Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rest in Peace Bill Morrissey

Facebook seems to be where I hear things first these days. The sad news of the passing of Bill Morrissey, one of my favorite artists came from a simple post from Aimee Michaels RIP and a link to a youtube video of Bill performing his most famous song, Birches. I have been saddened by the passing of many people I have never met, but this one has brought me to tears. I have lost a companion. I have spent hours in his company first by way of record, then CD, and now ipod. I can't remember when I first started to listening to Bill Morrissey but I was immediately hooked by the power and craft of his songwriting and his wonderful voice. He had a great sense of humor and wrote some very funny songs. He also wrote unsentimental and achingly beautiful sad songs. One of my favorite falling asleep albums is his Songs of Mississippi John Hurt. The week after September 11, I made my way through his albums more than once. On a recent drive to and from New York with my son, we were kept company by Bill and Greg Brown in their terrific album Friend of Mine.

I saw him twice in performance (once at Salem State College and once at Jimmy Tingle's in Central Square) and if he didn't sing, he could have had a career as a comedian. He was a master of the long story and the slow joke. He made us laugh and he made us cry. He is also the author of Edson where he brought his sympathetic understanding and finely crafted words to the page. Bill Morrissey's knowledge of human nature and its frailties and struggles came from his own life. He wrote this in 2009:

Most everybody knows that I’ve had some rough sledding for the last few years including my well known battle with the booze. A couple of years ago I was diagnosed as bipolar and I am on medication for depression but sometimes the depression is stronger than the medication. When the depression hits that badly I can’t eat and I can barely get out of bed. Everything is moving in the right direction now and throughout all of this I have continued to write and write and write. I now have enough songs for 2 new albums and I am very much looking forward to getting back in the studio. My health is better than it has been in a long time. I look forward to getting back on the road and seeing familiar faces and old friends who have stuck by me.

If you are not familiar with Bill's music, do seek it out. The rewards will be rich. I hope he will now have peace. He has already written us a Letter from Heaven:

Find more songs like Letter From Heaven at Myspace Music

A Tribute by Kate McNally from the NHPR Folk Show

Boston Globe Obituary by Gil Bliss

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