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Bruce Cockburn — When You Give It Away
Album: Breakfast in New Orleans Dinner in Timbuktu
Avg rating:
6.5

Your rating:
Total ratings: 554









Released: 1999
Length: 4:41
Plays (last 30 days): 1
Slid out of my dreams like a baby out of the nurse's hands
Onto the hard floor of day
I'd been wearing OJ's gloves and I couldn't get them off
It was too early but I couldn't sleep
Showered and dressed, stepped out into the heat
The parrot things on the porch next door
Announced my arrival on Chartres Street
With their finest rendition of squealing brakes

Down in Kaldi's café the newspaper headlines promised new revelations
Concerning Prince Charles' Amex account
A morose young man in old-tim Austrian drag
Stares past his long mustache at the ground
And last night's punks and fetish kids
All tattoos and metal bits
And in the other corner (wearing the white trunks)
Today's tourists already sweating

Deep in the city of the saints and fools
Pearls before pigs and dung become jewels
I sit down with tigers, I sit down with lambs
None of them know who exactly I am

I've got this thing in my heart
I must give you today
It only lives when you
Give it away
Languid mandalla of the ceiling fan
Teases the air like a slow stroking hand
Study the faces, study the cards
Study the shadow creeping over the yard

I've got this thing in my heart
I must give you today
It only lives when you
Give it away
Trouble with the nations, trouble with relations
Where you going to go to find illumination?
Too much to carry, too much to let go
Time goes fast - learning goes slow

But I've got this thing in my heart
I must give you today
It only lives when you
Give it away
Comments (69)add comment
Bruce "PSD" Cockburn
I believe the setting for this song is New Orleans. 
Something about this cat is just so ho-hum.
 TerryS wrote:

Lou and Bruce are contemporaries and Lou has had more popular success, but Bruce has had more critical success.
Which is better? 

 
I could much more easily relate to Lou Reed and his music, especially in the 1970s and '80s.  Bruce Cockburn often seems like mild, "adult contemporary" to me - "catchy", yes, (if not musically formulaic) but rarely subversive or "unsafe".  He's a gifted lyricist and musician but I don't relate to him or his music the same way as I did to Lou's work.  Obviously, everyone relates to different musical aspects.
Cockburn and McMurtry would be a great show.
Can't believe OJ murder references are more than 20 years old! 
 kcar wrote:

Gotta go with Bruce. Far better singer, great guitar player, stronger songwriter. Catchier music, FWIW. 

Lou Reed rode the success of Velvet Underground for a long, long time. His songs can be unusual, daring and disturbing but I think his influence as an urban sort of Bob Dylan/David Bowie peaked decades ago. 

 
Yes, Bruce is super reliable while I didn't quite feel the same about Lou.  He may have been progressive in several areas, but one could not always rely on his stuff to be "good"; and while his poor singing was accepted, it has to be a mark against him when compared to Bruce imo
Bruce.  Simply the best. 
 TerryS wrote:

Lou and Bruce are contemporaries and Lou has had more popular success, but Bruce has had more critical success.
Which is better? 

 
Gotta go with Bruce. Far better singer, great guitar player, stronger songwriter. Catchier music, FWIW. 

Lou Reed rode the success of Velvet Underground for a long, long time. His songs can be unusual, daring and disturbing but I think his influence as an urban sort of Bob Dylan/David Bowie peaked decades ago. 
 TerryS wrote:

Lou and Bruce are contemporaries and Lou has had more popular success, but Bruce has had more critical success.
Which is better? 

 
LOU LOU LOU LOU LOU!!!!!!
Does nothing for me.
 Sloggydog wrote:
Got a real Lou Reed feel through the start.  Less so as it goes on.  I like the first bit better in case that wasn't clear.

 
Lou and Bruce are contemporaries and Lou has had more popular success, but Bruce has had more critical success.
Which is better? 
 rdo wrote:
Ugh, Rap...PSD.

 

Wait, whaaa?  In what universe?  That's just silly.
 
