PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Bruce Springsteen: We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

The song "American Land" is what would happen if Bruce and Shane MacGowan ran into each other and - you may want to sit down for this hypothesis - started drinking.


Bruce Springsteen

We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

Label: Columbia
US Release Date: 2006-04-25
UK Release Date: 2006-04-24
iTunes affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

(Read the original review of "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" here.

Bruce Springsteen's pre-emptive strike into the land of Pete Seeger-style protest folk, New Orleans-style ragtime and the judicious use of the tuba began life, not surprisingly, as a lark, a what-the-hell detour that he probably expected to catch on as much as it did, which is to say not much (the subsequent tour played to half-empty sheds throughout the Midwest, where the prospect of a "Glory Days"-less Springsteen concert apparently threw folks into a state of white noise and befuddlement).

But a funny thing happened when Springsteen took what was conceived as a toss-off weekend recording session on the road: it quickly turned into a conduit for the most personal and political music he's ever produced, hence this "American Land" edition of The Seeger Sessions, an added-value (ugh) director's-cut released six months after the original that would scream cynical cash-in if it didn't seem more like the most efficient way he could think of to get timely music out there.

"American Land" isn't a crucial upgrade; of the five new songs here, two -- "Buffalo Gals" (no, really) and the choir singalong "How Can I Keep From Singing" -- appeared as DVD extras on the original, and two others were streamed for free on Bruce's Web site (which means finding MP3s of all them will not tax your detective abilities). But those new songs are worth the trip to the store. "American Land", recorded during its debut at a MSG tour stop this summer, is, of all things, an Irish foot-stomper: it's what would happen if Bruce and Shane MacGowan ran into each other and -- you may want to sit down for this hypothesis -- started drinking. Over lilting bagpipes and roaring key changes, Springsteen makes an extremely unsubtle argument regarding immigration -- "There's treasure for the taking, for any hard-working man, who makes his home in the American land." Catch the video when it airs on CMT, for some reason. "Bring 'Em Home (If You Love Your Uncle Sam)" is a Pete Seeger rewrite and a pretty somber plea to play for anyone still a little confused by "Born in the U.S.A."

But the killer is "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?", a brutal, driving rewrite of a Blind Alfred Reed song and a poison arrow aimed directly at the man Springsteen took to calling "President Bystander" after Katrina. "He said, 'Me and my old schoolpals had some mighty high times 'round here / And what happened to you poor black folks, well it just ain't fair,'" Springsteen howls, emphasis on "high". "He took a look around, gave a little pep talk / said 'I'm with you,' then he took a little walk." To these ears anyway, it's the flagship track for people who continue to find the non-response to Katrina demoralizing and appalling, and the accidental focal point of the entire Seeger Sessions detour.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.