Mr Bad Example

Yesterday, I had one of those serendipitous moments when I was listening to my iPod on shuffle while walking home from the shops. Warren Zevon‘s hilarious Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner came on and kept me company for four minutes of my journey. I’ve been meaning to write a post for some time now about this great American songwriter who sadly passed away in 2003. So, I looked up his biographical details and was pleasantly surprised to discover that he was born 64 years ago today (January 24th) in Chicago. I first came across Zevon’s music through his only actual hit, Werewolves of London, and later his first compilation album, the ironically entitled A Quite Normal Life (1986). His sense of irony was also present in the lyrics of songs such as Excitable Boy, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead and Poor, Poor Pitiful Me. I subsequently picked up most of his albums on CD, LP and cassette, but his self-titled album from 1976 eluded me for almost two decades until its recent re-release. A particular favourite of mine was the covers album of blues and rock songs that he did with three quarters of R.E.M. as the Hindu Love Gods. That tape was one of my most played throughout the 90s and it’s one that I still return to now and then

Apart from Werewolves of London, Zevon never had a lot of commercial success throughout his lifetime. However, his music was loved by his peers in the music industry and he could count songwriters like Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen amongst his friends. The three of these were also amongst the contributors to a tribute album released in 2004 called Enjoy Every Sandwich. Dylan sings Mutineer on the album, but also sang Accidentally Like a Martyr in concert and you can hear a pretty good live version of that song from 2002 below. Zevon included a version of Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door on his final studio album, The Wind (2003). Below you can find a live version of him singing another Dylan song, Ring Them Bells. I’ve also included his versions of Steve Winwood’s Back in the High Life Again and Judee Sill’s Jesus Was a Crossmaker. The former appears on his Life’ll Kill Ya album from 2000 and the latter is taken from 1995’s Mutineer. Finally, Warren gets a chance to rock out on the Georgia Satellites’ number that appears on the only album released by the Hindu Love Gods

Accidentally Like A Martyr (Warren Zevon cover) – Bob Dylan

Ring Them Bells (Bob Dylan cover) – Warren Zevon

Back In the High Life Again (Steve Winwood cover) – Warren Zevon

Jesus Was A Crossmaker (Judee Sill cover) – Warren Zevon

Battleship Chains (Georgia Satellites cover) – Hindu Love Gods


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