Previously Performed in: 2014, 2000, 1997
“I never knew what you all wanted, so I gave you everything All that I could pillage, all the spells that I could sing It's as if the thing were written in the constitution of the age Sooner or later you'll wind up pacing the cage.”
Bruce Cockburn has been making music for more than 40 years and 35 albums now. It’s common to hear him described as a folk musician, but the label doesn’t do him justice; over the course of his career, he has forayed extensively into jazz and blues and rock. He is a constant, restless learner, pacing the cage, as it were, always looking for new ways out. His place in the time-honoured canon of Canadian musicians is proverbial, dating back to a time when our national insecurities were overwhelming, and we had a habit of thinking of our musicians as probably not good enough. Cockburn, however, is nationally beloved, which says more than a little bit about how good he really is.
In the final analysis, Bruce Cockburn is simply a musician of deep, understated talent. We all know a solid handful of Cockburn’s most famous tunes, and because familiarity occasionally breeds complacency, you may not have really paid attention to how amazing Cockburn is as a guitarist, and more than that how deeply talented he is as a poet. Sit down with his lyrics for awhile, read them and let them wash over you. Not in all his 40+ years as a musician has Cockburn become complacent. He constantly reaches downward into places of vulnerability, and outward toward the things that frustrate and anger and awe him, writing them into cutting, incandescent beauty. He is always, always pacing the cage, and we are all the better for it.