Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”

Neil Young

Neil Young

Neil Young was born on November 12th 1945 in Toronto, Ontario. He started his musical career as a singer-songwriter in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the early1960s. During his career, Young has received several Grammy and Juno Awards and was inducted twice:in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1995 as a solo artist and in 1997 as a member of the band Buffalo Springfield. Young was awarded the Order of Manitoba in 2006 and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2009.

Since the beginning of his solo career, often with backing by the band Crazy Horse, his recordings have received widespread critical acclaim. While working the Canadian folk circuit, Young met Stephen Stills and Joni Mitchell, artists who were both instrumental in expanding Young’s career. He moved to Los Angeles in 1966, forming the folk-rock group Buffalo Springfield with Canadians Bruce Palmer and Dewy Martin, along with Americans Stephen Stills and Richie Furay. In 1969, he became a member of the hugely popular group Crosby, Stills Nash & Young.

Taylor XXXIn late 1992, Young released his album « Harvest Moon »  to massive critical acclaim. The music website Classic Rock Review named « Harvest Moon » its album of the year for 1992. The album also earned the 1994 Juno Award for album of the year. The album continued Young’s commercial and critical resurgence, eventually outselling his previous records.

The song “Harvest Moon” topped the AARP’s list of “16 Songs Everyone Over 50 Should Own.” The song is a tribute to Young’s wife Pegi.

Richard Séguin – voice, acoustic guitars, mandolin, MIDI programming (bass, organ)

To hear the song, click on the title below.

Harvest Moon

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Bob Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna”

Ma guitare Godin Seagull


In June 1966, Bob Dylan released one of his most popular albums, enigmatically called “Blonde on Blonde.” A double album, the recordings featured some of Nashville’s very best session musicians Many of the songs on this album have been recognized as some of Dylan’s finest and, in particular, “Visions of Johanna” has left its mark on our popular music culture.

Alrick Huebener


When Dylan originally wrote the song, it was under a working title of ‘Freeze Out’, which seems to support claims that it was written during or close to the East Coast blackout of November 1965, which affected parts of Ontario, Connecticut, Deleware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. Over 30 million people and 80,000 square miles were left without electricity for up to 13 hours.

Several critics have hailed “Johanna’s Visions” as one of Dylan’s greatest achievements and the media are full of evaluations from amateurs which, not surprisingly, go from the very top to the very bottom. Certainly, the evocative and subtle language of the piece leads to large-scale interpretations. Songs like this have contributed greatly to Dylan’s 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.



Listening to the song over the last 55 years, it hasn’t faded from my mind. It still fills me with the same sense of wonder as when I first heard it as a teenager. The words “The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of his face” or “The harmonicas play the skeleton keys in the rain” will haunt me forever.

As always, I must point out the help and exeptionel musical support of Alrick Huebener (double bass) and Roch Tassé (drums).

To hear the piece, click on the title below.

Richard Séguin – voice, acoustic ghuitars, electric 6-string guitars, electric 12-string guitars
Alrick Huebener – upright bass
Roch Tassé – drums

Visions of Johanna

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The summer of love

The Summer of Love was a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer of 1967, when as many as 100,000 mostly young people converged in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood. Referred to as “hippies”, these people were known for the widespread use of hallucinogenic drugs, an anti-war stance and a free-love policy. Although centered on the West Coast of the United States, the hippie culture spread as far away as New York City and, to a lesser extent, North America and Europe.

During this time, there was an emphasis on sharing and community and a number of free stores and free medical clinics were established. Musician Scott McKenzie recorded the song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” and it served to promote and popularize the “flower children” of San Francisco. Released in May of 1967, the song was an instant success. There followed a bevy of American rock groups with wild, psychedelic names like The Strawberry Alarm Clock, The 13th Floor Elevators, Vanilla Fudge and The Electric Prunes. The more serious bands were Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, The Doors and The Byrds.

The media’s coverage of the hippie culture drew the attention of people from different age groups and political affiliations and the sociological theory of a generation gap first came to light in the 1960s, when the younger generation seemed to go against everything their parents had previously believed in. Music, values, governmental and political views as well as cultural tastes were all conflicted. The generation gap also created a parallel gap in language throughout society, creating complications within day to day communications at home, in the workplace, and within schools. As new generations seek to define themselves as something apart from the old, they adopt new language and slang, allowing a generation to create a sense of division from the previous one. Combined with the different music and different sensibilities, the latter part of the 1960s saw a general upheaval throughout all levels of society.

