Talk about a swell birthday present from the Boss.
Paying tribute to one of his musical heroes, Bruce Springsteen has announced plans to release We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, a collection of Pete Seeger covers, on Apr. 25.
The album hits stores a week before the folk icon's 87th birthday on May 3. It features New Jersey's favorite son working in full band mode, unlike his Grammy-winning 2005 solo acoustic album,Devils & Dust, and subsequent tour.
For the project, Springsteen assembled a large group of diverse and eclectic musicians and instruments, ranging from banjo and accordion to string and horn players. The lineup also includes Springsteen's wife, Patty Scialfa, and fellow E Street member Soozie Ryrell.
"So much of my writing, particularly when I write acoustically, comes straight out of the folk tradition. Making this album was creatively liberating, because I have a love of all those different roots sounds," says Springsteen, 55. "They can conjure up a world with just a few notes and a few words."
The "Cover Me" singer offers up the following Seeger gems: "Mrs. McGrath," "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep," "Old Dan Tucker," "Jesse James," "Erie Canal," "John Henry," "Jacob's Ladder," "Eyes on the Prize," "Shenandoah," "Pay Me My Money Down," "Froggie Went A-Courtin'," and the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome."
"Bruce called me last week and told me it's coming out," Seeger told the Associated Press Friday. "Bruce is a great guy, and it's a great honor for him to have recorded some songs that he learned from me."
Along with Woody Guthrie, Seeger is considered one of the founding fathers of the folk revival of the 1950s and '60s. He cofounded the influential folk supergroup the Weavers and cowrote such classics as "Where Have All the Flowers Gone", "If I Had a Hammer", and "Turn, Turn, Turn." He was also an early champion of Bob Dylan. Last month, the Weavers were one of the recipients of the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Grammy.
Like Devils & Dust, Columbia Records will release We Shall Overcome in the dual-disc format, with one side containing the full album and the other a DVD featuring 30 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage of Springsteen in the studio working on the reinterpretations.
Springsteen is set to take the Seeger-inspired show on the road for a short U.S. and European tour that will likely hit smaller venues and kick off in late spring, to coincide with the album's release.