Warren Zevon on the 20th anniversary of his death

In 2003 singer-songwriter Warren Zevon died of lung cancer aged 56. Part of the 70’s LA rock scene alongside acts like Jackson Browne and Fleetwood Mac, Zevon distinguished himself with the mordant wit and twisted romanticism of his songs. Here is a sampling from our catalogue.

Excitable boy / Zevon, Warren
Zevon’s best-selling album, this 1978 effort includes the ubiquitous “Werewolves of London”. But even if you’re tired of that overplayed song, that still leaves several of his classics such as the title track, “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner”, “Accidentally Like a Martyr” and “Lawyers, Guns and Money”.


Life’ll kill ya / Zevon, Warren
Fast forward all the way to 2000, this largely acoustic affair represented a strong comeback on record for Zevon after a couple of disappointing efforts. Almost predicting the grim news that would arrive just a couple of years later, themes of mortality pervade the record on songs like “Don’t Let Us Get Sick” and “Porcelain Monkey”. Rounding things out is a mournful cover of Steve Winwoods “Back in the High Life”.

The wind / Zevon, Warren
Given just months to live, Zevon headed into the studio to finish one more record. The Wind, however, is not a mournful record. Assisted by guest appearances from Bruce Springsteen, Ry Cooder, Don Henley, Jackson Browne and Billy Bob Thornton (illustrating the respect he was held in), Zevon goes out in defiant, rocking fashion. However, it’s impossible not be most moved by songs like “Keep Me in Your Heart” and the cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heavens Door”.

Genius : the best of Warren Zevon / Zevon, Warren
Collecting 22 tracks from between 1976 and 2002, this is an excellent introduction to Zevon, that will hopefully whet listeners appetite for a deeper dive into his albums.



Enjoy every sandwich : the songs of Warren Zevon
Tribute albums are generally pretty hit and miss, but the quality of Zevon’s song writing and committed performances from all concerned make this one a success. Bruce Springsteen actually improves on “My Ride’s Here” while other highlights include renditions by Pete Yorn (“Splendid Isolation”), The Pixies (“Ain’t That Pretty At All”) and, of all people, Adam Sandler (“Werewolves of London”, they couldn’t leave it off….)

I’ll sleep when I’m dead : the dirty life and times of Warren Zevon / Zevon, Crystal
Warren Zevon was, to put it mildly, a complicated character. When he gave ex-wife Crystal carte blanche to be as forthright as possible in recounting his life (via interviews), the results were bound to be interesting. The accounts of alcoholism, womanizing and general misbehaviour that fill this book make for an uncomfortable read in places, to say nothing of its account of his last months. Nevertheless, an engrossing account of a unique and enduring talent.