even if it's coming through a sandstorm."

    [He suggests the album can be considered in terms of healing.] Healing is an overused word and I'm hesitant to use it with all the New Age baggage it carries, but I think there's an element of it on this album." [Although he declines to offer specifics when asked about reasons for the theme of healing, Cockburn adds: "Everything in my songs is directly attributable to something. It's just life really. It's lots of things that have happened, lots of changes, and also it stems from an underlying feeling that we all need healing badly at this point. I think what the world needs from me at the moment is to address that. When I say, 'at the moment,' I mean when I was writing the songs on the album. I have no idea where I'll go from here, but I suspect it may go farther in that direction."
    - from "Cockburn's healing songs: In career spanning 30 years, Canadian living legend offers 25th CD", by Robert Reid, Record Staff, 30 September 1999. Anonymous Submission.

  • 6 February 2000

    Steve Lawson: The record sounds unfettered. Fun, passionate and full of energy.

    BC: There wasn’t much restraint - the restraints on me are my technical ability more than anything, and I suppose ones technical ability limits to some degree what you can imagine, at least in my case it does! It doesn’t stop at the same place, but you hear things projected from what you know how to do.
    - from Bruce Cockburn Interview, Guitarist Magazine, November, 1999, by Steve Lawson.

  • 6 February 2000

    BC: ...I did, in fact, during the time that these songs were being written, have breakfast in New Orleans and dinner in Timbuktu; not on the same day.

    HANSEN: Is there a connection?

    BC: There's not what I would call a connection exactly. There is a kind of cultural line from the part of Africa where Timbuktu is to the part of the Southern US where New Orleans is, but the connection is through the blues really and through the history of that music. I did--sat in with Ali Farka in a show that he was doing in Timbuktu and when we met, he said, 'Welcome to the birthplace of the blues.'

    Mr. ALI FARKA: (Foreign language spoken)

    BC: And I was a little skeptical of that because I've heard his music and it sounds blues-influenced to me, or did, and he was dressed just like John Lee Hooker, wearing a purple suit and a purple fedora, and I am thinking, 'OK. I'll take this with a grain of salt.' But when I got to hear the traditional music that came from around there that was played by people who were very conspicuously not Western influenced, or European influenced, the music sounded so much like the field hollers and so on that I used to listen to on Folkways Records, the early Lomax recordings, that the connection was inescapable. And I have to think that Ali Farka Toure is absolutely right.

    HANSEN: And that's where you were introduced to some of the musicians there when you were working on the documentary.

    BC: That's right. It was part of the filming process. Ali Farka Toure, who may be familiar to a lot of listeners, who is from very near Timbuktu, turned up while I was there, and I sat in with Ali Farka on a show that he was doing in Timbuktu, and I had a fantastic chance to play with a kora player named Tumani Diabete. Kora is the traditional harp, the classical harp of West Africa. It's a 21-string thing with a grid resonator, and it's capable of wonderful sounds, and it lends itself really beautifully to being accompanied by a finger-picking guitar.

    HANSEN: Mm. There's the kora player and you're playing your guitar up against it so you have that beautiful blend.

    BC: The kora player is a man named Daniel Janke. He's Canadian and he studied in West Africa and he's familiar with a number of different styles on the instrument. And I just--after playing with Tumani in Mali, I thought that the instrument had to be on this album and particularly in that song because of the debt that we're owed to the Malian landscape. It just seemed like one that the kora should be in and Daniel did a great job of putting that in it.

    (Soundbite of Bruce Cockburn song)

    BC: (Singing) Earl held in black fingers, the moon behind dry trees. Earl held in black fingers, bird inside the rib cage just beating to be free. Use me while you can. I've had breakfast in New Orleans, dinner in Timbuktu...
    - from "Bruce Cockburn, Musician, Shares History and Songs of his New CD, Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu" by Liane Hansen, Weekend Edition Sunday, National Public Radio, February 6, 2000. Submitted by Suzanne Capobianco.

  • 7 February 2000

    Brent Bambury: We start off in New Orleans and end up in West Africa. Along the way you drop off on Blueberry Hill.

    BC: That's a New Orleans thing. The album isn't really about travel particularly. At the time these songs were written, I did have breakfast in New Orleans and dinner in Timbuktu. The songs fit on some kind of cultural line that can be extended between the two places. So it seemed to work. And Blueberry Hill plays into the New Orleans side of that balance.

