Pete Seeger - WE SHALL OVERCOME

First performance: 20/04/2006


Coverinfo

Bruce recorded the song with The Seeger Sessions Band for his 2006 album We Shall Overcome:  The album was recorded over the course of nine years at Thrill Hill East, Springsteen's home studio in Colts Neck, NJ: During these sessions, all of the album's songs were cut live in the living room of Springsteen's farmhouse – they were not rehearsed and all arrangements were conducted by Springsteen as he and the band played them. "We were doing trapeze without a safety net," Sam Barfeld told Backstreets magazine. "He plays the song for you once, a couple of arrangement ideas. Have enough time to scrawl out a chord chart, and then boom! You record."
 
' We shal overcome ' was recorded during the first session  
 
First Session : 02/11/1997 
 
  • Soon after the conclusion of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's short Vote For Change Tour, Springsteen was liaising with manager Jon Landau regarding material for a potential future second volume of the Tracks boxed set. Some of the leftover material from the 02 Nov 1997 session was being evaluated and out of those discussions came the idea of releasing this session material as a stand-alone album project. "Thanks to Jon Landau for another one of his 'I think we've got something here...' phone calls," Springsteen later wrote in the liner notes of the 2006 album.  
 
Second Session: 19/03/2005  
There were not enough songs recorded on 02 Nov 1997 to fill an album, so the original 1997 musicians were contacted again and an additional recording session took place on 19 Mar 2005, just prior to Springsteen embarking on his Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour. Nine songs were recorded during the second session: ERIE CANAL, JOHN HENRY, O MARY DON'T YOU WEEP, PAY ME MY MONEY DOWN, OLD DAN TUCKER, FROGGIE WENT A COURTIN', SHENANDOAH, MRS. MCGRATH, and MICHAEL ROW YOUR BOAT ASHORE. Eight of the songs recorded during this second session ended up on the album. 
 
Third Session: 14/01/2006
Springsteen undertook a third and final studio session following the Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour. There were eight songs recorded during the third session: JACOB'S LADDER, BUFFALO GALS, EYES ON THE PRIZE, HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING?, AMERICAN LAND, BRING 'EM HOME, IF I HAD A HAMMER (THE HAMMER SONG), and 
WORRIED MAN BLUES.
 
 
 
 
Bruce performed the song 40 times
 
2006-04-20 - CONVENTION HALL, ASBURY PARK, NJ (Rehearsal Show)
2006-04-24 - CONVENTION HALL, ASBURY PARK, NJ (Rehearsal Show)
2006-04-25 - CONVENTION HALL, ASBURY PARK, NJ (Rehearsal Show)
2006-04-26 - CONVENTION HALL, ASBURY PARK, NJ (Rehearsal Show)
2006-04-30 - NEW ORLEANS FAIRGROUNDS, NEW ORLEANS, LA (New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival)
2006-05-05 - POINT THEATRE, DUBLIN, IRELAND
2006-05-07 - MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS ARENA, MANCHESTER, ENGLAND
2006-05-08 - HAMMERSMITH APOLLO, LONDON, ENGLAND
2006-05-09 - LSO ST LUKE'S, LONDON, ENGLAND (BBC)
2006-05-10 - PALAIS OMNISPORTS DE PARIS-BERCY, PARIS, FRANCE
2006-05-12 - DATCH FORUM, MILAN, ITALY
2006-05-14 - PAVELLÓ OLÍMPIC DE BADALONA, BARCELONA, SPAIN
2006-05-16 - HEINEKEN MUSIC HALL, AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
2006-05-17 - FESTHALLE, FRANKFURT, GERMANY
2006-05-20 - OSLO SPEKTRUM, OSLO, NORWAY
2006-05-21 - HOVET, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
2006-05-27 - TWEETER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, MANSFIELD, MA
2006-05-28 - NISSAN PAVILION, BRISTOW, VA
2006-05-30 - GERMAIN AMPHITHEATER, COLUMBUS, OH
2006-05-31 - VERIZON WIRELESS MUSIC CENTER, NOBLESVILLE, IN
2006-06-03 - GLENDALE ARENA, GLENDALE, AZ
2006-06-05 - GREEK THEATRE, LOS ANGELES, CA
2006-06-06 - SLEEP TRAIN PAVILION, CONCORD, CA
2006-06-10 - WELLS FARGO ARENA, DES MOINES, IA
2006-06-11 - XCEL ENERGY CENTER, ST. PAUL, MN
2006-06-13 - FIRST MIDWEST BANK AMPHITHEATER, TINLEY PARK, IL
2006-06-14 - BRADLEY CENTER, MILWAUKEE, WI
2006-06-16 - BLOSSOM MUSIC CENTER, CUYAHOGA FALLS, OH
2006-06-17 - DTE ENERGY MUSIC THEATRE, CLARKSTON, MI
2006-06-19 - SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY
2006-06-20 - TWEETER CENTER AT THE WATERFRONT, CAMDEN, NJ
2006-06-22 - MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NEW YORK CITY, NY
2006-06-24 - PNC BANK ARTS CENTER, HOLMDEL, NJ
2006-06-25 - PNC BANK ARTS CENTER, HOLMDEL, NJ
2006-10-01 - PALAMALAGUTI, BOLOGNA, ITALY
2006-11-19 - POINT THEATRE, DUBLIN, IRELAND
2006-11-21 - ODYSSEY ARENA, BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND
2010-01-22 - MTV STUDIOS, NEW YORK CITY, NY (Hope for Haiti Now)
2012-07-22 - RÅDHUSPLASSEN, OSLO, NORWAY (Utøya and Oslo Memorial Concert)
 
