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.
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.