If you didn't like what Natalie Maines had to say about President Bush, you probably don't want to buy Bruce Cockburn's Life Short Call Now or attend one of his shows. Cockburn's not likely to get invited up to the ranch in Crawford for a hootenanny with W and Rummy anytime soon. Part of a recent slew of topical albums in pop music, this album certainly stands near the top of the protest heap, with lines like "Everything's broken in the birthplace of law / As Generation Two tries on his tragic flaw" from the war travelogue "Trip To Baghdad." He also sings, "Tell the universe where you've been / with your bloodstained shoes and your dunce's grin."
It's easy for those who support the war and the President to blow criticism off when it's delivered by a confirmed hippie like Neil Young, but quite another when it comes from Cockburn, who has gently been moving minds for years with songs like "Waiting for a Miracle" and "Wonder Where the Lions Are." Cockburn's pithy antiwar lyrics, strong public Christianity and years of activism only strengthen his credibility and stand him in bold relief against the long-winded political blather of pulpit apologists like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.
With a 40-year career, 29 solo albums and $40 ticket prices for his Houston show, it's safe to say the gifted Canadian is in the music business. But for his fans, Bruce Cockburn's songs and actions have become something more than simply a musical act.
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