On Dec. 3, True North Records released Bruce Cockburn’s Greatest Hits (1970-2020), a two-CD, 30-song compilation that covers 50 years in the career of this iconic Canadian singer-songwriter.
It was no doubt quite the challenge to decide what to include and what to leave out given his 34 previous releases. Bruce curated the collection himself, including his favourite tracks, songs that quickly charted, as well as fan-favourites requested time and again. A nice bonus is that there are notes from the artist explaining it all.
It is, by any measure, a fantastic and important collection and a good place to start in any attempt to capture what Bruce Cockburn has meant to the music scene not only in Canada but internationally.
Among several achievements, Bruce has received 13 Juno wins, two Hall of Fame inductions, numerous honorary doctorates, the Order of Canada, and a new induction just this year into the Canadian Walk of Fame, giving us a glimpse of what his impact has been on the folk community.
Set up mostly chronologically, the collection begins with “Going to the Country” and “Musical Friends” from his first album, released in 1970, which is a reminder of how familiar his music has been for so long and how embedded in Canadian culture it has been and continues to be.
In the collection, there are offerings from each decade like “One Day I Walk,” “Wondering Where the Lions Are,” Rumors of Glory,” “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” and “If I Had A Rocket Launcher.” The second CD, which starts in the late ‘80s, begins with “Waiting for a Miracle” and includes “A Dream Like Mine” and “If a Tree Falls,” along with some more recent songs.
There are a number of tunes that may not be as familiar to many, thus providing a great way to explore other parts of his catalogue.
“In 1969, when I was feeling the need to record an album of the songs I’d been writing, I had no concept of what that might lead to,” Bruce shares. “Not unusual for a young person, I guess… but looking back over the arc of fifty years of recording, performing, and travel — not to mention, relationships and personal challenges — I can only shake my head and mutter a word of thanks for all of it. Even if I’d been a planner by nature, I doubt I could have predicted how things have gone.”
And the great part for us is, he’s still making unparalleled music.