Dave Morrison

Dave Morrison

 Altadena, California, USA

I'm most often compared to Jackson Browne, John Prine, and Guy Clark. When home in California I perform with my trio: a multi-instrumentalist and a back-up vocalist. Out of state I usually just go it alone ... Me and my Guitar. It's about the songs, and a strong connection with the audience.


For the usual reasons, Dave hasn't been able to tour much till recently. But now he's all in. His friends in California know that he's a special talent. American Songwriter magazine gave his last CD a five-star review, and a senior editor placed it in his top ten albums between Joni Mitchell and Springsteen. Onstage Dave brings a riveting focus to these intelligent, poetic songs.


"Long one of L.A.'s most beloved songwriters, Dave Morrison has made the album we've waited for ... There's keen intelligence, humor, depth and compassion. But more than anything else, there's heart. He projects genuinely poignant details of real life in a way few can with just words and music. With a stunning economy of language and visceral folk-rock feel, he paints dimensional pictures with a delicate blend of words and tunes. Mourn no more about the dearth of meaningful music. Listen to this. Five Stars" ... Paul Zollo Author of "Songwriters on Songwriting"

"Dave's ability to tell a story and gift for melody touches all who have had the pleasure to see one of Dave's live performances. He's funny and charming and a terrific live performer. And did I forget to say? He's one of the best damn songwriters alive! One of my favorites." ... Jeff Gold , West Valley Music Center Acoustic Music Series

Excerpted from review in MAVERICK MAGAZINE UK
"Dave Morrison is a storyteller. The fact that these mostly wonderful tales are set to music is an almost incidental but welcome bonus.
Morrison is a singer-songwriter in the best sense. His songs are not designed to be shoe-horned into a neat package. They are unique statements, and for its minor blemishes, A Little Farther Down the Line is on the whole a real gem."

"The combination of Dave's lyrics and melodies always seems to go straight to my heart. The impact of his songs is enhanced by his story telling, quirky humor, charm and ability to connect with the audience on a warm and human level."
... Karl Smiley: Producer/Host, Summit Center Concerts, Summit Oregon

"Dave Morrison, songwriter and performer, is my favorite artist in California. His musical storytelling evokes a visual tapestry of tangible emotions and experiences we all have shared as part of the human experience. His memories, and his inventive spirit, lead the way toward romantic imagery and poetry of the soul. I am always impressed by Dave Morrison's capacity for humor and joy in the songs he presents. He is a very prolific writer, and all his compositions are exceptional.
His engaging warmth on stage leaves everyone wanting to come back again and again."
... Marilyn Babcock: Founder and Producer, Topanga Acoustic Music Series, Topanga, Ca.
"Dave Morrison is a songwriter's songwriter, but that's nothing new. I've been hearing that from songwriters in the Los Angeles area for many years now who were also describing Dave as one of the great unrecorded songwriters in the area.
Times change. Dave has released a great CD that surely lives up to his promise. More importantly, Dave conveys those songs on stage like he's been doing it his whole life, with passion, presence, and an irreverent charm that will win over any audience." ... Russ Paris, Russ & Julie's House Concerts

"With his debut album 'A Little Farther Down The Line'. California songwriter Dave Morrison delivers a fine collection of songs rooted securely in an appealing blend of traditional Folk and the best of the 70's singer-songwriter genre. His voice and approach is natural, accessible and unaffected, as he weaves his stories with subtle lines and a mastery of language that delivers a lingering impact, which continues to yield resonant value with repeated listening.
Dave's songs explore themes of love, longing, dreams and everyday dilemmas, with a wisdom and perspective tempered by time and a sense of melody and hope-tinged melancholy that brings 70's songwriting icons to mind. A fine album, well worth the wait." ... Brett Perkins, Listening Room Concert Series

Dave's Live Album "Shout at the Moon" is due in December.
Currently recording the new studio CD.


Times Like These

Written By: Dave Morrison

Times Like These

The old man said, “Son, you’ve got to remember,
a human can float on the sea.
If you’d just stop hanging on to the bottom,
you would rise up naturally”

So I let go, it nearly killed me to do it,
But I’ll be damned, it’s true.
And though I’m still a couple leagues from the surface,
I see that sun is shining through,
I see that sun is shining through.

Sometimes I can’t feel the ground beneath my feet,
in times like these.
I can’t feel what the future is holding,
but I feel you holding me. I feel you holding me.

I took a trip, took a fall, took a long time to notice,
We all trip and fall.
Yeah, but somehow we drag ourselves
back to our feet and walk on.
And failing that, we crawl.

Maybe it’s the failures even more than the successes,
maybe it’s the scars that mark our skin.
Yeah, maybe it’s these, that can reconcile the differences,
and finally prove us kin.

