EYES ON THE PRIZE

Album version


Paul and Silas bound in jail
Had no money for to go their bail
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Paul and Silas thought they was lost
Dungeon shook and the chains come off
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Freedom's name is mighty sweet
And soon we're gonna meet
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

I got my hand on the gospel plow
Won't take nothing for my journey now
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Soozie!

Only chain that a man can stand
Is that chain o' hand on hand
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

I'm gonna board that big greyhound
Carry the love from town to town
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Hey!

Hey!

Now only thing I did was wrong
Stayin' in the wilderness too long
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

The only thing we did was right
Was the day we started to fight
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

One, two!
(The only thing we did was wrong)
(Staying in the wilderness too long)
(Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on)

Woah, woah!
(The only thing we did was right)
(Was the day we started to fight)
(Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on)

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Ain't been to heaven but I been told
Streets up there are paved with gold


PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Info

EYES ON THE PRIZE is an American folk song (see the "Traditional Version" section below for more details). Bruce Springsteen recorded the song with The Seeger Sessions Band during the third of the three Seeger Sessions (see the "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" section below for more details) and released it on his 2006 album We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. The above lyrics are for Springsteen's album version of EYES ON THE PRIZE as released in 2006.

Traditional Version

EYES ON THE PRIZE, originally titled "Keep Your Eyes On The Prize", became influential during the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and the 1960s. It is based on a traditional song known under several titles including "Gospel Plow", "Hold On", and "Keep Your Hand on the Plow".

Lyrics to the modern Civil Rights version of the song, EYES ON THE PRIZE, are often attributed to Alice Wine although she did not actually compose the lyrics herself. Wine was a member of the Moving Star Hall on Johns Island, SC. The book Ain't You Got The Right To The Tree Of Life by Guy and Candie Carawan documents songs of the Moving Star Hall and the lives of African Americans on Johns Island in the early sixties. Wine is credited with passing the phrase "eyes on the prize" to Guy Carawan who then incorporated it into the song and changed the title from "Keep Your Hand On The Plow" to "Keep Your Eyes On The Prize".

Pete Seeger's Version

Pete Seeger, who inspired Springsteen's We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions album, first released EYES ON THE PRIZE on his 1963 album We Shall Overcome, recorded live at his 08 Jun 1963 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City, NY.

Pete Seeger -- We Shall Overcome
Pete Seeger -- We Shall Overcome

LP - Columbia (CL 2101) - USA, 1963

Mono version.
Pete Seeger -- We Shall Overcome
Pete Seeger -- We Shall Overcome

LP - Columbia (CS 8901) - USA, 1963

Stereo version.

We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions is Bruce Springsteen's fourteenth studio album, released in 2006. It is his first and so far only album of cover material, and his second consecutive non-E Street Band and non-rock music project. The album contains Springsteen's interpretation of thirteen folk music songs, all of them associated with Pete Seeger, for whom the album is named.

The project began in late 1997, when Springsteen agreed to contribute a recording for an upcoming Pete Seeger tribute album on Appleseed Recordings. "Growing up a rock n' roll kid I didn't know a lot about Pete's music or the depth of his influence," Springsteen later wrote in the liner notes of the 2006 album. He headed to the record store, came back with an armful of Pete Seeger records, and proceeded to investigate and listen to his music. On 29 October, activist attorney and Appleseed founder Jim Musselman sent Springsteen a tape containing 14 Pete Seeger songs: JESSE JAMES, MY OKLAHOMA HOME, WE SHALL OVERCOME, HOBO'S LULLABY, I COME AND STAND AT EVERY DOOR, JOHN HENRY, MRS MCGRATH, IF I HAD A HAMMER, ROUTE 66 HIGHWAY BLUES, TALKING UNION, TIMES ARE GETTING HARD, WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY, WALKING DOWN DEATH ROW, and WORDS WORDS WORDS.

