Sometimes the less you know about a subject matter, the better. Getting all tied up in back stories and history only complicates matters. Ignorance is bliss, or something like that. There are instances, such as this, that taking things at face value is the only way to go. Let the work speak for itself, and let everything else be damned.
Pete Seeger — I don’t know anything about him and it is likely going to stay that way. Bruce Springsteen’s interpretation of Seeger’s work on We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions is not only Bruce’s finest hour in years, but also possibly 2006’s finest record thus far.
When this project came to light, or when I caught wind of it, it sounded like a complete bore. The world didn’t need another Devils and Dust, which is a fine record, but a little underwhelming. This is a Bruce record that has been a long time coming. We Shall Overcome is classic Springsteen, which is to say it’s very reminiscent of Born to Run and Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ.
When Bruce counts out over a muted guitar strum and the banjo kicks in on the opening track, "Old Dan Tucker," its immediately clear that We Shall Overcome is going to be special. A drunken collective spits out the chorus, “get out the way old Dan Tucker/you’re too late to get your supper/get out the way old Dan Tucker/you’re too late to get your supper.” It is truly a glorious racket. The Tom Waits-infused and eerily beautiful "Erie Canal" and "Eyes on the Prize" would not sound out of place during a turn of the 20th century New Orleans death march. Both feature horn sections and a backdrop of singers sounding solemn enough to make even the most melancholy of persons mourn.