Singer/songwriter died of lung cancer ten years ago tomorrow. I remember the day of his passing well, but at the time I was a little baffled by the enormous number of tributes to the musician, who I vaguely thought of (stupidly) as a novelty songwriter vaguely associated with the L.A. soft rock scene. How wrong I was. I arrived at the Zevon party late, but I finally showed up, and came to understand why almost every musician from the seventies and eighties that I admire deeply admires Warren Zevon and his hardbitten, witty, and unsentimental narrative style. There’s so much Zevon in so many troubadours I love: Joe Jackson, Tom Waits, Springsteen. Always on the cusp of stardom but never quite a star like peers and former roommates Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, and Jackson Browne, Zevon was nevertheless one of the most well-regarded writers of the L.A. rock scene. Whether it was his misanthropic commitment to his cynicism—as —that sidelined him or his struggles with acute alcoholism isn’t entirely clear, but he always had his champions among critics and peers alike.
In that interview he reveals that he sometimes wrote material with other performers in mind: George Jones, for example, who totally ignored Warren‘s submission of a song written especially for Jones. He also mentions writing a song with Jennifer Warnes in mind but in the end keeping it for himself. Many of you will be familiar with the landmark album Jennifer recorded many years ago: Famous Blue Raincoat , a work of surpassing beauty featuring the songs of Leonard Cohen. I hereby urge Ms. Warnes to consider a full-length project for the works of Warren Zevon. She still has a magnificent voice, and given her interpretative ability, could well produce a timeless recording for Warren‘s “customers”, as he liked to call his fans.
During his solo show at the Bowery Ballroom on Thursday night, Warren Zevon joked that he hadn't ''grown or evolved, musically or morally'' since he wrote ''Poor Poor Pitiful Me'' in the early 1970's.