Music can do so many things. It can soothe and motivate. It can calm us down or rile us up. It can irk and confuse us, too. That is what makes it so powerful and truly a form of art. It is sometimes written on a canvas, for us to learn and play on our own; but for most of us, it is something in the air, captured by our ears, informed by and in our brains and thrust into our souls.
There is some music that is simply joyous. I have made lists of those songs, hoping that they would give you as much pleasure and utter happiness as they give me. As I was searching through old blog postings I found parts two, three and four of “joyous music”playlists… What happened to part one? That is odd… Feel free to search the blog on your own…
The songs I listed were things like “Jessica” from The Allman Brothers, and any number of tunes from Robert Randolph, especially “The March” and numbers he did with the group called The Word. These are songs that just make you smile and move and feel good.
Today’s album is right up there. If you were lucky enough to see this tour and see these songs played live ( I went twice)… Wow… They popped off the album and became that much more alive, live. Watching Bruce and the band move through these tunes was amazing and I do not think we sat once the whole night. It is also a testament to Americana… American folk and story songs.
Bruce Springsteen – We Shall Overcome: Seeger Sessions
I do have the American Land Edition, too… See, I DO BUY EVERYTHING… But I’m talking about the regular version and it’s 13 tracks of songs that the Boss did not write. These are all classic folks songs and almost all were made popular by the incomparable Pete Seeger.
I so wish I could member the name of the venue, but years ago I got to see Pete and Arlo Guthrie play at some fantastic place in New Jersey or New York… It was like a mini-Woodstock in that the stage was put up in someone’s yard or on their property, but it was a legit venue. You brought blankets and chairs and sat wherever… So awesome. It was one of my best concert experiences ever. Just a joy.
According to my go-to source Wikipedia” “The record began in 1997, when Springsteen recorded “We Shall Overcome” for the Where Have All the Flowers Gone: the Songs of Pete Seeger tribute album, released the following year. Springsteen had not known much about Seeger given his rock and roll upbringing and orientation, and proceeded to investigate and listen to his music. While playing them in his house, his 10-year-old daughter said, “Hey, that sounds like fun,” which caused Springsteen to get interested in further exploring the material and genre.“
I find this fascinating, as the two men seem like they are cut from the same musical and spiritual cloth. If you have not heard the tribute album it is fantastic and one of my treasures.
The Sessions Band he put together for this are a fantastic group and so much fun live. Yes, you miss the E Street Band, of course, but these guys embrace this kind of music and make it explode into a joyous celebration.
If you enjoy this as much as I do, you should also check out the amazing Mermaid Avenue which has folk genius Billy Bragg and Wilco singing the songs of Woody Guthrie. It makes you realize how utterly important these men were to American history in general, but certainly to the history of music and the power it has to rally and move and gather people together to take action
The album won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2007.
“Old Dan Tucker”, “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep”, “John Henry”, the gospel tinged “Jacob’s Ladder”, “Pay Me My Money Down” and the title track are my favorites, especially live.
This, my friends, is joyous music. It celebrates so much and should be treasured and celebrated right back!