Springsteen had heard about a New York City roots/bluegrass band called The Gotham Playboys via future E Street Band violinist Soozie Tyrell, who occasionally played live gigs with them. The band included Jeremy Chatzky, Sam Bardfeld, Larry Eagle, Will Holshouser, and Red Suydam. On 23 Sep 1997, Springsteen organized a private birthday party at his residence in Colts Neck, NJ, and hired The Gotham Playboys for the event. He allegedly joined in on some songs during the party. The band would later be invited to perform at two more birthday bashes at Springsteen's house, on 11 Oct 1998 and 14 Oct 2000.

When time came to record the Pete Seeger track, Springsteen decided to hire four members of The Gotham Playboys: Jeremy Chatzky, Sam Bardfeld, Larry Eagle, and Will Holshouser. Charles Giordano, an associate of The Gotham Playboys, substituted for Holshouser when a scheduling conflict prevented him from attending the recording sessions. This group, in addition to other friends and acquaintances, would eventually become "The Seeger Sessions Band", later renamed "The Sessions Band". Giordano would also join the E Street band in 2008.

The album was recorded over the course of nine years at East Thrill East, Springsteen's home studio in Colts Neck, NJ: a one-day on 02 Nov 1997, a one-day session in December 2005, and a one-day session in January 2006. During these sessions, all of the album's songs were cut live in the living room of Springsteen's farmhouse – they were not rehearsed and all arrangements were conducted by Springsteen as he and the band played them. "We were doing trapeze without a safety net," Sam Barfeld told Backstreets magazine. "He plays the song for you once, a couple of arrangement ideas. Have enough time to scrawl out a chord chart, and then boom! You record."

Six songs were recorded during the first session (02 Nov 1997): JESSE JAMES, MY OKLAHOMA HOME, WE SHALL OVERCOME (eventually selected for the Pete Seeger tribute album), HOBO'S LULLABY, I COME AND STAND AT EVERY DOOR, and PRETTY BY FLOYD.

Seven years later, soon after the conclusion of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's short Vote For Change Tour, Springsteen was liaising with manager Jon Landau regarding material for a potential future second volume of the Tracks boxed set. Some of the leftover material from the November 1997 session was being evaluated and out of those discussions came the idea of releasing this session material as a stand-alone album project. "Thanks to Jon Landau for another one of his 'I think we've got something here...' phone calls," Springsteen later wrote in the liner notes of the 2006 album.

There were not enough songs recorded in November 1997 to fill an album, so the original 1997 musicians were contacted again and an additional recording session took place on 19 Mar 2005, just prior to Springsteen embarking on his Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour. Nine songs were recorded during the second session (19 Mar 2005): ERIE CANAL, JOHN HENRY, O MARY DON'T YOU WEEP, PAY ME MY MONEY DOWN, OLD DAN TUCKER, FROGGIE WENT A COURTIN', SHENANDOAH, MRS MCGRATH, and MICHAEL ROW YOUR BOAT ASHORE. Eight of the songs recorded during this second session would end up on the album.

Springsteen undertook a third and final studio session on 21 Jan 2006 following the Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour. There were eight songs recorded during the third session (21 Jan 2006): JACOB'S LADDER, BUFFALO GALS, EYES ON THE PRIZE, HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING, AMERICAN LAND, BRING 'EM HOME, IF I HAD A HAMMER, and WORRIED MAN BLUES.

For the first recording session, recording engineer Toby Scott and Springsteen's assistant Kevin Buell set up a video camera on a tripod to document the occasion. For the second and third recording sessions, Thom Zimny brought down a camera crew. Footage from the last two sessions was included as DVD bonus material with some editions of the 2006 album.

The album was recorded with a large ensemble of musicians, and more were added for The Seeger Session Tour.

