Bruce Cockburn Speechless

Canada’s restless wanderer and passionate political poet returns with his 28th record and first instrumental album of his storied career. The ironic title is appropriate since throughout Cockburn’s musical journey, the folk/rock singer-songwriter has never shied away from vocalising his poignant observations from his world travels. So, at 60, Cockburn felt it was time to let his guitar speak for him as he does on these 15 acoustic tracks. Produced by Colin Linden, Speechless is an enjoyable listen that provides pleasant background music for any occasion. The songs showcase Cockburn’s accomplished fusion of jazz, blues and folk guitar playing that often goes unnoticed because of his words. The acoustically-inclined session opens with the playful "Fox Glove” from 1973’s Night Vision. The collection features three new songs based on old ideas ("King Kong Goes to Tallahassee,” "The End of All Rivers” and "Elegy”), plus one track that was previously only available in Japan ("Rise and Fall”). The rest of the songs are taken from various albums in his career showcasing his accomplished acoustic guitar playing. With no poetic ponderings or political commentary to get in the way of the music, it’s nice to just hear Cockburn’s compositions and the acoustic and rhythmic playing of one of Canada’s most treasured musicians.

How did you choose the songs for this compilation? We had close to 30 pieces to choose from and it was more a desire to make an album that made a cohesive whole. There’s a range of styles of instrumentals I’ve done over the years, but for this particular album I wanted to focus on the mellower, acoustic side.

How did you come up with the title "King Kong Goes to Tallahassee”? I had this idea for a piece that had come out of a gig that I had did some years ago in New York with the American novelist Robert Olen Butler. I played behind him while he read, and that piece became "King Kong Goes to Tallahassee.” Tallahassee is where Robert lives and the King Kong part of it comes from an Ottawa poet named Bill Hawkins who really encouraged me to write my own lyrics. He just came out with a retrospective of his poetry and I was reminded that back in the ’60s he had a series of poems featuring King Kong. He was the heartbroken, frustrated outsider that never quite got the girl. (True North)