The Inspiration Behind His Sad Songs

3 February 2016 | 7:56 pm | Chris Havercroft

“I’ve had a weird life, but who hasn’t?"

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It is said that William Fitzsimmons is equal parts songwriter and philosopher, creating music that melds honesty, depravity and autobiography into a seamless whole. As a response to this Fitzsimmons would like to let you know (with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek) that William Fitzsimmons is equal parts songwriter and philosopher, creating utterly captivating music that melds honesty, depravity and autobiography into a seamless whole everything is just as bad as you think and it is not getting any better. He feels his songs do a great job of expressing this.

This month will be Fitzsimmons' first visit to Australia. It is something that he has been aching to do since the first time he started to share his music though a MySpace page many years ago. He specifically remembers that there were quite a few people from Australia that were writing and asking to buy CDs.

“The pessimist in me thinks that I am finally showing up in Australia five minutes after the last fan has given up on me,” says a deadpan Fitzsimmons. “That’s the time when I hit the stage and play the big opening chord and no one is there as they have all moved on. It is one of the places that I have always wanted to come since I first started to travel so thankfully, I am finally going to be there.”

Fitzsimmons writes music that is so personal, that on first listen you feel as though you should give him a hug. His latest album, Pittsburgh, focusses on the place of his birth as well as the passing of his grandmother that left an indelible mark even though Fitzsimmons was only four years of age at the time.

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“I’ve had a weird life, but who hasn’t? We’ve all been through so much crap. Recently I had this really weird experience; my father was adopted so there has always been some big question marks in my family and it dawned on me that there were people that are his biological family that were unknown to me. The long and the short of this is that I ended up discovering who these people are and I reached out to them. I am 37 years-old and my dad is in his 60’s so it’s a weird thing to happen now. It’s not a negative thing at all - for my dad it is kind of strange - but for me it’s fascinating. There are people that have passed on that I never got to know.

“I don’t want to dig for problems. I don’t want to raise the dead just to have to bury them again, but if something is presented right in front of me, then I feel it is a really good opportunity to investigate it. If you don’t take advantage of it, you may not get the chance again. If it’s coming up now, then there must be a reason that it is coming up now so you’ve gotta deal with it. You will be better off if you do that. That is a more recent maturity for me.”

When the generously bearded songwriter started writing songs it was the more teenage angst stuff about his life stinking and how everybody should feel bad for him. Now that he has children (young daughters) and is actively watching the generations move, Fitzsimmons readily admits that he is so much more joyful now that he was 10 years ago.

“The songs are still pretty sad most of the time, but it is doing something good for me. Even at the most pragmatic or basic thing is that I don’t have time to wallow in a lot of different things anymore because there is always someone pulling at my leg that wants to go to the park or something. There is a blessing in that. I think in some ways I am writing better than I was before because I don’t have time to sit in a room and mess with the mellotron sample for 10 hours. It forces your hand a little bit. You know you have three hours and you’re not happy with the way the chorus sounds, so get to work.”

Within Fitzsimmons' first few albums he covered topics such as the separation of his parents and followed up with a record about the dissolution of his own marriage. It was a song cycle that he admits led to some soul searching and therapy. When he delves into the back catalogue for his first shows in Australia, he may be poking the bear a little.

“I expect it will be three shows and three years of therapy undone. I am totally going to go back through the back catalogue. I am really looking forward to it. There are a group of songs that I won’t say I got sick of, but at some point you need to stop playing some for a while. I literally get to go and have a look at the old CDs and play things that I may not have sung live in seven years.”

Originally published in X-Press Magazine