Great BIG LOVE

Cock­burn mines mu­sic, pol­i­tics, spir­i­tu­al­ism for can­did bio

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS -

to his man­ager, Toronto mu­sic mogul Bernie Finkel­stein, whom he lauds de­spite their dif­fer­ing per­son­al­i­ties. He grinds a few axes and gets even with a cou­ple of en­e­mies in the mu­sic biz. But as a rule, he is re­spect­ful of the many big names with whom he has crossed paths. At one point, he ad­mits to break­ing into tears at a restau­rant when record pro­ducer T Bone Bur­nett called him a hyp­ocrite. Cock­burn’s re­li­gios­ity may be the only sub­ject that takes up more space here than his feel­ings of emo­tional con­sti­pa­tion. His par­ents were gar­den-va­ri­ety Protes­tants, but by his early 20s, he was test­ing out more fun­da­men­tal­ist wa­ters. His left-wing po­lit­i­cal con­vic­tions sep­a­rated him from many of his fel­low Chris­tians — es­pe­cially U.S. evan­gel­i­cals — and over the decades his cos­mol­ogy has evolved into mys­ti­cal realms that some might see as in­dis­tin­guish­able from Bud­dhism or, worse, United Church­dom. He also has to en­gage in in­tel­lec­tual gym­nas­tics to square his Christian be­liefs with an af­fair with a mar­ried woman he had in Los An­ge­les in the 1990s. He refers to her as “Madame X,” and seems to con­tinue to carry a torch for her. But to give him credit, Cock­burn is un­afraid to at­tempt to ex­press the in­ex­press­ible. The one sub­ject he re­mains mum about is money. He ex­cuses this by in­sist­ing, sev­eral times, that art and Mam­mon in­habit sep­a­rate tem­ples. But it would be in­ter­est­ing to learn how well he has done fi­nan­cially from his back cat­a­logue and song­writ­ing roy­al­ties. Over­all, this is a re­ward­ing read, can­did and eru­dite, even where it is a bit plod­ding. Does the world need another sum­mary of the events of 9/11? Nowhere does he ac­knowl­edge a ghost writer, so one as­sumes Cock­burn penned ev­ery word him­self. The book ends in 2004, and one imag­ines him hav­ing spent much of the last decade in his den in San Francisco — where he re­sides with his cur­rent wife, M.J. Han­nett, and their three-year-old daugh­ter — me­thod­i­cally chip­ping away at the gran­ite block of his life story. Ru­mours of glory? Nei­ther pre­ma­ture nor un­de­served. Mor­ley Walker is a for­mer Free Press lit­er­ary ed­i­tor and arts colum­nist.

RUTH BON­NEVILLE / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

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