Intruder In The Dirt: Warren Zevon’s Legacy Of Eccentricity & The Case For Warren In The Rock Roll Hall of Fame

“I like to have a good time, and I don’t care who gets hurt.”—“Mr. Bad Example,” 1991

zevon33If you mention the name Warren Zevon to someone, they usually give you a look that indicates that they have no idea whatsoever who he is or that they know him as the “Werewolves Of London” guy. His music is admittedly an acquired taste for most. But his crusaders, supporters, fans, and nut jobs (present company included), are all of a similar vein. To quote one of his many underrated later songs, their shit was also fucked up. Bob Dylan, Hunter S. Thompson, Stephen King, David Letterman (he filled in on more than one occasion as bandleader when Paul Shaffer was away), Carl Hiaasen, Jackson Browne, Judd Apatow, and Bruce Springsteen all possess Zevon’s outlaw iconoclasm. His audience could be the biggest cult this side of Parrotheads and much like Jimmy Buffett (also a Zevon confidante), Warren has never even been nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not even fucking nominated! But, while Buffett has maximized (and monetized) his niche beyond his wildest dreams, Zevon was only afforded a victory lap after his lung cancer was detected in 2002.

It was cruelly ironic that a guy who sang so often about moral frailty, physical illness and mortality had to publicly take that walk towards what Stephen King called in The Dark Tower “The Clearing At The End Of The Path.” Then again, maybe his fate was pretty fitting. When he sat down with Letterman for an episode of The Late Show in which he was the only guest, Zevon admitted that he had intentionally avoided doctors for years. But after refusing treatment, Warren was able to end his life as he lived it—on his own terms. When asked by Letterman what lessons he’d pass on as he looked death in the face, he simply responded “enjoy every sandwich.” That became the title of an excellent tribute album to be released after his death. His own final album, “The Wind,” included collaborations with many of the same artists and the VH-1 documentary “Keep Me In Your Heart” chronicled its creation. Somehow, as Zevon shared with the New York Times in 2003, he became “the travel agent for death.”

Yet somehow Warren William Zevon has never even sniffed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, I took to the pages of Glide to plea for a re-examination of Lynyrd Skynrd.  Fortunately, that injustice was rectified two years later. Had Cheap Trick not just been inducted this year, I might have considered authoring a similar piece about them. But Zevon’s absence from even the ballot is the most egregious omission of all. The closest Warren has come was when Springsteen mentioned him as Cain to Jackson Browne’s Abel when he inducted Browne in 2004. He was intimating that Zevon was represented the dark side of the singer-songwriter persona of the 1970s. As usual, the Boss hit the nail on the head.

The longevity of “Werewolves Of London” doesn’t seem to have done Zevon many favors, either. Even though the lyrics contain all of his characteristic black comedy, the song was more of a millstone around his neck than anything. There was a classic episode of The Larry Sanders Show where Warren discussed the burden of always having to play it on television. He also had a genius turn on two episodes of HBO’s much-less celebrated Dream On as well.  Springsteen, as usual, was really on to something when he hinted at Zevon being the evil version of Jackson Browne. Browne performed with Zevon in 1976 and produced his “breakthrough” album Excitable Boy. Yet, Warren said and did things that do not lend themselves to mainstream success. In many ways he was the rock n’ roll version of Hunter S. Thompson.  His logo was a skull in aviator shades smoking cigarettes. His second biggest hit was entitled “Lawyers, Guns, And Money,” for Christ’s sake.

These attributes are part of what makes Zevon so appealing, but also what kept him out of the mainstream. His songs were all authentic. The characters he created seemed like they could all be stand-ins for him. The ones that weren’t were just the product of his awesome writing and delivery. The baritone of his voice was the linchpin of that delivery. When he sang, you knew he wasn’t fucking around. If NFL Films’s John Facenda was the “Voice Of God,” then Warren Zevon was the rock n’ roll equivalent. Of course, he was hardly pure, so maybe Bruce was onto something in his aforementioned speech. Warren Zevon was the voice of something else. He represented the outlaw in all of us. As “Mr. Bad Example” sang, “I’ like to have a good time and I don’t care who I cross.”