Repeat chorus:

Li di, li di di di di di di, li di di di

Aw, look at those clouds, drawing back from each other,
I believe it’s gonna be an early spring.
And there’s little green buds all over the tree out back,
and the sap of life is in everything.

And look at these kids, Man they’re getting’ so big,
but you and me, we’re still reasonably young.
Who ever thought I’d be caught this side of forty,
and feeling like I’d just begun.

And when I can’t feel the ground beneath my feet,
in times like these.
I close my eyes and I let myself go…
and I feel you holding me,
I feel you holding me.

Li di, li di di di di di di, li di di di

Back To Zero

Written By: Dave Morrison

Back To Zero

I’ll be down and out, drivin’ numb and senseless,
hours before you even know I’m gone.
Spaces in the closets, empty bureau drawers,
every open thing that says I’ve traveled on.

Maybe you’ll sit down and wonder what you did to run me off;
your steady thing, your tender-hearted hero.
And I might’ve looked like I was finally hooked up to the future,
but really, I was always headed back to zero.

I’ll roll up on Colorado, I’ll be properly despondent,
blasting Townes Van Zandt and feeling fine.
Hole up in Paonia, to fall apart with friends.
They’ll sort me out on guitars, with a couple jugs of wine. Couple jugs of wine.

I’ll be sounded out, cobbled back together,
pointed north, the way I always do.
With all my tragic notions, terrible obsessions,
and I’ll leave all the cleaning up to you.

Hey-Up Hey-Up, hey oh oh oh oh ,
Why do you do this to yourself? They’ll want me to tell.
Hey-Up Hey-Up, hey I just don’t know.
The boy with all the stories … is down the well.

Now the story will be told, of how it all burned down around me,
while I stood by, casual as Nero.
And I might’ve looked like I was building something for the ages,
but really, I was always headed back to zero.

With any luck there won’t be fire in the Bitterroots this year.
I’ll camp on Flathead, like my uncles did.
Lay up in the dark, with my eyes shut to the stars,
listening for the pages to come rustling in my head. Rustling in my head.

And on the round-about, I’ll stumble on some little town,
with kids on bikes, and little lights strung up in the trees.
And someone will say something kind that will re-set the clock.
I’ll find a room to rent, and I’ll be home again.

And there a local beauty, just a few years past her prime …
I’ll fly into her heart, straight as an arrow.
And for a couple years, I’ll put good numbers on the board,
but really, I am always headed back to zero, always headed back to zero.

Repeat Chorus:

Ocean Avenue

Written By: Dave Morrison

Ocean Avenue

Here comes little John, in his BoHo drag.
Knockin’ out a rhythm on his hip, with a rolled-up poetry rag.
And there’s Mrs. Woo … with her parasol.
Round Guatemalan women on the bus-stop reading People En Espanol.
They all got big doin’s
everybody up and down the block.
Important people waiting for ‘em,
with one ye on the clock …
‘Cept the floating few … like me and you.
Washing up like driftwood, all along Ocean Ave.
Ocean Avenue, ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo.

I once loved a girl. Her skin was smooth as silk.
Kindness flowed from her fingertips, like mother’s milk.
But I drove her off, an inch at a time.
That was either just before, or maybe a little after, I lost my mind.
Now I put myself to bed at night.
Pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Pull my knees up tight against my chest,
till my voices let me sleep,
Till the walls roll back … and let me through,
to drift along the roof-tops, above Ocean Avenue.
Ocean Avenue … Ocean Avenue … Ocean Avenue, ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo.

My mother was a beauty, full of darkness and joy.
She’s whirl me ‘round and stand me on a chair,
say “Look at my Sonny-Boy”.
“He can be anything, he wants to be.”
But even then the knots were working loose inside of me.
Now I stand before her picture on the wall,
behind the glass of better times.
Then the light shifts and it’s only me there,
with eyes as flat as dimes.
I miss my mom. I miss my daddy too.
Safe beneath the green grass, far from Ocean Avenue.
Ocean Avenue … Ocean Avenue … Ocean Avenue, ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo.

© Dave Morrison 2009

Precious One

Written By: Dave Morrison

Precious One

She comes up the back steps,
with her hands full of mail.
The Calico’s hungry, winds between her feet.
She throws out the junk, stacks the bills up with the rest.
Opens a can, puts on a pot of tea.

It’s not so bad, she tells herself, the weather’s good.
I shouldn’t let these little worries get me down.
I need to be grateful, for the good things in my life.
But it, sure would be sweet, to have someone around.

Who will be my oars in the current?
Help me make sense of this, when the day is done?
Who will take my side,
even when I am not worthy?
Who will be my … precious one?

He sits outside the church hall, frozen in his car.
There’s lights in the window, people moving there.
On the breeze, the sounds of fiddles and guitars.
He pulls down the visor, runs his fingers through his hair.

