Toward the end of April, the sun may have returned, but we wouldn’t have noticed. We had spent three months touring the Midwest in a couple of ancient vans, and generally felt beat to shit physically, mentally and emotionally; homesick for New York. We’d driven from Chicago to Indiana the day before, only to turn around and drive back to Madison, Wisconsin this afternoon. We ate at a strip mall. After lunch, I got behind the wheel, threw on The Seeger Sessions, which I’d snatched up with low expectations at a Best Buy for less than ten dollars. “Old Dan Tucker” kicked in, and Springsteen sounded like he was throwing the party of the year—I pictured fiddles, banjo, a stand-up bass (homemade), even a washboard player, all in a room the size of our little passenger van. Every cliché you ever heard or imagined about the highways of Middle America rolled by, as Springsteen and his merry band stomped though Pete Seeger’s song book. He transformed “Jacob’s Ladder” into a burner and “Shenandoah” into the loveliest dirge. We listened in stunned silence, even as we got lost three or four times. After the final moments of “Froggie Went a Courtin’”—the perfect closer after “We Shall Overcome”—those of us in the van agreed that the album had been amazing, and I’d experienced one of the most profound music-listening experiences of my life. Those were, I think, the perfect circumstances to hear The Seeger Sessions under, but I doubt that I’m alone in my experience with the album. The magnitude of good will that Springsteen’s new album puts out into the world reminds you of the joy that wells up in Jersey-ites when they hear “Born to Run.” 30 years later, he’s gunning for the heart of America.
-Marty Brown, 2006
Check out Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins' Rabbit Fur Coat, another album of stunners--original ones this time--in the form of 60's-era country and folk.