By Amy Ryan
April 03, 2006 at 11:04 PM EDT

You might have expected Bruce Springsteen’s forthcoming CD of Pete Seeger covers, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (due April 25), to be a somber, austere, Nebraska/Devils & Dust-like anthology. Not so, if his ”John Henry” clip, which begins streaming today on the home page at, is any indication. The video (pictured) shows Springsteen recording the song in the studio with a large ensemble who give the folk chestnut a lively, rich, Cajun/bluegrass-inflected rendition. That gives me hope for the rest of the album, though I’m dismayed that Springsteen didn’t catch the irony of promoting a song about the legendary man-vs.-machine contest via the e-business that killed a lot of little-guy bookshops.