Bruce’s sympathies lie with both sides
Jewish Telegraph, June 2006
SINGER Bruce Cockburn contacted the Jewish Telegraph this week to put the record straight about his new album.
Last week, we reported that the Canadian performer had included the track Jerusalem Poker on his forthcoming album Life Short Call Now (Cooking Vinyl).
“It’s named after a novel from the 1980s by Edward Whittemore,” 60-year-old Bruce revealed about the instrumental track.
“I chose the title because I knew I was going to Jerusalem. Whittemore wrote sprawling fantasies and historical circumstances of the Middle East.”
Bruce finally made his way to Israel this Pesach.
“My girlfriend had a break from law school and I’d wanted to go there plenty of times,” he said. “I was introduced to the Middle East when I went to Baghdad in 2004.
“That reminded me that I wanted to go to Israel. The problem was we were only there for eight days and you can’t expect to see more than one city in that time.
“So we spent the majority of our time in the Old City of Jerusalem.”
Bruce, who was given the first ever Humanitarian Award at the Juno Awards (Canada’s version of the Grammies) last month, added that he would love to perform in Israel.
“I’ve never got beyond the obvious places in Europe,” he said. “ I’ve also played Japan three times and Australia.
“Israel is an obvious place to play because the people understand English and my songs are language dependent.
“I wouldn’t be worried about my physical safety, but I’d be thinking about the situation politically.”
He explained: “If I played in Israel, I’d also like to perform in the Palestinian Authority.
“I have a better sense now than I had before visiting. There is a vortex of human spiritual hunger and madness. It’s hard not to be sympathetic to everyone involved.
“It would be important for me to feel I was doing something for both sides.”
Bruce added: “I’ve been to places of conflict before. There is less evidence of conflict around Jerusalem. Facing doom creates an atmosphere like a ship-board romance — a willingness to share with others is apparent.
Life Short Call Now, which is released on July 17, also features the song This is Baghdad about his visit there.