Surrealistic Pillow

Surrealistic Pillow (1967)

I have chosen to feature the music of Jefferson Airplane, an American rock band based in San Francisco that became one of the pioneering bands of the era. Formed in 1965, the group defined the San Francisco Sound and was the first from the area to achieve international commercial success. They headlined the Monterey Pop Festival (1967), Woodstock (1969), the Altamont Free Concert (1969), and the first Isle of Wight Festival (1968) in England. Their 1967 breakout album “Surrealistic Pillow”, a perfect title for this era, was one of the most significant recordings of the Summer of Love. Two songs from that album, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit”, are among Rolling Stone Magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. “White Rabbit”, with its Alice in Wonderland imagery, is in my opinion the best song of the decade.

Jefferson Airplane consisted of Marty Balin (guitar and vocals), Paul Kantner (guitar, vocals), Grace Slick (vocals), Jorma Kaukonen (lead guitar, vocals), Jack Casady (bass), and Spencer Dryden (drums). The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

Richard Trahan et Carl Wilson

Richard Trahan and Carl Wilson

Earlier this year, I received a visit from two musicians, Carl Wilson from Québec and Richard Trahan from Germany, who, in the early 1980s, recorded an album of acoustic guitar duets taken from their favourirte composers, including two of my own compositions. The three of us have been friends ever since. During their visit, I played them my recording of “Coming Back To Me” and Carl played Jorma Kaukonen’s guitar instrumental “Embryonic Journey” on my electric 12-string guitar. Both pieces are from the “Surrealistic Pillow” album and both are featured below.

To hear the pieces, click on the title below.

Carl Wilson – electric 12-string guitar

Embryonic Journey

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

Coming Back To Me

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Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”

In September 1962, I started my last year of grade school. I didn’t know what to expect when I would start high school the following year – I was very much an isolated, innocent boy but I loved the quiet and comfortable life I had in my beloved home town. Then, the following month, the peace of the world was removed by faceless men from foreign countries, one a neighbour, the other halfway round the world. These men decided that they would be the ones to determine the fate of the world.

On 14 October 1962, an American spy plane took photographs of Soviet ballistic missiles being installed in Cuba. Equipped with nuclear warheads, the missiles could hit targets in the United States and Canada. US President John F. Kennedy rejected calls from his military advisers to launch air strikes against the missile sites. Instead, he mounted an immediate naval blockade of Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis lasted for 13 days and the world’s two atomic superpowers came closer than ever to nuclear war. The stand-off ended on 28 October with the help of UN diplomats, in particular Secretary General U Thant. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to dismantle and remove the Soviet missiles, in return for Kennedy’s promise not to invade Cuba. Although the crisis had been defused, the US military remained on heightened alert for three more weeks as it monitored the removal of the missiles. As part of the resolution, Kennedy also secretly promised to remove US intermediate-range Jupiter nuclear missiles from Turkey, an agreement which did not become public knowledge until the late 1980s.

In Canada, Prime Minister Diefenbaker had won the 1958 election with the biggest landslide in Canadian history but his hesitant response to the Cuban Missile Crisis led to the downfall of his regime. In the wake of the crisis, the US accused the Diefenbaker government of lying and avoiding its military duties. The Minister of National Defense Douglas Harkness resigned in February 1963 to protest Diefenbaker’s opposition to stationing American nuclear warheads in Canada. The resignation precipitated a split in the Conservative government and Diefenbaker lost to Lester B. Pearson’s Liberal Party in the 1963 election.

For a 12-year old kid, this was a very, very rude awakening. I was outraged that people completely insignificant to my life could yet decide its fate. I developed a profound hatred for the politics of belligerant nations. To this day, I hope that all belligerant people meet the death they inflict upon others. Every time I hear news of deadly conflicts in the world, I rejoice in the knowledge that belligerent people, on both sides of any conflict, are reducing their numbers in the gene pool.

An early Bob Dylan with singer Joan Baez

In 1962, I was certainly not the only person who carried hatred and indignation in his heart for war and belligerence. That year, Dylan released “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” an album that included the song “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and other “protest songs” partly inspired by Woodie Guthrie (1912-1967) and influenced by Pete Seeger (1919-2014). Dylan’s song is modeled on “Lord Randall”, introducing each verse with variations of the introductory lines to this 17th century Anglo-Scottish border ballad. The song is often interpreted as a reaction to the Cuban missile crisis, but Dylan himself denounced this excessive simplification since he had performed it publicly a month before the crisis.

