Kids, I’ve had a Zevon jones lately that you would not dream, just strollin’ around singing “Sentimental Hygiene” like a boss (HEY! Click on that link! Don’t you dare slide right on by). Anyway, I thought it was time to share (by the way, Zevon Jones would be a great band name, no?).
So, let’s talk about my man Warren Zevon. The first time I’d heard of him was back in early ’79 when I was living on West 8th Avenue, just south of The Ohio State University campus. Good times from what I remember. I distinctly recall sitting at a table in the since demolished Serene Lounge, a misnamed establishment if there ever was one. I believe Eddie George’s Grill now sits where the legendary Serene Lounge was located. But as usual I digress. As I sat there enjoying Happy Hour, a buddy came rushing in and said he had tickets to a show up the street at Zachariah’s Red-Eye Saloon. That’s now The Newport for all the youngsters out there (by the way, I may be off on the dates here and there. Hey, it was the 70’s you know). Of course, I asked who was playing, and he told me Warren Zevon. Being the sophisticated music aficionado that I was, I immediately jumped at the chance. O.K., truth be told I’d never heard of Warren Zevon. Seems I’d missed the whole “Werewolves of London” hoopla from a few months prior. Go figure. Long story short, I went, was blown away and became a huge fan. It’s odd but the one clear memory of that night was Zevon mentioning that his dad was named Stumpy. That’s a cool dad name, don’t you think? Anyway, one of my big regrets (among many) is the fact that I never saw Warren Zevon live again.
Here’s some interesting Zevon trivia that is sure to catch a rock fan’s ear. It seems that in the early to mid-70’s, just before they all hit the big-time, Warren roomed with a couple hip-cats named Buckingham and Nicks. How great would it have been to be there when they brought out the guitars or sat at the piano? Not to mention being in the presence of Miss Nicks. Meow.
Zevon’s music is best known for its wit, humor, and intelligence. A lot of his stuff has historical or political themes, and he was great at putting a wry spin on an otherwise bland topic. I mean, who else would write a song about Roland, a Norwegian who becomes embroiled in the 1960’s Congo Crisis? Warren did when he wrote “Roland, the Headless Thompson Gunner.” You never get that kind of stuff from Bieber, let me tell ya.
Ah, what the hell, let’s get to the music. If you don’t know much about his stuff, here’s a few songs that will give you a good idea what Warren Zevon was all about. They also happen to be my personal favorites.
“Excitable Boy” – This gem is an upbeat little number about a juvenile sociopath’s murderous prom night. What’s not to like? It’s the greatest sociopath song since The Beatle’s “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” It’s been previously mentioned here at The Store in the witty, well written, insightful, fascinating blog entitled “Killer Songs.”
“Reconsider Me” – Nice, slow, haunting song about lost love. The aforementioned Stevie Nicks covered it nicely and liked it well enough to include it in her box set.
“Splendid Isolation” – A biting satire against celebrity culture, but only one cat gets mentioned by name. Dig these lyrics:
Michael Jackson in Disneyland
Don’t have to share it with nobody else
Lock the gates, Goofy take my hand
And lead me through the World of Self.
“Raspberry Beret” – Yep, it’s THAT Raspberry Beret. The song is actually Zevon fronting a little combo called The Hindu Love Gods, which included Mike Mills, Peter Buck, and Bill Berry of R.E.M. Just a great cover of the Prince classic.
“Detox Mansion” – Great song poking fun at celebrities (again) who go to rehab and act like it’s a living hell for them. This time Elizabeth Taylor and Liza Minnelli get the needle. Pun intended.
Well, I’m goin’ down to Detox Mansion
Way down on Last Breath Farm
I’ve been rakin’ leaves with Liza
Me and Liz clean up the yard.
“Trouble Waiting to Happen” – Maybe my favorite Zevon song. It’s a simple tune, really, but for some reason it’s always hit home with me. A sampling:
The mailman brought me The Rolling Stone
Trouble waiting to happen
It said I was living at home alone
Trouble waiting to happen
I read things I didn’t know I’d done
It sounded like a lot of fun
I guess that I’ve been bad or something
Trouble waiting to happen.
A couple of months before he died, Zevon was on Letterman. As you can tell from some of the links, Dave loved Warren Zevon and he’d had him on his show often. Everybody knew Warren was dying, but the guy just carried himself with an air of class and dignity that was remarkable. It was a sad and touching show, and everyone needs to watch it.
Warren Zevon died on September 7th, 2003. He made an album just before he died called “The Wind” and it was damn good. Regarding his coming passing, he wrote a beautiful goodbye song on the album called “Keep Me in Your Heart.”
As if we had a choice.