The best thing to come out of Canada, acoustically speaking that is, is Bruce Cockburn. The way he approaches songwriting is breath taking. He makes his guitar and two hands sound like a full band.
One totally mind boggling aspect of his playing live, is that Bruce mixes up how the song is executed on stage. One night he plays it one, then the other he performs the song in a completely different position on the guitar. The essence of the song remains the same but, by playing it in contrasting locations, it allows him to add little phrasings to add even more colour to the piece. Damn this guy is GREAT!
The one song that he performs solo and the one I play the most is If I had a Rocket Launcher. Bruce’s thumb acts like both the bass and drums, while the other fingers act like the melody. This becomes very clear, to even most of the non musicians out there, when the song enters the solo part.
He has an incredible amount of independence between the his fingers and his thumb on his right hand. Mr Cockburn basically has a whole band in his right hand.
The best example of this is his performance at the Live 8 concert, held in Barrie 2006. I recall getting ready for work that day while watching it. As the time to leave for work was getting closer, I was sitting at the edge of my seat just hoping to see him before heading off. With the luck of the Irish with me that day, he waltz onto the stage just before I had to go. He did not let me down!
When I perform this song now a days, I use this concert as a reference point. I do his intro, which I’ve never heard him do it quite like this before, along with sections of his solo. The only thing different about my version is that I play it in the first position (I play it at the top of the guitar). This allows me to have more strings that ring out when playing. Filling in the musical holes if you will.
The thing about this show is, every time that I watch this show, it seems that I’ve missed out many subtle changes that he does! Damn this Bruce Cockburn fellow, I will never be able to play exactly like him~!@#$%^&*()_+!
So in case you missed out on this show/version, check out the video and tell us if you think I got it right!
Keep on Jammin’ Bruce Cockburn