  • Bruce Springsteen (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, B-3 organ, and percussion).
  • Sam Bardfeld (violin) is a member of The Gotham Playboys and he played at the 23 Sep 1997 birthday bash. He participated in all three recording sessions and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Jeremy Chatzky (upright bass) is a member of The Gotham Playboys and he played at the 23 Sep 1997 birthday bash. He participated in all three recording sessions and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Larry Eagle (drums and percussion) is a member of The Gotham Playboys and he played at the 23 Sep 1997 birthday bash. He participated in all three recording sessions and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Charles Giordano (B-3 organ, piano, and accordion) often played with The Gotham Playboys. He participated in all three recording sessions and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Soozie Tyrell (violin and backing vocals) often played with The Gotham Playboys and became a member of the E Street band in 2002. She participated in all three recording sessions and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Patti Scialfa (backing vocals) is Springsteen's wife and a member of the E Street Band since 1984. She participated in all three recording sessions and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band on selected dates.
  • Frank Bruno (guitar) is Bruce Springsteen's cousin. He participated in all three recording sessions and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Ed Manion (saxophone) is a member of The Miami Horns and he toured with the E Street band in 1988. He participated in all three recording sessions and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Mark Pender (trumpet and backing vocals) is a member of The Miami Horns and he toured with the E Street band in 1988. He participated in the last two of the three recording sessions, recorded studio overdubs, and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band in the United States only.
  • Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg (trombone and backing vocals) is a member of The Miami Horns and he toured with the E Street band in 1988. He participated in all three recording sessions and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band in the United States only.
  • Mark Clifford (banjo) met Springsteen by chance and he participated in all three recording sessions, but did not tour with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Lisa Lowell (backing vocals) has been singing backup vocals on several Springsteen albums since 1992. She participated in the last of the three recording sessions and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Art Baron (tuba) was recommended by the band. He recorded studio overdubs and toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Greg Liszt (banjo) did not record on the album, but he toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Marty Rifkin (pedal steel) did not record on the album, but he toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Curtis king Jr. (vocals) did not record on the album, but he toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Cindy Mizelle (vocals) did not record on the album, but she toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Mark Anthony Thomson (guitar) did not record on the album, but he toured with The Seeger Sessions Band.
  • Clark Gayton (trombone) did not record on the album, but he toured with The Seeger Sessions Band in Europe only.
  • Curt Ramm (trumpet) did not record on the album, but he toured with The Seeger Sessions Band in Europe only.

Springsteen toured with The Seeger Sessions Band throughout 2006. During a break in the tour in mid-2006, and then in late 2006 shortly after the tour's conclusion, he recorded several other songs. Some of these later session details are now known and others are likely to emerge over time. A second version BRING 'EM HOME was recorded on 18 May 2006 at Disclab Studios in Oslo, Norway. A second version of AMERICAN LAND, with Springsteen solo, was recorded at his home studio sometime in 2006.

We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions was produced by Bruce Springsteen and Jon Landau and was released on Columbia Records on 25 Apr 2006. The album was issued in DualDisc format in the United States and Europe and a two-disc set (audio CD + DVD) in Europe and Japan. The full album is on the CD (or CD side), while the DVD (or DVD side) features a PCM Stereo version of the album plus a short film about the making and recording of the album. Two bonus songs also appear on the DVD. A 2-disc vinyl LP edition was also pressed in the U.S. and Holland.

The album was critically acclaimed. When asked about what he thought of it, Pete Seeger said, "It was a great honor. He's an extraordinary person, as well as an extraordinary singer." The album won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 49th Grammy Awards held in February 2007. On 03 Oct 2006, when the tour had just hit Europe for the second swing, the album was reissued as We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions - American Land Edition with five additional tracks (the two bonus tracks from before and three new live numbers that had been introduced and heavily featured on the tour), new videos, an expanded documentary, and liner notes. This edition was only released as a two-disc set (audio CD + DVD).

Bruce Springsteen -- We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
Bruce Springsteen -- We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
Bruce Springsteen -- We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (American Land Edition)
Bruce Springsteen -- We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (American Land Edition)

Other Official Releases

Other versions of EYES ON THE PRIZE were also officially released.

Bruce Springsteen with The Sessions Band -- Live In Dublin
The live 18 Nov 2006 version of EYES ON THE PRIZE was released on the Live In Dublin album and home video in 2007.

Live History

COMING SOON

References

Most of the above info about the studio sessions is taken from Brucebase and the Spring 2007 issue (#86) of Backstreets magazine.

Available Versions

List of available versions of EYES ON THE PRIZE on this website:

EYES ON THE PRIZE [Album version]
EYES ON THE PRIZE [Live 18 Nov 2006 version]

Page last updated: 03 Jan 2016