Wondering Where the Lions Are by Bruce Cockburn (1979)

It’s hard to believe for an artist who is still currently recording (his most recent album, Small Source of Comfort, was released in March 2011) and who has had 24 studio albums (7 of which have been reissued with additional tracks), 5 live albums and 7 compilation albums, that said artist has only appeared once in Billboard’s Hot 100!

Bruce Cockburn is a Canadian singer-songwriter/guitarist whose songs encompass a variety of genres from folk to rock and roll. Bruce was born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1945. He found his first guitar in his grandmother’s attic and he used it to play along to radio hits.

In the mid 60s, he attended Berklee School of Music in Boston for three semesters. Back home in Ottawa, in 1966, he joined a band called The Children. When they broke up within a year, he joined The Esquires, which also didn’t last long. During the summer of 1967, he moved to Toronto to form The Flying Circus. Later that year they recorded material which (to this day) has remained unreleased. After a name change in the spring of 1968 to Olivus, some lineup changes and opening for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream, by the summer of that year, Cockburn disbanded for a solo career. But before finally pursuing that solo career in the spring of 1969, he joined (and left) one more band, 3’s a Crowd.

In 1970, he released his first self-titled solo album and gained an enthusiastic following.

Every single song of his 31 single releases save 1975’s Burn has hit either Canada’s RPM 100 or A/C charts; his most popular single being 1989’s If a Tree Falls (which peaked at #8 on the RPM 100 and was his only Top 10 appearance). 22 of his singles have hit the A/C chart with nine of those hitting the Top 10 (his best appearance on this chart was 1981’s Fascist Architecture (I’m Okay) which hit number one).

While plugging away at his career in his native Canada, it took Cockburn nine years, five albums and six singles before he scored his first appearance on Billboard’s Hot 100. 1979’s Wondering Where the Lions Are off the album Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws hit number 21. His only other minor hits in the U.S. were off Billboard’s modern Rock chart: in 1987 with If a Tree Falls (#20) and 1991’s A Dream Like Mine (#22).

Though his early music refers to his Christian beliefs, aided by Cockburn’s changing musical genres, his song writing references changed as well. The 80s brought a more urban, global sound. Today, his sound is more politically influenced and he is very much politically active in Canada. His work has been covered many times with other artists devoting an entire album of covers and arrangements of his singles.

Cockburn was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982 and promoted to Officer in 2002. He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame on March 5, 2001. On October 22, 2002, he was inducted into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame. In May 2007, he received two honorary doctorates: one from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario (Honorary Doctorate of Divinity) and from Memorial University of Newfoundland (Honorary Doctor of Letters). In addition, in 2012, Cockburn received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.