Bill Morrissey - Something I Saw or Thought I Saw

Something I Saw
or Thought I Saw

Bill Morrissey

Philo PHIL1227

Rounder Records
One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Moshe Benarroch

The title of this CD, Something I Saw Or Thought I Saw, says it all about Morrissey: he is a master of understatement. Nothing is said in the "in your face" style of many of the modern singer songwriters. His use of instruments, like clarinets and violins, and his fragile and unmistakable voice, which you are afraid will not reach the microphone, adds to the mystery of this singer. Once you've heard one of his songs you will probably recognize any of his other songs after the first three notes he sings.

Morrisey's songs are short stories, and like Brautigan, you learn about the characters as much from what they say as from what they don't say. "I sit in this hotel and tonight I'm just too drunk to pray" he sings in Twenty Thirst Street, where the refrain states: "Have a seat Have a seat And we can look at the world through this window on 23rd street." Here the narrator is telling about his lost love to someone that is just not there. We learn by the end of the song that he is talking to himself, or to his glass.

The music on this recording, as in all of Morrissey's work, is very acoustic and understated. The band includes three to five musicians for each song. These includes a clarinet, a violin, piano, bass, harmonica and no percussion at all. Not something that will wake up the neighbors even when you turn it up very loud (anyway my neighbor is listening to Trance most of the time, and is probably deaf by now).

I don't know where exactly I should grade Something I Saw Or Thought I Saw within Morrisey's impressive discography. I think I slightly prefer Inside and Standing Eight to this CD. No matter how you look at it, this is one more impressive recording in Morrissey's carreer, and the best sign is that after twenty listenings, I always have the feeling that something is wrong with my CD player when the music reaches the end. At forty minutes of such great music, all you will ask for is for more.

Track List:

  • Twenty Third Street
  • Harry's Last Call
  • Just Before We Lost the War
  • Winter Song
  • Moving Day
  • Buddy Bolden's Blues
  • St. Valentine's Day
  • Traveling By Cab
  • Fix Your Hair the Way You Used To
  • Judgment Day
  • Mobile
  • Will You Be My Rose?

Edited by: Roberta B. Schwartz

Copyright 2001, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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