Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Excitable Boy (Warren Zevon Ramble)

I find the practice of expressing a new-found admiration of the recently dead to be the most sickening of hippocracies (sp?). A particular case in point might be Warren Zevon, who died young-ish early due to a cancer of the gizzards, as opposed to having died young from his years of an excessive lifestyle. The tribute album was released fresh for his death, and I have no idea how it sold. I'm sure that the musicians enthusiasm on the album was genuine, but I look with a jaundiced eye at anybody currently expressing a deep fondness for Zevon.

Dear Reader, I hope I haven't insulted you too badly. I'm sure you've admired Warren for many years, and were authentically saddened when he died. And even if you only discovered him at his death, there is much in his body of work that merits enthusiastic admiration, and I cannot begrudge you the discovery of good music wherever it comes from.

Specifically, it is the practice of using the dead for 'social currency' that sickens me. I won't explain the concept here, as I probably need to sharpen my vague definition of what the hell I'm talking about.

Me and Warren? I first discovered and admired him in the late 80's, around the time he cut that album with Flea, George Clinton and members of REM. I sought out his whole catalog, and played it incessantly, as I do with almost any music I deeply enjoy. To be honest and contrarian, when I revisited his works of the late 90's, I found his social commentary to be trite headline-pulling and his melodies uninspired. I still haven't heard his deathbed album, but will get to it when I'm ready. His penultimate album? Despite his mutual admiration with David Letterman, I found the Letterman cameo on 'Hit Somebody' to be a little tacky and prevented me from listening to the album repeatedly, despite some great cuts.

Several of my sibling are even bigger fans than I am....

Hey, did anybody see Warren's cameo in the 90's on an otherwise forgettable HBO sitcom? The anti-hero sees Warren at a party and states that he's a great fan. Warren comes back gruffly:

'You're probably that jerk at my concerts who keeps screaming for Werewolves of London'.

Pity the one-hit wonder.

I will close with only one song quotation, out of hundreds of very quotable lyrics. The song is called "Bill Lee" and is one of my favorites, and it's lyric applies deftly to myself, and anybody else who writes a blog or otherwise runs their mouth.

...And sometimes I say things I shouldn't, like {harmonica finishes the melody before the singer says another hurtful thing}