Bruce Cockburn May Change Your Mind: Guitars

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: Why do I play guitar, as opposed to drums or keyboard or bagpipes? Because of Elvis Presley (actually Scotty Moore, who played with Elvis, though I didn’t know his name until later) and Buddy Holly. And because my grandmother happened to have one in her attic. When that beat-up, low-rent instrument came into my hands at the age of 14, I knew it would become a key component of my life. When I showed so much interest in it, my parents got me a better one. It became a refuge from the horrors of adolescence—a step into the world of cool for a nerdy kid with a crappy self-image. I studied other instruments—clarinet, trumpet, a bit of cello—but it was the guitar that got into the core of me and clung there long after delusions of Elvis-hood had given way to the notion of becoming a jazz musician, then a rocker, then a singer/songwriter.

I own several guitars. The ones with which I’m most closely associated were made by Linda Manzer of Toronto, a fine luthier and a great friend. Back in the ‘80s, when synthesizers were becoming a fashion necessity on every record, another friend, Jonathan Goldsmith, archly declared to me that the guitar was dead and had no future. Jonathan is a top-notch composer and pianist. Hah. Guess who was wrong!

Video after the jump.