116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Bruce Cockburn doesn't have to look far for inspiration. The veteran singer/songwriter's muse for much of the time is his 10-year-old daughter, Iona.
Cockburn, 76, chuckles when speaking about the daughter who arrived a year after he became a senior citizen.
"She's lovely and I enjoy the fresh outlook she has on the world," Cockburn said while calling from his San Francisco home. "She's very bright. We talk about books and movies. Her taste in music doesn't jibe with mine. She likes the pop stuff."
But Iona Cockburn does provide a creative spark for her dad, who continues to pen songs as he approaches octogenarian status.
"I love what I do," Cockburn said. "I have fans out there that come out to see me and want to hear what I come up with."
But the clever Cockburn always has been underrated in his adopted country.
Much like the terribly underappreciated Tragically Hip rock band originating in Ontario, Cockburn is a star in his native Canada, but not in America. During a career which has spanned more than 40 years and 34 albums, Cockburn has sold millions of records in the Great White North, but for some reason, something is lost in translation at the border.
Cockburn, who will perform Sunday at the Englert Theatre, fares well enough in the United States, but it's a mystery why the well-respected singer/songwriter isn't a more popular attraction.
"I just focus on what I can control," Cockburn said. "I have no complaints."
The Canadian Music Hall of Famer consistently crafts compelling, cerebral folk. He has a way with political and protest tunes. In 1984, he crafted a clever hit, "If I Had a Rocket Launcher.“ The accompanying video, which scored considerable MTV play, depicted life in desperate and war-ravaged Central America.
Cockburn has spoken out on a wide range of issues, including the inhumane treatment of others, corporate wrongdoing, environmental issues and native rights.
"Someone has to speak on the behalf of the others," he said. "If I have a platform, why not use it? I didn't know any native people when I was growing up in Ontario. When I traveled, I met the aboriginal people in Western Canada and saw that they had a very different life experience than mine. How some people have lived their lives touched me deeply."
The Berklee College of Music dropout is an altruist who has enjoyed a healthy career, thanks to the support of fans enamored of his songwriting and guitar work.
"I'm fortunate that I've had those who have been incredibly loyal," Cockburn said. "They inspire me."
But not as much as his daughter, who always moves his creative needle.
"It's exhausting being the father of such a young child, but it's true that it keeps you young," he said. "The great thing is that I'm much more available now than I was years ago with my older daughter, Jenny. It's all working out. It's wonderful being a father and it's great to still be doing what I love, which is perform."
Cockburn appreciates his longevity and finds it hard to believe more than a half-century has passed since his debut album was released.
"It feels like some sort of fairy tale," he said. "My career has been magical. I have such gratitude that I've been able to have such a long career."
After having recorded 34 albums and written more than 350 songs, it's not easy for Cockburn to write a set list.
"There are certain songs that are crowd favorites that I have to play," he said. "If I don't play those dozen or so songs, people feel like they didn't get their money's worth. Once I get the so-called hits out of the way, I like to play a cross section of newer songs that I'm excited about, and older songs I haven't played in a while.
“I'm just excited that I still have the drive to continue as a recording artist and there are still fans that are excited about what I do."