Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead-The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon

When Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy" album was released, I was not yet 14, but from the moment I heard the music on that record I was hooked (I had not yet been familiar with the two previous albums he released but knew that some of his songs were recorded by other artists such as Linda Ronstadt).

Hard to meet anyone who doesn't know what is probably his most popular song, "Werewolves of London" from Excitable Boy but the Title Track has an equally catchy hook and so many of the other songs just resonate with what makes music appealing (at least to me); I became a fan as soon as I heard this record (I'm certain that Dan O'Connor was responsible).

In the early 1980's, David Letterman had Zevon on and they became fast friends (I wasn't aware how close they became until I read the book) and Zevon had many appearances over the following two decades. After reading the book, I went back and viewed many of them on YouTube and while I recall some of them from seeing them when they aired, they all took on so much more meaning after reading this book.

This isn't any ordinary biography, it was written, more appropriately, compiled, by his ex wife and lifelong friend and mother of his children. The book takes us through a chronology of Zevon's life through the commentary of the people who interacted with Zevon, his friends, his confidantes, his family, his lovers, his colleagues and of course, Crystal Zevon. Throughout the book, all of the commentary is cleverly laced with entries from Zevon's personal journal - it really gives a full set of perspectives and really tells his story in all of it's detail - the good, the bad, the ugly and the very ugly. In fact, one of Warren's wishes left to Crystal was that she tell the story, "even the awful, ugly parts".

Reading this book brought me on a journey not just through the life of one man, but all of those that were along for the ride, no matter how far they traveled. I got to take that ride with them from the outside looking in, only I now got to hear what what happened on the inside. It wasn't always pretty but it was a human journey and shows that despite the glory of fame or the quest for it, we are all human and we make decisions, we must accept the consequences of those decisions, we ache, we love, we err, we want, we live and we die.

This is easily one of my favorite biographical books that I've ever read. In the weeks ahead I will dig back into the catalog of Zevon and listen to that music again knowing that I will hear it like I've never heard it before.

If you want to check out some Good Warren Zevon footage, check at "Warren Zevon Addict's" page on you tube, CLICK HERE to get there.


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