Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Music for the Pastor's Study: Part XV. Bruce Cockburn

It's hard to believe Bruce Cockburn's career is now entering its fifth decade. Like Van Morrison or U2, the Canadian songwriter, guitar player, environmental activist is a Christian whose career has been spent on secular record labels, striking the all but impossible combination of credible artistic reputation in the secular world with an equally credible Christian witness. Cockburn (pron. "COE-burn") has been issuing roughly an album every year for the last forty years, most of them including an instrumental track or two. More recently the best of his  instrumental pieces, ranging from folk and country to rock and jazz, were compiled on a lovely CD entitled Speechless.

Although Bruce's music gets more of a workout in this pastor's car than in the study, his "Salt, Sun, and Time" never fails to transport one to warmer climes. My iTunes has a playlist of Cockburn favorites that I call "Cockburn the Confessor," a compilation of both instrumental and vocal tracks that contain his most overt (though perhaps more often covert) expressions of Christian faith, hope, and love, in some of which he even dares to invoke "the name above all names," even "Jesus"! You go, Bruce!

Bruce Cockburn has produced an admirable and significant catalog of enduring character, and though the production quality often betrays the technical limitations of the times, in the end it is all good. Here are just a few pastoral and "faith-based" highlights.

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