The first time I heard this song, it was played on Vancouver’s “LG73″ back to back with Gary Numan’s “Cars”. In a sense, the two songs are polar opposites but they are both masterpieces. Years later I was at a party somewhere in Shanghai, China. An American musician living in Hong Kong was in attendance. He provided some entertainment, singing some of his own songs with an acoustic guitar and playing some cover tunes. One of the songs he covered was “Tokyo” from whom he described as “a very obscure folk singer”. Obscure to an American perhaps (he had only one hit there), but Bruce Cockburn is a name with which all Canadians are familiar. Bruce is, of course, from the capital and his resumé might include “solid social activism skills”. He writes songs about very humanistic subjects and his lyrics are true poems in their own right. With over 20 studio albums under his belt, he is one songwriter who has never been faced with writer’s block. “Tokyo” was written after he toured Japan with Murray McLauchlan and it is our 38th favourite song of all-time by a Canadian artist.
They’re getting prepared to haul a car out of the river
Noise and smoke and concrete seem to be going on forever
Grinding gears and drivers getting high on exhaust
I’m thinking about the water down below and what got lost
Pachinko jingle and space torpedo beams
Comic book violence and escaping steam
Grey suited business men pissing against the wall –
Cut to crumbling guardrail, slow motion car fall
Oh Tokyo—I never can sleep in your arms
Mind keeps on ringing like a fire alarm
Me and all these other dice bouncing around in the cup
Did you have to show me that accident scene
Didn’t I get enough shaking up?
Still I’m going to miss you…
Dragon of good fortune struggles with trickster fox
Energy and patience and the power of the buck
Tonight I’m flying headlong
To meet the dark red edge of dawn
I know somebody will be crying
And somebody will be gone
Artist: Bruce Cockburn
To view other songs in the Top 50, click on 50 Favourite Songs in the Categories menu on the right-hand column.