-- People See Through You --
25 August 1985. Bridgenorth.

Found on:

World Of Wonders (1986)

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

Rumours of Glory - box set Disc 4 (2014) [compilation album]

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

You've got covert action
Prejudice to extremes
You've got primitive cunning
And high tech means
You've got eyes everywhere
But people see through you

You've got good manipulators
Got your store of dupes
You've got the idiot clamour
Of your lobby groups
You like to play on fears
But people see through you

You've got instant communication
Instant data tabulation
You got the forces of occupation
But you don't get capitulation
Cause people see through you

You've got the sounding brass
You've got the triumph of the will
You do what you want to
And we pay the bills
you hype the need for sacrifice
but people see through you

You've got anti-matter language
Contrived to conceal
You've been lying so long
You don't know what's real
You're a figment of your own imagination
And people see through you

You've got lip service tributaries
You've got death fetish mercenaries
You hold the tickets to the cemetaries
You're big and bad and scary
But people see through you

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

  • March 1987

    [People See Through You" is aimed straight at Ronald Reagan, an uncharacteristic move for Cockburn.] "The idea came from meetings with people in the Sanctuary movement, and hearing about the FBI breaking into their churches," he says. "They'd go in and break into files and leave the ones pertaining to Sanctuary people on the desk. It's what Reagan says the 'evil empire' is doing, yet it's exactly what his own people are doing. Plus there's the almost amusing contrast between the incredible power of these covert agencies, and the use of that power to break into places any idiot could get into, and just throw paper around. That had to be a song."

    -- from "Bruce Cockburn - A Voice Singing in the Wilderness," by Steve Perry, Musician Magazine, March 1987. Submitted by Suzanne Capobianco.

  • 1990 - "The Sanctuary Movement in the U.S. bloomed during the Reagan years, a graphic testimonial to the gap between the grassroots honour and compassion of the American people, and the stated aims of military-industrial foreign policy. The FBI (or someone like them) was going around breaking into churches (!), stealing documents and trying to scare people. Secret police acting just like secret police." - from "Rumours of Glory 1980-1990" (songbook), edited by Arthur McGregor, OFC Publications, Ottawa, 1990. Submitted by Rob Caldwell.

  • 2021

    "Reagan's America, CIA church break-ins, a magazine ad for a t-shirt with a graphic of a US marine towering over tiny, kneeling peasant figures and the caption: "USMC - stabilizing the third world through conquest."

    ~ 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.