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Bruce Cockburn's prolific songwriting stands the test of time. For two decades, Cockburn's words and contemporary music have earned him respect. Cockburn, with 13 gold records in his native Canada, looks to the past to write about the present. "Hindsight is always more revealing, and sometimes things that were unintended turn out to be true," his press statement reads.

That kind of introspection is typical Cockburn, and such insights are part of the reason he has influenced so many artists. Among those who appear on Cockburn's current album, "The Charity of Night," are Bonnie Raitt, Ani DiFranco, Maria Muldaur and Bob Weir. "Because I have such great people playing with me . . . all of the people bring a certain known quality to the process. Occasionally, you have to remind someone not to overrun complicated lyrical passages and to leave a little space, but that's only rarely the case."

Cockburn had his own brush with fame in 1968 when his rock band opened for Jimi Hendrix in Montreal. "It was an interesting glimpse of fame, looking at him looking at the people looking at him. The whole star phenomenon was very strange. I certainly didn't want it to happen to me. I don't worry about that anymore." Cockburn may never reach superstardom, but he has made a mark as a serious, thoughtful musician. "These songs are all part of a longer conversation, but the conversation is not about me -- it's about our shared experience. And it has to be true. I'm not just singing a bunch of stories I made up." Cockburn performs at 8 p.m. Saturday in Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College.

-- Anthony Violanti

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