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LI Sound: Doug Seegers' late-life success story continues

American country music artist, guitarist and songwriter Douglas

American country music artist, guitarist and songwriter Douglas "Doug" Seegers. Photo Credit: Nelson Blanton

Doug Seegers calling his new album “A Story I Got to Tell” (BMG) is an understatement. The soft-spoken singer-songwriter’s road to late-life success is nothing short of amazing.

In 2014, the West Islip High School graduate was 62 and homeless in Nashville, living under a bridge after being laid off from his woodworking job, when he was discovered by a Swedish documentary team, who filmed him doing one of his own songs “Going Down to the River.” When people saw his moving performance and heard his poignant story, they were immediately won over. The song and the album that followed went to No. 1 in Sweden and Seegers was suddenly on a sold-out national tour in Sweden and fielding record deal offers in America.

Since then, Seegers has rolled out three more Top 10 albums in Sweden and will start another national tour there next week. But his new album “A Story I Got to Tell,” produced by the great Joe Henry, should land him attention in America again as well.

Seegers has always been blessed with a gorgeous, distinctive voice, even when he was performing as Duke the Drifter or with his band Angels in Overdrive on Long Island. And that is definitely on display on his aching version of Johnny Rivers’ “Poor Side of Town.”

“As soon as I heard him sing something, I said, ‘Oh yeah, I’m interested,’ ” Henry says in a video promoting the album. “Like a lot of people, I was really, you know, moved by his voice. It really begins with the voice for me.”

However, on “A Story I Got to Tell,” it is the combination of Seegers’ raw lyrics and dramatic vocals that really turn the album into something special. “You know that could've been me you're listenin' to on your radio,” he sings on “White Line,” his tale of hitchhiking and wishing for the warmth of a home and a coat.

Seegers is even more direct on the plaintive “Give It Away,” where he implores, “You might even see a drunk man lying lost in misery, that's when it's time to reach your hand out, boy, show some sympathy.”

He has been open about his struggles with alcohol in order to help create more sympathy and empathy for others. And it’s what makes “A Story I Got to Tell” one worth seeking out.  

Contact The Long Island Sound at glenn.gamboa@newsday.com or follow @ndmusic on Twitter.

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