Denis R. O'Neill

Author, Screenwriter & Producer

Music

There’s music in the family tree. My Irish grandmother, Essie Quaid, was a Limerick opera singer who sang with famed Irish tenor John McCormack, and on one occasion with the amateur tenor, James Joyce. My second cousin, Dennis O’Neill, is a celebrated Welsh tenor who has sung in all of the world’s great opera venues. Harvard Rockwell, my maternal grandfather, played the Hammond organ.  His daughter – my mother – knew her way around the keyboard and had a good enough ear to invest in the musical Man of La Mancha after producers looking for backers (“Angels”) let her play the show’s sheet music.  My father won the Tommy Dorsey song writing contest in 1937.  His song “A Little in Love” (co-written with Joe Pelluso) was sung by the up-and-coming, 22 year-old “boy singer”, Frank Sinatra.

I was also a boy singer – a folksinger in Boston for three years in the 70’s – partnered with Peter Piltz, in a duo called Melville & Rockwell.  To celebrate the 30th anniversary of my debut album “Only Love“, I’m re-releasing three tunes from that vinyl collector’s item — with a promise to release another three in another 30 years.”


Three Songs from “Only Love”

Debut Album – 1983

Cicely’s Song is a country lullaby/ballad I wrote for my first goddaughter, Cicely.  I used to sing it to her when she was a baby to help put her to sleep.  My buddy Mason Daring produced the song (and the album) – and played guitar and keyboards on some of the tracks.   This one features Kenny White on piano, Stuart Schulman on bass and Tim Jackson on drums; I added my acoustic finger picking.  To this day, it’s my favorite song to play for friends on the odd occasion I pick up my guitar.
Only Love is the title cut from the album of the same name – though this is not the version of the song that landed on the album.  It involves the same musicians, with Stuart adding smoking hot fiddle to his duties, plus Jeff Southworth on lead guitar.  Mason, Jeannie Stahl, Suzanne Boucher and Susan Dando sing backup vocals.
Almost Real – Composer Marty Brody took my simple acoustic guitar track and wrote and conducted the lush, brooding string component – performed by members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.   I wrote the song after a November visit to my family home following a long absence.
I Have a Boat — This is a rough recording and quick mix of a love song I wrote intended to be part of the sound track for a movie of mine in development, MILLION DOLLAR BASS.  It is performed and sung by The Flanagan Brothers.
Howl in my Heart — Another tune intended for a film score (of an animated movie) – based on a screenplay I wrote for Turner Pictures about the return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995.  I wrote the lyric (about the alpha wolf – captured in Alberta and trucked in a cage to Yellowstone), Mason Daring wrote the melody and produced the track – with a vocal by Fly Amero.