For some reason, if you’d asked me last week whether I had posted about William Fitzsimmons on this blog before, I would have sworn blind that I had discussed his 2006 album “Goodnight” sometime in 2007. However, I recently received his 2008 album, “The Sparrow & The Crow“, and was preparing a post when I looked back through this blog archives – trying to find my past post – and I realised that I must have dreamed the whole thing.
But you know, for some reason that’s kind of fitting. William Fitzsimmon’s work has that ethereal, floating quality from which the best dreams are made.
Fitzsimmon’s path towards music reads like some kind of fantasy tale filled with destiny. From his site:
William Fitzsimmons is one of the oddest people you will ever meet. Born the youngest child of two blind parents, William was raised in the outskirts of the steel city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Due to the family’s inability to communicate through normal visual means, William’s childhood home was filled with a myriad of sounds to replace what eyes could not see. The house was suffused with pianos, guitars, trombones, talking birds, classical records, family sing-a-longs, bedtime stories, and the bellowing of a pipe organ, which his father built into the house with his own hands. When his father’s orchestral records were not resonating through the walls, his mother would educate him on the folk stylings of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Simon & Garfunkel. By the completion of his youth and schooling, Fitzsimmons had become well-versed at a variety of instruments, at the minor expense of social standing, interactional skills, and a knowledge of proper shaving technique.
William Fitzsimmon’s music has that heart-string-tugging, ever so fragile quality to it that makes for the best of tunes. When you hear his voice, there’s almost a caution there; as if you exhale too loudly, you might frighten this wonder away. Watch the below video of Fitzsimmon playing “It’s Not True” – from his “Goodbye” Album – on DeepRockDive to see what I mean…
Enough about the past… let’s look at Fitzsimmon’s latest release, “The Sparrow & The Crow”. Put simply, it’s a wonderful album. I mean, really, that sums it all up.
But, to go a bit deeper: The Sparrow and The Crow is an album with some heart-wrenching stories behind it. Like his past releases – namely “Goodnight” and “Until We Are Ghosts” – the album deals with some incredibly personal tales. Not surprising, when you consider that the album, in Fitzsimmon’s own words, was “written first and foremost as a confession and apology to my former wife“.
I recently came across a wonderful interview with Fitzsimmon’s where he related this story:
The Sparrow and The Crow – Are you comparing relationships of the heart to the flight or actions of birds? What’s the concept of the album?
I’ve always thought symbolism was a wonderful literary tool for getting across meanings in a more substantive and tactful way. I think it allows one to be concise and pointed in meaning, without sacrificing clarity for an aesthetic sake. The main idea for the record title came on a drive I was taking out in the country here in Illinois. I noticed a couple birds flying together against a strong wind and suddenly, one of the two turned and flew away, leaving the other one alone. For some reason it just seemed rather poignant and explanatory to everything I had gone through in the last couple years. I don’t know, maybe I was just really tired. But for whatever reason, it hit me pretty hard. I spent a lot of time soon thereafter looking into the historical and myth-related meanings of certain birds, and came upon a couple (the sparrow and crow) that seemed to fit the nature of the story I was trying to detail. Specifically, the sparrow is my former wife and I am meant to be the crow. And as I’ve committed myself to be honest in the process of telling such a serious story, I can say that the album is the tale of my failed marriage and the process of trying to start life over again.
Anyway, on to the tunes themselves. I’ve included two songs below, for you to get a taste of the album. Both these songs are taken from the second half of “The Sparrow and The Crow”, which is – in my opinion – where the album really kicks into uber-awesomeness. Fitting, I suppose, considering that the album is telling a story. Really, if this was a screenplay, these songs would be playing during the final “resolution” stage of the film.
The first, “They’ll Never Take The Good Years“, is perhaps the song with the most acceptance on the album. The second, “You Still Hurt Me” is a song with which we can all wistfully relate.
Listen to these songs. Seriously. They may just help you.