He Never Was A Liar
Warren Zevon 1947-2003
He said he was gonna die, and he did it. Not that we doubted him, or expected him to beat fate. When Warren Zevon released the details of his illness last year, it was hard news to hear, and understandably it was responded to with an outpouring of emotion. Far more than his last decade or so of record releases had, certainly. He lived long enough to watch his last album, The Wind enter the charts at #16, and while happy, I’m sure the perennial cynic in him had to appreciate the irony that he had to die to get a hit. His days of hitting the charts had passed him by. He hadn’t had a “Werewolves” in years.
But he was still great. He was great because he was honest. Even at his most flippant, such as in his early success “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” there rang a note of desperate truth in between his stanzas of exaggerated woe. He depicted his bouts with detox unflinchingly, never glossing over the bad nor ignoring the good. The good being, of course, that getting loaded is fun. It just carries a cost, that’s all. A cost he paid with his career, finances and health. He knew exactly what the hell “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” meant.
Warren Zevon was a creature of Los Angeles in the same fashion that novelist Raymond Chandler was. That is to say, he had reservations about the whole package. While his work at times shared certain musical concepts with his California brethren such as Jackson Browne and that ilk, Zevon’s sunny day always carried with it the chance of rain. If not a monsoon. His mind gave body to such characters as “Roland, The Headless Thompson Gunner” and the desperate, overwhelmed soul of “Lawyers, Guns & Money”. But he always had a heart, and he loved.
Many will remember Zevon as much for his wit, which he kept until the end — he wanted to live to see the next James Bond movie, whatta card — as for his insightful way of chronicling the human condition. Some of us will take his words to heart, such as this snippet from “Play it All Night Long”:
I’m going down to the Dew Drop Inn
See if I can drink enough
There ain’t much to country living
Sweat, piss, jizz and blood
“Sweet home Alabama”
Play that dead band’s song
Turn those speakers up full blast
Play it all night long
Fuckin A, Warren, we will. http://