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Rumours of Glory: A Memoir

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Following the success of I'm Your Man and Just Kids, legendary Canadian singer and songwriter Bruce Cockburn delivers his long-awaited memoir-a chronicle of faith, fear and activism that is also a lively cultural and musical tour through the late 20th century.

Cockburn's life has been shaped by politics, protest, romance and spiritual discovery. For more than five decades h
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published November 4th 2014 by HarperOne (first published January 29th 2011)
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Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There are some artists whose artistry inspires others along their journey through life. But there are a few very special artists whose impact is more personal and transformational, and who become fellow travelers on the journey. Bruce Cockburn is one such artist for me. His music has inspired me creatively and spiritually. But his spirit and wisdom, passion and compassion has impacted me in ways that have formed my mind and heart and transformed my life. So i was greatly anticipating reading his ...more
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Bruce Cockburn tell us right up front in his 2014 memoir not to expect rock star excess in the pages to come. I think we knew that, just as we figured we could count on a beautifully written account of his life from the Canadian musician who is one of the planet's greatest writers of lyrics. We sure as hell get that.

"Rumours of Glory" is compelling, thought-provoking and very good — nearly great — and if there are no cocaine parties or dangling of babies from hotel balconies, it's quite an inter
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Everything a fan loves about Bruce Cockburn is here in depth and eloquently related in the various voices we have come to know and love through his music. His clever insights and humor, his unique imagery and phrasing, his rich sense of irony and at times bitter sarcasm, his gentle and tender expressions of love, and his dark, sometimes startling glimpses of horror and pain from his world travels to troubled countries in the 80s and 90s all appear through the 500 pages of his memoirs.
I have r
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
After being pretty reticent for most of his life, Cockburn opens up about his personal life, his faith, the background of many of his songs, and his political stances, and how they all fit together. He is not very conventional in any of those areas, and will probably continue to be seen as too Christian by political liberals and too liberal by fundamentalists and some evangelical Christians. But this is a memoir by someone who is, finally, relatively comfortable in his own skin. If you have a pr ...more
Jim Brosseau
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've read a number of music memoirs in recent years, most don't survive the first few chapters. I read this one in only a few days. Bruce gives the stories behind the songs throughout his life, at times funny, at times making you really worry about the human race. The lyrics of his songs are interwoven where they come up, and there were several points where I listened (and a couple of times bought) the song on the spot. Well written, engaging, from an artist whose world is not all about himself. ...more
Gregory Johnston
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is an old saying “Never meet your heroes; you will always be disappointed.” There is some truth to that, and it plays a part of Cockburn’s memoir. I have read a lot of biographies and memoirs of my musical heroes – Clapton, Allman, etc. and they are all interesting in what they reveal about the men behind the instruments. For Cockburn, music and songwriting are equally important to his political views – sometimes subservient to them.

I have long loved Cockburn’s music. The first time I hea
Glen Grunau
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have been waiting for this book for years! I have been following Bruce’s music career closely since I attended my first concert at the Memorial Centre in Red Deer, Alberta when I was about 20 years old. There was one song at his concert that I loved – even more than Wondering Where the Lions Are (his top radio hit at the time). But I couldn't remember the name of the song. So I made repeated trips to the vinyl album section at the Bay in Red Deer and started buying up albums in hopes of coming ...more
Mike Horton
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
I can't recommend this book. Only a portion of it would I consider a memoir. Even less would I consider interesting to me. His life story is not very detailed at all. The visits he makes to countries destroyed by war are greatly detailed. Page after page of the sights that he sees and the experiences he has in these cities. Most importantly he goes on for even more pages of detailing the hows and the whys of the difficulties that these countries are having. Details that have absolutely NOTHING t ...more
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
I didn't really take me five months to read this, but because I own it and it therefore had no due date, it sat for quite a while. It was a very interesting look into Cockburn's life as a person of faith and an activist, but it probably could have used a bit of editing - some of the descriptions of trips, political events, etc, got a bit longer than necessary for the story. ...more
Ted Dettweiler
I think I'd like to go back to the point before reading this book when Bruce Cockburn was largely mystery to me. ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
A very political and spiritual autobiography from one of Canada's premier folksingers. ...more
David Meldrum
I've been a Bruce Cockburn fan for most of adult live, and have seen him live twice. This autobiography was striking in a number of ways. Here's a few disordered reflections.

1) In terms of a commitment to peace and social justice, he really lives what he says and sings. He's consciously placed himself in some dangerous situations, and taken stands which have cost him personally - for the sake of reporting on and observing on behalf of the victims of injustice. I have much to learn from his inte
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've been a big fan of Bruce Cockburn and his music since I was a teen in the 80s. I've been to many of his concerts through the ages and have bought all his albums. Although most of his songs are about aspects of his life, which he has mentioned and given backstory at his concerts, I was greatly looking forward to the expanded version in this book. I was not disappointed.

I enjoyed the personal experiences juxtaposed against what was happening politically in the world, and specifically in the c
Mike Graef
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Amazing read. Any one of these areas would’ve made a great book. The spirituality, the world travels and political analysis, the music creation, the family life. Bruce’s music isn’t fully explained along the way. I wish there had been a little more about it. Lots of talk about the lyrics, but not much about the tunes. For instance, Bruce’s songs are very rhythmic, often with tremendous energy in the tempos. Unusually so I think. Would love to have known more about his approach to music, and his ...more
Wes F
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like Bruce Cockburn's music--have for many years now, and continue to follow him. He's a poet who puts well-crafted word pictures, mainly from things he's experienced first-hand, into songs. He's the Canadian Bob Dylan. He has also taken a strong stand on some pretty controversial issues--and I agree with his stand on most of them. Violence & power & greed have sunk so many civilizations--and why? Because man's heart is twisted, and sinful, bent against his Creator and fellow creatures. ...more
Oct 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This was a difficult book for me to read. I've loved his music for so long, and I looked forward to reading about his life experiences that crafted his music and lyrics. He instead choose to fill his memoir with hundreds of pages of the geopolitics of his day, detailing page after page the evils of Reagan, Bush and other right wingers to the point that their behavior as portrayed by Cockburn was cartoonish and "EVIL". Boorish and simplistic at best, this weighs down the entire book.

On the positi
Aug 27, 2021 rated it it was ok
What a letdown.
Such is life, as is said.
This memoir of a favoured and honoured singer-songwriter is less about Cockburn's life and far more about preaching. I am fine with a person's belief system and political leanings but I did actually assume that this book would delve into Cockburn's life instead of only touching on it, in between his religious and political pushing.
That said, it is his book and I suspect that he is this person so he chose to write as he saw fit.
One other annoyance is that
James Wheeler
Fantastic read especially for longtime Cockburn fans. Provides backdrop for the many songs Bruce has written and performed over his 40 year career. What is most interesting for me is his delving into his spiritual beliefs. He is not a conventional Christian by any means but follows his own life trajectory in a thoughtful and spiritually curious way. I particularly appreciate how he steps back from his journey and tries to frame it from a neutral standpoint. I also appreciated how he attempts to ...more
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
It would be easy to knock off star ratings for this book because Bruce writes about stuff that is often more geopolitical that autobiographical, or follows some twisted logic to justify an affair ("it was God's plan" or somesuch), or because I just don't agree with him on some stuff, but a book can have an unsympathetic main character and still be a good read (.com). But bonus points to Bruce for opening up about stuff that's clearly personal and private, and it was great to learn about his writ ...more
William (Bill)
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
This is not an easy read. Cockburn has spent his life in the middle of America's worst foreign policy mistakes. His relationship difficulties were a revelation, in light of some of my favorite love songs being written by him. This took a long time to finish since it wasn't as well written as Cockburn's songs. I also found myself playing the album as he described the process of recording and gathering the musicians. I'm glad I read this. Insights into musicians' personal lives always informs my a ...more
Deb Hudon
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a big fan of Bruce Cockburn's music, I really enjoyed this journey through his life. All the albums are discussed, and the life experiences that inspired his music. The World needs more voices like Bruce's to rally with, and to combat climate change, social injustice, indigenous rights. Rumours
of Glory gives us social and political activism at it's best with the heart of a poet writing the words.
Ron Scrogham
Mar 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Canadian musician Bruce Cockburn retells his life through his songs, relationships, travels, and activism. He gives the background and inspiration for his music. His music is so much more than his best known songs like "If I had a Rocket Launcher" and "Wondering Where the Lions Are." The book is also charming for its Canadian chauvinism--certainly an oxymoron. It is a thoughtful, honest account of a well-lived life. ...more
Richard Erney
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bruce Cockburn is a brilliant,talented artist, singer, songwriter & musician. He also considers himself to be Christian albeit not necessarily orthodox. His memoir is interesting & well written, traversing his personal & professional life through 2005. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing his own story in his own words. Every fan should read it.
Mike Amor
Jun 11, 2020 is currently reading it
This came in the mail yesterday. I have to say I am quite excited. Bruce Cockburn has been an inspiration to me. His music, lyrics and live performances are always personal, meaningful and memorable. There are a lot of top-rate Canadian singer-songwriters. Bruice Cockburn is up there in the very highest echelon.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiographical
I've loved his music most of my life but knew little about the story of his life. This well written memoir is a must read for true Cockburn fans ...more
Henry Krinkle
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2021
Too didactic. Using “God” to justify cheating on your significant other is pretty pathetic.
Tom Franklin
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's always difficult when someone who values their privacy decides to write an autobiography. The tension between what the person chooses to reveal and what they don't can make for a frustrating read. I'm never looking for juicy gossip but I do want to feel that I know the person considerably better by the end of the book. I'm still undecided as to how well Cockburn overcame this in "Rumours of Glory."

This is a book for true fans of Cockburns music. Most chapters include song lyrics, either as
Jan 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Bruce Cockburn is certainly a talented person. He has a special touch on the guitar. I enjoy his album "Speechless" which brings out his playing abilities. He is a prolific poet and songwriter most often writing out of his experiences which makes his writing more real and down to earth. He has traveled the world supporting various causes and speaking against injustice as propagated by big business America in their support of governments who run roughshod over their own people. I could understand ...more
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bruce Cockburn is one of my favorite musicians/artist. His lyrics are poetry and often deeply profound. I am almost all of his albums and have listened to his music for decades. We come from polar opposite perspectives when it comes to theology and politics but I am still a huge fan. This memoir was fascinating and engaging because, despite my fandom, I know very little about Cockburn the person (perhaps because I didn't want to get into his politics too much for fear it would ruin his music - n ...more
Paul Bennett
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really had no intention of reading, let alone finishing this book so quickly after getting it, but the fact of the matter is that despite the number of other books I have waiting for me this one called to me and then grabbed me in a way I haven't been grabbed in a long while. I will be doing a full review shortly.

As soon as I heard that Bruce had written his memoir I knew that I had to read it. I first heard of him and his music in 1984 and have been in awe of his talents ever since. His songw
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