In his speech, Springsteen referred to Jackson Browne’s songs as the one’s he wished he’d written. Warren Zevon’s songs could all have only been written by him.  One of Bruce’s many discarded tracks from the Darkness On The Edge Of Town sessions, “Janey Needs A Shooter” was eventually given to Zevon after he heard the title from Bruce’s manager. Springsteen even helped him finish the track and it later appeared on Zevon’s 1980 LP Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School and there are many great live versions of the track online.

Zevon wasn’t an easy guy to collaborate with. His ex-wife Crystal’s book I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead tells all. According to Crystal, that’s just what he asked her to do when he was diagnosed. Even Jackson Browne, who put his own money up to get Zevon recorded, said in the book that his role as benefactor took its toll on their friendship. Needless to say, the hard drinking and physically destructive guy in his songs wasn’t purely fiction.

The Grateful Dead would seem to be appropriate conspirators for Warren’s peculiar brand of mischief. They covered “Werewolves” shortly after its release and had Zevon open for them at UC Santa Barbara for one of Bill Graham’s many multi-artist bills featuring the Dead. There are some nice photos that survive of that day (one with Phil Lesh smiling over Zevon’s shoulder) of Warren decked out in a sweater and collared shirt sitting at the piano. But his appearance hardly went over well. On the surviving audience recording, it’s clear that Zevon was once again very drunk. He is goading the sound crew and crowd from the get go.  He gives the audience a big “AH OOO!” even though he doesn’t play the corresponding song until the end of the show.  During his band introductions, he goads the crowd with “I guess you applaud louder when you peak.” Before finally playing “Werewolves,” Zevon jokes to the crowd that even though they are “fucking acid casualties” and “vegetables,” they can still sing along. He goes on to introduce Bonnie Raitt as a guest vocalist, even though the audience “doesn’t deserve her.”  As he often did, he pointed out his road manager, George Gruel, and told the crowd that he see that all drugs were “properly disposed of.”


George Gruel is still keeping Warren’s spirit alive today. His book, Lawyers, Guns, & Photos: Photographs and Tales of My Adventures With Warren Zevon, is a must-read.  He also helped with a tribute concert earlier this month to promote not only Zevon’s music, but the issue of asbestos awareness. In another ironic twist that seemed typically Zevon, his cancer (despite popular belief) wasn’t the result of a lifetime of smoking.  The carpet store owned by his father that he sang about in “Mr. Bad Example” was filled with asbestos. During his famous final Letterman appearance, Zevon pointed out that mesothelioma was also what killed Steve McQueen. While the excellent new documentary Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans suggests that the old protective racing suits may have affected the famous actor, it was Warren’s years of rehearsal in the attic above his dad’s store that led to his sickness. George and Warren’s son Jordan are doing everything they can dissociate mesothelioma from the late-night ambulance chaser commercials that populate our airwaves.

Of the Santa Barbara show, George confirms that there were “tons” of drugs to be confiscated that day.  If anyone would like a copy of the show, I’d be happy to pass it on.  As a veteran of 138 Dead shows, I can attest that the opening band wasn’t often afforded a real opportunity to shine. Of course, this didn’t offend the Dead one bit and they chose Warren to open for them again in 1980 for their official 15th anniversary shows in Boulder and Phoenix. Gruel’s greatest memory of those shows was getting to hang out with his former roommate, Bob Weir (George lived with him before his Zevon adventures). Jerry guested on Zevon’s 1989 Tranverse City album and Zevon appeared on the 1991 Deadicated tribute disc. Ironically, he and David Lindley chose to cover “Casey Jones,” which is the Dead’s equivalent to “Werewolves Of London.”

Zevon’s misguided attempts at joking Deadheads wasn’t unusual for him onstage. I wore out a bootleg from Georgetown in 1979 (which I haven’t been able to find digitally if anyone has a lead) where he threatens to shoot a constant heckler. It seemed like every time he was presented to another band’s audience, it became clear that the only one that appreciated him was his own.

