The Sunday Dozen: Warren Zevon

You probably knew this was coming after my Warren Zevon themed post about the Uvalde school massacre, The Vast Indifference Of Heaven.

The featured image is of Ashley Morris and Warren Zevon at House of Blues in New Orleans. When we met, Ashley and I bonded immediately over our shared Zevon fandom. I’d even visited his Unofficial Warren Zevon web site before we met, which is no longer online, alas.

When I think of WZ, I think of Ashley and vice versa. They both left us too early as did Greg Peters who made this tribute video after Ashley’s passing. The music is the poignant Zevon tune, Keep Me In Your Heart.

Ashley Morris wasn’t my only link to Warren Zevon. In the 1990’s Dr. A and I attended several Zevon shows with her colleagues Dr. G and Dr. C. I was the only non-PHD in the group. Dr. G insisted on stalking WZ after the shows: once he was in a bad mood and she was not amused. So it goes.

After a Zevon show at Tipitina’s I got ahold of the set list. I thought it was peculiar that WZ had a handwritten set list for a solo acoustic show, but he was a peculiar guy as am I. I held on to the setlist until Ashley’s funeral then slipped it into his casket. End of mildly morbid story.

Let’s get down to the music. As always, the list is in chronological order and reflects my taste.

Poor Poor Pitiful Me is sardonic, sarcastic, and other S words. I always thought it was a weird song for Linda Ronstadt to cover but what the hell do I know?

Desperados Under The Eaves is a lushly produced song featuring an orchestra conducted by the songwriter and backing vocals by Jackson Browne, JD Souther, and Carl Wilson. That last name is the key: Desperados is WZ’s Pet Sounds song.

Warren Zevon and David Letterman went way back. Here’s a 1988 appearance on Late Night wherein WZ performs one of his best loved songs:

Now that the shit has hit the fan, let’s get excitable.

Excitable Boy is a cheerful song narrated by a homicidal maniac. This version was recorded at the aforementioned Tipitina’s show. Dr. G swears that you can hear her squealing like a cartoon mouse. Undignified but true.

Warren Zevon was a great lyricist. Accidentally Like A Martyr is an excellent example of his wordsmithery.

Play It All Night Long starts off with one of WZ’s nastiest lyrics: “Grandpa pissed his pants last night, he don’t give a damn.”

Boom Boom Mancini is a song that was ripped from the headlines. It’s about a boxer, Ray (Boom Boom) Mancini who killed a man in the ring. Zevon sings it from the perspective of the anguished pugilist. He could be compassionate as well as sardonic.

Here’s a double dose of Boom Boom:

REM’s Peter Buck, Bill Berry, and Mike Mills were WZ’s band on the 1987 album, Sentimental Hygiene. They called themselves the Hindu Love Gods and even recorded an album under that name. Trouble Waiting To Happen is a fine example of what they brought to the table.

Splendid Isolation was the theme song for a 2016 edition of Saturday Odds & Sods:

Mr. Bad Example was the title track of a 1991 album. I’ve always preferred it as an acoustic number.

My Shit’s Fucked Up. The title says it all. It was written after and about WZ’s cancer diagnosis. Shit. Fuck. Shit.

The ride in question in My Ride’s Here is a hearse. It makes me verklempt just thinking about it.

This week’s lagniappe is two covers of one of WZ’s most famous as well as overrated songs. First, the good old Grateful Dead followed by WZ’s compatriot David Lindley.

The last word, of course, goes to Warren Zevon: