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Warren Zevon: Grandfather of Two, Father of The Wind

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As most of you know, Warren Zevon announced last September that he was dying of lung cancer. He has handled life since with uncommon grace and good mordant humor, including an exceptional NY Times Magazine interview, and a profound but light visit with David Letterman highlighted by this exchange:

Dave – “Do you now know something I don’t know?”

Warren – “I know how much you are supposed to enjoy every sandwich.”

At the time of the announcement, Zevon said he hoped to make it to the next James Bond movie; he has done that and so much more:

    Singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, who announced last fall that he’s dying of lung cancer, became a grandfather twice over when his daughter, Ariel, gave birth to twin boys.

    Augustus Warren Zevon-Powell and Maximus Patrick Zevon-Powell were born Thursday at a Los Angeles hospital, said Zevon’s publicist, Diana Baron. Their father is Ariel’s husband, Ben Powell.

    “The best news was that Warren was able to be at the hospital for the babies’ birth,” Baron said.

    ….”He’s doing all right,” Baron said of the musician’s condition. “Listen, when he first started talking about his illness, he was hoping he could make it to see the next James Bond movie. And that was last Christmas. So every day is a blessing.” [AP]

While the grandsons may give him the most joy, the release of his new album, The Wind, on Aug. 26 may be his greatest accomplishment.

I now have in my hands and advance copy of The Wind. I will listen to it over the weekend, especially in my four hours in the car Sunday when I drive to visit my daughter. I’ll tell you all about it on Monday – be here or suck.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://bloviate.blogspot.com Ross

    I look forward to your review, Eric.

  • http://rodneywelch.blogspot.com/ Rodney Welch
  • Eric Olsen

    Excellent essay Rodney, thanks!

  • http://rodneywelch.blogspot.com/ Rodney Welch

    Thanks Eric — and please parson any grammatical slips due to formatting I had nothing to do with.

    Oh Warren, Warren, Warren; I am so going to miss you, but I just thank God you’re going out like a champ: a year (or so) of life, a record and (what great news!) twin grandkids — these are not bad consolation prizes after receiving a death sentence. The impending demise of Zevon is shaping up to be a not-bad Hallmark Special, isn’t it? How strange, how beautifully ironic, this man whose songs court death has taken death on his own creative terms.

    From my college days, Dylan, Zevon Springsteen, and Van Morrisson have been my idea of some kind of holy blessed tribe of songwriters; they are the ones I always come back to, the ones I never tire of, the ones whose music I have absorbed so much that they seem a part of me. I never had to explain who Dylan was, of course, although I occasionally did with Morrison and, up to a point, Springsteen. Zevon I still have to explain, especially to people under 30. How badly does it suck that there are world-weary little punks who think of themselves as having a dark view of life who do not know this man’s work? I always want to say: “You know, Junior, if you live long enough you’ll realize that there’s the the shallow, callow `darkness’ of poseurs such as yourself, and then there’s the darkness of a panther, the real, rich, luxuriant, glimmering onyx-like darkness of Flannery O’Connor and Nathanael West and John Huston and Warren Zevon.”

    There isn’t a record I antiipate with more hope than The Wind.

  • Stacey L. Brower

    Today is August 27 and even in this town of 75,000 or so in Central Montana, I had one heck of a hard time finding this CD yesterday. It was sold out everywhere I had called or visited, except for one place, where I got the last copy around 4 PM! I’d already listened to the whole album a few days ago at VH1 online, but that link is now gone, I see. All you get now are very small snippets of each song, which does no justice to the entire album or to most of the songs. The album is a real testament of the love this man has for a lot of people and to his ability to press on, getting the project done, even as ill as he was. He wrote or co-wrote 9 of the 11 songs, one he’d written previously and the other was a Dylan song. I did a search and have been reading reviews of it for a couple of hours…everyone that uses a rating system has given it 5/5 stars. I very much agree! There are a couple of tracks, #9 Please Stay and #11 Keep Me in Your Heart that are wonderful love songs. He wrote Keep Me in Your Heart the day he got the bad news of the cancer, so I really think the lyrics must hold especially dear to his girlfriend for whom he wrote them. There are some rockers too, #2 Disorder in The House with Springsteen is probably the best rocker. Zevon’s producer said Springsteen was better than he’d ever heard him before while playing some wicked guitar on that song. His cover of Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is terrific. I read in one review that his long-time friend, producer and collaborator didn’t want him to do it, but said when he heard it, he loved it. The VH1 special that debuted commercial-free Sunday night was really great too. There is little mention of his health at this point anywhere. I read in one link that he has been bed-ridden since January. His agent states he was at the hospital when his first grandchildren (twins) were born in April. He appeared in a taped segment, I would guess, at the end of the VH1 show looking really good, saying he’d outlived his three months long ago. So I am not sure what his health is, but it seems that he was able to get a few things done so that he can leave this world in peace. If you buy the album, I’d say hop right to track #9 and listen to him sing Please Stay with Emmylou Harris. About mid-way through the song Gil Benral plays some very beautiful sax solos that give me goosebumps, especially being in the song they are in. Another of my favorite tracks is #5, Not Good Enough For Her, a song he had written previously about an old love. Timothy Schmidt and Don Henley of the Eagles do harmony on it as good as I have ever heard. OK, one more that I really like, although there isn’t a song I dont like out of all 11 of them. That is the 6th track, Prison Grove, (not Groove as VH1 lists it), has a very haunting chorus done by several of the big-name stars that added to the album. Like many others, I am going to hate to see Warren go, but it looks like he took care of things and has been able to see a few things he didn’t think he would and he has left a legacy on this one album! As the previous poster on this thread mentioned, there are some young kids that I spoke with in different stores that didn’t know who Zevon was, if I mentioned Warewolves of London, some said they’d heard of that. They are going to miss out on a chance to hear a very welll done CD, one that might become a classic for the ages once it has been around and more people get “wind” of it.

    Enjoy it when you get it everyone!
    Stacey.

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks so much for your time and thoughts Stacey!