-- The Coldest Night Of The Year --
released 1981

Found on:

Resume (1981) [compilation album]

Mummy Dust (1981) [compilation album]

Rumours of Glory (1985) [compilation album]

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

Anything Anytime Anywhere, Singles 1979-2002 (2002) [compilation album]

Inner City Front (2002)

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

I was up all night, socializing
Trying to keep the latent depression from crystalizing
Now the sun is lurking just behind the Scarborough horizon

And you're not even here
On the coldest night of the year.

I took in Yonge Street at a glance
Heard the punkers playing
Watched the bikers dance
Everybody wishing they could go to the south of France

And you're not even here
On the coldest night of the year.

Hey look at me now
See the shape I'm in
It's taken me so long to catch on to what's going on
Inside this skin
When two lovers really love there's nothing there
But this suddenly compact universe
Skin and breath and hair

I watched the all night TV show
In the all night bar
I drove all the people home
I was the one with the car

Now I'm sitting here alone and sleepless
and wondering where you are
And wishing you were here
On the coldest night of the year

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

  • 2 November 1991

    Q: So, would you have the lyric all mapped out before you start the music?

    BC: Usually, not always. "Coldest Night of the Year," for example, that happened all at the same time. In most cases the lyrics are mostly complete. Sometimes they undergo some changes...

    Q: That one really seems to stand out. It seems like it was separated from different albums. Very strong song, lot of airplay on that one. Were there any others like that that haven't come out yet?

    BC: Not really. "Coldest Night of the Year" really should have been on...

    Q: Dragon?

    BC: No, on the new album, ideally. [ "Inner City Front" ] It was written as part of that body of work, and... well, maybe. I don't see it as totally different, especially lyrically... "Walking", and even "Inner City Front".

    Q: The music, though... BC: Yeah, it's different music, but... once we had the song, there was this sort of pipe dream that we could build a single...

    Q: An excellent choice...

    BC: Yeah, it didn't happen, though... it wasn't written for any particular reason...

    - from Bruce Cockburn Interview, The Old Waldorf, San Francisco, CA, 2 November 1981. Transcribed by Charles Wolff. Anonymous Submission.

  • 1990

    "It was."

    - from "Rumours of Glory 1980-1990" (songbook), edited by Arthur McGregor, OFC Publications, Ottawa, 1990. Submitted by Rob Caldwell.

  • 19 November 1997

    During the November 19, 1997 solo concert at The Brockville Arts Centre in Ontario, I requested "Coldest Night". At first he replied with "no". Then he laughed and said, "That is one of my songs that I never figured out how to make sound good by myself." Then he shook his head and said "That's the problem..... too damn many songs" He then played one of my other requests, Lover's in a Dangerous Time.

    - as reported to the Project by Nancy Bouwma.

  • 2021

    "It was. A straight ahead chronicle of a January night in Toronto."

    ~ 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.