I count myself proudly among that group. I first “got” Zevon in 1994 after hearing his “unplugged” live album, Learning To Flinch. I found myself partying in a random girl’s apartment in Albany during its annual LarkFEST. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was right in the middle of a typical Warren Zevon scene. As the chords to “Splendid Isolation” shot through a pair of cheap speakers, I was immediately struck by the pictures this powerful voice painted.  Like the song’s subject, I also lived on the Upper East Side and wanted to never go down the street. Michael Jackson being led by Goofy through the world of self was typically insane Zevon imagery.  He was the ultimate storyteller, which is why the best writers of the page, song, and screen admire him so much. He could even interpret other artist’s words to perfect. His cover of “Raspberry Beret” with the majority of R.E.M. (“Hindu Love Gods”) is fantastic, although Prince’s management had it pulled from the web even before his untimely death.

zevonposterI saw Zevon live the following year at Irving Plaza. As the linked New York Times review mentioned, he was backed up by an Irish band, Something Happens, that night. As a result, I felt like I wasn’t getting to see the real Warren. Luckily, I saw him twice in 1999 at the same venue without any accompaniment. The show opened with my favorite song “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead” (which was used as the title for an underwhelming film) and was a monster all the way through. He was supporting his album Life’ll Kill Ya, which remains as underrated as Zevon himself.

The last time I saw him in concert was at the Bowery Ballroom with Jill Souble opening up. As he did throughout that tour, he joined her onstage for a duet of her hit “I Kissed A Girl” and a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Jackson.” It was the night before St. Patrick’s Day and the crowd was pretty rowdy. During “Werewolves,” a guy ran on the stage and a fight broke out. Zevon calmly looked at the audience and said “I bet this never happens at Sting concerts.” While I’m sure the incident would have prompted a different response from a younger and drunker Zevon  (he got sober in 1986) , but it was a perfect Warren moment nonetheless.  I brought my then-girlfriend to the show that night after raving about what an underrated genius Zevon was. After waking up in my Avenue A studio completely naked the following morning, she told me she now got it. Once again, I found myself in the middle of a scene from one of his songs. That girl and I have been married going on thirteen years with two amazing kids who are constantly surprising us.

Sadly, that was the last time I saw Zevon. I was all set to see his next Bowery show, but the date was shortly pulled from his website. Soon thereafter, Zevon revealed his illness to the world. Mr. Bad Example” sang that he’d live to be a hundred and go down infamy, but the tune’s final line seems more apropos.

“I’ll see you in the next life, wake me up for meals.”

Earlier this year, Judd Apatow and Jackson Browne put on their own Zevon tribute concert in Los Angeles, which included artists like Souble. Fortunately, the setlist was filled with deep cuts and avoided “Werewolves” entirely. Apatow’s use of “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me” during the spin the bottle game in Freaks and Geeks remains one of the best uses of Warren’s music. But somehow, Zevon can’t even get on the ballot for the Hall of Fame. He’s on every “Top 10 Omissions” list. Maybe not being in there is the most Warren Zevon thing that could happen to him. In fact, “Mr. Bad Example” described this very type of institution in song:

“Where very few are chosen, and fewer still are called.”

Fuck that. Rectify the travesty. Induct Zevon.

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73 Responses

  1. The title of the song is “Jeannie Needs a Shooter” and it appears on Warren’s album “Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School” from 1980.

  2. Bill, I know. The title came from the Bruce circulating outtake. The live version from Passaic and the Stand In The Fire one are great.

  3. Jeannie Needs A Shooter” is a song written by Warren Zevon and Bruce Springsteen. It appears on Warren Zevon’s fourth album Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School released in 1980.

  4. Great article Ross! I am 59 years young and remember purchasing “Excitable Boy” back when it first came out. I would imagine it was due to hearing Werewolves, but I soon realized that Warren wrote a whole album full of great songs and continued to do so for his entire lifetime! I only saw him live once, here in Burlington Vt, I remember he was great! I always thought it was wonderful that he wrote a tune about 1 of the greatest characters in all of baseball, Bill Lee! Warren deserves to be in the Rock All of Fame!!!!!!!!



    1. I didn’t know too much about Warren Zevon, but I bought Excitable Boy and it blew my mind. I went back to the store and bought all his CD’s they had. I listened to them all for months and I was amazed at his story telling and how he did it, then he was gone. It’s not a surprise that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had not honored him. They just don’t know what good shit is.

