I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren ZevonI’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon by Crystal Zevon
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maybe biography month was a bad idea.

it’s just making me angry at people i used to like. not so much byron—but with him i’m in love with the mythology, and that’s the whole point of byron—you know what you’re getting into. but it turns out warren zevon was rather unpleasant, too, both in the obvious drunken blackout wife beating way, but also in the name dropping/writing down all the funny things he said that day in his journal like a self-involved teenager that makes me a little queasy/shy.

and make no mistake—if anyone ever set about to write my biography—it would be clear that i, too, am an asshole, without any of the explosive talent that zevon had. so i guess that’s the end of that complaint. thanks for working through it with me.

reconsider me has been in my head on a more or less constant loop since i decided to read this. and it’s as good a place to start as any when discussing warren zevon. because the song really shouldn’t be as good as it is—it should be cheesy. lyrically, it’s a standard take-me-back song with a little heart, but a little greeting-card in it, too. the only thing that makes it stand out is some inventive key changes throughout—unexpectedly dipping and rising against the typical pop song formula. he manages to elevate this song until it transcends the simple love song it is at its heart. and i’ve always liked it without knowing why, because it’s not a standard caustic-humor zevon song. but see, now that i’ve read the book, i can only associate it with this horrible thing he did to his daughter, and how it’s probably one of the saddest memories of her dad and it just makes me feel bad for people i’ve never met. and that’s all i need—must purge these feelings.

when i was in high school, pretty much all i listened to was leonard cohen and zevon. i mean, there was the smiths and the cure and depeche mode and chris deburgh (yeah—go ahead and say something, i dare you), but i would always come back to those two. this, and marching band, made me wildly cool in high school. when zevon announced his diagnosis, suddenly he was everywhere, and every celebrity was trying to tell me (on teevee—i’m still too wildly uncool to be hanging out with celebrities) how great and underknown warren zevon was. where were these people when i was in high school, i wonder? at first, all the publicity was ghoulish to me—these vultures circling a still-warm body, but i’m grateful now that the same ghoulishness allowed him to finish and finance the album that is probably one of the best and saddest albums of all time.

when i found out he had died, i was out and about and i went to tower records (this is back when there were actually places that sold music in new york), and of course they had his new album at the listening station and of course i had to go listen to it and have me a good public cry. and it wasn’t even keep me in your heart, which is such an obviously moving “i know i’m about to die so i wrote this” song-song, it was indifference of heaven. and this is why:

I had a girl
Now she’s gone
She left town
Town burned down

there has never been a more perfectly warren lyric. only he would go that extra mile and have the fucking town burn down.

this is worth a read, but i think i’m personally going to stop reading about people whose work i admire—the less i know about their fallible bits, the better.

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