Richard and Roch

Dylan’s earlier songs all came from a time when the folk revival which was taking New York City by storm was also spreading throughout North America and the world. This phenomenon preceded all the technological advancements in our lives. Invariably, Dylan’s songs were recorded alone, with just his voice, his guitar and his harmonica. Our arrangement is slower and more modern and, in the spirit of brevity, does not include all the lyrics of the original recording.

Richard Séguin – voice, acoustic 6 and 12-string guitars, electric guitars, MIDI programming (organ)
Roch Tassé – floor tom

To hear the song, click on the title below.

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

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The musical culture in Rockland, 1950-1975 / “Long Black Veil”

50e anniversaire de mariage de mes grand-parents, Joseph Séguin et Rose Délima Blanchette, 1955. De G à D, Jean-Guy Séguin, Marielle Séguin, Gabriel Séguin, ma cousine Gisèle Labrèche et mon cousin Réjean Labrèche

50th wedding anniversary of my grand-parents, Joseph Séguin and Rose Délima Blanchette, 1955. From L to R., Jean-Guy Séguin, Marielle Séguin, Gabriel Séguin, my cousin Gisèle Labrèche and my cousin Réjean Labrèche

As far back as I can remember, my hometown of Rockland has been filled with amateur musicians, in the sense that no one paid them to make music. They played because they loved to play. However, they were talented. I’ve always thought that music played simply out of love is as pure as this art form can be.

The Happy Valley Boys à l'hôtel Windsor. De G à D, Gerry Sharp, Paul Labelle, Gabriel Séguin

The Happy Valley Boys at the Windsor Hotel. From L to R, Gerry Sharp, Paul Labelle, Gabriel Séguin

When I was a boy, there was always music in our home. My brother Gabriel formed a band called The Happy Valley Boys, with his friends Paul Labelle and Gerry Sharp. They often played at the Windsor Hotel on the corner of Metcalfe and Queen in Ottawa, and even played as far as Maniwaki. My extended family followed them everywhere. Paul and Gerry were always with us when Gabriel was alive, brothers those three. They ate under our roof, slept under our roof and my parents loved them as their own.

One of our famous local musicians is Gaëtan “Pete” Danis, an excellent guitarist who played for decades behind Bob and Marie King, a very popular duo, especially in Quebec and eastern Ontario. The group was completed by Hughie Desmond on electric bass and Gilles St-Laurent on drums. Gilles also played with The Happy Valley Boys on occasion.

Michel Rondeau of Rockland is a trumpeter and graduate of the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec, who composed more than 200 works including 35 symphonies, and transcribed and arranged more than 900 choral and organ works, as well as pieces for various combinations of instruments and voices. When I was a young man, I often went to Michel’s home with my guitar to accompany him while he played popular trumpet pieces of the time. He was particularly fond of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and Henry Mancini.

La fanfare de Rockland

The Rockland Marching Band

Michel Rondeau, like many boys and men from Rockland, also went through the Rockland Marching Band. My brother Bob and I were there for a few years. A friend of Bob’s and a member of the Marching Band, Jacques Drury, came over to practice his saxophone while my brother played his guitar.

The Lalonde family of Rockland formed an orchestra composed of Pat Pilon, singer and guitarist, Aurèle Lalonde, proclaimed the best fiddler in Eastern Canada, his brother «Tit-Bus» on bass, Gaston Leroux on drums and an excellent steel guitar player from Bourget whose name is lost in history.

In Rockland, there was always someone to help a young person learn music. Roch Tassé, an excellent drummer and friend of mine who has often collaborated with me to produce the pieces presented on this site, was often visited by his uncle Ubald Pilon, a fiddler, accompanied by his musician friends. Pat Pilon was there as well as Gaston Leroux, who taught Roch the drums. His uncle Ubald taught him the basics of the guitar. The Rockland Pilon family also formed an orchestra led by Fernand Pilon, who had a heating oil delivery business in town. His younger brother Denis Pilon played drums.

A band called «The Royals» had been formed to be the orchestra in residence of the King George Hotel in Rockland, but they also played in Thurso, Que. The members were André “Gus” Gosselin, an excellent drummer and singer, Denis Tessier, a superb guitarist who influenced me a lot in my early days, Jean-Pierre Ménard, guitar and Michel Chrétien, another former student of the Rockland Marching Band on the saxophone.

Gerry Sharp au sous-sol chez nous, circa 1957.

Gerry Sharp in our basement, circa 1957.

