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'Seeger Sessions' captivates overseas

It's the weekend before Thanksgiving and Bruce Springsteen is wrapping up his "Seeger Sessions" tour, a display of quintessentially American music, in a city 3,000 miles and one ocean away from the nearest corner of America.

Why? Springsteen probably wouldn't put it this way, but basically, more people over here seem to get it.

We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions met a relatively indifferent reception in the States last spring. It has sold fewer than 750,000 copies, modest by Bruce standards though certainly no flop, and his U.S. tour included the unusual sight of empty seats.

In Dublin, not a ticket is in sight for any of his three nights at the Point, a converted railroad station. The scalpers are here, but they aren't much help.

European audiences in general have often shown greater respect and affection for the range of music Springsteen explores. Unlike many U.S. audiences, they don't seem to feel entitled to hear Born to Run at every show. They're just as happy with Old Dan Tucker, written in the 19th century as a lively banjo number for blackface minstrel shows. The music came from Africa, Ireland and all points in between. It could have been written only in America, where it was first published in 1843.

At the Point, 8,500 Irishmen and women hear three chords from Mark Clifford's banjo and sing the whole first chorus while Springsteen stands behind his microphone, beaming.

These fans also sing the chorus of My Oklahoma Home as enthusiastically as they would sing Hungry Heart.

Before the Saturday Point show, a group of Bruce fans are gathered in a bar, discussing Seeger as fluently as other fans discuss Darkness on the Edge of Town.

A 40ish blond named Claire suggests that part of the affection for this tour comes from the Irish roots in much of the music. She also suggests there's something in Dublin itself.

"Twenty years ago," she says, "this was nothing like you're seeing today, with the malls and the fancy shops.

"I grew up just outside the city. We didn't have indoor plumbing or running water. No telephone. Americans would look around here today and think it's always been like it is now, like it is in America. But it wasn't. So I think we appreciate things a little more, and the kind of songs Bruce is singing now, about the basic struggles, we may relate to a little better."

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