  5. He was a great artist but I’m betting he wouldn’t care about this hall of fame stuff especially considering some of the so called ‘artist’ who are in it. He knew he was outside the box.

    1. That was exactly my thought. Yeah, there a lot of bands the should be in the HOF but aren’t. To the point it’s a really sad joke. I’m betting if he were alive he’d tell em to go piss up a rope.

  6. Great, put him in. But also induct GRAND FUNK RAILROAD. They were the top selling band of the seventies and SOLD OUT SHEA STADIUM FASTER THAN THE BEATLES – and they’re STILL not in the Hall!

  7. if memory serves, warren collected multiple copies of paul klee’s The Thinking Eye and The Nature of Nature to which he would add his signature; any thoughts as to why he undertook this act of acknowledgement and appropriation?

  8. In a better world every honest and respectful musician that has been inducted into R&R HOF would pull out until Warren is inducted.

  9. “If you mention the name Warren Zevon to someone, they usually give you a look that indicates that they have no idea whatsoever who he is or that they know him as the “Werewolves Of London” guy. ”

    Loving Warren Zevon’s catalog, understanding that Randy Newman is a beautifully dark, sardonic mofo if you’re not listening to a Pixar soundtrack and getting that Kristofferson is arguably a better songwriter than Dylan on a good day are all litmus tests for me on whether someone is going to be a just pleasant conversation or possibly a damned good friend.

  10. Good writing there, Ross!
    And lucky you…you got to see him live.
    I was in college in the 1970’s when I read a Rolling Stone review about Warren’s second album and bought it…I happened to also have my own show on college radio at that time and played the hell out of “Mohammed’s Radio” and “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”.
    We all know Linda Ronstadt covered that last song but I swear to God that she would have had another hit had she also covered “Accidentally Like a Martyr” from his next album.
    Anyway – in my own small way, I helped expose listeners in the Texas panhandle to one of America’s best (and very eccentric) songwriters.

  11. Back in the ’90s or so Warren appeared at a now-extinct venue called Parker’s in Seattle. It was getting late, I was getting drunk and it was a weekday and I had to work the next day. I got it in my head the concert was starting way late so the venue could sell more booze, so on the way back from the bathroom I stuck my head backstage and yelled, “Showtime, gentlemen! C’mon, it’s showtime!” A smirking roadie standing nearby humored me, saying, “That’s right sir. You tell’em.” Then I noticed a shorter guy standing in the near dark by the stage curtain standing still, just looking at me. Of course it was Warren and I was mortified that the Great One was witnessing my assholery. Thinking back on it now, if there was any artist who would cut some slack to a drunken asshole, it would be Warren.

  12. I agree with your conclusion. I saw Zevon when he opened his Bad Luck Streak tour in E. Lansing 1980. the band was amazing and when this unassuming looking man opened his mouth, you had to double take; the voice didn’t match. Don Imus loved Carmelita and played it all the time. FYI, Jeannie, not Janey

  13. Zevon’s songs are brilliantly original and beautifully sung. Listen to “Carmelita”, “Hasten Down the Wind” or “The French Inhaler” or any of the songs on the, “Warren Zevon” album to experience great storytelling, solid musicianship and heart-breaking vocals by Warren. Of course this applies to dozens of other songs in his incredible catalog of completely compelling music. No other musician deserves the honor than induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, period.

  14. Great article. I saw warren several times solo and with band. One of his greatest tunes is The French Inhaler. Most definitely HOF worthy. It’s a shame most people have forgotten about him and his body of work. Bruce sang My Ride is Here after his passing as a tribute during one of his shows. WOW. I’ve heard Bruce do Jeannie.

  15. My husband and I were living in LA during Zevon’s rise to fame and his dark, ironic songs formed the backdrop of our life there and inspired my own stories and novels of a surreal urban landscape.

    When iconic musicians die, fans feel the loss – a connection to their own world has been broken. But when Zevon died, we felt as if we’d lost a personal friend. I still have the recording we made of his last interview on the Letterman show.