    Brent Bambury: Your version is louder than Fats Domino.

    BC: And slower and whiter. It would be foolish to reproduce that definitive version of the song. There's no way you can play it and do it better than Fats or even as well.
    -- from "Bruce Cockburn on international cuisine", CBC Infoculture, February 7, 2000, by Brent Bambury.

  • 9 February 2000

    "It's more of a vibe than a stated thing, but it's there in songs like "Last Night of the World" and "When You Give It Away." In a sense they are asking 'How do we fix this?' In some ways, I see this album as a sequel to Charity of Night , but it doesn't carry on where that album left off. It's more of the other side of the coin. Whereas Charity of Night is lit the way things are lit at night, this album has more sunlight in it. Even though the sun is a kind of fugitive at times, it's there."
    - from "Sun Shines on Cockburn's Breakfast", Vancouver Courier, February 9, 2000, by Jennifer Van Evra. Submitted by Audrey Pearson.

  • 10-17 February 2000

    "I go through life and I experience the things I experience and I'm leaving a trail in the song, and that's really the theme in my whole body of work over the years, and that continues with this record (Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu)."
    - from "The Good Fight, Politics, religion and music are a fine mix for Bruce Cockburn", Vancouver Sun, February 10-17, 2000. Submitted by Audrey Pearson.

  • circa 22 February 2000

    "IT'S ME LEAVING a trail," Bruce Cockburn notes of his 30-year musical career. "I feel like it's all part of one picture. And it's a picture of a spiritual journey, more than anything."

    Over the course of his 25 album career, which includes three platinum and 13 gold recordings, Cockburn has worn many hats simultaneously: folk singer/songwriter; world traveler; political activist; Christian and more. His songs chronicle a life of conscience and passion with a richness and consistency to which most artists can only aspire.

    However, "there have been many bumps," he admits. "Sometimes there are chasms that have to be crossed. And sometimes you're crossing them on a thread. I think everybody's life must have those things. That's how you grow."

    Cockburn's songs, like "Wondering Where The Lions Are," "If I Had A Rocket Launcher," "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" and "If A Tree Falls," are informed by both an intelligent lyrical sensibility and a mature sense of ethics. Already engaging with well-turned phrases and organic constructions, his songs become even more interesting once you realize they're non-fiction. Cockburn lives the events and describes what he sees, whether visiting "The Mines of Mozambique" or "The Tibetan Side of Town." Cockburn's political travelogues are not imaginary abstractions but the correspondence of a global life.

    "All those songs sprang from direct experiences and they wouldn't have sprung from any other thing," he explains. "It's part and parcel to the way I write, to how I approach songwriting as a whole. The songs are attempts to do something with an emotional response I'm confronted with. Without that confrontation, that emotional response, there would be no songs. For me, what is essential is to write about as much of the human experience as I can. That includes political songs, but it doesn't preclude love songs, and songs about sex and whatever else might come up."

    As a testament to his journalistic writing style, Cockburn generally chronicles a song's birth with its date and location of inception, although such information is absent on his current album, Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu.

    "On this album, they were left off in an unfortunate oversight," he says. "People were wondering if I had some new agenda, but I don't. It was just an oversight."

    "In theory, the songs are supposed to be comprehensible in some way without that information. In some cases, I think it helps give a sense of where the song is coming from. It's helpful to know that a song that's related to a particular place and time was actually inspired in that place and time."

    "In other cases," he concedes, "it's not so critical to anybody's understanding of the song. A song like 'Mango,' it makes no difference where the song was written. Some of the other ones, it does, and it would have been helpful for people to know that the imagery of 'Use Me While You Can,' for example, all comes from Mali, West Africa, where Timbuktu is. It might have been helpful to know the lyrical content of 'When You Give It Away' came from New Orleans, which makes sense in terms of the title of the album."


    Asked how his style has changed, he says, "Musically, I feel like I've got a better...well, hell, no, I shouldn't say better. I'm a lot fussier than I used to be," he laughs. "That's the thing I notice most about my evolution as a writer. I settle much less easily for things than I did. I feel I have a better grasp of how to distill events and images into words than I did when I started. I think the songs generally tend to be more subtle and multi-layered lyrically."
    - from "Worldly And Wise: Itinerant Troubadour Bruce Cockburn Maps The Human Experience", by Dave Irwin, Tucson Weekly, circa 22 February 2000. Submitted by Nigel Parry.

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