Thursday, July 03, 2014

Guest post by Don Berg: Evolution of Bruce Cockburn lyrics Part 8: The Further Adventures of Bruce Cockburn

The Further Adventures of Bruce Cockburn (1978)
by Don Berg:

I came by this album late in my discovery of Bruce Cockburn’s music. It came at a crucial time in my life as I was deciding the direction my life would take as I finished my University work in Winnipeg and was trying to determine if Jennifer and I had a future together. The oddly named, “Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand” did a lot to get me through this time. I spent a lot of time staring at the night sky and trying to deal with too much concrete.

Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand

I've got planets in my palm -- there's a red smear on the sky
A star has just exploded somewhere behind my eyes
In the dead of night the city seems to break down into tribes
You stare at too much concrete -- you forget the earth's alive

Young men see visions and old men dream dreams
See them pluck bright pebbles out of circles in the stream
Life's not always like they tell you in the fashion magazines
When I set eyes on wonders, I've got to wonder what they mean

Outside in the starshine you can see beyond the wall
So take a look and tell me, can you hear those black holes call?
Everything is thunder under the celestial waterfall
You get close enough to real things -- you don't need your self at all


 I have skipped over many of the songs in the last few albums that deal with Bruce’s developing eschatology. Many of those songs talk of looking forward to Heaven and the rapture of the faithful taken up to heaven. These songs include : “I’m Going to Fly Someday, Festival of Friends,” and on this album “Bright Sky, and Can I Go With You.” A couple of songs in this album begin to torn this around towards the message justice and hope found in the Old Testament prophets Joel and Isaiah. We see the germ of the social gospel of Bruce’s later work. Compare the words of the previous song to the words of Joel:

Joel 2:10, 28
Before them the earth shakes,
the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine....

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.

Then in the song “Feast of Fools” Bruce describes a feast at the end of time (or now) where the powerful turn out to be the fools and the fools of this world are honored. The song calls for a transformation of society based on the upside down kingdom of Jesus.

The Feast of Fools

It's time for the silent criers to be held in love
It's time for the ones who dig graves for them to get that final shove
It's time for the horizons of the universe to be glimpsed even by the faceless kings of corporations
It's time for chaos to win and walk off with the prize which turns out to be nothing....

It's time for the singers of songs without hope to take a hard look and start from scratch again
It's time for these headlights racing against inescapable dark to be just forgotten
It's time for Harlequin to leap out of the future into the midst of a world of dancers
It's time for us all to stand hushed in the cathedral of silence waiting at the river's end.

Once again compare with the words of the Old Testament prophet, this time Isaiah:

Isaiah 25:4-8
You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the storm
and a shade from the heat.
For the breath of the ruthless
is like a storm driving against a wall...
as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is stilled.
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever

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