NPR: Springsteen Speaks: The Music of Pete Seeger – a tremendous act of empathy

Bruce Springsteen reinterprets the songbook of American folk legend Pete Seeger on his album We Shall Overcome. He talks about Seeger’s music, the creative process and the importance of an adventurous audience.


BLOCK: When Pete Seeger did these songs he was steeped in this music, and it was bound up with all of the causes that he was so deeply involved with. So if he was singing We Shall Overcome he’d be at a civil rights rally, or I bet if he was at a union rally he be singing Pay Me My Money Down. I wondered if you wrestled with authenticity here, and did this feel like putting on somebody else’s clothing in a way?


Mr. SPRINGSTEEN: Well you’re always doing that. Your job is putting on somebody else’s clothes. You know, that’s sort of, the act of making music and making art is, a very large part of it is an act of imagination. And not only imagination, but how well you, it’s also a tremendous act of empathy, of course. And part of doing you job well is being able to slip into somebody else’s shoes and finding out what you have in common with them, and therefore bringing your audience closer to those characters and to those people.