Frustrated with the division of today’s political climate, Charlie Morris added to his signature style of blues and folk with some rock and roll for his latest album. In the 13-track “A House Divided,” Morris critically examines today’s split world, while also providing respite from the disparity with lighthearted tunes.
“Like a lot of people, I’m pretty appalled at what’s going on and the worst aspect for me is the division. What’s going on has divided friends, families and co-workers,” Morris said.
Originally from Miami, Morris moved to St. Pete in 1980, where he recorded 13 albums. His newest album, “A House Divided” was released in 2020, and is a compilation of older tracks, as well as unreleased and new numbers all dealing with thematic elements of division.
“We Americans have always held a lot of conflicting opinions, but now, tolerance for, or even awareness of, other peoples’ views seems to be at an all-time low. I’d like to see less outrage, less judgment and more togetherness,” Morris said.
The titular track, “A House Divided,” is a solemn ode to the distinct separation of people in America. With a light guitar melody, the song draws listeners in and forces them to pay close attention to the timely and veracious lyrics: “I woke up one morning in a house divided/One country, two peoples living in two separate worlds.”
Morris carefully explores the intricacies of these themes without ever naming any group or shutting anyone in. He serves to objectively critique what he sees.
“I don’t think there’s anything here to offend my conservative friends. The theme of the title song, and also of ‘Neighbors,’ is division,” Morris said. “Neighbors” explores the idea that we never really know who is around us.
“All this stuff happens and all of a sudden you start looking at the people around you and you think, “ I guess I never knew them, I never understood them. The worst part of that is, you start disengaging from everybody, the next thing you know, you don’t know what your neighbors think,” Morris said.
“The Four Horsemen” was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech where he detailed a Biblical account of four things that disrupted society. Morris determined which horsemen have changed and which remain stagnant in the song.
I woke up one morning in a house divided/One country, two peoples living in two separate worlds.”
“Unfortunately, a lot of the things that were going on then are still going on now. Racism, poverty, ignorance, lack of education, militarism. I changed [the horsemen] around a little bit, but I think most of those are still with us and I think there’s probably more than four out there,” Morris said.
On a less politically-charged note, the song “Y’all Come Over For Dinner” serves to unite everyone, even those with antithetical beliefs and views. The playful, rhythmic hi-hat and the backing guitar transports listeners to a Florida-themed feast with key lime pie, boiled peanuts, grouper, home-cooked specialties and secret family recipes.
“What better way to get together than over some home-cooked Florida cuisine?” Morris said.
Although Morris has his roots in folk and blues, he credits Keith Richards for inspiring him to write “Magic Stone,” a love letter to the Stones about the philosopher’s stone, aka the Holy Grail, a magical object that can grant users eternal life and knowledge.
“If we can just discover this one thing, then everything is gonna be okay and we’re gonna reach enlightenment and well, maybe that one thing is just some good old rock and roll,” Morris said.
Pre COVID-19, Morris hosted a weekly singer-songwriter open mic, but paused it for health concerns. However, he hosted a successful pilot run on Oct. 21 and is excited to announce the event will return every Thursday from 6-9 p.m., beginning Dec. 2 at ANJU (2827 16th St N).
Morris will play at the open mic night Dec. 2, and on Dec. 4 Morris is scheduled to perform on the Florida Folk Show hosted by St. Pete Radio (96.7 FM) with the St. Pete Mountain Boys. Later that night he’ll play at The Hideaway (1756 Central Ave).