A much underated talent.
Needs to be followed by "Screewriter's Blues" by Soul Coughing.
Where are the Lions? . .  no wait. . . 
 LaurieinTucson wrote:
"Sorry to have lost him"?? Did he die?
 
Somebody better let Bruce know!  ; )
 averybadcat wrote:

In my experience the potential for exploding was an often present thing with this artist. Sort of part of his appeal... What he lacked in exploding he compensated with stellar technique and spoken word. Sorry to have lost him. He had a mix that was definitely ahead of its time. 

 
"Sorry to have lost him"?? Did he die?
 msymmes wrote:
Seems that this could explode into a hard rockin', blues, soul, thing.   I don't know.

But it never gets going. 

 
In my experience the potential for exploding was an often present thing with this artist. Sort of part of his appeal... What he lacked in exploding he compensated with stellar technique and spoken word. Sorry to have lost him. He had a mix that was definitely ahead of its time. 
The opening line of the lyrics made me smile and so I listened more intently to the rest of the song.  Didn't notice the guitar work but it seems he is, or was, highly rated.  As a long time Rory Gallagher devotee here in the Emerald Isle I appreciate guitarists. So melding them together would make a special Chimera - words by Bruce Cockburn, guitar by Rory Gallagher.
Bruce is defnetly a Canadian artist...born in Ottawa and a  Canadian folk/rock guitarist and singer-songwriter not a rock icon but definetly up there from a Canadian point of view.With over 25 albums to his credit, Bruce Cockburn is a veteran of the music business. Primarily a folk/rock based singer/songwriter, his music has also encompassed many other styles, including jazz, blues, reggae, and other world musics. He is a keen interpreter of his environment, both external and internal. A skilled lyricist and musician, his music is always evolving. So funny my hubby  and I saw him play in our home town about 20 years ago and enjoyed his concert almost as much as some of the great concerts we've seen in our past...The Who, Pink Floyd...hahaha maybe our age kicking in...all and all he delivered and thats all that counts...when a tree falls in the forest always gets you thinking and we appreciate bruce for caring about the enviroment and mankind...its perhaps a Canadian bond.
{#Sunny} {#Guitarist}  need more Cockburn,  really fine pickin'
Got a real Lou Reed feel through the start.  Less so as it goes on.  I like the first bit better in case that wasn't clear.
Seems that this could explode into a hard rockin', blues, soul, thing.   I don't know.

But it never gets going. 
Well, well, well; ain't this grand!!!  Simmerin'.  
Ugh, Rap...PSD.
 ick wrote:
So Canadian.
 
. . . and so Radio Paradise. I like it, a lot. Glad it is on occasional rotation. 
So Canadian.
Not bad, but to me, not that great either. I like the cover art.
yawn
Amazing Bruce. playing along with this one and you'll catch the groove
Dubious lyrics - but still, so GOOD...


Slid out of my dreams like a baby out of the nurse's hands
Onto the hard floor of day
I'd been wearing OJ's gloves and I couldn't get them off
It was too early but I couldn't sleep
Showered and dressed, stepped out into the heat
The parrot things on the porch next door
Announced my arrival on Chartres Street
With their finest rendition of squealing brakes

Down in Kaldi's cafe the newspaper headlines promised new revelations
Concerning Prince Charles' Amex account
A morose young man in old-tim Austrian drag
Stares past his long mustache at the ground
And last night's punks and fetish kids
All tattoos and metal bits
And in the other corner (wearing the white trunks)
Today's tourists already sweating

Deep in the city of the saints and fools
Pearls before pigs and dung become jewels
I sit down with tigers, I sit down with lambs
None of them know who exactly I am

I've got this thing in my heart
I must give you today
It only lives when you
Give it away

Languid mandalla of the ceiling fan
Teases the air like a slow stroking hand
Study the faces, study the cards
Study the shadow creeping over the yard

I've got this thing in my heart
I must give you today
It only lives when you
Give it away

