Back in 1984, in the midst of bad electronic music, and daily reports of government-sponsored atrocities in Central America, came the sounds of Bruce Cockburn.
Here comes the helicopter — second time today
Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away
How many kids they’ve murdered only God can say
If I had a rocket launcher…I’d make somebody pay
Good God, how I felt those words. I don’t like violence. I don’t like revenge, but on first hearing, this went straight to my heart.
I don’t believe in guarded borders and I don’t believe in hate
I don’t believe in generals or their stinking torture states
And when I talk with the survivors of things too sickening to relate
If I had a rocket launcher…I would retaliate
Guarded borders. Stinking torture states. 30 years later, here we are.
On the Rio Lacantun, one hundred thousand wait
To fall down from starvation — or some less humane fate
Cry for Guatemala, with a corpse in every gate
If I had a rocket launcher…I would not hesitate
Cry. That’s all we seem able to do is cry.
I want to raise every voice — at least I’ve got to try
Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.
Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry
If I had a rocket launcher…Some son of a bitch would die
Can raising our voices make a difference? What is the good of a crummy little blog like this? I don’t know.
Let me leave the politics of this song for a moment and share artistry with you. Here’s Bruce Cockburn with Colin Linden punctuating the sound at Austin City Limits in 1992. It’s easy to overlook Cockburn’s brilliance on the guitar.
But don’t forget the message.