Warren Zevon

By - Oct 1st, 2003 02:52 pm
Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee

By John Hughes

WARREN ZEVON The Wind Artemis Records www.warrenzevon.com

Before Warren Zevon died in early September, he assembled an all-star cast of friends to help him craft his own epitaph — a final CD recorded in the aftershock of his fatal diagnosis. A songwriter’s songwriter, he maintained great integrity throughout his career, no matter what the prevailing fashion. May he rest in peace.

We are treated to much more than a parting novelty. In The Wind, Zevon takes us on a tour of American music. He sings like Woody Guthrie on the opening cut. From there he tours us through a Springsteen-esque rocker, hyper-charged by Bruce himself; and the Dylan classic “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” done with a touch of gospel. He gives us a blues romp and songs sung like Jackson Browne and Willie Nelson.

“Prison Grove,” a standout effort that could have been pulled from the Lomax field recordings songbook, is highlighted by a chain-gang chorus of Springsteen, Browne, Jordan Zevon, Jorge Calderon, T Bone Burnett and Billy Bob Thornton. There are also two sensitive, lovely ballads, written and played straight, sung just like Warren Zevon.

He deploys his friends — especially Ry Cooder, Emmylou Harris, Springsteen and Calderon — with maximum efficiency. It all adds up beautifully, for ten songs. But all this is just so much clearing of the throat as Zevon prepares us for song 11, the dramatic finale.

In the final song of his life, Zevon blesses us with an extraordinary moment — a dying man bids adieu. He wrote the song for his two children, but sings it for everyone. He taps deep emotion without being maudlin. He stands tall in his deathbed.

His last request? “Keep me in your heart for awhile.”

Yes, Warren. Will do.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us