OUT ON A LIMB: The long and winding road to a song

OUT ON A LIMB. Campbell River Mirror

Taking a break from wanna-be dictators, pandemics and social media squabbling, I want to talk about a song.

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I heard it once a long time ago and it stuck with me for years. I’m talking…1980 or so, when I first heard it and instantly, I loved it. It had a compelling sing-along chorus. But I didn’t know the lyrics.

I couldn’t remember the words of that chorus, it was a ah-ah-ah, wo-oh-oh-oh-oh, sort of thing. I did know the artist and I knew him well. It was Bruce Cockburn and the song came off one of his early albums. That I knew.

I did remember one line from a verse: “Here’s to all the nuclear good time boys…” Of course, those of you who know the song will recognize that line.

At the time I said to myself, I should find out about that song. Back then of course you couldn’t “Google it.”

The years went by. The song entered and faded from my consciousness.

I saw Cockburn live, finally, at the Vancouver Island MusicFest. Fantastic show.

Of course, I see Cockburn frequently on YouTube and other video formats. But never heard the song again.

In recent years I made a stab at trying to find it (hooray for YouTube) but when you don’t know any of the lyrics, just a chant-like chorus, it’s hard to look up a song. Of course, now there’s apps that you can hum into and it will tell you the song but I didn’t want to get into that. And I didn’t want to download the app.

So, my search remained fruitless. And I love and listen to Cockburn’s music frequently.

Anyway, this past weekend, knowing Bruce and fellow Canadian Alan Doyle (as well as Matt Anderson) were on the bill at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival, which was being streamed last weekend, our family decided to buy a ticket.

Cockburn performed his set from his home, like most of the other performers. Brilliant as always. In it he said in 2020 he was planning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first album but COVID killed that plan so he said he would play a few songs from the early part of his career.

You guessed it, The Song was one of them. “Hey!” I nearly jumped out of my seat (couch as it was).

Well, I got the lyrics and chorus and…Googled it!

“Laughter” by Bruce Cockburn from his 1978 album “Further Adventures Of.”

I’ve been playing it ever since. It only took 40 years to find it (on and off).

But it was well worth the wait.

And let me present to you…


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