Archive for June, 2022

Bob Dylan’s “Gates of Eden”



The 1960s was a very different time where popular musicians didn’t dance. They didn’t have to dress up in outlandish clothes and they didn’t perform in gigantic arenas backed by light shows and multimedia presentations. They stood or sat, played their instruments and sang into a microphone. And almost all of them had something to say.

I remember when news of a singer named Bob Dylan reached Canada. I was 13 years old. The word everywhere was that he sang about socially important things that people of my generation valued : peace, civil rights and everyone’s belief that young people were really changing the world. Then, in 1965, when nobody really expected it, things really did change.



Previously, Dylan’s songs had been laid out in front of you – nothing was hidden, nothing was obscure. But a change started to cast its shadow on us with Dylan’s 1965 album “Bringing It All Back Home”, which featured some very different and disturbing songs. The lyrics began to be more surreal and non-linear. When I heard “Gates of Eden”, featured on the album, it made me wonder where this very new direction in music was leading us. I was a smart 15-year-old but I didn’t understand the song’s juxtaposition of plain English words that flowed into a foreign landscape of four-legged forest clouds, lampposts with folded arms and iron claws, wailing babies, ships with tattooed sails, black Madonna bikers and gray flannel dwarfs, all of this on display outside the gates of Eden, where no sound ever escaped, a place where there were no kings, no sins, no trials. Coming on the heels of Dylan’s previous songs, something as obscure as “Gates of Eden” simply did not fit.

Nobody expected Dylan to release 34 songs, excluding 14 outtakes and singles like “Positively 4th Street”, on three separate albums (“Bringing It All Back Home”, “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde On Blonde”, a double album), in a little more than a single year, This unequaled artistic output formed the heart of Dylan’s extraordinary impact on contemporary culture and created a path leading directly to his Nobel prize in Literature, awarded in 2016.


It should be noted that some of these songs were over 10 minutes long, which was controversial at that time. Songs over 3 minutes did not fit into any radio station’s commercial platform. To circumvent this, some disc jockeys created what became known as “underground radio”, where long and more controversial songs were played, often during the early morning hours. In Ottawa, the contribution of Brian Murphy, who developed a weekend overnight radio show called Free Form Radio on Ottawa’s CKBY-FM station, needs to be underlined and appreciated.

I’ve often wondered where Dylan’s exploding consciousness might have led him, had it not been for a motorcycle accident that left him with a broken vertebra and a concussion, on July 29, 1966. He was never the same afterwards and many say that the accident prevented him from pursuing his previously reckless and potentially destructive lifestyle. Certainly, Dylan’s later songs, many of them superb in their own right, never matched anything on those three mid-sixties albums. I intend to revisit this exquisite era in future posts.

My arrangement of “Gates of Eden” features our trio, with Roch Tassé on drums and Alrick Huebener on bass. We play “Gates of Eden” in honour of three of the most outstanding musicians of our time in Pat Metheny (guitar, b. 1954), Jaco Pastorius (bass, 1951-1987) and Peter Erskine (drums, b. 1954).

Richard Séguin – voice, acoustic 12-string guitar
Alrick Huebener – electric bass
Roch Tassé – drums

Gates of Eden

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“Sitting on a Fence” by The Rolling Stones

Richard et sa mandoline Eastman

Richard and his Eastman mandolin

When The Rolling Stones came to North America in 1964, they brought with them American blues and R&B, with some stinging original compositions, everything as raw and electric as could be. As the decade progressed, many rock bands, both American and British, began to temper their electric repertoire with more acoustic songs, likely another Dylan influence.

“Sitting on a Fence” was recorded in late 1965, in LA, during the sessions for the album “Aftermath,” but did not make it onto the pressings of either the UK or US editions of that album. The song made it to North America on the catch-all album “Flowers” in the summer of 1967, the much publicized “Summer of Love” which introduced the “hippies” social phenomenon to the world. The song was a departure for The Stones, featuring a more bluegrass flavoured instrumentation.

I remember hearing the lyrics to the song and thinking that, as a child, I had been the direct opposite of Jagger’s persona singing the song. My older sister sometimes brought me a small trinket back from a date in Ottawa with her future husband, a small red, white and blue rubber ball or a stuffed animal. This was like heaven to me, the kids in our big family not used to being pampered. I was also raised Catholic so, contrary to the song lyrics, I was very easy to please and I definitely knew wrong from right.

By the time I was 18, things had changed. I had no idea what I would do with my life and could not see myself as an adult, living on my own, getting married, raising a family. Dreams that I had fostered had dissipated with the many setbacks in my life – the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, as Shakespeare so brilliantly put it. I found myself sitting on a fence. I could not commit to anything, I was angry and disappointed and simply resigned myself to going wherever my life would take me. I made no decisions for the next decade. So, this song that was so unlike me as a child, ended up fitting me like a glove as a young adult.

I dedicate this song to all of the men, women and children in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, many of whom have been hard hit by our recent devastating storm. From what I have seen in my visits, I especially sympathize with the municipalities of Hammond and Bourget, where the devastation is very harsh indeed.

Richard Séguin – voice, acoustic guitars, mandolin, electric bass

Sitting on a Fence

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