Thursday, 14 August 2014

Hymns Old and New -- Southland of the Heart

I've been a huge fan of Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn since the mid-1970s (yikes, that's 40 years now!) Many of his songs concern the spiritual journey and our relationship with the Divine. Although he is a devout Christian, the imagery he uses is not explicitly Christian nor even explicitly spiritual. "Those who have ears to hear, hear, and eyes to see, see."

To me, one of his most profoundly spiritual songs is Southland of the Heart. Actually, I've always regarded it as a modern, updated equivalent of Abide With Me. Cockburn's imagery for the abyss is the arid, shadeless, remorseless desert -- the southland -- to which we are driven by our own experiences and our own demons. There the only sanctuary and peace is to be found in the Divine, the "help of the helpless," who gently invites us:

In the southland of the heart . . .
Lie down,
Take your rest with me.



And yet, the genius of Cockburn's songwriting skill is that it's entirely possible to interpret this song in a purely human, non-spiritual way as well. It can easily be seen simply as a dialogue between two people, one of whom is comforting the other and offering them a shoulder to lean on during difficult times. That's why Cockburn's music is so universally appealing -- no one's experience is alienated or excluded.

Southland of the Heart is found on Cockburn's 1994 album Dart to the Heart. The whole album is fabulous. Hard to believe it's been 20 years since it came out. (Man, I really have to stop feeling so old about every little thing, LOL!)

P.S. -- Watch for the photo at the end of the video of Bruce Cockburn's own Canada Post stamp which was issued a couple of years ago!

25 comments:

Snap said...

This is a great series ... thank you!

Cheryl said...

I'm a fan of music also. What a creative series
concept!

Linda Wildenstein said...

I'd never heard of him before. Love his voice and the song is very comforting. Thanks, Oma Linda

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i've always like him too!

Miss Val's Creations said...

Great clip! Cockburn has a great, pure voice. I know what you mean by feeling old. I'm only 40 but sometimes feel really old when I think about how simple life was as a child without technology and such.

mxtodis123 said...

I've not heard it before, but it was beautiful. I love his voice.
Mary

JACKIESUE said...

Old rugged cross was a favorite...

Kal said...

Thanks for reminding me of his music. Spend the afternoon listing to my favs - Waiting For Miracle and If I Had A Rocket Launcher.

bobbybegood1 said...

i really am getting tired of these computers in which they disable the sound. i could not hear the tape, but i can imagine how moving it might have been. LOL! - you and me both have to stop feeling so old. time is just flying by. soon we'll be in 2015. holy shit! stop the press. where does all the time go? fabulous post. cheers!!

DEZMOND said...

'tis the first time I hear of him

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Yes, indeed, I know this singer very well! I guess I'm getting old, too :)

I especially like his songs "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" and "If I Had a Rocket Launcher".

I'd never heard "Southland of the Heart". Very cool tune.

And I also had no idea about the stamp. Even cooler!

Birdie said...

I didn't know Bruce Cockburn was a Christian. Is this something new?

Debra She Who Seeks said...

No, Birdie, it's not something new. He's been openly Christian all along but is not preachy about it. His Christian beliefs are the basis for his progressive politics and views. If all Christians were like Bruce Cockburn, this world would be a better place.

Elsie Amata said...

I was about to comment on your post but I'm going to comment on your comment instead - I'm a rebel!

I have to agree with you, Debra. I'm a godly woman and to me that means understanding all people of all faiths, not just mine.

lgsquirrel said...

Many years ago, I was in Ottawa and wanted to catch a concert and had a couple of choices and decided to listen to a Bruce Cockburn. I did not know who he was and took a chance on him. I have been a fan ever since, from his social activist songs to his more faith related songs. And I agree with you that he is a great testimony of how Jesus would want his followers to be like. "The Soul of a Man" is one of my favorites. I even had some of his music playing at my wedding reception.

Riot Kitty said...

It has been really interesting reading these posts - lots of stuff and people I wasn't previously familiar with.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

This immediately made me feel relaxed. Thank you.

Missy George said...

Interesting Series. Love the music. Have a great weekend.

Vanessa Morgan said...

I didn't know him. Thanks for the recommendation.

Magaly Guerrero said...

Blogger ate my comment--the jerk.

Anyhoo, I said that I love the conversational tone. Communication/dialogue in music and poetry always makes the piece stronger in my heart.

LL Cool Joe said...

I really really have a tough time listening to this kind of music. The acoustic guitar and country feel is just too much for this hip hop fan to cope with! But I'm a total peasant when it comes to good music so ignore me.

Jim said...

I too never thought of Cockburn as 'spiritual' in his pieces. He has an unmistakable voice/sound.

Francie M said...

Love his work! And yikes, the years really have flown by!!

Magic Love Crow said...

Love this post Debra! Big Hugs ;o)

laughingwolf said...

cockburn, ian tyson [with sylvia] and gordon lightfoot started about the same time... all great canuck talent :)