-- Mama Just Wants To Barrelhouse All Night Long --
19 January 1973. Toronto, Canada.

Found on:

Night Vision (1973)

Circles In The Stream (1977) [live album]

Resume (1981) [compilation album]

Waiting For A Miracle, Singles 1970-1987 (1987) [compilation album]

Slice O Life (2009)

Rumours of Glory - box set Disc 2 (2014) [compilation album]

Greatest Hits (1970-2020) (2021) [compilation album]

I was up the road on easy street
Watching everybody stand around and cheat
A man comes up and says, "Move along
Down to the corner where you belong"
But mama just wants to barrelhouse all night long

I hear the city singing like a siren choir
Some fool tried to set this town on fire
TV preacher screams "come on along"
I feel like Fay Wray face to face with King Kong
But mama just wants to barrelhouse all night long

Sometimes I wonder what I am
I feel like I'm living in a hologram
It doesn't seem to matter what's right or wrong
Everybody's grabbing and coming on strong
But mama just wants to barrelhouse all night long

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

  • 1986 -

    "Bogged down producing an album for a friend with a drinking problem. It was going nowhere (though eventually it did work out) and there was time for seedy hotel T.V. and whatever else could be found. Uncovering this song soaked up a lot of frustration."
    -- from "All The Diamonds" songbook, edited by Arthur McGregor, OFC Publications 1986. Submitted by Rob Caldwell.

  • 29 June 2002 - "Asked how do you barrelhouse?"

    "I donít know, actually. The question was: how do you barrelhouse? And I actually donít know the answer to that. I think itís sort of whatever you think it is. Barrel houses were road houses in the old days. They were places where you went and they had barrels of booze sitting there and you bought booze and you did whatever booze prompted you to do. So, you know, itís kind of up to you what barrel house is. There are old blues songs that do make references to barrel housing and some of those references are metaphorical and donít pertain literally to being in a place with sawdust on the floor and a barrel of booze and I choose to think of my own song in a metaphorical kind of way too. I guess thatís what it is to be a song writer."
    -- transcribed from the 29 June 2002, Kate Wolf Festival concert. Submitted by Doug Stacey.

  • 15 June 2010

    On Wednesday (16 June 2010) at Massey Hall, iconic recording artist Bruce Cockburn and guest stars will perform some of his best-known material. Cockburn talks over the set list with Brad Wheeler.

    One wonders if Cockburn, the activist-songwriter, wished he could be less of the important, serious guy. Are there times heíd rather barrelhouse all night long?

    "Yes, quite often actually," he answers with a laugh. "Iíd much rather be the fun guy than the self-important serious guy. You didnít say Ďself-important,í but Iím saying that."

    - from Bruce Cockburn Set for Luminato Honours - 40 Years of songs to Live By by Brad Wheeler.

  • 2021

    "Kitty and I in Toronto, I don't recall why. Staying at the long-since-gone Astoria hotel, seeminly populted, in the main, by ladies of questionable virtue. Much coming and going, especially in the evening..."

    ~ from the liner notes of Greatest Hits (1970-2020)

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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.