We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
Springsteen’s first album of covers was, appropriately, of songs collated by folk musician Pete Seeger; they reach into the American tradition, and promote the same causes of inclusiveness and equality that Springsteen’s songs champion. Even though Springsteen’s a limited vocalist, his enthusiastic growl is perfect for this music, and We Shall Overcome is a ton of fun as Springsteen is accompanied by E-Street violinist Soozie Tyrell and a band of local musicians, creating a loose and fun hoe-down atmosphere.
I hated ‘Erie Canal’ when we sang it sluggishly at primary school, but on We Shall Overcome it grooves along bouncily on its horn section. Most of We Shall Overcome album is fun, uptempo fare like ‘Old Dan Tucker’ and ‘Froggie Went A Courtin”, but the title track has a solemn gravitas that’s perfect for the song, while ‘Shenandoah’ is also slow and mournful.
As an album of covers, it’s difficult to rank We Shall Overcome over Springsteen’s best albums of original material, but it’s a lot of fun, and it’s the best studio album he’s made since Tunnel of Love in 1987.