The Sharp family was also very active in music. Gerry, who played with my brother Gabriel, became a classical guitar teacher and worked for a long time at Gervais Electronics in Ottawa. His brother Arthur played guitar and sang, often accompanied by my great friend Gilles “Blaze” Dessaint (1946-2019). When they played in person, Richard Rochon was their drummer.

The SynComs. From L to R, Côme Boucher, Richard Houle, Robert Aquin, Bob Séguin and Tom Butterworth

The SynComs. From L to R, Côme Boucher, Richard Houle, Robert Aquin, Bob Séguin and Tom Butterworth

In 1963, my brother Bob formed a high school band with Côme Boucher, Richard Houle, Robert “Bob” Aquin and Tom Butterworth. It was the birth of the communications era and the American Syncom progtram, founded by NASA in 1963, launched Syncom 2, the first geosynchronous communications sattelite, meaning that its orbit matched that of the earth, one revolution each day. Suddenly, the world got a whole lot smaller. Not surprisingly, the band took on the name of The Syncoms.

Tom et Richard à La chandelle. Assis dans les coulisses, Roch Tassé

Tom and Richard at La chandelle. Sitting in the wings, Roch Tassé

I joined my brother’s band in 1965. Bob loved the British band Gerry and The Pacemakers and called his band Robbie and The Trendsetters, then The Trendsetters and finally, just The Trend. The band was completed by Tom Butterworth on guitar and Denis Sabourin, a drummer from Hammond. Tom and I then played with André «Gus» Gosselin and we also played as a duo at La chandelle, a meeting place for young people in the basement of the Rockland Church. Roch Tassé directed many of the activities at La chandelle.

In 1966, a song called «Elusive Butterfly» was a big hit for singer Bob Lind and a Rockland band was formed with the name The Elusive Butterflies, formerly called The Rubies. The musicians included Don Boudria, voice and guitar, Denis Bergeron, guitar, André Parisien and Pierre Castonguay, electric bass and Pierre Lemay on drums. In 1984, Don Boudria was elected as the Liberal representative for the riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell in Ontario. He held various positions in Jean Chrétien’s cabinet when he took office in 1993, including House Leader and Minister of Public Works.

Richard et Alcide Dupuis

Richard and Alcide Dupuis

I had the chance to play many times with Alcide Dupuis, a Rockland fiddler. An uncle of Alcide’s had taught him the fiddle but little else! Alcide knew neither note nor key and kept a varied and very sophisticated repertoire of tunes in his head. The problem was retrieving a tune from his memory! He began by scratching out a few notes on the the strings with his bow, looking for an uncertain melody. Alcide was also a tremendous stepper and his feet would try to find the rhythm that went with the melody. He gradually got closer to his goal, found it, and took off like a 747, all elbows, bow and feet! It was one of the most spectacular transformations I’ve ever witnessed in my life. As you can see from the photo, we had a whole lot of fun.

I was working at the time and was able to buy an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar (both Gibsons) and a Fender banjo. Tom Butterworth bought his first steel guitar and these instruments allowed us to diversify into the different genres we liked. Finally, Richard Houle (electric bass) and Pierre Lemay (drums) joined Tom and I to form a band that never had a name. In 1971, my brother Bob bought a Sony tape recorder, the height of recording technology at the time. My brother recorded us playing first in the basement of our home and, in 1972, in the basement of Pierre Lemay’s home. Nothing became of the tapes and they were stored in various places and forgotten for over 30 years.

Au sous-sol du centre culturel La Ste Famille de Rockland. De G à D, Manu, Richard Séguin, Alain Gratton, Jean-Pierre Béland

In the basement of La Ste Famille, Rockland’s cultural center. From L to R, Manu, Richard Séguin, Alain Gratton, Jean-Pierre Béland

Tom later formed a band called Beach, which also included Pierre Chénier (1953-2021) on guitar, Richard Houle on electric bass and his cousin John Houle on drums. Meanwhile, I started writing songs for guitar and banjo. My friend Jean-Pierre Béland, an expert in audiovisual productions, asked me to compose the soundtrack for a slideshow he was putting together. Jean-Pierre recorded me in the vestry of the Rockland Church where the natural reverberations are striking. The results were very well received and, in 1975, Jean-Pierre drove Roch and I to a small studio in Montreal called Bobinason to make our first commercial recordings.

Around 2008, Richard Houle phoned me to tell me that he had found the 1972 tapes in a box in his basement. Richard came to visit me and gave me the tapes, which I then gave to my brother Bob. Bob still had this old Sony tape recorder and it was still working! Thanks to his digital equipment of the time, he was able to transfer our original recordings from the tapes to digital audio media. The tapes, then over 40 years old, had deteriorated and the original recordings were affected, but some were better than others. One of the best is our interpretation of “Long Black Veil”. How Bob managed to record four instruments and four voices with only two microphones I’ll never know.

“Long Black Veil” was composed by Danny Dill (1924-2008) and Marijohn Wilkin (1920-2006), two professional songwriters, and was first recorded by William Orville “Lefty” Frizzell (1928-1975) in 1959. Frizell is known as one of the most influential country stylists of all time. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1982.

“Long Black Veil” has become a standard and has been covered by a variety of artists in the country, folk and rock styles, including Johnny Cash and The Band.

This recording, lost and found, is dedicated to the memory of Richard Houle (1947-2013).

Richard Séguin – voice, acoustic guitar
Tom Butterworth – voice, electric guitar
Richard Houle – voice, electric bass
Pierre Lemay – drums
Bob Séguin – voice, analog recording, digital transfer

To hear the song, click on the title below.

Long Black Veil 1972

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Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry”



When I was a boy, everyone in Rockland heard freight trains at night, travelling on the far side of the Ottawa River. The trains followed the Thurso, Mason-Angers, Gatineau line, the far-away mournful cries of their whistles reverberating in the dark. There is no other sound like it.

When I started playing music at the age of 13, everyone had a train song. Johnny Cash had several, like “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Hey Porter.” Train songs ranged from the deep dark chugging of Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train”, the mournful lament of “Waiting For A Train” by Jimmie Rodgers, the irresistible funk of James Brown’s “Night Train”, to the lilting happy melodies of Elizabeth Cotton’s “Freight Train.”

South Indian 1907

South Indian 1907

In the early 20th century, the lines of the Grand Trunk Railway crossed eastern Ontario between Ottawa and Montreal. South Indian was one of the stations and its location is now the village of Limoges. There was also a station in North Indian, which became the village of Hammond, not far from Rockland.

My personal all-time favourite train song is “Click Clack” by Don Van Vliet (1941-2010), Captain Beefheart himself, the man with a beef in his heart against this society. “Click Clack” is all motion, trains coming and going, and a girl “threatening to go down to N’Orleans, get herself lost and found.”

The most impressive train song I’ve ever witnessed is “The Rail Song” by Adrian Belew (b. 1949), a beautifully nostalgic song about his life-long love of trains released in 1983 on the album “Twang Bar King.” Adrian Belew worked with some of the biggest names in the business, including Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Talking Heads and King Crimson. Belew’s guitar sounds like everything in the world, including a guitar. He is a master of instrument design and multimedia, collaborating with the Parker Guitars company to help design his Parker Fly signature guitar. No one has a repertoire of astounding guitar sounds like Adrian Belew.



I saw Belew with his band, The Bears, in the late 1980s in a small club in Hull, Qc. At the end of one of their songs, the whole club went pitch black, like there was a power outage, all except for a tiny speck of light coming from the stage. Then, a distant feint rustling could be heard. Slowly, the speck of light grew closer and the rustling gradually became louder, train wheels on distant tracks. A far off whistle could be heard as the club began to shake from the oncoming train, the rustling now deafening, lights flashing on and off as the train leapt a crossing and swept through the club, the patrons ducking for cover under tables as the whole place shook and rattled. Seamlessly, the house lights went on and Belew and The Bears launched into “The Rail Song.” It was the kind of intro you never forget.

“It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” was written by Bob Dylan in 1965, for the album “Highway 61 Revisited” and it has always been one of my favourite songs. It has also been interpreted by Steven Stills, Leon Russell, Taj Mahal and Lucinda Williams, among others.

Richard Séguin – voice, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric bass
Roch Tassé – drums

To hear the song, click on the title below.

It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry

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Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody”

I grew up in a houseful of nine people spanning three generations. I was always surrounded by love, from my grand-father, my father and mother and from my brothers and sisters. My brother Bob was closest in age and he was, and still is, a great older brother. My older sister Marielle, 10 years my senior, was my baby-sitter and surrogate mother when my mother’s time was entirely devoted to looking after the daily needs of nine people.



And then there was my brother Gabriel, 14 years my senior. You would have thought that a young man would have other things on his mind than the small world of a child but Gabriel was never what you would have expected. Sure, he had girlfriends, worked as a civil servant, water skied and played his piano with his small combo but he always found time to be attentive, which was his nature, and not just with me but with everyone. When he saw that I was captivated by the incomprehensible beauty of music at the age of five, he took me aside, showed me how to take care of his record collection and taught me how to work our gramophone. Gabriel allowed me to play his records any time I wanted, just like a grown-up. And he opened the door to my life-long love affair with music, the greatest gift I have ever received, after his love.

Eddie Cochran

Eddie Cochran

My brother’s record collection was second to none. Every artist who shaped the first wave of rock n’ roll in the 50s was there – Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ivory Joe Hunter, The Everley Brothers, Buddy Holly, The Coasters. When I was 8, a new artist came into the collection – Eddie Cochran. My brother bought three of his biggest successes, “Summertime Blues”, “C’mon Everybody” and “Somethin’ Else.” Cochran was a young, good-looking, strutting rock-and-roller who always played a magnificent Gretsch 6120 electric guitar with a Bigsby tailpiece. I’ve chosen to feature Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody”, played very close to the original 1958 recording.

Like Chuck Berry, Cochran sang songs of teenage frustration and rebellion which are still admired to this day. Cochran’s rise to fame was nothing short of meteoric. He learned music at an early age and released his first recordings at the age of 17. The same year, he was featured in the Hollywood film “The Girl Can’t Help It”, performing another one of his hit songs, “Twenty Flight Rock.”



In early 1959, two of Cochran’s friends, Buddy Holly and Richie Valens, along with the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson), were killed in a plane crash while on tour. Cochran was badly shaken by their deaths, and he developed a morbid premonition that he would also die young. Shortly after their deaths, he recorded the song “Three Stars” as a tribute to them. He was anxious to give up life on the road and spend his time in the studio making music, thereby reducing the chance of suffering a similar fatal accident while touring. Financial responsibilities, however, required that he continue to perform live, and that led to a tour of the United Kingdom in 1960. Cochran was on tour in England when he and fellow performing artist Gene Vincent were traveling in a taxi towards London. In addition to Cochran and Vincent, the other passengers in the vehicle were Sharon Sheeley, a 20-year-old songwriter who was also Cochran’s fiancée at the time, Patrick Tompkins (the tour manager, 29 years old), and George Martin (the 19-year-old taxi driver). Towards midight, Martin lost control of the vehicle, which crashed into a concrete lamppost. At the moment of impact, Cochran (who was seated in the center of the back seat) threw himself over Sheeley to shield her. The force of the collision caused the left rear passenger door to open and Cochran was ejected from the vehicle, sustaining a massive blunt force trauma to the skull. The road was dry and the weather was good, but the vehicle was later determined to be traveling at an excessive speed. The occupants of the vehicle were all taken to Chippenham Community Hospital and later transferred to St Martin’s Hospital in Bath. Cochran never regained consciousness and died at 4:10 p.m. the following day – Easter Sunday. He was 21 years old. Sheeley suffered injuries to her back and thigh, Vincent suffered a fractured collarbone and severe injuries to his legs, and Tompkins sustained facial injuries and a fracture of the base of the skull. Martin did not sustain significant injuries.



In between the tragedies that befell Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran, my family sustained one of its own when my brother Gabriel accidentally drowned on the 28th of June 1959, at the age of 23. They called Buddy Holly’s death the day the music died but, for me, the music died with my brother. However, what my brother gave me has never died and, four years after his death, I picked up my first guitar.

Photo of Eddie Cochran (public domain), Eddie Cochran – Singer Facebook page

Richard Séguin – voice, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, electric bass, percussion
Roch Tassé and Linda Challes – percussion

To hear the song, click on the title below

C’mon Everybody

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Carl Wilson plays “Du monde en ville”

Carl avec Elliott et Noémie

Carl with Elliott and Noémie

About 20 years ago, I received an unexpected package in the mail. It was a CD by two guitarists from Québec, Carl Wilson and Richard Trahan, who played duos of songs by their favourite composers. Included on the CD were two of my own compositions, taken from my first recordings in the late 1970s. It seems that both Carl and Richard T. had sharpened their skills by listening to the duos that I had recorded at that time with my friend Marc Beneteau.

Richard Trahan

Richard Trahan

As you can imagine, this was a tremendous honor for me. Carl visited me in Vanier later on and we have been friends ever since. Carl lives in Terrebonne, Qc, with his son Elliott and his daughter Noémie. Richard T. met Birgit, a German girl, out in western Canada and followed her back to Germany! They are married and have four daughters, Ulrike, Julia, Nathalie and Isabelle. Both Carl and Richard T. are still very active in music, as are all of Richard T.’s children, especially Isabelle, who composes and plays her own music, published on YouTube videos.

Carl et Richard 2006

Carl and Richard 2006

A few days ago, Carl again rewarded me with a new video interpretation of my composition “Du monde en ville” (People in the Streets), a 1978 recording on which I was accompanied by my good friend Roch Tassé on congas. Roch is still a regular contributor on this site. The title for this piece commes from those Friday evenings in my home town of Rockland, when people from all the small neighbouring villages of Prescott-Russell counties would come into town to do their shopping, or see a movie at the Cartier Theatre, or have a good meal at the Castel Restaurant. A wonderful time in my life that still lives in this piece.

It is very comforting for me to hear both Carl and Richard T. play the music that inspires them. We are always in contact through Facebook and I’m always happy to witness the musical undertakings of these two fine guitarists. Here is Carl’s video interpretation of “Du monde en ville.” To hear the piece, click on the title below.

Du monde en ville

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Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Universal Soldier”

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie, CC (born Beverly Sainte-Marie February 20, 1941) is an Indigenous Canadian-American (Piapot Cree Nation) singer-songwriter, musician, educator, and social activist. While working in these areas, her work has focused mainly on issues facing the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.

In 1983, she became the first Indigenous American person to win an Oscar when her song “Up Where We Belong”, co-written with Jack Nitzsche and Will Jennings for the film “An Officer and a Gentleman”, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 55th Academy Awards. The song also won the Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards for Best Original Song that same year.

In 1997, she founded the Cradle Board Teaching Project, an educational curriculum devoted to better understanding Native Americans. She was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1995, named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1997 and presented with Honorary Doctorate degrees from many Canadian universities.

When she was two or three she was taken from her parents as part of the “Sixties Scoop” – a Canadian government policy where Indigenous children were taken from their families, communities and cultures for placement in foster homes, from which they would be adopted by white families. This practice was an extension of the Residential School System where Aboriginal children were taken into the child welfare system, in most cases without the consent of their families or bands. It was the general belief of government authorities at the time that Aboriginal children could receive a better education if they were transitioned into the public school system. Residential schools, however, persisted as a sort of boarding school for children whose families were deemed unsuitable to care for their own. This system, set up by the Canadian government and administered by various churches, had the nominal objective of educating Indigenous children but also the more damaging and equally explicit objectives of indoctrinating them into Euro-Canadian and Christian ways of living and assimilating them into mainstream white Canadian society. The system forbade them from acknowledging their Indigenous heritage and culture or to speak their own languages. Children were severely punished if these rules were broken. Former students of residential schools have spoken of the horrendous physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse suffered at the hands of residential school staff.



“Universal Soldier” was written and recorded in 1964, when the very existence of a war in Vietnam was being denied by the American government. There is strong evidence that the White House, the FBI and certain radio stations coerced to blacklist “Universal Soldier” and Buffy Sainte-Marie, but a young British folk artist named Donovan (Leitch, b. 1946) recorded the song and it became, against all odds, a world-wide hit. Not only did the song meet with contempt by all belligerent factions but Donovan’s recording only featured him singing and playing an acoustic guitar, at a time when rock ‘n roll and pop radio was getting tougher and more electric.

Buffy Sante-Marie recalls a San Francisco layover while traveling from Mexico to Toronto where a group of medics came into the airport in the middle of the night, wheeling in wounded soldiers. She asked one of the medics if there really was a war in Vietnam, in spite of all the political denials in the U.S. The medics assured her that there was indeed a huge war going on. Sainte-Marie started writing “Universal Soldier” in the airport and on the plane, and finished it in the basement of the Purple Onion coffee house in Toronto.

Buffy Sainte-Marie’s lyrics about Hitler mention Dachau, the first concentration camp built by Nazi Germany in 1933 responsible for 32,000 official deaths at the camp, and thousands of others that are undocumented. In his recording, Donovan substitutes this reference for Liebau, a training centre where the Hitler Youth were indoctrinated into the Nazi culture.

Richard au Festival de l'ail des bois, ca 1975

Richard at the Wild Garlic Festival, ca 1975

For those who were not there in the 1960s, it is difficult to imagine the hard-fought antagonism on both sides of the Vietnam war that disfigured and stained all aspects of our society. The musical protests were many, from Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” to Edwin Starr’s magnificent “War” (What Is It Good For). John Lennon and Yoko Ono were very vocal in their opposition to the war. During their 1969 Bed-In protest at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Lennon wrote and recorded the song “Give Peace a Chance.” Released as a single, it quickly became an anti-war anthem sung by a quarter of a million demonstrators against the Vietnam War in Washington, DC, on 15 November, 1969, the second Vietnam Moratorium Day. Later in December, Lennon and Ono paid for billboards in 10 major cities around the world which declared, in the national language, “War Is Over! If You Want It”.

In this traditional time of peace, the Geneva Academy lists more than 100 armed conflicts currently being waged in around three dozen countries, most of them in the Middle East, North West Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Merry Christmas to all my listeners.

All photos are in the Public Domain.

To listen to the recording, click on the song title below.

Richard Séguin – voice and acoustic guitar

Universal Soldier

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Jelly Roll Morton’s “Winin’ Boy Blues”

Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941) was born Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe into the Creole community of New Orleans. “Creole” designates a person of mixed French or Spanish and Black descents originating from the early French or Spanish settlers of the U.S. Gulf states and preserving their speech and culture. His father left when he was three and when his mother married William Mouton in 1894, he took his stepfather’s surname, anglicizing it to Morton.

Morton learned to play the piano at an early age and was already performing in the brothels of the Storyville district of New Orleans at the age of 14, where he acquired the name “Jelly Roll”, a euphemism for a lady’s private parts. The song “Winin’ Boy Blues” dates back to this early era. At that time, jazz was also being formed by musicians such as Buddy Bolden (1877-1931), Kid Ory (1886-1973), King Oliver (1881-1938) and Sidney Bechet(1897-1959). Although Jelly Roll Morton famously claimed to have invented jazz, all agree that he was a very predominant pioneer of the genre.

Richard with his Eastman mandolin

Richard with his Eastman mandolin

When Morton’s grandmother learned that he was playing the “devil’s music” in brothels, she disowned him for disgracing the LaMothe name. Morton started touring in the US South, working in minstrel shows and composing a great deal of his repertoire. In 1926, Morton signed with the Victor Talking Machine Company, recording until 1931, when his recording contract was not renewed due to the Great Depression. He briefly had a radio show in 1934, then toured in a burlesque band. In 1938, Alan Lomax (1915-2002), an American ethnomusicologist best known for his numerous field recordings of folk music, invited Morton to record for the Library of Congress. Because of the suggestive nature of these recordings, some of them were not released until 2005. They were issued as 8 CDs and two booklets, a collection which won two Grammy Awards in 2006 as well as awards for Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes.

Octave Amos (fiddle) and Stavin' Chain

Octave Amos (fiddle) and Stavin’ Chain (Wilson Jones)

The sessions expanded to over eight hours, with Morton talking and playing piano all along. Lomax was interested in Morton’s days in Storyville and the ribald songs of the time. A long and bawdy version of “Winin’ Boy Blues” was recorded by Lomax but, thankfully, some more decorous versions were also recorded afterwards. The song makes mention of stavin’ chains, an expression open to much interpretation. In a Lil Johnson (places of birth and death unknown) 1937 recording of her song “Stavin’ Chain,” he was the chief engineer on a train who possessed great strength and stamina. The term “staving chain” may come from the chains used by barrel manufacturers to hold barrel staves together until an iron band can be fitted around the end of the barrel. Another theory is that staving chain was the name for the chain used to chain prisoners together by their ankles in a chain gang. Jelly Roll Morton believed that Stavin’ Chain was the name of a pimp in New Orleans while Stavin’ Chain, also known as Wilson Jones, was an American blues musician that Lomax himself photographed and recorded in 1934.

Shortly after the Library of Congress recordings, Morton was stabbed in a fight with a friend and suffered wounds to the head and chest. A nearby whites-only hospital refused to treat him, as the city had racially segregated facilities at that time. He was transported to a black hospital where doctors left ice on his wounds for several hours before attending to the injury. His recovery from his wounds was incomplete, and thereafter he was often ill and easily became short of breath. He continued to suffer from respiratory problems when he traveled to Los Angeles with the intent of restarting his career. He died on July 10, 1941, after an eleven-day stay in the Los Angeles County Hospital.



I think of my brother Gabriel (1936-1959) most every day but especially when I hear the sound of a piano from a distant past, like that of Jelly Roll Morton. At a time when everyone treated me like the child I was, Gabriel insisted on treating me like a person and took the time to teach me, despite our fourteen-year difference in age, the wonderful grown-up world of music. I wouldn’t be playing if not for him.

The pictures of Morton and Jones/Amos are in the Public domain.

To hear the recording, click on the song title below.

Richard Séguin – voice, acoustic guitar, mandolin

Winin’ Boy Blues

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