Bruce Cockburn to receive SOCAN lifetime achievement award

The Canadian Press
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Musician Bruce Cockburn is shown in an undated handout photo. For Cockburn, the best thing about winning SOCAN’s lifetime achievement award is that no one has to lose. — Photo by The Canadian Press

For Bruce Cockburn, the best thing about winning SOCAN’s lifetime achievement award is that no one else has to lose.

“The thing I like about it ... is the fact that it’s not really competitive,” Cockburn, originally from Ottawa, said on the phone from his San Francisco home this week.

“To me, the competitive aspect of most of the awards that are offered is a negative — and I just don’t think that’s what music’s about. For this, I suppose there’s some degree of competition in that there must be a committee who decides who they’re going to give it to, but it’s not like you’re saying so and so is the ‘best’ something or other.”

Well, SOCAN — the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada — certainly felt strongly about Cockburn, anyway.

The 67-year-old, known for his conscientious folk songs and acoustic guitar wizardry, will be honoured alongside Vancouver hell-raisers Trooper and Niagara Falls, Ont., electronic producer and recent tabloid fixture Deadmau5, who will receive national and international achievement awards respectively at a Toronto gala today.

It was Cockburn’s stunning longevity that really impressed the SOCAN board, said CEO Eric Baptiste.

“It’s pretty obvious that he’s one of the most high-profile members SOCAN has who deserves a lifetime achievement award,” Baptiste said in a telephone interview earlier this week. “He really fits the bill very nicely.”

As Cockburn chatted about the honour, the 11-time Juno winner’s soft voice was occasionally overwhelmed by the background wailing of his baby daughter, born roughly a year ago.

The crying served as at least one reminder that while a lifetime achievement award can sometimes feel like a career bookend, the “If I Had a Rocker Launcher” singer is focused firmly on the future.

“The one that really felt like that was getting inducted into the (Canadian Music) Hall of Fame — aren’t you supposed to be dead for this to happen?” he said with a laugh.

“Having done that, this one doesn’t feel quite as weird ... Certainly, if I remain alive and kicking, the creative process is still going on.

“It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Organizations: Society of Composers, SOCAN board

Geographic location: Ottawa, San Francisco, Canada Vancouver Niagara Falls Toronto

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  • Ed Power
    November 19, 2012 - 08:32

    One of the truly great singers and songwriters of all time. In 1987, I attended a concert at Place des Arts in Montreal. Bruce walked onto the stage and performed for over two hours. No band. No backup vocalists. Just Bruce Cockburn and his music. I always knew he was a great poet, but I hadn't realized how gifted a muscian he was until then. Two hours, solo, with his selection of guitars and a mandolin. Bruce Cockburn was "Unplugged" before Unplugged became cool.

    • L Murphy
      November 20, 2012 - 07:33

      Indeed a great poet and true Canadian.."The Coldest night of the Year""