Listen: Warren Zevon @ Tower Theater, Philadelphia, PA – April 22, 1980

…. this performance captures a classic Warren Zevon show, when many believe he was at the height of his creative prowess. Near the start of the show, Zevon steps up to the microphone and exclaims: “It’s great to be back in Philadelphia… And it’s great to be in a rock and roll band!” Then, he launches into a blistering version of his hit, “Excitable Boy,” with all the bravado of a pool hall punk. A song about a high school age sociopath’s murderous prom night, this is a prime example of Zevon’s extremely macabre outlook. Later in the show, he reminds the audience: “This is one of the best audiences I have ever seen; I may go berserk!”
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Tower Theater
Philadelphia, PA
April 22, 1980

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Listen: Warren Zevon – Classic Concert @ Auditorium le Plateau (Montreal, Quebec) – July 30, 1978

This performance, recorded in 1978 after the release of Excitable Boy, captures that pivotal moment in time, just as Zevon was riding up the hit single charts with “Werewolves of London.” His band is a bit ragged and Zevon’s vocals are certainly an acquired taste, but his spirit and performance more than makes up for any weaknesses. Fans of that breakthrough album will be delighted here, as that material weighs heavy in this performance.
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Auditorium le Plateau
Montreal, Quebec
July 30, 1978

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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!

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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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