Monday, October 30, 2017

"If I Had a Rocket Launcher" by Bruce Cockburn

Song#:  2208
Date:  02/09/1985
Debut:  89
Peak:  88
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The last time Cockburn was on the US Pop chart was back in 1980 when his biggest hit, "Wondering Where the Lions Are," made it to #21. After that, he released three albums including what is considered by many his finest work, Humans. However, none of the albums produced any charting singles in the US. In 1984, he released another critically acclaimed LP titled Stealing Fire. The first single from that album, "Lovers in a Dangerous Time," did well in his homeland of Canada making it to #8 on the AC chart there (and #24 Pop). The song couldn't get anywhere in the US, however this third single from the album garnered enough support to reach the US Pop chart for a minor few weeks (#49 Canada Pop). It would be Cockburn's final single to reach the US Pop chart. He would continue to record and get singles on the Canadian chart throughout the 80's and 90's including 1989's #8 "If a Tree Falls," which would make it to #20 on the US Rock chart.

ReduxReview:  I like the production on this song. That opening is pretty cool and it sounds like something Peter Gabriel might have done. Of course the political aspect of the song may have turned off some folks, but I do like how Cockburn's passion shows through and that the lyrics don't really mince words. It's a pretty dark tune for Pop radio and I'm even surprised it got on the chart. It showed up very briefly, but I'm glad it at least made a little dent. It deserved (and still deserves) to be heard.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) As the 80s went on, Cockburn's albums began to get more political in nature, but after a trip to Central America his experiences and viewpoints flowed directly into Stealing Fire. It culminated in this angry, political song that was inspired by his trip to a Guatemalan refugee camp in Mexico. The last line in the final verse stated "if I had a rocket launcher, some son-of-a-bitch would die." That line was just a bit much for some radio stations and an edited version of the song that faded out before that last denouncement was circulated.  2) The other song from the album that charted in Canada, "Lovers in a Dangerous Time," was covered by the Canadian band Barenaked Ladies in 1991. They recorded it for a Cockburn tribute album. The song was eventually released as a single and it became the band's first charting hit in Canada reaching #16.


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