The Boss’s fans could not have been ready for this latest release. There is not an electric guitar in sight. Like Eric Clapton some years back, the rocker has gone unplugged. Springsteen presides over a down-home, back-porch get-together recorded in his farmhouse living room in just three days without any rehearsals.
He plays an acoustic Gibson guitar and a harmonica, surrounded by the sounds of a five-string banjo, country fiddles, an accordion, an upright acoustic bass, and a horn and rhythm section composed of a tuba, saxophone, trumpet, trombone and drums.
This ensemble allows Springsteen to broaden the concept of folk music to show its intersection with traditional jazz and gospel music. And what irony: Folk purists and leftists, not least Pete Seeger himself, went ballistic when Bob Dylan “went electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, trading in topical songs for introspective rock.
It was a long road from “Blowin’ in the Wind” to “Like a Rolling Stone.” Now the Boss has moved in exactly the opposite direction, from rock to old folk, and we have come full circle.
Read the rest of Ron Radosh's review of Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.