Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Accidentally, Like a Martyr

In Memory of Warren Zevon (1947-2003)

To say Warren Zevon's music was eccentric or quirky is understatement to say the very least. This is, after all, the man who gave us "Werewolves of London" and "Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner." And that was what was so likeable about his music - the utter lack of concern for fashion. In an age where pop music has been increasingly populated by the thuggish poseurs of gangsta rap, angst-ridden indies, and vacuous pop tarts, a song about a Norwegian mercenary whose ghost avenges his betrayal at the hands of the CIA seems remarkably refreshing.

Zevon died in his sleep Sunday. He faced death with the same dark sardonic humor that marked much of his music with songs like "Life'll Kill Ya" and "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead." Zevon had struggled for years with drug and alcohol problems, finally sobering up about eighteen years ago. Zevon said he "chose a certain path and lived like Jim Morrison and lived thirty more years. You make choices and you have to live with the consequences."

His gallows humor didn't fail him once he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. In his last appearance on The Late Show he told David Letterman, "I might have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for 20 years. It's one of those phobias that didn't pay off."

Letterman asked Zevon if his condition had taught him anything about life and death. "How much you're supposed to enjoy every sandwich," Zevon answered.

How true.


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