We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
Bruce Springsteen's twenty-first album is a tribute album of sorts, dedicated to folk and traditional songs associated with folk legend Pete Seeger. Springsteen has said, "So much of my writing, particularly when I write acoustically, comes straight out of the folk tradition."
And yet, although, Springsteen was aware of Pete Seeger and the music he recorded it wasn't until a decade ago that Springsteen immersed himself into Seeger's albums. It eventually occurred to Bruce that if he found the music fascinating, his fans might as well. Thus was the origin of The Seeger Sessions.
He assembled a group of musicians in the living room of Springsteen's New Jersery farm house, and recorded a handful of folk songs in a day. He would do the same thing during the course of two more days in two other years, and that three days actual recording time became this album.
The looseness with which Springsteen approach the sessions lend a sense of wild fun to many of these songs that is refreshing. The performances on songs like "Old Dan Tucker," "John Henry," and "Pay Me My Money Down" are grand, rollicking one-takers done for the sheer love of the music, especially since when these were first recorded Springsteen had no firm plans to release these sessions at all.
Fans of Springsteen's more serious material will recognize the echoes of Nebraska on more somber numbers like "We Shall Overcome," "Eyes on the Prize," "O Mary Don't You Weep."
Springsteen's first album without any original songwriting, somewhat paradoxically, provides a window into Springsteen's past and present songwriting. And We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions is more fun that many a recent Springsteen album.