"It's the sound of acoustic guitars in your face and unapologetic": Why I ❤️ Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, by Frank Turner

Frank Turner on The Seeger Sessions
(Image credit: Sony, Xtra Mile)

"Being asked to choose a favourite Bruce Springsteen album is quite difficult, because different Springsteen albums represent both different phases in my life, and in my thinking about music.

"I grew up listening to punk rock music, and to me, then, as a teenager, Springsteen was the guy in the blues jeans, and white T-shirt, with the American flag, and who gives a fuck about that guy? I really wasn't a fan. And then a friend of mine gave me a copy of Nebraska, and that was my gateway record into Springsteen. It was a huge deal to me, because hearing it was one of the first times that it occurred to me that you could be heavy, without being loud. But it's funny, everyone always bangs on about Nebraska, with good reason, but personally I would throw Devils And Dust on the 'essential Springsteen' pile too, and indeed The Ghost Of Tom Joad, because both those records are amazing also.

"But I've actually picked a different record, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. If you listen to [Turner's 2008 album] Love, Ire & Song, and then listen to The Seeger Sessions, then I'm in trouble. [Laughs] It was so interesting to me at the time to hear folk and country music played in such a raucous, joyous kind of way, that was news to me: hearing that real rock n' roll, and dare I say it, punk rock spirit infusing traditional music was such a 'penny drop' moment for me, and it really redirected my own writing.

"I think The Seeger Sessions was the first new Springsteen record that came out once I was an active fan, and it was different to what I knew of his work, and I was just like, 'Fuck, this is amazing.' These days I can hold forth at length about how Tunnel Of Love is under-appreciated, and I have a Born To Run tattoo on my stomach, but the fact that it was the new Springsteen record once I was on-board gave it a greater impact for me."

"At the time, I was discovering the Smithsonian folk collection records, and John Henry's field recordings, doing my due diligence on British and Irish and American folk music, which can get dry and dusty and slightly worthy at certain points: as much as it's important music to discover and know about, listening to it can become something of an academic pursuit. So there was something about hearing Springsteen attack that material with that kind of energy, and a sense of fun, which is pretty unique. It isn't gloomy or introspective, it's the sound of acoustic guitars in your face and unapologetic, and I just immediately loved it.

"This was music that at its origin was collectivist and raucous, and I think that Springsteen's own fresh discovery of the music, and his excitement in reviving it, was a big factor in that record coming out the way it did."

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls support Bruce Springsteen at BST Hyde Park on July 6. Bruce Springsteen also headlines a second night at BST Hyde Park on July 8.