-- Rumours of Glory - a memoir --
written by Bruce Cockburn co-written by Greg King

News Index

2 November 2014 -
RUMOURS OF GLORY - a memoir by Bruce Cockburn with Greg King

Bruce Cockburn's memoir Rumours of Glory

From the first page:

To everyone who, through lo these many years, has done me the honour of paying attention.

This book would not exist were it not for Greg King, who fed me back my recollections with insight and a sense of order that allowed me to take them and run. He was not a ghost writer but a close cocreator of the work you are about to read.

Greg King

HarperCollinsCanada, hardcover, $35.99
On-Sale November 4, 2014
To Purchase from HarperCollins:

Here is a link to an excerpt - Overture and Chapter 4:

Here is a link to an excerpt - Chapter 11:



The Canadian folk/rock singer-songwriter recalls a nomadic life spent witnessing the social and political crises of our time through song.

Cockburn (b. 1945) proves to be a natural storyteller in this debut, which begins with his shy, lonely childhood growing up in a comfortable Ottawa family and traces his rise as a celebrated guitarist who moved from 1960s coffeehouses to concert halls to such hit recordings as “Wondering Where the Lions Are” (1980) and “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” (1984). Known for his eclectic musical tastes—jazz, rock, blues, reggae, folk, country—he entered the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Writing with intelligence and candor, he tells how other artists—from Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg to Doris Lessing and Christian/occult author Charles Williams—influenced his thinking and work and sparked his lifelong activism against war, injustice and exploitation. Cockburn reflects at length on his keen interest in Christian mysticism and the “active benevolence” of the Bible, his view of his protest songs as cries of spiritual anguish, and his travels to troubled parts of Central America, Africa and elsewhere, where injustices touched him and turned into songs like “Rocket Launcher,” which he wrote after meeting with survivors of genocide against Mayan people by Guatemalan militias. “What doesn’t kill you makes for songs,” he writes. Long repressed and preferring “a covert life,” Cockburn writes that it took him many years to feel comfortable performing for audiences and to break out of the “bonds of isolation for the infinitely elastic bag of human absurdity.” He recalls his early unsuccessful marriage and subsequent intimate relationships with a series of strong women, including an unidentified “Madame X,” who helped him open up emotionally in the 1990s.

This unusually absorbing book will enthrall Cockburn fans and anyone interested in the life of a serious artist committed to his music and progressive causes.

Sex, guns and Bruce Cockburn: book review

7 November 2014 - One of the advantages of age is being able to laugh at your own youth – which Cockburn does in his new memoir.

Sex, guns and God—probably not what you expect from a Bruce Cockburn autobiography. Well, maybe the God part, if you were a fan of the Canadian musician’s work during the mid-’70s, his most explicitly Christian period. You might not know about his love of firearms or his erotically charged—okay, perfectly normal string of failed relationships, which he writes about candidly. You might, however, be surprised this book even exists, considering Cockburn’s ambivalence about his own fame. When his first album came out in 1970, he heard it played in its entirety on CHUM-FM as he walked around Toronto’s hippie enclave, Yorkville. “Most performers would have been thrilled. I was terrified. I thought, ‘I’m never going to have privacy again!’ ” Yet, here he is, 44 years later, with a memoir about, as he puts it, “making music, making love, making mistakes, making my way across this beautiful and dangerous planet.”

A surprisingly large portion of his book portrays a man who came to Christianity as an adult, after dabbling in the occult, and whose ever-evolving understanding of faith and the Divine manifests itself in every aspect of his life and art. He is a searcher; his songs are often reportage of his travels, philosophical and physical. But there is also some juice here. His first album was funded by a shady drug dealer. At a concert in Italy, armed men suddenly started moving around his equipment, mid-song; there had been an anarchist bomb threat.

It’s hard to imagine a more Canadian memoir: a serious, self-righteous, self-deprecating and quietly talented artist who purposely avoided pursuing success outside Canada until he landed a Top 40 hit in 1979, Wondering Where the Lions Are. (That gave his U.S. record-label head a few strange promotional ideas—including “showing up at a radio station with a lion on a leash, scaring the s–t out of everybody.”) Cockburn’s marriage fell apart because, he says, he was “unable to adequately express feeling.” That would probably do it, yeah.

If you’ve ever heard a Bruce Cockburn song, you know he’s earnest—often to a fault. Here’s a guy who admits, when writing about his not-so-wild youth: “In my mind, life was too serious and weighty to actually be ‘fun.’ This outlook set in toward my teens and didn’t dissipate for the next 30 years.” When did that change, exactly? He doesn’t say. But one of the advantages of age is being able to laugh at your own youth—which Cockburn does. Earnestly, of course.


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    This page is part of The Cockburn Project, a unique website that exists to document the work of Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn. The Project archives self-commentary by Cockburn on his songs and music, and supplements this core part of the website with news, tour dates, and other current information.