I don't think I've ever used this blog to recommend a music CD, although I have plugged books. At the risk of seeming to contradict my previous post, however, I would like to urge everyone to try out the latest offering from one of the enduring icons of (less harmful?) masculinity in the entertainment industry: Bruce Springsteen. In his new album, "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions," Bruce teams up with several other talented musicians in covers of a dozen or so traditional American songs recorded at one time or another by folk legend Pete Seeger. It is a hybrid album of Springsteen-ized roots music: part blues, bluegrass, gospel, old time folk, and social movement folk. All the songs were recorded over a few days, most of them apparently in Bruce's living room. The result is an exceptionally enjoyable and lively re-interpretation of the American folk tradition.
Even though it only took a few days to record (by design), this is a well-crafted album. Its basis is a kind of grassroots populist sensibility--evident in so much of Bruce's music--with just a few brief but unmistakable touches of direct political commentary. Mostly, the album is just a pure listening pleasure and celebration of the old American musical traditions. There's a lot of New Orleans sound on the album, a timely and fitting statement, I think, of solidarity with the city's vibrant musical tradition. Moreover there are some GREAT gospel and spiritual numbers on this album (maybe not a surprise since Bruce is one of the best putatively secular revival preachers out there!) While this may not be the album to satisfy the purists of any particular musical tradition--acoustic folk, gospel, or even E-street band style rock--it is one of the best American roots music compilations ever produced, in my opinion. It's hard to classify this album as anything other than simply "great music"--or maybe "solid-gold Bruce!"