Tour one-off "We Shall Overcome" is dedicated to Pete Seeger, who died on January 27 at the age of 94. 
 
" I lost a great friend and a great hero last night," Bruce Springsteen told a the crowd at the Bellville Velodrome in South Africa yesterday, dedicating a reverent rendition of "We Shall Overcome" to his friend and fellow activist Pete Seeger. " Once you heard this song, you were prepared to march into hell’s fire, " Springsteen said. Seeger died on January 27th at age 94.  
 
 
The song was also eventually released in 2018 on the various artists album Appleseed's 21st Anniversary: Roots And Branches. This album was released on 19 Oct 2018. It contains two Bruce Springsteen tracks, If I had a hammer (The Hammer Song) and We shall overcome, and Tom Russell's cover of Bruce Springsteen's Across the border
 
 
 

Songinfo

"We Shall Overcome" is a gospel song which became a protest song and a key anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. The song is most commonly attributed as being lyrically descended from "I'll Overcome Some Day", a hymn by Charles Albert Tindley that was first published in 1900. The modern version of the song was first said to have been sung by tobacco workers led by Lucille Simmons during a 1945 cigar workers strike in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1947, the song was published under the title "We Will Overcome" in an edition of the People's Songs Bulletin (a publication of People's Songs, an organization of which Pete Seeger was the director), as a contribution of and with an introduction by Zilphia Horton, then-music director of the Highlander Folk School of Monteagle, Tennessee (an adult education school that trained union organizers). Horton said she had learned the song from Simmons, and she considered it to be her favorite song. She taught it to many others, including Pete Seeger, who included it in his repertoire, as did many other activist singers, such as Frank Hamilton and Joe Glazer, who recorded it in 1950. The song became associated with the Civil Rights Movement from 1959, when Guy Carawan stepped in with his and Seeger's version as song leader at Highlander, which was then focused on nonviolent civil rights activism. It quickly became the movement's unofficial anthem. Seeger and other famous folksingers in the early 1960s, such as Joan Baez, sang the song at rallies, folk festivals, and concerts in the North and helped make it widely known. Since its rise to prominence, the song, and songs based on it, have been used in a variety of protests worldwide. 
 
