Sunday, 4 July 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee with Warren Zevon

Until Tuesday I had never heard of Warren Zevon but then I came across him on Spotify as a “radio artist” for John Prine.  I heard only a few bars and I was absolutely taken. 

He made Wednesday’s “Music in the Morning” and that day he took over this show too.  In the 6 months or so the show has been running this has never happened.

I don’t know how to describe him yet but Wikipedia says this of him.

“Warren William Zevon (January 24, 1947 – September 7, 2003) was an American rock singer-songwriter and musician noted for including his strange, sardonic opinions of life in his musical lyrics, composing songs that were sometimes humorous and often had political or historical themes.”

A mere youngster when he was cut down but many, many great songs are left.  There must be so many more that I haven’t come across yet.

Grab your coffee, sit down, listen and enjoy.

We start with the title song to a film.

Werewolves of London

If you like this you’ll be looking forward to the rest of the show.  To the rest of you keep going and you may be surprised.


I don’t know why I was so taken by Zevon’s music.  I don’t think it’s the lyrics - great as they may be.  I can only imagine the overall sound was absolutely right for me but, unfortunately, I am unable to articulate.


Next up is an early song, the look is slightly different but the sound is still there.

Excitable Boy

O yes!  Magic, brilliant.  I want to hear this over and over again.


Warren Zevon died of cancer in 2003, a star fallen from the sky.  He said on David Letterman’s show that not going to the doctors in 20 years was a strategic error and didn’t help him in catching the cancer early but he seemed to bear his illness with a humour and an acceptance which many of us might like to emulate.  There appeared no bitterness that his days were short.  He just made music and more music.



Frank and Jesse James                  with Jackson Browne

I don’t know if this is THE story or simply a story.



At the end of the last video Warren was asked if he can do Hasten Down the Wind and he says, “Not as well as Linda Ronstadt.”

I have the Linda Ronstadt version from many many years ago and I didn’t know that this was written by Zevon.  Here is the composer’s version.

Hasten Down the Wind

Sad, soulful but a wonderful song.


Warren was a regular on David Letterman’s show and, after his terminal cancer was diagnosed, Letterman devoted an entire show to him and this song Letterman asked to be included.

Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner

I cannot find words to express what the music does to, and for, me.


That’s us half way through this ten video show and we still have 5 vids to come.  The first of these is from 1991 and  ….. listen and see what you think.

Searchin’ for a Heart

One comment says,

“Great and distinctive voice. One of the best poets of the singer/songwriter era”

I will NOT disagree.  I’m hearing this track for possibly the seventh time in a few days and it’s fresh and brilliant each time.  Mind you I could say this about all his songs.


Let’s move straight into number 7.

Lawyers, Guns and Money


I’m hearing this track for possibly the seventh time in a few days and it’s fresh and brilliant each time.  Mind you I could say this about all his songs.

Oh, have I said this before?  I can’t get enough.


In his last few months Warren worked on an album with his musical friends.  This song he wanted to include.  Billy Bob Thornton did this tribute.

A great musical man!


Only two more songs from a new hero and this is Warren on a young(ish) Letterman.

Splendid Isolation

Speechless.  Nothing left.  This man is amazing.


For the last song I always like to choose something extra-special and I have succeeded this week.  Unfortunately the sound quality isn’t too great but the performance is so good I had to choose this.

Another commenter said this,

“Don't get this wrong--I am as patriotic as they come--but it says something quite negative about our culture (not our country) that an entertainer with this level of insight and genius was never really give his due recognition, especially when you consider how many moronic singers and songwriters are terribly over-celebrated. Don't worry, Warren, from what I can tell you never did bend, always did it your way. And I'm sure that had something to do with the lack of recognition. RIP”


This says all I wanted to say about Warren Zevons, this one song.  I couldn’t find the words but Warren had them already.



An amazing musical week for me:  I have found a very special artist - you may not think so but that’s OK – whom I will listen too very often. 

Well, that’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed your coffee and the music.   Tune in again next week and thanks for listening.


  1. nothing to add to that Calum except this track (again)

    beautiful song
    is it true that the good die young?

  2. Ah Warren Zevon could produce some great songs. I love Mr Bad Example

  3. Until Tuesday I had never heard of Warren Zevon

    Ah, you haven't been following my blog then - I've run Zevon a few times - the last Letterman interview was tragi-classic.

  4. I am an honest man, James. I follow your blog but I have no recollection of Warren Zevon. I must have selective memory failure.


    You have good taste, Calum.