Bill Morrissey (1951-2011)
Bill Morrissey's astute lyrical gifts and graceful, understated melodies put him on festival stages across the world; into theatres, concert halls, and coffeehouses; garnered him critical acclaim from magazines, authors, and music peers; and earned him two Grammy nominations.
Bill Morrissey created as impressive a body of work as any songwriter today, a collection of finely-honed songs that match his economy of lyric and melody with a writer’s gift for storytelling. His empathetic knack for capturing the harshness and small sadness of the characters in his songs is tempered by his wry sense of humor, such that many of his songs leave the listener with a smile.
Over the course of his long career, two of Bill Morrissey's twelve albums received Grammy nominations and several earned 4-star reviews in Rolling Stone as well as equal accolades in nearly every other major national publication. 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." It is not surprising that he is also the author of the novel "Edson" (Random House/Alfred A. Knopf 1996) and "Imaginary Runner."
On stage, Bill mixed the seriousness and urgency of his songs with a wry, acerbic wit. His often improvised and deadpan monologues and introductions provide a perfect balance to his live shows.
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 died in July 2011 but he left behind his body of work, his love of family, friends and animals and his keen observances of life that lives on in all that knew him or enjoyed his work.