-- The Trouble With Normal --
30 June 1981. Toronto, Canada.

Found on:

The Trouble With Normal (1983) & (2002)

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]

Rumours of Glory - box set Disc 3 (2014) [compilation album]

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

Strikes across the frontier and strikes for higher wage
Planet lurches to the right as ideologies engage
Suddenly it's repression, moratorium on rights
What did they think the politics of panic would invite?
Person in the street shrugs -- "Security comes first"
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Callous men in business costume speak computerese
Play pinball with the Third World trying to keep it on its knees
Their single crop starvation plans put sugar in your tea
And the local Third World's kept on reservations you don't see
"It'll all go back to normal if we put our nation first"
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Fashionable fascism dominates the scene
When ends don't meet it's easier to justify the means
Tenants get the dregs and landlords get the cream
As the grinding devolution of the democratic dream
Brings us men in gas masks dancing while the shells burst
The trouble with normal is it always gets worse

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

Editor's note: Two different versions of this song exist. Apparently Cockburn was dissatisfied with the first recording of the song on The Trouble With Normal album and rerecorded it for later release. See the editor's note on the album page for more information, including the catalogue numbers.

  • 1990

    "It was such a minor thrill to be able to play in the key of A in a drop D tuning!"

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

  • 15 January 2002

    What is the meaning behind "got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight"? [lyrics from Lovers In A Dangerous Time]

    Bruce Cockburn: What I meant was that we can't settle for things as they are...just throw up our hands, there's another song called "The Trouble With Normal" that says things in a different way -- if you don't tackle the problems they're gonna get worse.
    - from Canoe Online Chat with Bruce Cockburn, 15 January 2002. Submitted by Suzanne D. Myers.

  • 29 June 2002 - Intro to Trouble With Normal at the Kate Wolf Festival

    "Wavy mentioned to you that we were just up in Calgary where the G8, the 8 greatest hypocrites on earth, were meeting. Or at least, they would like to claim that title if they knew enough, making plans for everybody. It was interesting because there was, I mean the point of being there was to protest and there was a considerable amount of protesting going on but for once the cops actually got smart and they decided not to stop anybody from protesting. Instead of having riot cops out with shields and guns and all that they had bicycle cops. They still had guns you know but they looked less threatening they were in short pants and bicycle helmets right so you can kind of deal with that and what happened was no riot cops, no riot. Which was a great thing in one way and I was really proud to be part of a thing like that but the problem with it was vocalized by one media person that was heard to say 'if you guys have another one that is this dull we are not going to cover it any more'. So you are screwed if you do and screwed if you donít in the media world so Wavyís advice is right. I wouldnít say ignore them because itís good to know what someone is saying about something but donít be swayed by it. This is an old song that seemed timely when I wrote it and unfortunately it still does."
    -- transcribed from the 29 June 2002, Kate Wolf Festival concert. Submitted by Doug Stacey.

  • 2021

    "Each time we allow ourselves to get used to some new ugliness, we set the stage for something worse. It wasn't hard, even back then, to see what was coming."

    ~ 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.