Springsteen Swings To Seeger's Music On PBS Special
"Part of doing your job well is to be able to slip into somebody else's shoes and to find out what you have in common with them." So says Bruce Sprin-gsteen about the recent joy he discovered while recording the album We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. Built around songs popularized by folk legend Pete Seeger, some more than 100 years old, that album provides the inspiration for the intimate concert Springsteen has chosen for his debut on Thirteen/WNET New York's Great Performances next Wednesday, July 12, at 10:30 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).
Leading off the one-hour telecast, recorded in May at St. Luke's Church in London's East End, are traditional favorites "John Henry" and "O Mary Don't You Weep." Completing the program are classics "Mrs. McGrath," "My Oklahoma Home," "Jacob's Ladder," "We Shall Overcome," and "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?"
"Growing up a rock 'n' roll kid I didn't know a lot about Pete's music or the depth of his influence," Springsteen says. But after visiting a record store and returning with an armload of Pete Seeger records came an epiphany.
"Over the next few days of listening, the wealth of songs, their richness and power changed what I thought I knew about 'folk music.'
"It rocked, it swung, it rolled," he says. "It was a way back and forward to the informality, the freeness and the eclecticism of my earliest works and then some."
Joining Springsteen in the telecast are other musicians from the session when the recording was made earlier this year. Among the collection of in-struments featured are violin, tuba, trombone, accordion, banjo, pedal steel, saxophone, and trombone. All contribute to Springsteen's wish for a raucous, joyous ambience, or, as he puts it, a "beer drunk, whiskey drinking sound."
Still performing occasionally at age 87, Pete Seeger remains a highly visible and much-loved figure in Ame-rican folk music life. He has issued more than 100 records and written such folk classics as "Turn, Turn, Turn," "If I Had a Hammer" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" He and his wife Toshi live in upstate New York.
Bruce Springsteen-The Seeger Sessions Live is a BBC production in association with Thrill Hill Produc-tions Inc. Janet Fraser Cook directs, with Alison Howe as producer and Mark Hagen as executive producer.