Trouble with the nations, trouble with relations
Where you going to go to find illumination?
Too much to carry, too much to let go
Time goes fast - learning goes slow

But I've got this thing in my heart
I must give you today
It only lives when you
Give it away


True story this....I was driving thru Door County and passed the high school he was going to play at.  We missed it.  {#Smile}
Does Cockburn have any bad songs?  Very consistently good songwriter. 
"I was wearing OJ's gloves - I couldn't get them off!" LOL
I love this whole CD.  Thanks to whoever submitted the songs to RP!  {#Dancingbanana}
I used to hang at Kaldi's.  What a great coffee house that was.

That being said, not my favorite Cockburn...
 jimiti wrote:


I searched google to find out and it seems that it's 50/50 as to wether it was Eddie Van Halen or Eric Clapton. If wrong I stand corrected! Not sure of the source, but comes form the 80's.
 
Possible origin of the myth, from snopes.com

 dBdwg wrote:
Song credits:
All songs written by Bruce Cockburn ©1999 Golden Mountain Music Corp. (SOCAN), except "Blueberry Hill" which is written by Al Lewis, Vincent Rose & Larry Stock; Chappell & Co./Sovereign Music Co. (ASCAP). Lucinda Williams contributed harmony to 'When You Give It Away", "Isn't That What Friends Are For", "Look How Far", and "Use Me While You Can"
Margo Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) contributed harmonies on "Mango" and the duet vocal on "Blueberry Hill"
Daniel Janke played kora (click for picture: a kora is a 21-stringed African harp) on "Mango", "Let The Bad Air Out", and "Use Me While You Can"
Richard Bell (The Band, Janis Joplin) played organ on "When You Give It Away", "Last Night Of The World", "Blueberry Hill", and "Use Me While You Can"
Percussionist Rick Lazar contributed to all the songs on the album except "Blueberry Hill" and "Use Me While You Can".


Pretty impressive line-up
ok you win
 


 Marr wrote:

Naaa I think it's shawn colvin
I think that it is Lucinda Williams.
 


Song credits:
All songs written by Bruce Cockburn ©1999 Golden Mountain Music Corp. (SOCAN), except "Blueberry Hill" which is written by Al Lewis, Vincent Rose & Larry Stock; Chappell & Co./Sovereign Music Co. (ASCAP). Lucinda Williams contributed harmony to 'When You Give It Away", "Isn't That What Friends Are For", "Look How Far", and "Use Me While You Can"
Margo Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) contributed harmonies on "Mango" and the duet vocal on "Blueberry Hill"
Daniel Janke played kora (click for picture: a kora is a 21-stringed African harp) on "Mango", "Let The Bad Air Out", and "Use Me While You Can"
Richard Bell (The Band, Janis Joplin) played organ on "When You Give It Away", "Last Night Of The World", "Blueberry Hill", and "Use Me While You Can"
Percussionist Rick Lazar contributed to all the songs on the album except "Blueberry Hill" and "Use Me While You Can".


Pretty impressive line-up

 mr.selfdestruct wrote:
Is Sheryl Crow singing backups on this?
 

I think that it is Lucinda Williams.
 jimiti wrote:
I searched google to find out and it seems that it's 50/50 as to wether it was Eddie Van Halen or Eric Clapton. If wrong I stand corrected! Not sure of the source, but comes form the 80's.
 
Looks like it's all over the map. Eric or Eddie or Jimi said it about Bruce or Rory or...

No worries, I was just curious. He is a great guitarist, regardless.

I wish I could like this...and Richard Thompson.  They both have been around forever and are well respected...but neither of them do anything for me personally.  Not that that will hurt their careers.   A 4.
a bit repetitive and monotonous, but i love the lyrics
 jimiti wrote:
I agree never enough Bruce. There are better guitar songs, but I love this quote: Reporter: So what's it like to be the best guitar player in world?
Eric Clapton: I don't know, ask Bruce Cockburn.

