Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The Rising’: How Does It Fit With American Folk-Music Tradition?

The Boss reached into folk and gospel legacy to begin 'We Are One' inaugural concert.

After a performance of the national anthem by Master Sergeant Caleb Green, [artist id="975"]Bruce Springsteen[/artist] took the stage at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to bring the rock to the “We Are One” inaugural concert with his post-9/11 missive “The Rising.”

The Boss performed the Obama-approved song along with a choir, a choice that not only pays tribute to Springsteen’s folk-rock roots, but also to the country’s gospel tradition.

“Particularly in that arrangement, it draws on the gospel tradition,” Stephen D. Winick, writer and editor at the American Folklife Center of Library of Congress told MTV News of the performance. “[It also draws on] the tradition of spirituals, and there’s a lot of lyrics that speak to spirituals.”

Springsteen is not only a favorite musician of the president-elect’s, but he’s also an American icon, making him an interesting act to open the show. “He’s one of the great rock-and-roll players of our time,” Winick said. At the same time, “I think he’s very conscious of the roots of working-class folk music.”

Springsteen’s sense of history has been evident “not only since his beginnings as a guitar troubadour along the lines of Woody Guthrie, but also his work with Pete Seeger,” Winick said, referring to the rocker’s 2006 album We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, a collection of traditional folk songs associated with the legendary ’60s protest singer. “And the rumor is that he will play with Pete Seeger today.”

“Be the Change: Live From the Inaugural” will air live on MTV on Tuesday, January 20, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. MTV News will have wall-to-wall coverage of the event and of the scenes in Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Kenya in the days leading up to the event and in the days that follow.