As Nicaragua currently grapples with deadly political protests, Canadian troubadour Bruce Cockburn is reflecting on a trip he took to the troubled country in 1983.
“I just got really curious about what (the Nicaraguan Revolution) looked like up close because it didn’t conform to the stereotype I carried of what a banana republic revolution should look like,” Cockburn, 72, told CTV Chief Anchor Lisa LaFlamme in an interview from Lindsay, Ont.’s Academy Theatre ahead of a May 4 concert.
“So I wanted to see what they were really doing,” he said, “and Oxfam, just at kind of exactly the right time, Oxfam Canada asked me to go down there as a kind of witness on their behalf.”
That trip inspired several songs, including Cockburn’s 1984 single, “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.”
“I don't believe in generals or their stinking torture states,” he sang. “If I had a rocket launcher, I would retaliate.”
Cockburn has released more than 30 albums in a career that has spanned some five decades. A longtime activist, he says he experienced his political awakening by learning about Indigenous issues while travelling across Canada as a younger man.
“What does it mean to be Canadian?” he asked. “You can’t be Canadian and not pay attention to the experiences of Native people.”
Cockburn is currently on tour supporting his latest album, 2017’s “Bone on Bone.” Stops include Toronto on May 5 and Regina on Aug. 12.