Archive for October, 2015

The Séguin brothers – My Back Pages

Les frères Séguin

The Séguin brothers

My brother and I are very lucky – we grew up in a small country town, sons of parents who believed in the great outdoors, where we played and spent most of our youth. We were also very lucky to come of age in the 60s, both of us captivated by the popular music of that time, a completely different experience from today’s popular music. Where music is now completely controlled by the industry, a money-making cash cow that spits out innocuous dance music sung by innocuous “artists”, we grew up with Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In the 60s the artists themselves controlled the music business, which is obvious when you hear the popular songs everyone listened to back then. The music industry would not allow this today. Do you think songs like “For What It’s Worth” would be promoted today? “Universal Soldier”? “Turn, Turn, Turn”?

It is easy to forget what a huge force Bob Dylan was in the early 60s. Starting with “Blowing in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin'”, anthems for our generation, Dylan composed songs of political and social import that propelled widespread protest against the inequities of the times. “My Back Pages”, composed in 1964, looks back at the strife of young manhood and moves away from it, as Dylan soon did. The definitive version of this song came in 1967 from The Byrds and, thanks to Roger McGuinn’s voice and electric 12-string guitar, it’s an arrangement that simply can’t be improved upon. I wanted to emphasize the song’s lofty qualities and chose a cathedral setting for my arrangement.

After spending a day outside in the sun last summer, Bob dreamed that night of our youth, the blue skies, the forest trails, the open fields, the freedom we embraced. When he awoke, he immediately wrote down his dream and we included it as the lyrics to the last verse of the song, what we refer to as the dream sequence.

Here’s our version of “My Back Pages.”

Bob Séguin: voice and additional lyrics

Richard Séguin: MIDI guitar (B3 organ)

My Back Pages

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The Séguin brothers – Friend of the Devil

Les frères Séguin

The Séguin brothers

The rock band The Grateful Dead came out of the whole California, Summer of Love, hippie culture that changed public awareness about most social standards in the late 1960s. “Friend of the Devil” was part of The Dead’s 1970 album, “American Beauty”, which expanded on the band’s folk and country roots first explored on the album “Workingman’s Dead”, also released in 1970. Jerry Garcia (1942-1995), the perceived leader of The Grateful Dead, wrote the song with John Dawson of the New Riders of the Purle Sage, a popular country-rock band.


Roch Tassé

Roch Tassé

The song has been covered by dozens of artists and has become a folk/bluegrass staple over the years. People who have followed my early recordings know that acoustic music is very near to my heart and I’ve always wanted to form an acoustic band with other musicians. Our collaboration with Roch Tassé, who played percussion with me in the 1970s, allows us to do just that. We plan to record a number of acoustic numbers in the future.


Bob Séguin – voice
Richard Séguin – acoustic guitar, mandolin, MIDI guitar (upright bass)
Roch Tassé – congas, egg shaker, buffalo drum

Friend of the Devil

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The Séguin brothers – Something Fine

Robert et Richard

Bob and Richard

“Something Fine” is taken from Jackson Browne’s first album, which came out in 1972. By this time, Browne had already established himself throughout the industry as a gifted songwriter and he was able to collaborate with some of the very best singers and musicians on the planet for his own recordings: singers like David Crosby, Graham Nash, Glen Frey, Don Henley, Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt; musicians like Jesse “Indian Ed” Davis, Albert Lee, Leland Sklar, Jim Keltner and especially David Lindley, whose inspired playing really defined Jackson Browne’s sound during his most successful years. Jackson Browne is now a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Jackson Browne is a fine singer but the best singers I everheard are Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, without a doubt. Still, they weren’t even close to being my favourite singers. The singers I was drawn to the most were all different – powerful singers like Muddy Waters and Big Maybelle, expressive singers like Graham Parker and LaVern Baker, soulful singers like Wilson Pickett and Etta James. One of my favourite vocals is Blind Willie Johnson’s “Black Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground” and he doesn’t even sing a word; he just moans and plays his slide guitar. A little anecdote about Blind Willie, when the two Voyager space probes were launched in 1977 they contained an audio-visual record of the human race and its cultures for the benefit of any extra-terrestrials that might intercept it. Included on the record was the music of Mozart, Beethoven and Bach, alongside Chuck Berry and Blind Willie Johnson. That’s saying something.


I got the notion to record my brother’s voice by listening to “American Recordings” (1994), by Johnny Cash (1932-2003). Producer Rick Rubin brilliantly decided to record Cash alone in his living room, singing and playing his guitar. By this time, Cash was past his prime – his voice was weak and he was never much of a guitar player and yet these recordings are so phenomenal they won Cash a Grammy award. Listening to Cash, I finally understood what it was that all my favourite singers had in common, that thing that I had never been able to put my finger on. Like Cash, all my favourite singers had real voices, human voices, with all the precious imperfections kept in. It was the sound of humanity.


Blind Willie Johnson and the sound of humanity:


My brother has always had a human voice. To me, you can’t improve upon that and you’d be a fool to try – which is the basis of my belief that the music industry is now run by fools. For our recordings, I wanted plain, even minimalistic arrangements of songs that would showcase Bob’s voice. “Something Fine” does that and also allows the two of us to just sing and play, plain and simple.


Bob Séguin: voice and harmonies
Richard Séguin: acoustic guitar, mandolin


Something Fine

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