Itʻs impossible to know your limits without testing them.
Itʻs a truth that Pat Green has employed in his career, one that has propelled him to
repeatedly refashion his sound, his approach and his own perception of who he is.
Heʻs simultaneously a Grammy-nominated hit maker with an outsider reputation, a TeXas
inspiration and a mainstream country artist who can rock arena and stadium stages with the
likes of Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney.
Each of those roles has its own place. But each of them is too small to define Pat Green,
who after 15 years in the recording business has earned the right to be everything Pat Green
can be. Without limitations.
“Iʻd much rather be me and comfortable in my own skin than trying to be five different guys to
get to the top,” he says.
In fact, after building a reputation as an ace songwriter of his own material, Green is fighting
even that limitation with Songs We Wish Weʼd Written II, a sequel to a 2001 album he
recorded with longtime friend--and fellow TeXan--Cory Morrow.
Stocked with music penned by the likes of Lyle Lovett, Tom Petty, Shelby Lynne and Jon
Randall, the disc—Greenʻs first for the acclaimed Sugar Hill label—miXes country, rock and
blues in a manner that defies categorization. Pettyʻs “Even The Losers” and Collective Soulʻs
“The World I Know” will be familiar to just about anyone who gives the album a listen. Others,
such as Aaron Lee Tasjanʻs quirky “Streets Of Galilee” and Todd Sniderʻs burning “I Am
Too,” are introductions from the underground to a large majority of music fans.
Songs We Wish Weʼd Written II is an eXpansive step in Greenʻs ongoing development. By
piecing together songs from a variety of writers, he was able to assemble an album that
reflects the multiple genres that influence him as an artist. The source of the songs wasnʻt as
important as the quality of the music and its ability to connect with Greenʻs maturing sense of
his craft.
“If you listen to my young music or anybodyʻs young music, itʻs all over the place,” he
“It sounds like that because the thoughts are all over the place. You were sleeping on
mattresses on the floor, the TV was on a cinderblock – thatʻs all cool. Thatʻs all we needed,
then. Now, Iʻve grown up a bit. As my life has evolves, my taste for music continues to
evolve with it.”
While Green was looking for songs for the album from outside sources, he was adamant
about recording music that ultimately seemed designed specifically for him and his band.
With drummer Justin Pollard co-producing, Green drew up an initial list of 10 titles and
recorded them during a concentrated week of sessions in Austin. They tracked another five
in Tyler, TeXas, then culled the best to get the final 10 cuts on Songs We Wish Weʼd Written
II, creating a cohesive package from disparate sources.
“We all just sat around discussing and if somebodyʻs idea would sound better than my idea,
Iʻd get fiXated on it,” Green says. “I would very much encourage them to bring an idea. For
instance, the Walt Wilkins song 'If It Werenʻt For You,ʻ that was somebody elseʻs idea
completely. There were all kinds of ideas going around from Genesis and Peter Gabriel,
Colin Hay from Men at Work – all kinds of crazy stuff from the ‗80s. Of course, we ended up
with Petty from 1979.”
They also ended up with a stellar list of guests. Collective Soulʻs Ed Roland brings an
authentic cynicism to “The World I Know,” Jack Ingramʻs threads a snarling desperation into
“I Am Too,” Cory Morrow adds a craggy earthiness to “If I Had A Boat,” and former Sons of
the Desert member Drew Womack adds a smooth, Vince Gill-like presence as a backing
vocalist on the driving “Austin.”
Monte Montgomery provides a thick, eXpressive blues voice on the Allman Brothersʻ
“Soulshine” and trades licks with Greenʻs guitarist, Chris Skrobot, in some of the most
riveting moments on Written II, with their dueling lines careening like pinballs.Skrobot also introduced Green to Aaron Lee Tasjan, whoʻs something of a new discovery on
the album. Tasjanʻs “Streets Of Galilee” combines a seemingly random parade of images
into an escapist story while Tasjan makes a wry vocal appearance, adding an ethereal
presence in the mold of AAA talent Brett Dennen.
“Aaron is a super guy, an amazing talent, and he has a band in New York called The
Madison Square Gardeners, so heʻs obviously a very funny, very clever human being,”
Green assesses. “Heʻs definitely the kind of writer I really enjoy listening to.”
“Galilee,” “Soulshine,” “Jesus On A Greyhound” and the imagery in “Austin” combine to form
a spiritual undercurrent on the album akin to the message of Greenʻs biggest hit, “Wave On
Wave.” Itʻs appropriate – Green spent much of the last two years searching his conscience
as he battles the prism of limitations that were created by his own successes in TeXas, and
on a national stage.
And in a way, Songs We Wish Weʼd Written II is the first chapter in the neXt act of his career.
"Thereʻs a man inside of me now that didnʻt used to live here, whereas there was only a boy
before," he says. “The boy was so strong and had done so much, so Iʻm kind of seeing
things in a new way. The last couple years have really been an eye opener, much more
intense and richer.”
Thatʻs a large statement – Greenʻs life and career have already been filled with rich
eXperiences. Heʻs co-written songs with Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Jewel and Rob Thomas.
Appeared on such national TV shows as Austin City Limits, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The
Late Show With David Letterman. Been hailed by Billboard, USA Today, Esquire, People and
Country Weekly. Toured with the likes of Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and the Dave
Matthews Band. And become a concert force in his own right, regularly selling out venues
from Los Angeles to New York, where heʻs now sold out his last seven appearances.
All of that is impressive. But itʻs also history. As much as he appreciates it, Green puts it in
his place on his cover of "Even The Losers," where he highlights a lyric that Petty obscured
in the original: "Itʻs such a drag when youʻre living in the past."
Green may be recognized for those past achievements, but he doesnʻt intend to be limited by
them as he continues to progress creatively. And that progress will come by simply testing
what it means to be Pat Green.
"I want to be me," he says. “There are so many people who live with so many masters in
their lives. I really just need one."