We Shall Overcome is the 1963 album by Pete Seeger. It was recorded live at his concert at Carnegie Hall, New York City, on June 8, 1963, and was released by Columbia Records.  The concert would later be described by Ed Vulliamy of The Observer as "a launch event for the entwining of the music and politics of the 1960s". Reviewer Stewart Mason at Allmusic criticised some of the songs as "trite", but wrote that "the second half of the concert, climaxing in the definitive version of "Guantanamera," is protest folk at its finest." It was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2006, calling it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
 
 
 

Bruce on the artist

In 2006, Bruce released  the album ' We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions' . The album contains Springsteen's interpretation of thirteen folk music songs associated with Pete Seeger. The project began in late 1997 when Springsteen agreed to contribute a recording for an upcoming Pete Seeger tribute album on Appleseed Recordings. "Growing up a rock n' roll kid I didn't know a lot about Pete's music or the depth of his influence," Springsteen later wrote in the liner notes of his 2006 album. He headed to the record store, came back with an armful of Pete Seeger records, and proceeded to investigate and listen to his music.
 
More info on Springsteenlyrics.
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
"As Pete and I traveled to Washington for President Obama's Inaugural Celebration, he told me the entire story of "We Shall Overcome". How it moved from a labor movement song and with Pete's inspiration had been adapted by the civil rights movement. That day as we sang "This Land Is Your Land" I looked at Pete, the first black president of the United States was seated to his right, and I thought of the incredible journey that Pete had taken. My own growing up in the sixties in towns scarred by race rioting made that moment nearly unbelievable and Pete had thirty extra years of struggle and real activism on his belt. He was ao happy that day, it was like, Pete, you outlasted the bastards, man!...It was so nice. At rehearsals the day before, it was freezing, like fifteen degrees and Pete was there; he had his flannel shirt on. I said, man, you better wear something besides that flannel shirt! He says, yeah, I got my longjohns on under this thing. And I asked him how he wanted to approach "This Land Is Your Land". It would be near the end of the show and all he said was, "Well, I know I want to sing all the verses, I want to sing all the ones that Woody wrote, especially the two that get left out, about private property and the relief office." I thought, of course, that's what Pete's done his whole life. He sings all the verses all the time, especially the ones that we'd like to leave out of our history as a people. At some point Pete Seeger decided he'd be a walking, singing reminder of all of America's history. He'd be a living archive of America's music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards more humane and justified ends. He would have the audacity and the courage to sing in the voice of the people, and despite Pete's somewhat benign, grandfatherly appearance, he is a creature of a stubborn, defiant, and nasty optimism. Inside him he carries a steely toughness that belies that grandfatherly facade and it won't let him take a step back from the things he believes in. At 90, he remains a stealth dagger through the heart of our country's illusions about itself. Pete Seeger still sings all the verses all the time, and he reminds us of our immense failures as well as shining a light toward our better angels and the horizon where the country we've imagined and hold dear we hope awaits us. Now on top of it, he never wears it on his sleeve. He has become comfortable and casual in this immense role. He's funny and very eccentric. I'm gonna bring Tommy out, and the song Tommy Morello and I are about to sing I wrote in the mid-nineties and it started as a conversation I was having with myself. It was an attempt to regain my own moorings. Its last verse is the beautiful speech that Tom Joad whispers to his mother at the end of The Grapes of Wrath."

'Wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight 'gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I'll be there'

"Well, Pete has always been there. For me that speech is always aspirational. For Pete, it's simply been a way of life. The singer in my song is in search of the ghost of Tom Joad. The spirit who has the guts and toughness to carry forth, to fight for and live their ideals. I'm happy to report that spirit, the very ghost of Tom Joad is with us in the flesh tonight. He'll be on this stage momentarily, he's gonna look an awful lot like your granddad who wears flannel shirts and funny hats. He's gonna look like your granddad if your granddad could kick your ass. ..

This is for Pete... "
 

Lyrics

We shall overcome, we shall overcome
We shall overcome someday
Here in my heart, I do believe
We shall overcome someday
We'll walk hand in hand, we'll walk hand in hand
We'll walk hand in hand someday
Here in my heart, I do believe
We'll walk hand in hand someday
We shall live in peace, we shall live in peace
We shall live in peace someday
Here in my heart, I do believe
We shall live in peace someday
We are not afraid, we are not afraid
We shall overcome someday
Here in my heart, I do believe
We shall overcome someday
We shall overcome, we shall overcome
We shall overcome someday
Here in my heart, I do believe
We shall overcome someday
We shall overcome someday