Big Circumstance

Released: 1988
CD: Gold Castle 71320; Columbia 48737


  1. If a Tree Falls (5:43)
  2. Shipwrecked at the Stable Door (3:38)
  3. Gospel of Bondage (5:45)
  4. Don't Feel your Touch (4:49)
  5. Tibetan Side of Town (6:59)
  6. Understanding Nothing (4:26)
  7. Where the Death Squad Lives (4:28)
  8. Radium Rain (9:22)
  9. Pangs of Love (5:18)
  10. The Gift (6:04)
  11. Anything Can Happen (4:31)

From: All Music Guide

Cockburn tries to balance the edge-rock approach of recent work with more reflective earlier sounds. He's the most successful at illuminating big issues when he's focusing on his personal backyard (on "Understanding Nothing," "Don't Feel Your Touch") rather than the "Tibetan Side of Town." Surprise element: Cockburn displays rare flashes of humor.

Rick Clark

From: Rock & rock disc

An ambitious 11-track, hour-long collection that encompasses Cockburn's entire career in one fell swoop.

Brad Bradberry

From: Option 26, 1989

Cockburn is a topical songwriter who employs a special gift. His work is more than ere words; he seems to be an inventive tunesmith with a knack for developing a texture of moods in his songs...The lone word doesn't make the song, and Cockburn adds touches of grace in his production. The growling surrealism on "Understanding Nothing," the lightly sarcastic "If a Tree Falls," and the intense inner beat of "Where the Death Squad Lives" set the tone for the lyrics, which fluctuate between songs and spoken word without the loss of emotion. Cockburn's lyrics cover a lot of ground and, while his scope is so wide that total digestion of the recording takes a lot of listens, they maintain the traditions set down by the topical writers remembered throughout history...

Steve Romanoski

Douwe van der Zwaag