Bruce Cockburn May Change Your Mind: Transcontinental Driving

Small Source Of Comfort (True North) is the latest LP from legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn. It’s also his 31st studio album in a career that dates back all the way to the mid-’60s. Over the years, Cockburn has become one of his country’s most successful and honored musicians, winning more than his share of awards and accolades, not only for his music but also for his longtime humanitarian work. This week, Cockburn adds MAGNET guest editor to his already impressive resume. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

Cockburn: In 1970, I bought my first truck: a Dodge pickup with a three-speed floor shift. I think I paid around $3,500 for it new. I put an insulated cap on the back and built a bed in it. My then-wife Kitty and I, with our dog Aroo, spent much of the next few years driving back and forth across Canada, living in and out of that truck. The lifestyle changed when our daughter Jenny was born and when touring expanded into something more like a military exercise than the nomadic wandering it had been.

Later on I began to develop a certain nostalgia for that original road experience: for the meditative effect of an unfolding Western highway, for solitude in the presence of large landscapes, for the illusion of freedom. When my girlfriend moved from Brooklyn to San Francisco a while ago and the commute from my house in eastern Ontario got a lot longer, I found myself able to exercise my nostalgia. Having to. The difference now, of course, being that the landscape is that of the U.S. and no longer Canada. Not that it’s new territory. Over the years I’ve played gigs pretty much everywhere in North America. But the ability to savor the landscape and the feeling of travel is a whole other thing when it’s just me.

I have a van with a good sound system. It has a comfortable bed, and I generally camp in truck-stop parking lots. I don’t eat meals per se, but snack on the healthiest stuff I can find and drink too much coffee.

This is me and peak oil. The modern oil industry and I both came to life at the end of WW II. I expect we’ll peak and fade about the same time. It will soon be a very different world. Meanwhile, I don’t suppose my carbon footprint is any bigger travelling by road than by air. It’s likely smaller. And I love these long drives.

Another photo after the jump.

3 replies on “Bruce Cockburn May Change Your Mind: Transcontinental Driving”

Bruce, I’ve followed your career since I was a teen in 1979 back in Canada. Big fan. Seen you in concert about 6 times, and have always been amazed at how much you tour. As a result, I’ve actually thought, “I bet he doesnt’ like to travel too much when he’s not on the road.” Guess I was wrong.

Airplane travel has an enormous carbon footprint when compared with just about any other kind of transportation. To the point that some ecology activists plan out their travel to try and minimize the number of flights they take, and to keep their total annual carbon footprint to a reasonable level.
So you can rest assured that you are doing your part.
Regards from a Canadian ex-pat (now living in the middle east).

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