Cochrane finds new meaning

MIKE BELL

, Last Updated: 3:50 PM ET

When you hear something too often, you become numb to its meaning.

Take the songs of Tom Cochrane, for example.

There aren't too many people out there who would consider the Canadian rocker a smart songwriter simply because radio staples, such as White Hot and Lunatic Fringe, have been played so much the content has become a collection of words accompanying memorable hooks and riffs.

That injustice is partially rectified with last week's release of the Tom Cochrane and Red Rider three-disc greatest hits collection titled Trapeze.

Included in the impressive CD packaging is a 22-page booklet that not only gives a quick overview of the musician's life and 30-year career in Canuck rock, but also provides insight and meaning into several of his many well known hits.

"I'm really a quintessential Canadian from the point of view that I go back and forth between 'Don't rock the boat' and 'Let's blow it to smithereens,' " says Cochrane, who was in town yesterday for a promotional tour in support of Trapeze and its companion DVD.

"But one of the things I did always believe in was that cat-and-mouse Dylanesque philosophy of don't tell people what the songs are about -- keep them guessing.

"At this stage in my life I feel a bit free. I feel like I want people to know what the songs are about.

"I want them to not think that Lunatic Fringe is a party song, so I spelt it out and said this was exactly what I was going through."

White Hot was written about poet Arthur Rimbaud. Lunatic Fringe was actually written about what Cochrane saw as an alarming rise of anti-Semitism in the '70s, and was also partially inspired by a book he read on Raoul Wallenberg, who helped thousands of Jews escape Nazi Germany.

It's reassuring to know there's some thought put into popular music.

"It keeps it interesting for me, too," says Cochrane. "To sing nonsense and fodder for your whole career, or real light stuff -- nah.

"That's why I'm still out doing this ... because the songs stand up. It's very simple. You can weather the storm if the boat is solid, and what makes the boat is good songs."

There's not a great deal of guesswork involved in Just Like Ali, one of the two new songs featured on the album.

The song is a tribute to legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and Cochrane's father -- two men who influenced his life greatly, and coincidentally two individuals who have suffered from Parkinson's disease.

Cochrane's father recently died from complications of the disease.

Obviously, Cochrane is still feeling the pain of the loss, but

he finds some solace in knowing that his father was able to hear

the track -- which is being sold as a single with proceeds going

to fight Parkinson's -- before he passed.

"I went in and played guitar for a couple of hours while he was laying on his death bed," says Cochrane, tearing up slightly.

"I played him the song, and I'm glad I did that."

Tom Cochrane will be touring with Red Rider early next year.


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