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We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions Dual Disc

4.0 out of 5 stars 419 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Dual Disc, April 25, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Columbia Records will release Bruce Springsteen's twenty-first album,'We Shall Overcome The Seeger Sessions,' on April 25. The album features Bruce's personal interpretations of thirteen traditional songs, all of them associated with the legendary guiding light of American folk music, Pete Seeger, for whom the album is named. Speaking of the origins of the new music, Springsteen said, "So much of my writing, particularly when I write acoustically, comes straight out of the folk tradition. Making this album was creatively liberating because I have a love of all those different roots sounds... they can conjure up a world with just a few notes and a few words."

The premise was simple. Bruce Springsteen invites a dozen or so New York City musicians--packing banjos, fiddles, accordions and the like--to his New Jersey farmhouse for a three-day hootenanny, and tape is rolling. The results are sublime, his 21st album featuring their versions of songs harvested from Springsteen's dog-eared LPs by Pete Seeger. Not all written by Seeger, the songs are how the American folk icon interpreted them, and these organic recordings, with no rehearsals or overdubs, pay tribute with the simplicity and spontaneity he intended. It's not hard to link Springsteen's dissatisfaction with American politics to the protest song "We Shall Overcome" or even the Irish ballad "Mrs. McGrath," where he alters the lyrics to read, "I'd rather have my son as he used to be/Than the King of America and his whole navy." But the beauty of these Seeger Sessions are pieces that underscore the mood of the bandleader, which borders on down-home amusement: the bluegrass outlaw ballad "Jesse James," the Dylanesque "Pay Me My Money Down" and the euphoric "Jacob's Ladder," a gumbo-and-whiskey-fueled romp that could pass for the closing hymn at the Church of Asbury Park. --Scott Holter

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Old Dan Tucker
  2. Jesse James (Just Ask)
  3. Mrs. McGrath
  4. O Mary Don't You Weep
  5. John Henry
  6. Erie Canal
  7. Jacob's Ladder
  8. My Oklahoma Home
  9. Eyes on the Prize
  10. Shenandoah
  11. Pay Me My Money Down
  12. vic
  13. Froggie Went a Courtin'
  14. Behind the Scenes Footage
  15. Buffalo Gals
  16. How Can I Keep from Singing
  17. Old Dan Tucker
  18. Jesse James (Just Ask)
  19. Mrs. McGrath
  20. O Mary Don't You Weep
  21. John Henry
  22. Erie Canal
  23. Jacob's Ladder
  24. My Oklahoma Home
  25. Eyes on the Prize
  26. Shenandoah
  27. Pay Me My Money Down
  28. vic
  29. Froggie Went a Courtin'

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 25, 2006)
  • Original Release Date: April 25, 2006
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Dual Disc
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 189 minutes
  • ASIN: B000EU1PNC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (419 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,604 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
As a red-blooded American woman I have always loved Bruce Springsteen's music, but even older than my affection for Bruce is my affection for Pete Seeger. However, for years my husband has felt the need to leave the room whenver I've put Pete's music on, in an effort to escape Seeger's flawless and perfect earnestness. I think he just didn't think Pete was any FUN. Fortunately I think he will like Bruce's "let's have a party" spin on some of Pete's old favorites. If you never thought you'd get up and dance to Pete Seeger music, this album will change your mind.

On a more detailed level, the music ranges from really sublime to a bit disappointing. On the disappointing side I found "Shenandoah" almost incomprehnsible; Bruce is mumbling again, the pace is lugubrious, and the beautiful haunting melody is lost in the arrangement. Likewise "How Can I Keep from Singing" (a bonus track). On the other hand, Bruce's choice to use a host of Nawlins musicians on numerous tracks both energizes the music and makes it deeply meaningful on certain songs: "Jacob's Ladder" really swings, and "O Mary Don't You Weep" takes on a kind of redemptive quality. The song's lyrics (O Mary Don't you Weep....Pharoah's Army has drownded) seem to tell the listener that New Orleans will rise from the waters. The horn section really rocks throughout. "We Shall Overcome," in contrast, is quiet, contemplative, and moving - a contrast to the assertive fists-in-the-air version you may have in your head from countless peace marches.

By the way, this album comes on two discs - one is a DVD including the filming of several numbers. It didn't add much to my enjoyment of the music. However, if you are looking for the two bonus tracks, "How Can I Keep from Singing" and "Buffalo Gals," which do not appear on either the CD disc or on the liner notes, this is where you must look.
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Format: Audio CD
This album raises a couple important questions. First off, why is the best country music of the past ten years coming off of a Bruce Springsteen record? Secondly, why won't radio play songs this honest and true?

But I'm not gonna deal with those questions, because I don't have the time, and quite frankly, I just don't care. What DO I care about, you ask? What I care about is this: Springsteen's latest record, a collection of traditional folk songs attributed to the great Pete Seeger. These songs are true Americana; their simple lyrics paint a portrait of life as seldom seen these days. And Springsteen and company's performance is exquisite; you can tell the musicians are simply having a stellar time performing these little nuggets. By weaving fiddle and banjo into the mix, Springsteen has crafted one of the best folk albums in years...and also, incidently, one of the best country albums...and best rock albums...

These songs speak straight to the heart. Most of 'em you'll know--you've heard 'em in concert, on the radio, or maybe even learned them in grade school (there're a couple on here I hadn't even thought of in years; it was a delight to hear them again). "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" is a great traditional folk/rock/country record, by Bruce Springsteen, one of the most innovative artists out there. By consistently bending the rules, Sprinsgteen has crafted a legacy of honest, true-to-self material...and this album fits right in there, while at the same time paying homage to one of the great American songwriters. Buy this album, sing along, dance along if you wish, and experience the majesty of what a few simple chords and lyrics can do.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
From the perspective of the career of Pete Seeger, "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" is not what you might expect because if you think this is going to be a collection of covers of the greatest songs written by the American folk icon, then you are gong to be surprised and possibly disappointed. "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?," "If I Had a Hammer," and "Turn, Turn, Turn" are not going to be found here. The most recognizable song would be the title track, the song Seeger based on a spiritual that became the anthem of the Civil Rights movement. But this baker's dozen collection of tracks more about traditional songs that Seeger performed that Bruce Springsteen is passing along to a new generation. The second most recognizable song would probably be the last one, "Froggie Went a Courtin'" (which has been around at least since 1549), although "Erie Canal" would have to be second on that list. If you have any passing familiarity with American folk music then "Shenandoah," "John Henry," and "Old Dan Tucker" should be recognizable as well.

Then again, this album is not what you would expect from a Bruce Springsteen album, given that the Boss has never done a cover album before. He has done a few notable covers, from Tom Wait's "Jersey Girl" and Patti Smith's "Because the Night" to "War" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," so it is interesting that Springsteen would suddenly decide to do it for an entire album. Seeger is certainly a legend, and if this album introduces a new generation of fans to his work so much the better.
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