Just heard Morrissey’s song “Birches” on the Folk Show, one of my favorites songs by any songwriter. He’s written a bunch of great songs, and I’ll be listening through this week in order to pick some to play Saturday afternoon during the Folk Show. It’s a sad thing to lose him so young—I remember well for his performance at Acoustic Brew a few years ago, and his fondness for Rolling Rock…
Bill Morrissey (born on November 25, 1951 in Hartford, Connecticut, died July 23, 2011) was an American folk singer/songwriter from New Hampshire. Many of his songs reflect the harsh realities of life in crumbling New England mill towns.
Over the course of his long career, two of Bill Morrissey’s ten albums have received Grammy nominations and several have earned 4-star reviews in Rolling Stone as well as equal accolades in other major national publications. Stephen Holden, for the New York Times, wrote, “Mr. Morrissey’s songs have the force of poetry…a terseness, precision of detail and a tone of laconic understatement that relate his lyrics to the fiction of writers like Raymond Carver and Richard Ford.” He is also the author of the novel Edson (Random House/Alfred A. Knopf 1996) and the recently completed Imaginary Runner.
Cutting his teeth on the American country blues of Mississippi John Hurt and Robert Johnson, the pure country of Hank Williams, the Kansas City of Count Basie and Lester Young, and, of course, the New York folk songwriters of the 1960s, Bill digested all this great diversity and found his own unique voice.
Bill’s most recent album Come Running, produced by Bill Morrissey and Billy Conway of Morphine, was released in 2007 by Bill Morrissey on his label, Turn and Spin Media. Come Running features guitar work by Dave Alvin and the remaining members of Morphine, Billy Conway and Dana Colley. Bill planned on releasing a full collection of albums, books and guitar tabs on this new label.
Morrissey, best known for his depressing lyrics, also occasionally wrote such humorous songs as “Party at the U.N.” (“It’s such a happy community / Everyone’s got diplomatic immunity”) and “Grizzly Bear”, about a frustrated working-class gentleman dating a wealthy young woman who wants to “dance till we dehydrate”, while he just wants to “take her home and dance the grizzly bear”.