 
I've never much cared for ole' "Slowhand" and still think he's overrated.  However, it's nice to see he's not arrogant and has good taste in guitarists! {#Smile}
 dmax wrote:
He is officially in neutral. His earlier stuff had energy and sincerity. This is a repetitive guitar lick with some modest rhymes over it. Simple song construction, and nothing to write home about. And, it's the format that he's been using repeatedly lately. I've gone from a fan to much less than that.
 

??!  You've been smoking some bad stuff the past 15 years to think that.  Ever since collaborating with T-Bone Burnett in the early 90s, Bruce has been on a magnificent, lyrical ride with album after high-quality album.  You'll STILL never find an artist with more sincerity and depth to his music.  And an utterly unique sound too.  
Hmmm......'Love Detective' ? (would LOVE to hear that!)

LOVE!! Bruce Cockburn, but this isn't my favorite of his songs musically. Do like the lyrics, though. How can you not like?
Cockburn is a gem, but this entire album left me cold. And this song is so grating.
sirrus wrote:
What's the source for that, please?
I searched google to find out and it seems that it's 50/50 as to wether it was Eddie Van Halen or Eric Clapton. If wrong I stand corrected! Not sure of the source, but comes form the 80's.
jimiti wrote:
I agree never enough Bruce. There are better guitar songs, but I love this quote: Reporter: So what's it like to be the best guitar player in world? Eric Clapton: I don't know, ask Bruce Cockburn.
What's the source for that, please?
jimiti wrote:
I agree never enough Bruce. There are better guitar songs, but I love this quote: Reporter: So what's it like to be the best guitar player in world? Eric Clapton: I don't know, ask Bruce Cockburn.
That's AWESOME! :)
I agree never enough Bruce. There are better guitar songs, but I love this quote: Reporter: So what's it like to be the best guitar player in world? Eric Clapton: I don't know, ask Bruce Cockburn.
Lupin_III wrote:
"MY NAME IS SUE! HOW DO YOU DO?" This isn't Johnny Cash?
Clever :clap:
Never too much Cockburn. The guitar riff, I\'ll admit, is a bit too repetitive... but it\'s so cool I can live with it.
\"MY NAME IS SUE! HOW DO YOU DO?\" This isn\'t Johnny Cash?
Is Sheryl Crow singing backups on this?
I find Bruce\'s music tedious. Some of his pieces starts intertestingly enough, but it all becomes quickly monotonous. Most of his pieces are about 3x as long as they should be. Give me a Rocket Launcher! :moon:
I think it's natural to have highs and lows in your career (and resulting albums) when you are as prolific as Bruce. I think he has recorded about 27 albums by now and if you can find 2 or even 3 songs you enjoy from each album, that, in and of itself constitutes a huge catalogue of worthy songs. :cool:
ceiling fan as \"lazy mandala\" and a slow hand stroking the air... Never thought of ceiling fans as religious or sensual before...
He is officially in neutral. His earlier stuff had energy and sincerity. This is a repetitive guitar lick with some modest rhymes over it. Simple song construction, and nothing to write home about. And, it\'s the format that he\'s been using repeatedly lately. I\'ve gone from a fan to much less than that.
Like this and songs like Night Train more than his \"Rocket Launcher\" stuff, which always sounded a bit forced on me.
Saw him perform in DC around a month ago. It was great. Bruce rules (most of the time).
Cockburn\'s work is incredibly static. Does he challenge his listeners at all, ever? He\'s been doing the same thing for at least the past 15 years. And his brand of derivative, ostentatiously senstive, quasi easy-listening meandering wasn\'t that interesting to begin with.
Originally Posted by fredcondo: Gotta love that line about OJ's gloves... and can't get 'em off. :eek:
Damn, don't even get me started on that! But yeah, it's pretty funny fredcondo.
Gotta love that line about OJ\'s gloves... and can\'t get \'em off. :eek:
I can picture the parts of the French Quarter he is singing about. Its a shame Kaldi\'s is now a tourist info center... :??: