GOLDMINE: Congratulations on your new album Book of Soul. I got a Billboard “book of soul” for Father’s Day, and learned that Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the soul chart versus just one week at No. 1 on the pop chart. Let’s start with the flip side of that gold single.
QUINN DEVEAUX: Okay. When I listened to the flip side, “Tomorrow’s Dream,” I said to my lady, ‘I wish I sounded that good’ ha ha. That is a great record and I love the second half of the verse, with chord changes which are soothing and flow to the next section. The subject matter of tomorrow’s dream borders love and worship. Al is so good at that.
Flip side: Tomorrow’s Dream
A side: Let’s Stay Together
Top 100 debut: December 4, 1971
Peak position: 1
GM: My wife Donna’s favorite Al Green song is the A side, “Let’s Stay Together.” I hear a bit of that and his prior gold single “Tired of Being Alone” when I listen to your new song “Come on Home,” with your Al Green-like smoothness.
QD: My mom would always say “come on home,” which was comforting that no matter what happens, that you can come on home. I am not sure what it includes but it worked for me as a comforting thought that I could always come on home if I wanted or needed to. So far I haven’t had to do that but it is good to have somewhere to go. Some people don’t have that and it is great to me to have someone in my corner that way. It is an emotional song for me and felt good to write it.
GM: “Take Me to Glory” is a pretty song in 3/4 time with a gospel feel.
QD: We went to church all of the time with both of my grandmothers, mostly my dad’s mom, sometimes two or three times a week. That song really reminds me of her and she was sort of the matriarch of the whole family. She imparted a lot of biblical perspective. I think that gospel will always be a part of what I do based on the music that I grew up with and that environment. She made sure all those messages came through to me as a kid.
GM: Speaking about church, please tell us about the wedding inspired “Good Times Roll.”
QD: I met with a couple who were just adorable. I just wanted to squeeze their cheeks. We talked for a while about the music that they wanted at their reception. At weddings we play about half my songs and half other songs by Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, The Isley Brothers and all that stuff from the 1950s and 1960s. They wanted no pomp and circumstance. For their first dance they wanted to get down and jam. I was inspired. I left that meeting, went home and wrote “Good Times Roll.” It is about love in a pure form, which is so inspirational.
GM: You mentioned Sam Cooke. Your “Walk and Talk” reminds me of his music.
QD: Yeah, totally. I am in love with his 1963 Night Beat album and listened to it from front to back, over and over again. I do that in my car too, listening to the same album for a long, long time. “Walk and Talk” is a song that has been with me for a while. When I wrote it I don’t think that I was aware of how Sam Cooke-like it was. It is one of those songs you can sing when you are walking home.
GM: I was thrilled when my fellow Goldmine writer, Mike Greenblatt, included Book of Soul in his recent Filled with Sound album review series. I enjoyed seeing your Facebook post, highlighting the content of the article, including Mike’s phrase about the record, “part New Orleans, part Nashville, part Memphis and all-American.” In addition to “Good Times Roll,” another song on your album with a New Orleans piano sound is “Take Me Home.”
QD: That was a swell review. “Take Me Home” is probably my personal favorite song on the record. I have always been a fan of the New Orleans sound with Dr. John, The Neville Brothers, and others there. I recorded the album in Nashville. When I got there, it was a new town to me. I had a few friends there, but when I went into the session, I didn’t know anyone there. They all knew each other and I initially felt like I was an outsider. I wrote “Take Me Home” about getting back to Oakland and out of this strange land that I was in. Yet, I ended up moving to Nashville.
GM: Talking about favorite songs on the album, I am torn between the first two songs. Let’s start with the second song, “All I Need.” The harmonies in the background female vocals are incredibly powerful and fun.
QD: Yes. Alexis Saski, Ahsati Nu and Laura Mayo just nailed it! I wish that I could take them on tour.
GM: Are they also on “Been Too Long,” the opening number?
QD: Yes they are and the whole record.
GM: In addition to their background vocals and the keyboards, I also like the repeating lyrical phrase, “Say you’re tragically hip.”
QD: I was implying about getting older. I think I heard that phrase somewhere.
GM: There is a Canadian band called The Tragically Hip and is the favorite band of my Canadian friend Stewart. One of their hit songs in Canada is “New Orleans is Sinking,” which is more of an electric guitar driven rock song versus the true New Orleans style that you capture on the songs we have discussed from Book of Soul. You also have a variety of songs on the new record dealing with relationships like “Gimme Your Love,” again with strong background harmony vocals.
QD: There is a live video to go with the song too and is a song that people want to dance to. I love the groove of that song.
GM: Here’s a strange comparison. On 1973’s A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, there is a song about the Peanuts character Woodstock called “Little Birdie,” a vocal number that jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi wrote and sang, which is mentioned in an article written by Gillian G. Gaar in our new October 2020 print issue of Goldmine. Your song “Trouble” reminds me of “Little Birdie.”
QD: Really? Ha ha. Oh man, I’ve got to go back and listen to that now. I loved watching those Charlie Brown specials at home.
GM: Speaking about home, you have “Home at Last,” a song that you can sway to.
QD: For that one, I saw myself in New York on a snowy park bench, as the scene for that song about a breakup in New York in the wintertime, walking around the park, with the crunchy snow sound beneath your feet, but also I was trying to get a little bit of James Brown in there, too. I hear his voice in that song, from his early pre-funk stuff.
GM: “Think About You” is vocally fun.
QD: That is more Ray Charles inspired, with a soul rumba beat and a call and response vocal style. He and Bill Withers are among my heroes.
GM: In our monthly In Memoriam section in Goldmine, we led off our July issue with a four page tribute on him.
QD: That was a tough passing. I did a live stream of Bill Withers’ songs after I heard that sad news. It is a crazy year.
GM: It certainly is. I wish that you were able to perform live right now.
QD: Me too, of course. I have so much fun doing that. I spent a month in Russia with shows. The audience applauded vigorously and it took inviting them to stand up to get them to dance. When the concert scene starts up again, people can go to my website to find out about the dates and locations.
GM: While you wait for the shows to resume, what are you working on?
QD: I am writing a bunch of songs. I want to get better and better. I mostly write on acoustic guitar, but I play acoustic and electric guitar and I am slowly learning piano here in Nashville, where I have been for about three years and now feel at home here. The music community is amazing. There is so much support. Everyone is trying to get better at this art form. I have played with Margo Price here. She and her husband are good songwriters. I have also played with Robbie Crowell, the drummer for Midland.
GM: I love them. I met the three main guys here in Daytona Beach when we had an annual festival at the speedway called Country 500. At the time, “Drinking Problem” was their big hit.
QD: Ha ha. Yeah. They are fun guys. When Robbie is in town he has played in my band along with Jerry Pentecost, who plays with Amanda Shires. Thank you so much for our session today. Good talking with you and now I have to re-watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.