January 24: The great late Warren Zevon was born in 1947

All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles
I’m gonna drink ’em upAnd if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this motel will be standing until I pay my bill
~Warren Zevon (Desperados Under the Eaves)

Few of rock & roll’s great misanthropes were as talented, as charming, or as committed to their cynicism as Warren Zevon.
~Mark Deming (allmusic.com)

Live in Passaic NJ, 1982 (The Full Concert):

BF: Who are some of your favorite songwriters?
Bob Dylan: Buffett I guess. Lightfoot. Warren Zevon. Randy. John Prine. Guy Clark. Those kinds of writers.
~Bob Dylan (to Huffington Post – May 2009)

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January 18: Warren Zevon released Excitable Boy in 1978

“The further these songs get from Ronstadtland, the more I like them. The four that exorcise male psychoses by mock celebration are positively addictive, the two uncomplicated rockers do the job, and two of the purely “serious” songs get by. But no one has yet been able to explain to me what “accidentally like a martyr” might mean–answers dependent on the term “Dylanesque” are not acceptable–and I have no doubt that that’s the image Linda will home in on. After all, is she going to cover the one about the headless gunner? A-”
– Robert Christgau

Excitable Boy is the third album by Warren Zevon, it was released in 1978. It includes the top 40 success “Werewolves of London”. The album brought Warren to commercial attention and remains the best-selling album of his career. A remastered and expanded edition was released during 2007.

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August 26: Warren Zevon released his last album The Wind in 2003

warren-zevon-the-wind-front-945x945

“Timor mortis conturbat me.
It’s from a medieval Scottish poem by William Dunbar,
It means, ‘The fear of death just fucks me up’”
– Warren Zevon (told to The Guardian, and roaring with laughter)

Warren Zevon died in 2003 aged 56, he was noted for his black humour and dry wit; he never had the big commercial success he deserved. He was highly regarded by critics and music lovers (and musicians), you could say he enjoyed a cult following. He should have been big.

“This was a nice deal: life.”
– Warren Zevon

Two weeks before he died of lung cancer, he released one of his best albums, The Wind.

“It’s hard to say if he’s being sincere or darkly witty with his cover of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” though he manages to make it work both ways.”
– Mark Deming (allmusic)

When diagnosed with lung cancer, he said: “I feel the opposite of regret. I was the hardest-living rocker on my block for a while. I was a malfunctioning rummy for a while and running away for a while. Then for 18 years I was a sober dad of some amazing kids. Hey, I feel like I’ve lived a couple of lives.”

The diagnose did in his own words, lead him into one of the most intense and creative periods of his life. Many of his more famous friend came to lend a hand on the record, including Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris, Don Henley, Ry Cooder, Billy Bob Thornthon, Jim Keltner, David Lindley, T-Bone Burnett, Joe Walsh and Dwight Yoakam. None of them taking the show from Warren Zevon, he is so clearly in control of his last creation. It is not a big bombastic farewell, it is a guy who enjoys making a record with a bunch of his friends. It feels better, more right!

Here is a touching documentary about the making of The Wind and Warren Zevon’s last months alive:

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May 18: Warren Zevon released Warren Zevon (album) in 1976

warren zevon album

And if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this motel will be standing
Until I pay my bill.

May 18: Warren Zevon released Warren Zevon (album) in 1976

We love Warren Zevon here at BTL and today it is 40 years since his big studio debut Warren Zevon (the album). A classic album that really has stood the test of time.

Though only a modest commercial success, the Browne-produced Warren Zevon (1976) would later be termed a masterpiece in the first edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide and is cited in the book’s most recently revised edition as Zevon’s most realized work. Representative tracks include the junkie’s lament “Carmelita”; the Copland-esque outlaw ballad “Frank and Jesse James”; “The French Inhaler”, a scathing insider’s look at life and lust in the L.A. music business (which was, in fact, about his long-time girlfriend and mother to his son Jordan); and “Desperados Under the Eaves”, a chronicle of Zevon’s increasing alcoholism.

Warren Zevon (with Jackson Browne) – Mohammed’s Radio live on British TV in 1976:

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