Warren Zevon left something wonderful

Music review

I knew Warren Zevon was dying of lung cancer when I started this review last month. Still, I put off finishing it. Somehow I thought he would live forever. I was wrong. He died Sept. 7 at 56.

You can’t blame me, though. He’d already lived more than a year even though the doctor who diagnosed him only gave him three months. Here was the guy who wrote “Werewolves of London,” “Detox Mansion,” “Mr. Bad Example,” and “Hit Somebody (The Hockey Song).” Who could believe that this funny, brilliant and demented songwriter – this poet – was doing something as unfunny as dying?

“I might have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for 20 years,” he told David Letterman last October. “It’s one of those phobias that didn’t pay off.”

Ah, but Zevon has left us with the greatest gift he could, The Wind, his best album yet. Instead of lying around feeling sorry for himself or suddenly having a change of heart about his life so far, Zevon wanted to spend time with friends and family and he wanted to leave his fans one last album.

“The Wind is something he wanted to give to everybody he [couldn’t] speak directly to,” his son Jordan told the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger in August. The result is typical Zevon: funny, loud and outrageous at times (“Disorder in the House,” “[Party for] The Rest of the Night”), and heartbreakingly beautiful at other times (“She’s Too Good for Me,” “Keep Me in Your Heart”). No saccharine, no sap; just pure poetry and good old rock n roll.

– Carolyn Rummel (crummel@pww.org)