    His music is black, uncompromising and witty – not something mainstream fans can really handle. He deserves a place in the Hall of Fame. Let’s hope somebody pays attention.

  16. Thank you for a wonderful thoughtful and detailed article on Warren Zevon….also can’t understand why no induction happening YET! Please keep working on it….surely Bob Dylan and all the other giants of music should have some say in the matter! elizabeth at windywood

  17. Want a song that will put a lump in your throat but which is anti-sentimental? Try “Keep Me In Your Heart For Awhile.”

  18. I am happy so many people still care about Warren. I know that “Jeannie” is the name of the song, but was making people aware of its origins with Bruce. “Janey” has been a character from “Greetings” to the great outtake from the 80s, “Janey Don’t You Lose Heart.”

    The anecdotes about Warren and Bruce in Crystal Zevon’s book are heartbreaking. Hopefully, people will stop ignoring this man’s work. I guess I should have written that Zappa is in the hall, but his influence is widely appreciated I think.

    Thanks again for all the kind words.


    1. BTW, the guitarist for the Bad Luck Streak tour was David “The Jaguar” Landau, brother of Jon Landau, who is a HOF nominator and part of Springsteen’s past. We Have an inside man!!

  19. I know you feel you’re advocating for him but installation in that temple of commerce, banality and post hoc hipness is no tribute.

  20. It was the early 80s, can’t remember the specific name of the theater in Passaic, NJ, only about 2500 seats and saw him there…one word- AMAZING!!! loved him forever after that, the HOF is very lacking without him.

    1. Capitol Theater! I saw Rush there in 79, Triumph in 80, Ozzy & Randy in 81,and half a dozen others. A great little hall that they let fall apart and die before the end of the 80’s . Very sad! I think its a strip mall now.

  21. Years ago a girl in a bar asked what my favorite Warren Zevon song was. I took a long sip, put the glass down and said- ” that’s easy, all of them.” Needless to say….

  22. I’m a hard rocker/metal guy so he was generally off my radar. When I was in college I picked up an old album of his in a used CD store because it was only a buck. The funny thing was I actually thought it was brilliant. I ‘m sure I still have it in a box somewhere and haven’t listen to it in 15 years but it had a song about monkeys (in africa, i think), and also one about a boxing match. I just like the way he turned a phrase and he had a very soulful, sad voice too. And if no-talents the likes of NWA and the Beastie Boys get in the Hall without objection on their first try, you must consider it a great honor Warren has never been mentioned. The ROR hall is a first class crock of shite. Ah-wooo!

    1. >>one about a boxing match. <<

      Boom Boom Mancini. Another great underappreciated song.
      Hit Someone (The Hockey song) is another

  23. I am old enough, and lucky enough, to have discovered Warren at the start of his career, and feel grateful to have been witness to his brilliance as both a songwriter and a performer. I was also at that second Irving Plaza show you referenced. Amy Rigby opened for him, and was repeatedly breaking her guitar strings with her somewhat frantic strumming. Warren came out of the wings, handed her his guitar, and in a tender and almost paternalist gesture encouraged her to play more gently. While it allowed for a bit of comic relief, there was an underlying expression of kindness in this which endeared him to me even further.

  24. Thank you for this. My brother and I wore out Zevon’s first, eponymous album back in ’76, and to this day no one is more potent when it comes to evoking a certain time and place. There was no one even approximately like him. “Don’t Let Us Get Sick,” one of his late songs and the most literal title you could imagine, is pretty much an anthem for all mortal beings.

    I hope with you that the Hall of Fame is listening.

  25. I just finished Zevon’s bio – I’ll Sleep when I’m Dead. To me, WZ was always an artist on the periphery. I don’t believe he really wanted fame; he was brilliant enough to realize the consequence. BUT, what an amazing talent and intellect! I’m re-visiting some of his music and now realize how melodic and poignant the songs are.

    I’ll always remember this line from the book when he felt his popularity was waning: “my career has the promise of a Civil War leg wound”

    Pure WZ…

  26. Considering who has gotten into the HOF lately, it really is a crime that Zevon isn’t there already. I first saw him in on Halloween night in 1982 at a club in Reseda called “Rissmiller’s.” He was touring with a fantastic band for his “Envoy” album. It was an awesome show. Jackson Browne was there and did “Running on Empty.” J.D. Souther also did a number with the band. A year or two later, I saw him at the Universal Ampitheater, solo, opening for Christopher Cross. Fast forward about 15 years and I saw him again, solo in Redondo Beach, which I think made it on one his live albums. Then a few years after that with a Canadian band called “The Oddz” in Ventura. At that show, some lady yelled “Excitable Boy” after every song, until he finally played it. No one has ever yelled for “Werewolves” at any show I’ve been to!

  27. Hey Ross they was a great article and I agree 100% Warren Zevon not being in the Hall is a loss for the Hall (along with a few artists I won’t mention being in). As a Deadhead since the 80s (just 13 shows in and near DC for me though) all I knew was Werewolves until I heard Lawyers (which my fellow Georgians Widespread Panic do very well) and had to check more out. So I got a few shows from around 97 and was hooked. I prefer the post-sobriety shows and one of my favorites is My Shit’s Fucked Up. Nobody else writes songs like that. I miss him a lot and didn’t know about the asbestos (I figured he was another cig casualty). I wish I saw him live. The Wind was a great final gift to the world. Anyway, thanks man.

  28. the music of warren is not only amazing and timeless but his dark, yet humorous lyrics sort of remind me of the child’s play movies (you know – the ones with that evil chucky doll). what a talent. surely missed. too soon gone for sure! and certainly deserving of being in the r & r hall of fame. in my (not so) humble opinion there are “musicians” in the r & r hall of fame that have less talent in their entire body than warren had in 5% of his brain!!

  29. At this point, I’ve given up on the RnRHoF of ever getting their heads out of their asses. Truly, I think WZ’s a better fit for the Songwriters’ HoF.

    Small correction: It’s SOBULE, not Souble. SEW-byool. The one and only time I ever saw WZ live was December 2000 and Jill was his opening act. I got to see the “I Kissed a Girl” and “Jackson” show.

    And a request for help, if any of you are so inclined. We have a wee bit more than half-assed Tour List at the WZ forum.

    Please look it over and if you find any errors or omissions, let me know. A very few dates have been confirmed by Mr. Gruel’s book, most from folks telling us where/when they saw him. We really like ticket stubs as confirmation. hahahaha.

    I can be reached by PM on the WZBB. Nothing evil happens if you register. The cookies are benign.


  31. Can anyone help me out? I saw WZ in Chicago at Park West once. He sang a song that had a Cajun feel to it and I believe a line was “and when you’re dead you’re just in the ground”. It’s driving me crazy. Help?!

  32. posted on in response to the article

    Re: Induct Zevon

    Postby amsterdamcat on Aug 19, 2016 5:27 pm
    I have recently pleaded with Jon Landau on this case, before one of the summer European shows. 🙂

    It made for an interesting exchange, and by his reaction I think it will happen someday soon.



    Hi – the meeting took place in the E Street Lounge before one of the Milano shows, Jon Landau was surrounded by people asking for pictures or autograph. I waited last and went over to him, and told him “Jon, I have a request for you. When are you going to induct Warren Zevon in the Hall of Fame?”
    He laughed and took my hands and said “we’re working on it, it will happen”. I kept his hands and said “You know that it’s up to you, you and Bruce are in charge for this one” He replied “You are obviously very aware of the legacy we have with Warren…” I said: “Yes of course…” implying also about David, and he said “yes, we feel we have a sort of moral obligation towards this”. I told him “You have to do this, because Warren’s music has not crossed over to another generation… yet.” He very friendly concluded on the same lines, saying that it’s on their priority list and they’ll work hard to make it happen. It ended on a sort of friendly hug. He obviously seemed pleased that the subject of WZ had been brought up to him. I always wanted to have a chance to lobby to JL about this, and I am glad I did!

  34. I saw him perform four times and twice the evening nearly ended in fisticuffs. Warren Zevon was, for good and bad, the musical equivalent of testosterone.

