Warren Zevon: Preludes (Elite)

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Warren Zevon: Don't Let Us Get Sick
Warren Zevon: Preludes (Elite)

Among the very few autographs of stars that I have is one sent to me, unsolicited, by Warren Zevon after I'd interviewed him.

On it he wrote: "To Graham. Good luck!"

Given Zevon was something of a dark and mischievious character I wondered if that "good luck" suggested he might know of something disconcerting lurking in my future.

When he died of lung cancer in 2003 there was an outpouring of obituaries saluting his bent genius as a man out of his zone.

He was an LA singer-songwriter but the flipside of guys like James Taylor and Jackson Browne, an altogether much darker type who is best known for his quirky hits Werewolves of London and Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner. He also wrote hits for Linda Ronstadt (Hasten Down the Wind, Poor Poor Pitiful Me), grappled with alcoholism and depression, collaborated with Springsteen and most of REM, was friends with Hunter S Thompson, and was sometimes the band leader on The David Letterman Show.

When diagnosed with cancer he was asked by Letterman what insight he had gained and he memorably said, "Enjoy every sandwich".

Zevon was a sardonic character and that comes through in his songs, along with considerable humour.

This exceptional double-disc is a result of Zevon's son Jordan cleaning out some storage areas and coming on boxes of previously unheard songs and demos. The first disc here is 16 songs, six of them unreleased and among the others are a wild demo of Werewolves of London, and early takes on Poor Poor Pitiful Me (rockin' out), Carmelita, Accidentally Like A Martyr and Hasten Down the Wind.

The second disc is an interesting interview session with two songs (I Was in the House When the House Burned Down, Back in the High Life from the Life'll Kill Ya album) and ends with a previously unreleased solo acoustic version of Don't Let Us Get Sick.

Further evidence of Zevon's genius.

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