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Conversations We Never Had (book cover)
Lyrics for the album came from the book Conversations We Never Had, by Patrick O’Shea Sr. and Patrick O’Shea Jr.

Conversations We Never Had

The debut album from Shades of Green

Drink with the Irish! Rock a caboose! Run from the Angel of Death! Conversations We Never Had by Shades of Green is a musical journey that connects the souls of a father and son from beyond the grave. An inspirational concept album with Irish Rock and Americana roots.

Patrick J. O’Shea Sr. died young but he left behind an old suitcase full of poetry that inspired a small family to carry on. 30 years later, his son had a revelation to publish a book with his late father entitled Conversations We Never Had. The book is truly laid out as a father/son conversation. The poem on the left page is written by the father and the poem on the right page is a response from the son.

Scot Silver and Pat O’Shea are experienced musicians who have both dedicated a lifetime to their craft. Scot’s songwriting skills and Pat’s poetry have now merged into something even greater with the release of this new album.  They had discussed the possibility of turning the book into music over the years, as each poem has a distinct tone and story. There are often relative or parallel keys incorporated into many of the songs, to further show duality in voice and perspective.  Most of the songs have an instrumental hook added to them, often on guitar. Songwriting tool aside, these melodic phrases are meant to further represent loved ones who are no longer with us, but in spirit.

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I’m Irish

Written by Scot Silver and Pat O’Shea

Scot:

This song kicks off the album in the perfect way. In yo face, take no prisoners, unabashed attitude! From the unapologetic descending power chords, to the snarly guitar riff, band pounding, and then the lyric enters and now it’s a mantra. Wait till the end, Pat had the creative idea to break it down farther and incorporate more percussion than we knew existed. I played a midi guitar for the penny whistle effect on this. It builds and we just go to town. Layer upon layer of ear candy. And then the big harmonies singing “Erin Go Bragh” to end it. Ireland Forever indeed!

In My Mind

Written by Scot Silver and Pat O’Shea from the poems “I’m Gonna Build Me a Castle” and “I’m Gonna Build Me a Cabin”

In My mind is a wonderful example of how each of the father and son’s poems related, but still had their own voice. The father’s poem was utilized as the verse, whereas Pat’s response poem was incorporated as the bridge. The lyric has a significant flow, making a traditional 6/8 time signature optimal.

 

Just to be Myself

Written by Scot Silver and Pat O’Shea

Scot:

This song has a powerful message of self acceptance, supported by a funky groove and an uplifting chorus. Shades of Green would like to wish everyone inner strength with Just To Be Myself.

 

Guest Vocalist: The Late, Great Dixie O’Shea

as remembered by Pat

Dixie began to have breathing issues during the last year of her life. Her bark sounded painful. I tried to shield her from situations where she would be tempted to cut loose but dogs will be dogs!

The 2020 quarantine was a time when most music had to be recorded virtually. Scot and I were writing songs for Shades of Green by sending video recordings to each other of our song ideas. I was trying to keep my house quiet while recording but at the end of the song “Just to be Myself” Dixie let out a bark of approval (or the mailman walked by the front door)! Jim, a dog lover/rescue volunteer was putting our video clips together and of course he left Dixie’s bark in the video!

I knew Dixie would not live much longer so as I was heading out to the studio for the final recording session of “Just to be Myself” I asked her to speak one last time to preserve her legacy with a close up recording. Without hesitation, she did. I loved that dog but she loved me more.

Down The Line

Written by Scot Silver and Pat O’Shea

The assembly line is a both a monster that needs to be constantly fed and the means by which a man finds a way to show his worth. Two poems intertwine in this Irish-American acoustic rocker. Song also features Kristen Conrad on penny-whistle and Julianna Rotundo step dancing.

Jim:

I think the moment the song really came together is when we decided to split the vocals from one voice to two. The two poems really take two different perspectives on the job, and having a voice for each perspective helped organize what originally was a purely internal monologue. The fact that the lead voice (the resentful one) does, at the end, acknowledge the other makes the ending of the song that much more powerful.

 

Rock the Caboose

Written by Scot Silver and Pat O’Shea

Shades of Green bring you yet another great new original. This has the verve of the Irish and the groove of Bo Diddley. Eric Schreiber on lead vocals on this one. The single’s cover art by Shane O’Shea.

Pat:

My Dad wrote this poem in the early 70’s when he was a conductor at Penn Central Railroad not knowing the words would someday be song lyrics!

Star

Written by Scot Silver and Pat O’Shea from the poems “Never Made It as a Star” and “Backstreet Bar”

“An old man sits with a string guitar though he never made it as a star.” This song is an ode to musicians, writers, artists and anyone who’s life is driven by creativity; those of us who know we “must” pursue our craft.

Pat:

“Star” channels the vibe and style of Jim Croce. Having a conversation about our fathers, Scot and I realized that both of our dad’s loved the song “Time in a Bottle”. At that moment I had a premonition and told Scot about the poem “Never Made it as a Star” that my dad wrote. The poem always stood out to me as something the great Jim Croce would have written, so with my premonition and two loving father’s watch from above, Scot went to work on a masterpiece.

Scot:

I wanted to incorporate some of the writing style of ’Time in a bottle’. The key is the same and I used the same parallel minor key for the verses and major key for the bridges, as the Croce tune does. In this case, father’s poem is represented in the minor key setting and son’s in the parallel minor. This song was further cathartic for myself, having lost my father over 5 years ago.

