Saturday, January 24, 2015

Happy Birthday Warren Zevon.

On this day, January 24, Warren Zevon would have been 68 years old. He left us far too soon. Being that it's his birthday, I'd like to take a moment to remember the man as he was.

Many terms could be used to describe Warren -- a lover, a fighter, a sincere pain in the ass and a wordsmith. His extreme talent was only overshadowed by his penchant for hysteria and misanthropy. Warren, in my opinion, is to this day one of the greatest song writers to have ever graced the earth. His ability to weave intricate tales through music rank him with the greats. Amazingly, his songs could reflect the dreary side of existence, comedy, love, horror or a spectacular combination of all the above. Yet, his competitive and self-destructive behavior always seemed to keep him from the limelight he so desperately deserved.

Warren Zevon was not a perfect man by any means. Just ask those closest to him. Yet, even through all the booze and blusterous grandstanding, he somehow remained charming... in his own macabre manner.

His career spanned nearly forty years. Though perhaps best known for the eerily comedic Werewolves of London, Warren's catalog of songs would put most any talented singer-songwriter to shame. There's a reason he garnered the respect of such greats as Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, The Everly Brothers, Bob Dylan, various members of the Eagles, and many more.

As Zevon grew older, he calmed down a great deal and got his life back on track. By the 1990's, he'd put most of his terrible behavior behind him. As such, I believe Zevon mellowed and matured like a fine wine, as did his work. By the time he reached the new millennium, I feel he'd finally gotten comfortable in his own skin. To hell with what others thought of him, Warren was just glad to be alive and doing what he loved.

In 2002, Warren began to have dizzy spells and shortness of breath. Upon finally visiting a doctor, he learned that he had developed peritoneal mesothelioma (caused by exposure to absestos). In an interview with his good friend David Letterman, Warren expanded upon his diagnosis, as well as his grim prospects.

"I might have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for twenty years."

Ever quick-witted with the tongue, Warren somehow took his final months in stride with great candor and self-deprecation. Not one to sit idle and waste away, Zevon completed his magnum opus album before dying -- The Wind. After a career spanning decades and filled with fantastic songs, he finally earned his first Grammy award. Unfortunately, Warren would not live to see it. Warren Zevon passed away on September 7, 2003.

A few years ago, I did a month long tribute to Warren Zevon on my Facebook page. Every day,  I shared one song of his that I enjoyed. As I leave you, I'll revisit some of those great songs with you. Click on the videos below and give them a listen, for Warren's sake. Maybe you're a lapsed fan. Perhaps you're a young person just discovering his music for the first time. Either way, enjoy Warren for what he was.

A smart, talented, ever-so-unique human being.

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