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Artsy Activist

Slinging a guitar and the New Testament, Bruce Cockburn preaches the gospel of progressive politics

"Learning your craft and devoting your life to music takes up a big part of your brain, and you can tend to shut everything else out to the point where the music becomes this kind of palliative drug," he recalls saying. "I told them about how important it is to keep aware of the grand scheme of things, and about what I saw at Berklee during the Vietnam War, when students were being drafted. I saw friends drop out to join barber school because the U.S. government had determined that musicians weren't essential during times of war, but barbers were. That's how it all works. You may choose to ignore politics and not get involved, but politics sure won't ignore you."

With that in mind, Cockburn jumps ahead to the year 2000 and says it was heartening to see the hordes of young people clashing with police and making their voices heard at the recent protests in Washington, D.C., and Seattle. "We should be very worried about the whole global transfer of power from governments to faceless corporations and boards of directors not accountable to anyone," he says. "I've seen a gradual collective spiritual growth around the world, but there's still this evil iron fist of corporate greed in the midst of it all. It's like this race between a degree of enlightenment and self-destruction. It's hard to say which side will win, but I sure know which one I'm rooting for."

Though he has learned not to hit people over the head with his loaded 
messages, Bruce Cockburn still believes in the power of music to transform
Kevin Kelly
Though he has learned not to hit people over the head with his loaded messages, Bruce Cockburn still believes in the power of music to transform

Bruce Cockburn performs Thursday, May 11, at the Aerial Theater at Bayou Place. 8 p.m. Tickets are $28.50 and $35. For more information, call (713)629-3700.

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