How did I get here, he asks of his reflection.
When did my father’s face start looking back at me?
There’s scars on me, for everyone I’ve ever loved.
Can no one see, I’m more than these?

Repeat chorus:

How long do I hold out,
in the face of all this time?
How long till they call the game?
Pack the hopes away … call it a day?

She drives up Main Street, an hour after sundown.
The church steeple’s black, in a sky of purple-blue.
She pulls into the lot, just as a man is pulling out.
Their eyes lock for a second … do I know you?

Repeat chorus:

Puppet Town

Written By: Dave Morrison

Puppet Town

Today I’ll go down the 7-11 … buy a ticket on the lottery.
Stare out my window at the freeway sign,
in the place where my mountain oughta be.
Tonight I’ll drag my bones around this old town,
as another night comes rollin’ in.
Hold out my guitar, like a beggar hold his cup.
Tryin’ to get whole again.
Pop the hood, check the water and oil.
Take her down, blow some wind into the tires.
Call the paper lady, tell her we’re through.
Leave this puppet town, dancing’ on it’s wires.

God help the man, don’t get what he wants.
Saints preserve the man who does.
Learns how to dazzle with a whole new bag of tricks.
Forsaking everything he was.
Seems I’m fakin’ it for weeks now, at a time,
cozied up to people I don’t even like.
Chasin’ ‘round like a fool out in the rain,
prayin’ for that sacred lightning strike.

Pop the hood, check the water and oil.
Take her down, blow some wind into the tires.
Call the cable lady, let her down easy.
Leave this puppet town, dancing’ on it’s wires.

Instrumental Break

The moon is following along beside my car,
like a spotlight gone a little a little dim.
Like a wise old witness with one more tale to tell,
‘bout wild hopes, and the vagaries of whim.
And in the end, who’s gonna pull your strings,
make you fret and strut … drop you in a pile.
Lights gleaming on your varnished face,
wearin’ that painted-on smile.
Wearin’ that painted-on smile.
Still wearin’ that painted-on smile.

© Dave Morrison Sept. 2009


Written By: Dave Morrison

Quartzsite ( I play this in a C position capoed at 4th fret so it’s really E, but we‘ll call it C)
(Intro: picked in C chord to F, then C chord to G and back to C)
Roy took his pension, after thirty-some years.
Machinist at Allied in Cleveland
Now he passes his days, pretty much all the same.
Maybe listens to the ‘Injuns’ in the evening.
And he watches his options whittle down to a few,
and his once-wide horizons, grow narrow.
Ol’ Roy went downtown, took a second on the house,
And drove home in a brand-new Pace Arrow.

There’s a cab-over Road Star, with a Datsun in tow,
on the road somewhere out of Sedona.
Three days ago they closed house in St. Paul,
and tonight it’s Southwest Arizona.
She’s slower in rising, sometimes she forgets,
and what’s left of his hair has gone white.
By anyone’s measure, there’s life in ‘em yet.
And they’ll dance … on the desert … tonight.

And up home where we come from, it’s snowing of course,
but it’s warm as a baby here in Quartzsite.
And the rivers are frozen, way back to their source.
But we’ll dance … on the desert … tonight.
Instrumental Break

There’s trees in the forest, a thousand years old.
But they don’t look no worse for the wear.
The spirit’s reluctant, as the flesh it grows weak.
But if you look for it, it will be there.
There’s a bunch of old duffers with drums and guitars,
settin’ up on an old plywood stage.
We’ll pull on our boots, and our best western gear,
just to get out and act half our age.

Repeat Chorus:
Margaret, you’re a vision, by the light of the stars,
as we dance in God’s open-air ball.
Many fine ladies have dazzled their men,
But you may be the finest of all.
And I ain’t leavin’ none of these pages unfilled.
Always felt like a rascal, I feel that way still.
Stay with me dear, up this one final hill.
And we’ll dance … on the desert … tonight.


Album: "A Flash of Green" Early nineties.
Album: "A Little Farther Down The Line"
Album: "Shout At The Moon" Dave Morrison Live (Dec. 2010)
All songs from "A Little Farther Down the Line" received airplay, and are available for download at ITunes and other sites. CD available at CDBaby and Amazon.

Set List

Here's a set list from a recent house concert.
Standing by the Bridge (original)
How the Rest of Us Feel (original)
Times Like These (original)
Almost a Relief (original)
Mutineer (cover, Warren Zevon)
Ocean Avenue (original)
Pretty Strong for Now (original)
Happy Again (original)
Tattered Flag (original)
Blue Chalk (cover John Gorka)
Precious One (original)
Back to Zero (original)

I generally like to play for an hour, or maybe a couple forty minute sets. At House Concerts, I like to leave time for attendees to have a song-circle.