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Bill Morrissey

Bill Morrissey
Born(1951-11-25)November 25, 1951
Hartford, Connecticut
DiedJuly 23, 2011(2011-07-23) (aged 59)
Dalton, Georgia
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1980-2011
LabelsRounder Records
Associated actsGreg Brown
WebsiteOfficial web site

Bill Morrissey (November 25, 1951 – July 23, 2011) was a Grammy-nominated American folk singer-songwriter based in New Hampshire.

Early life

Morrissey was born in Hartford, Connecticut. Growing up in Connecticut and Massachusetts, he started playing guitar at age 13 and formed a jug band in high school.[1] He studied literature for a short time at Plymouth State University before beginning his musical career.[1]

He was influenced by the American country blues of Mississippi John Hurt and Robert Johnson, the pure country of Hank Williams, the Kansas City jazz of Count Basie and Lester Young, and the folk revival of the 1960s.[2]


His eponymous first album was released in 1984 on the Reckless label, and then re-recorded for the Philo label. It includes the song "Small Town on the River", which, as with much of his work, reflects life in New England mill towns. In this case, it's a song about a small town in New Hampshire after the mill closes.

Over the course of a three-decade career, two of Morrissey's twelve albums received Grammy nominations and several earned 4-star reviews in Rolling Stone.[3] 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 stories of writers like Raymond Carver and Richard Ford."[4]

In addition to his song-writing, Morrissey is also the author of two novels: Edson (1996) and Imaginary Runner (posthumously published in November 2011). He said that his writing was influenced by Raymond Carver and Thomas Williams.[5]

Morrissey's last album, Come Running, was co-produced with Billy Conway of Morphine, and released in 2007 on Morrissey's label, Turn and Spin Media. Come Running features guitar work by Dave Alvin and the remaining members of Morphine, Billy Conway and Dana Colley.

While Morrissey was best known for his often dark, literate lyrics, he also occasionally wrote humorous songs, such 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 man 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."

Personal life

Bill Morrissey was married and divorced twice during his lifetime. His first wife is Lisa Glines. His second wife is Ellen Karas. Bill Morrissey continued to work with Ellen Karas professionally after their divorce.


Morrissey died of heart disease in Dalton, Georgia on July 23, 2011, during a tour of the Southern US.[6][7][8][9]


  • Bill Morrissey (1984)
  • North (1986)
  • Standing Eight (1989)
  • Bill Morrissey (re-recording of the 1984 album plus three previously unreleased songs) (1991)
  • Inside (1992)
  • Friend of Mine (with Greg Brown) (1993)
  • Night Train (1993)
  • You'll Never Get to Heaven (1996)
  • Songs of Mississippi John Hurt (1999)
  • Something I Saw Or Thought I Saw (2001)
  • Bill Morrissey: The Essential Collection (2004)
  • Come Running (2007)


  • Morrissey, Bill (1996). Edson. Knopf. ISBN 0-679-44629-X.
  • Morrissey, Bill (2011). Imaginary Runner. ISBN 9781105090554.


  1. ^ a b Kornfeld, Michael (2011-07-29). "Bill Morrissey, Singer-Songwriter of the Common Folk, 1951-2011". Retrieved 2019-07-06.
  2. ^ Timpane, John (26 July 2011). "Bill Morrissey, 59, folk troubadour". Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Letters from Heaven-Bill Morrissey". Archived from the original on 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  4. ^ "RECORDINGS VIEW; From Bill Morrissey, Blue-Collar Angst With a Folk Touch - New York Times". 1992-02-23. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  5. ^ "Bill Morrissey Biography: Contemporary Musicians". Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  6. ^ "Bill Morrissey, 59; folk artist traversed a range of emotions". 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  7. ^ Christopher Hislop. "Goodbye Bill Morrissey". Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  8. ^ "Yahoo! Groups". Retrieved 2011-07-30.
  9. ^ Mike Regenstreif (2011-07-24). "Folk Roots/Folk Branches with Mike Regenstreif: Bill Morrissey 1951-2011". Retrieved 2011-07-30.

External links

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