There are weeks when I pick the tunes, and then there’s this week. I had to face up to the fact that this is the only disc I’ve listened to since midday Tuesday. Much of it took me by surprise. I mean, sure, I’m obviously a pretty big Springsteen fan. But usually any of his releases take a little while to ingest, to figure out.
Not this time. For as much as I know about Peter Seeger (quickly: banjo, folk music, The Weavers, blacklisting, Dylan at Newport, “Erie Canal”…Uh, that’s it!), these renderings grabbed hold and would just not let go.
I’ll have much more to say about this recording next week (a roundtable discussion will emerge midweek or so with Blogcritics Lisa McKay and DJ Radiohead, also Me & The DJ will blab about it in next week’s BC Radio), but here’s what has won me over so far: The Seeger Sessions, from the very first bar, sounds like Bruce and company having the time of their lives. One big room full of musicians, horns out in the hallway. From the raveups of “Old Man Tucker” to the sunset beauty of “Shenandoah” to the stomping spiritual of “O Mary Don’t You Weep”.
While I can go on and on in an attempt to get at what’s going on here, Springsteen says it best:
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 old songs, some more than one hundred years old. It rocked, it swung, it rolled. It was a way back and forward to the informality, the freeness and the eclecticism of my earliest music and then some.