Song to Shatter Stone

Written by Jim Briggs and Pat O’Shea, based on the poems “Heart of Rock Fool” and “Poem to Shatter Stone”

A driving, gospel-influenced number in which the singer is looking inward (and to the past) for inspiration to break through to greater things. “Shatter Stone” incorporates heavy drums to reinforce the chant-like main melody, punctuated by varied percussion instruments (including the whiskey bottle!) to add energy as it goes. 

Jim:

The first lines of “Poem to Shatter Stone” really struck me as a sort of mantra, and I wanted to make that a kind of chant that is the underpinning of the entire song. My commitment from the beginning was to use that chant as the foundation that the rest is built upon. The challenge was to keep the song simple but keep it interesting and, above all, building in energy all the way through. Having Jordan Schreiber on guest vocals in the last third of the song really gave it the flavor I was looking for and set the tone for the climax of the song.

Scot:

Jim had a cool idea of utilizing a chant-like element as an underpinning, and then almost gospel-like singing atop it. Gospel is uplifting, so a great choice of layering to convey that here. As I mention in the ‘White Picket Fences’ section, the guitar riff used on this was initially scrapped. Jim and I tracked the melodic vocals more and found they have a bluesier nature, as opposed to a Major scale approach. In effect, I changed the color of the melodic phrase to better accentuate that, and glad we did. This song is another fine example of how to build to a crescendo. You have no idea where it’s going at the onset, but totally worth the ride.

White Picket Fences

Written by Scot Silver and Pat O’Shea from the poems “Facing Clouds” and “White Picket Fences”

White picket fences is a jaunty number. Pat had the idea of banjo playing the melodic phrase Scot wrote. Scot picked up Jim’s banjitar and it took on a life of its own. Side note, this melodic phrase was initially written for Jim’s tune Song to Shatter Stone. He felt it didn’t properly capture the vibe of that tune. He was right. Scot went with a more swanky blues approach on that one, and it fit.

Scot:

The initial melodic guitar phrase developed into this song. The words of these associated poems spoke to me about achieving the American dream, and being proud of that. We should all strive for our goals in life, and to be able to share that with a loved one, priceless! Special shout out to Jordan and Nicole for their unbelievable and uplifting backup vocals on this song.

Death and Black

Written by Scot Silver and Pat O’Shea, based on the poems “Angel of Death / Man in Black” and “Death and Black”.

The first song written for the album, it is the darkest of the songs. The poems have the essence of living on your own terms, but life taking a turn for the worse.  A Western feel was most fitting, with a haunting and unapologetic melodic approach.

Jim:

I think when you look at the album as a whole, it’s a journey.  I’m Irish introduces the young man aching for action, and In My Mind reveals his inner complexity. Just to Be Myself shows the man wanting to live and grow, but Down the Line bring us back to the working man’s reality, though Rock the Caboose reveals that all of the young man’s power and determination are still there.

“Star” is a turning point, in which the now not-so-young-man realizes that he doesn’t really have the world at his feet, and not every dream comes true. This leads to “Song to Shatter Stone”… the man looks for the inner strength to continue, and the journey ends with “White Picket Fences” and our hero’s ability to find happiness in a modest life.

There is a coda however, “Death and Black”, which to me is something of a “what if?…”. What if our hero doesn’t find his inner strength and learns to find joy in his life, but rather continues on the path of discontented desire for more that was hinted in “Down the Line” and “Rock the Caboose”? “Death and Black” is a reminder that not all stories have happy endings, and not everyone finds what they’re looking for.

 

 

Conversations We Never Had

Written by Scot Silver

Scot describes the song:

“Conversations We Never Had” is the book and inspiration for this entire recording. It taps into indescribable loss and ushering on.  The premise of the book has spoken to me since I first acquired it over 10 years ago. Pat and I discussed turning his and his fathers poems into music over the years, but nothing transpired.

Fast-forward to March of 2020 and unfortunate time was allotted to us all. The shutdown in no way inspired this project, but it did force some reevaluating of priorities in life and taking control of what you can for yourself and your loved ones. Something genuine needed to be created. All of the songs have insight into them. This was the most difficult song I ever wrote. It was also the final song written for the album. In my mind, it had to encapsulate Pat and his father’s book from which we all drew  inspiration. ‘Conversations we never had’ is just that. Communicating in a more spiritual sense.  This album has irreverence, sadness, silliness and perseverance. The Irish spirit is alive throughout. The most indicative Irish feel is that of a 6/8 time signature, often associated with a jig. There is an almost effortless, flowing feeling to it in and of itself.

This final track and only instrumental on the album is meant to be the ultimate conversation with a lost loved one. From the intro bass harmonics, representing the father we lost too soon, to the guitar response of a son still mourning. This song is another purposeful usage of parallel keys, major to represent the father and minor to represent the son. The song starts stripped down and pure, but builds in complexity, as any relationship would. There is no greater joy and catharsis than what the four of us have all put together here.”

Scot created Shades of Green with Pat, Jim Briggs and Eric Schreiber, so these versatile working musicians could add Irish and Americana music to their long list of musical styles. The project is a true group collaboration. Jim and Eric are featured vocalists on a few of the songs, as well as a few stellar female singers on backups throughout the album. Banjo, Penny-whistle and even a professional step dancer are recorded features on select tracks.

A band of veteran musicians, an Irish-American poetry book and talented songwriters… the pieces all come together in this heart-felt inspirational album.