Bruce Springsteen has a new album out.
The album is called High Hopes and, as one would expect, its release has triggered a cacophonous accompaniment of articles, interviews and record reviews. Though I have certainly not read and/or heard them all, the ones I have perused have made much of the fact that the new collection contains three covers: “Just Like Fire Would” by Chris Bailey from the band known as The Saints; “Dream Baby Dream” by Suicide; and the title track, “High Hopes” by Tim Scott McConnell.
As much as I’m looking forward to hearing the new album – I haven’t had a chance to stop by Bull Moose Records in Portsmouth to pick-up a copy yet – all the talk about Bruce Springsteen doing cover versions made me think about the album of his that is all covers: We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.
Released on April 25, 2006, the album – the 14th studio album of his career – contains recordings made by Bruce in 1997, late 2005 and early 2006. All of the 13 songs come from the repertoire of Folk musician Pete Seeger and most are listed in the credits as being “traditional” – i.e.: nobody really knows who wrote it – Folk songs.
In the liner notes, Bruce himself writes of the recording sessions that produced these tracks: “It was a carnival ride, the sound of surprise and the pure joy of playing. Street corner music, parlor music, tavern music, wilderness music, circus music, church music, gutter music, it was all there waiting in those songs, some more than one hundred years old. It rocked, it swung, it rolled.”
One of my favorite cuts from the album is track #4: “O Mary Don’t You Weep.” This song is described in the liner notes as being: “One of the most important Negro spirituals, adapted by black Pentecostal churches, the song then made its way into the freedom song repertoire of the civil rights movement.”
Here is a wonderful video of the making of the recording of “O Mary Don’t You Weep,” in a slightly longer version than the one that was released on the album.
The musicians on this recording are: Bruce Springsteen, acoustic guitar and lead vocals; Sam Bardfeld, violin; Art Baron, tuba; Frank Bruno, guitar; Jeremy Chatzky, upright bass; Mark Clifford, banjo; Larry Eagle, drums; Charles Giordano, accordion; Ed Manion, saxophone; Mark Pender, trumpet; Richie Rosenberg, trombone; Patti Scialfa, backing vocals; and Soozie Tyrell, violin and backing vocals.
Now, that’s a band!
I hope you’ll sit back and give yourself the seven minutes and six seconds it takes to watch and listen to this example of truly remarkable music making.
We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions was awarded the Grammy Award for “Best Traditional Folk Album” in 2007.
Good music like this will never, ever get old.