  35. One of my favorite Warren moments occurred during a free show on the Esplanade at Boston’s famed bandshell in September 1994. About 10 minutes before Warren took the stage, the skies turned black and a huge gullywasher of a rain storm began, dispersing most of the crowd. Fewer than 100 people remained as the rain came down in buckets, Warren made it clear he had no intention of stopping. The show was just a few weeks after the Woodstock anniversary concert where Trent Reznor famously played through what looked on TV like a monsoon. With that in mind, Warren stepped to the edge of the stage, held out his hand, and feeling a few enormous drops growled, “Didn’t stop Nine Inch Nails. Sure as fuck isn’t going to stop me.” He went to the piano and launched into “The Vast Indifference of Heaven”. Perfect!

  36. I was introduced to Warren Zevon by a fellow student at OSU tech in 1981. A pickup load of stoners, on blotter, making a run to Tulsa to party.
    My friend played the Excitable Boy cassette then started playing “Roland”, over and over. Somehow, we never found the party, but we did sing that song the entire time that we rolled around T Town looking for things to do in Tulsa…when your dead (uh, sorry…had to).
    With permanent acid grins, we sang Roland The Headless Thompson gunner all the way back to Okmulgee. The words were engraved on our brains and Warren Zevon on our souls, to this day.
    All of the guys that I’ve kept in touch with are lifelong WZ fans.

  37. I cried at the Grammy tribute. I can’t recall any Grammy show that had that many heavy hitters produce such a great send off.
    I still choke up when I watch Dave’s tribute episode for WZ…and when hearing Dave tell about Warren giving him his guitar, after the show.

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  39. Nice write up. I recently paid my first visit to the hall and had a great, scoffing laugh when I found a page of hand written lyrics to Play it All Night Long proudly on display. He may not be in the hall, but he is definetly IN the hall, dig? Perfect right?

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  41. It’s ok Slappy…go back to your sad life of nothing and no one and embrace the fact that your existence is a fart in the wind….unpleasant and quickly forgotten.

    Warren Zevon will live on for decades!!

  42. Regarding the comparison of Jimmy Buffett’s success to that of Warren’s, there are two major differences which are touched on but could still use some amplification: 1) Jimmy’s lyrics appeal to a very wide audience because they are more generic while still being witty, AND they make people feel GOOD – some of Warren’s lyrics make many people feel BAD, or at best confused or uninterested. For example, anyone who shuns violence may hear only one or two lines from a WZ song, and write him off forever; and 2) Jimmy is brilliantly organized, and even has his touring methods down to a science. He is reliable, predictable, and upbeat. Warren is pretty much the exact opposite (with some temperance in his later years), which makes promotions either difficult or even disastrous. There’s more than a few powerful industry players who were so disgusted by his behavior at some point that they swore they would never do business of any kind with him again (Jann Wenner for one example). And btw, almost all his “friends” got that way at some point, at least for awhile. None of this can be known by simply listening to his music, although there are many hints this could be true, but it usually takes an older wiser listener to “get it”.

    In summary, the great commercial appeal gap between the two is very much predicated on their personalities and abilities outside the recording studio, which neophytes might think is irrelevant, but is totally relevant.

    One of the controversies over HOF nominees in any industry is whether there is a written or usually unwritten behavior code. Baseball was probably the first one, and many fans take pride in the fact that a guy could be an axe murderer in the off season, but if he can hit .330 he’s in the HOF. Other fans cringe. There’s no “right answer”. In the case of Rock n Roll, it’s more difficult because the whole root of R&R is rebellion! And while playing a sport on hallucinogens makes it harder, it’s clearly possible to play music on them, at least in the short term and if you haven’t taken too much. And some think it can help!

    So, in conclusion, I agree that WZ’s body of work qualifies him for the R&R HOF, despite the fact his songs were often about controversial, difficult, depressing subjects, and people behaving badly. He did himself no favors by being a really bad drunk/addict, and if you understand human nature at all you will realize this makes his induction is a bigger climb than others with equal talent.

  43. Ross – finding this article a few years too late, but if you see this, can you repost the UCSB show at some point? Would absolutely love to hear this, and can’t find it anywhere.

    It’s 2020…and still no ZEVON in the HOF. Shame.

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