Bill Morrissey

I just heard today that singer/songwriter Bill Morrissey died in July, of heart failure. Various obituaries and tributes here. I talked to him once at one of his shows and we shared a French publisher, but I didn’t know him.

As I type, I’m listening to his 1989 album, Standing Eight. Which, if Amazon is correct, is out of print.

The first album I heard, after catching him live in Austin in ’93 or ’94, was Night Train, which has “Birches,” probably his best-known song. It’s a song that struck me a perfect short-short story, set to music. So I wasn’t surprised when he wrote a novel, Edson, which came out in ’96. I had some problems with it (mostly repetition that should have been edited out), but it had some impressive story-telling and characterization. He wrote a second novel that never came out in the U.S. It was to have appeared in France this year, but the publisher went bankrupt (soon after their edition of The Painting and the City came out—sorry Bill, if it’s my fault).

A couple of years ago, I read on his website that he had been dealing with alcoholism and depression. Depression that he had self-medicated for years with the alcohol. Which happens. I wish it hadn’t. He might still be here.


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