If you don't, as my Brooklyn-raised father-in-law says, "know from" Bruce Cockburn, go educate yourselves
. As to why he should join the ranks of my birth support possee (here's info about members 1
), just listen to the man's music.
I was once at a birth where the mother's friend came and brought a lyre harp with her . The woman played FOR FIVE STRAIGHT HOURS! Talk about friendship. It was so beautiful to have this sweet music in the room with us as the mother labored along and brought her baby into the world.
If that sweet music was coming from Mr. Cockburn's guitar? Well let's just say there'd be a lot less need for pain-relieving medication.
This past weekend Cockburn (that's "co-burn;" not "cock-burn," which is the pronunciation the sad woman introducing the session used) was in town, along with Cathleen Falsani
, whose book The God Factor
was recently released. Falsani interviewed Cockburn during a session at the Ann Arbor Book Festival
. She interviewed him about God. And about god. And spirituality, and worship.
Not my usual cup of tea, but if Bruce Cockburn is a Christian, I at least needed to hear his views on the subject. Perhaps his Christianity was one I could buy in to.
Though the interview did not make Christianity, or even Bruce's Christianity, any clearer, I still appreciated his thoughts. I was not disappointed in my assumption that, whatever his beliefs, they are open to revision and inquiry. That his path has included exposure to/study of Buddhism, Kabbalah, Sufi texts, yoga and meditation as well as the Bible, gives him a lot of credibility in my book.
But I'll be honest. I went simply to see Bruce Cockburn in the flesh. My husband and I have a shared adoration of the man. We have seen him perform several different times, driving 2-3 hours each time to do so. We own six or seven of his albums. We occasionally talk about how he should hold a summer retreat or camp, which we would attend, where there'd be lectures on various humanitarian topics and a nightly campfire sing-along. With Bruce, of course.
I had not realized this, but when you've only ever seen an entertainer on stage, you simply can't imagine her or him anywhere else. So to look a few rows up in the lecture hall and see Bruce Cockburn standing there -- no security guards, no stage elevating him over the rest of us, no curtain keeping him hidden until the last minute -- dissolved all the mystique. Not all. He's still an amazing talent. But suddenly I could imagine having him for a neighbor and seeing him shuffle out in a beat-up robe to pick up the Sunday paper. Or being a dad on the elementary school playground, politely chatting while keeping an eye on junior. I didn't, but I could have easily gone up to the front of the auditorium (short walk -- I was already in row 3) and, like, hung out near him. Asked a question or two. Told him how much I loved his music. Stupid stuff like that.
Instead, I harassed Falsani, who was very patient and quite thoughtful about her own spirituality.
[I know this post is completely rambling and really without a point, but bear with me. This is big emotional stuff to process, this almost-meeting someone you hero-worship!]
He was so humble and human and accessible that I stood outside the building for a good ten minutes debating whether to walk back in and invite him and Falsani to dinner. My guess is there was a 50% chance they'd come. My husband was not going to do the asking, but he didn't say I SHOULDN'T ask. So we stood in the drizzle and pondered what to do.
The more we discussed it, however, the more we felt like there was a good chance that even if they accepted the offer, it would still suck. Remember the Chris Farley Show
on SNL? It would be like that:
Me: Bruce? You know that song? Lovers in a Dangerous Time?
Me: That song is SO COOL!
Husband: And what about the recording of it with you with Rob Wasserman? That's awesome! Didn't you record a version of "Cry of a Tiny Babe" with, like, Lou Reed? Lou Reed KICKS ASS!
Me: And, hey? Don't you totally care about the environment and human rights and stuff?
Bruce: Yes, I do.
Me: Wow. Me too.
Husband: So, Cathleen? You just, you know, got a book published?
Husband: Excellent. I totally want to do that, too.
Me: I'm a doula, Bruce.
Husband: I'm a graduate student, Cathleen.
Me and husband (to Bruce): We think Canada is pretty cool.
Husband (quickly): And Chicago, too, Cathleen. Bruce? What about Jack Layton. Why didn't you vote for him?
You can see why we decided to just fade into Ann Arbor anonymity. The risks were too high.
Which does not mean that we DON'T have interesting thoughts of our own about spirituality or that we COULDN'T carry on lively conversation with an internationally renowned musician and an up-and-coming author/journalist. We just need a little practice first.
Instead we met our friend, also a thoughtful poet and musician -- great for practice, for a delightful tapas dinner.