Reconsidering Warren Zevon (Happy Birthday Warren)

Don't the sun look angry through the trees
Don't the trees look like crucified thieves
Don't you feel like Desperados under the eaves
Heaven help the one who leaves

(Desperados Under the Eaves, 1976)

Where I was when: The Pickle Barrel, Killington, winter 1993. I drove down from Burlington to see Warren Zevon in a solo acoustic show. I remember that it was kind of subdued and that I had an exchange of insults with some loud bitchy girl from Brown University. Killington isn't really my favorite place in Vermont but it was the only time I saw Warren Zevon live. I remember I was going to try and see him in Burlington once in the late 80s but I was living in central Vermont at the time and there was a pretty significant snowstorm the day of the show so I didn't go.

I saw her leave the luau
With the one who parked the cars
And the fat one from the swimming pool
They were swaying arm in arm
I could hear the ukuleles playing
Down by the sea
She's gone with the hula hula boys
She don't care about me
She's gone with the hula hula boys
She don't care about me
They're singing,

Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana
Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana
Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana
Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana

(The Hula Hula Boys, 1982)

Dreams of California: I was born in California but left the state when I was very young and haven't been back since. I think, however, it still has a hold on my imagination. Many of Warren Zevon's old songs make me think of California (think Eagles music on acid), in a very trippy, noirish way, story songs about losers and down-and-outers. I would like to fly to San Diego, rent a car, and drive up the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to San Francisco, and then head east to Las Vegas, fly home from there (recreate in my own way, HST's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, on a slightly different route, and with rather fewer chemicals).

Last spring I was talking to a guy in a bar in NH, he was from out west, but was back east because his wife was in school, and I asked him "Do you find New England to be small, tired, and claustrophobic?" and he knew exactly what I meant. Vermont Zevon factoid: His daughter Ariel lives in Barre and founded this organization.

And your face looked like something
Death brought with him in his suitcase

(The French Inhaler, 1976)

I know exactly what these lines mean, a really horrifying situation, that's all I have to say about it.

Sometimes when you're doing simple things around the house
Maybe you'll think of me and smile

You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for awhile

(Keep me in Your Heart, 2003)

"Enjoy every sandwich": These lyrics would be nothing special but they are from Zevon's last album which he recorded as he was dying from cancer. By happy chance I saw his last public appearance on David Letterman, which was pretty amazing. He could still perform and crack jokes even though I read that he was actually very sick and feeling pretty awful at the time. The phrase "enjoy every sandwich" has come to mean "enjoy life" and it comes from David Letterman asking Warren Zevon (then terminally ill) "From your perspective, do you know something I don't know" and Warren replied "I know how much you're supposed to enjoy every sandwich." Fitting last public words from a guy who wrote some very darkly funny songs through the years.

("Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" from Letterman, still up on YouTube, watch it while you can.)

This post is a couple of days late because my computer has been used for other things for the past couple of nights.

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