Liner notes for Springsteen’s «We Shall Overcome»

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A Note From Bruce Springsteen

In 1997 I recorded “We Shall Overcome” for Where Have All The Flowers
Gone: The Songs Of Pete Seeger. Growing up a rock n’ roll kid I didn’t
know a lot about Pete’s music or the depth of his influence. So I
headed to the record store and came back with an armful of Pete Seeger
records. Over the next few days of listening, the wealth of songs,
their richness and power changed what I thought I knew about “folk
music.” Hearing this music and our initial ’97 session for Pete’s
record sent me off, casually at first, on a quest.

Through Soozie Tyrell, violinist with the E Street Band, I met a group
of musicians out of New York City who played at a fiesta in the field
at our farm. Accordion, fiddle, banjo, upright bass, washboard, this
was the sound I was looking for, for the project for Pete. I wanted the
sound of a bunch of people just sitting around playing. After a few
phone calls we set up next to one another in the living room of our
farm house (horns in the hall). ‘Till that moment we’d never played a
note together. I counted off the opening chords to Jesse James and away
we went. 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 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.

This is a LIVE recording, everything cut in three one-day sessions
(’97, ’05, ’06) with no rehearsals. All arrangements were conducted as
we played, you can hear me shouting out the names and instruments of
the players as we roll. This approach takes the listener along for the
whole ride, as you hear the music not just being played but being made.
So, turn it up, put on your dancin’ and singin’ shoes, and have fun. We
did. Here’s the Seeger Sessions. Pete thanks for the inspiration!

Bruce Springsteen
March 6, 2006

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