Tag Archives: Folk Music

Rock and History: Bruce Springsteen sings “The Erie Canal”

Sorry for the infrequency.  Between teaching at a workshop and preparing for our annual vacation to the Delaware shore, things have been hectic in the Neighborhood.

Above is Bruce Springsteen recording an American classic with the Seeger Sessions band.  “The Erie Canal” is one of the best known songs in American folk music, and commemorates the single most important public works project in American history. 

The Erie Canal, a 363-mile ditch between Lake Erie and the Hudson River, transformed New York into a commercial colossus, opened the western United States to settlement, and literally shaped New York State into what it is today.  80% of New York’s population live within a few miles of the canal route, which goes from New York harbor below Manhattan to the Lake Erie opening in Buffalo. 

The song was written after the railroad made the canal obsolete, in a mournful remembrance of a system that provided so much to America.  In my humble opinion, Springsteen’s version is the best I’ve ever heard.

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