Bruce Cockburn: Lovers in a Dangerous Time
I always wanted to be a writer. My mother was a reporter for a local newspaper, and she always told us what a chore it was to write up the meetings she had to cover. But she would sometimes get a feature assignment, and then her eyes would light up, and we would hear all about what she was working on. My father was not that interested in writing. His thing was making things work. We were the last family in the universe to own a working black-and-white TV, and that was my father’s doing. He also liked to get numbers to do his bidding, and he dreamed of me becoming a mathematician. But he ruined that, and he was the one who inspired me to write. That’s because my father expressed his love for me by sharing stories. He made sure I read all 14 of L Frank Baum’s Oz books, and he introduced me to the Andrew Lang fairy tale collections. So I took to writing science fiction and horror stories.
Of course, I also grew up surrounded by music. So most of my nonfiction reading was about music. I was lucky to have access to some of the best music writers, including Robert Palmer in the New York Times, and Timothy White and others in Musician magazine. And I always read the reviews. So, I remember reading about a musician from Canada who was new to me. Palmer wrote about how Bruce Cockburn had spent time in Nicaragua living among the Sandinistas, and had written an album about it. And then I saw the review in Musician, and I knew I wanted the album. Stealing Fire opened with Lovers in a Dangerous Time, and I knew my sources had led me to something good.
Putting all of this together, I realized that I was on a path back then whose nature I did not fully realize at the time. I was on my way to becoming a music writer myself. I don’t know if I will ever be as good as Robert Palmer or Timothy White, but that is what I strive for in my writings here and on Oliver di Place.