Springsteen Overcomes Folk
A 1, 2, a, 1, 2, 3, 4 take your partner by the hand, put the left leg in and the right arm in, shake it all about, turn around and slap those thighs, suck that straw, let us have a good ole fashioned barbie-q. The album does not quite start like that but it may as well, as those are the sort of mental images that rush through my mind, as the album starts with, 1, 2, 3, 4, before the banjo 'kicks' in.
Since when have we reviewed music that would not be out of place at a country-dance festival or a barn dance? Well since some bloke that normally goes around as The Boss, yes, sir, I am talking about Bruce Springsteen, there is a first time for everything! This is Springsteen's twenty-first album, and you could not be any further away from his rock and roll style, it is a great follow up to last year's release 'Devils and Dust'.
This album features Springsteen's personal interpretations of thirteen traditional songs, all of them usually associated with legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, for whom the album is named. 'The Seeger Sessions' came about from a clutch of songs that Springsteen recorded back in 1997 for a Pete Seeger tribute album 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone'.
Springsteen reconvened the same musicians that he had used back in 1997, to record this album, and record this album in the living room of his New Jersey farmhouse. Microphones were set up, candles lit and alcoholic drinks poured (I do hope it was Uncle Jack). With fourteen musicians and all the production crew there would have been one hell of a crowd in the living room!
Springsteen has always brought his own brand of Americana to our consciences, and here he introduces us to his version of Americana folk songs. Songs that many Americans will have grown up with, he has reinterpreted some sounding jubilant while others preach. Springsteen tells us that this album is not politically motivated, even though there are lines that would question that. Near the end of 'Mrs. McGrath,' a nineteenth-century Irish ballad, comes a couplet that challenges his reasons for putting out an album of traditional folk music right now: "All foreign wars, I do proclaim, Live on blood and a mother's pain." At the same time some of the songs are understated such as 'We Shall Over Come' and 'Eyes On The Prize' both traditional protest songs.
This is one album that you can relax with, have a jack and coke in one hand, and a couple of chilli dogs lined up. It is a fantastic introduction to folk music, wonderfully interpreted for us by Springsteen.