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The Day My Music Died: 09-07-2003

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Bloviating Zeppelin: The Day My Music Died: 09-07-2003

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Day My Music Died: 09-07-2003

01-24-1947 to 09-07-2003

I remember I came to the site a few days later and gaped with astonishment. The site had vanished and in its place was a photo, his full name, and a birth date and death date. And these three words: “Enjoy every sandwich.”

For some reason, this death became my preoccupation for weeks thereafter. Was it because my mother had died in May of 2002, and my father had experienced his own life and death medical emergency in 2003? Or was there more?

Warren Zevon was me. He was me and I was him. I was in my own little world and I simply assumed he would consistently be in my world as well. Except, of course, that reality tends to get in the way of the best laid plans. Years of comfort and assumption.

Warren was a few years older than me. But not so much older that I could not relate to what he said and when he said it.

Persons have said that I have a black and grim sense of humor — with an emphasis on the cynical, sarcastic and egregious.

In this vein, Warren went to his dentist in August of 2002 and, as an aside, happened to complain of a shortage of breath while exercising — “I was working out more than Vin Diesel,” he said. One medical referral later, Warren was handed a literal sentence of death. The same day.

At 56, Warren was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a disease that late-night talk show lawyers attribute to asbestos inhalation and related problems. The cancer is considered rare and, generally, inoperable. So it was with his condition.

Originally given a mere three months to live, Warren Zevon shoved this estimate aside and collected his family and friends about him, determined to produce one final and complete album.
And that he did — then passed away, in his sleep, almost a year to the precise day that he was diagnosed.

Warren is me and I am him. He has passed, dead from a horrible disease. Something I can acquire and have fought. He brings to me my mortality. My generation of entertainers are dying. I am mortal. I am finite. I don’t want to think about this. And yet I must because my favorite musical artist is now dead.

Does that not sound cheap and shallow? Who cares about what music I enjoy? — Except that, having been in radio my late teens and early 20s as an on-air DJ, Music Director, Program Director, Promotions Director and actual Station Manager, my entire life at one time revolved around music and Warren clearly intrigued me from the beginning. For those keeping track, I worked for WWSU and WING in Ohio, then to KERS, KEG in Sacramento, KOBO in Yuba City, a brief time for KROY/KNDE (Wonder Rabbit!) and finally KFBK-AM and KFBK-FM. I worked production for KNBR in San Francisco for a time, then worked for a local audio production facility. I did voice-overs, narration, and corporate audios and videos.

In the meantime, Warren wrote and sang about death, guns, special ops, politics, animals, the Soviets, death, almost anything but love — and, then, okay, sometimes about love — but sparingly. And when his love songs came, they came disguised, heartfelt and then, later, incredibly effective in their simplicity.

You needed to analyze his words, read his lyrics. Take the time to unearth the meanings. I readily admit: I took Warren Zevon for granted. Certainly, I purchased every album. I initially thought many were weak and poorly produced. I questioned his moving from one label to another. Was it because no one wanted to have anything to do with his music? He had, after all, moved from Asylum to Elektra, to Asylum, to Virgin, to Giant and then to Artemis. Could he not find a “home” because of his poor recordings? Who had ever heard of the labels “Giant” or of “Artemis?”

Except that: one of his two finest recordings, from the album “Mutineer” (what I then considered to absolutely be his weakest recent work) would be the lilting “Similar to Rain” and maybe even “Mutineer” itself. I thought Piano Fighter to be a throwaway, and many of his other songs, until I gave them a chance. That’s all I had to do. Give them a chance.

And then Warren produced his final album, which won two February 2004 Grammies; one for Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals for “Disorder in the House,” with Warren and Bruce Springsteen, and won Best Contemporary Folk Album, for The Wind — which likely to this day has Warren turning in his grave because anything he ever produced would NEVER fit into something as lame as a “folk” album.

And yet, I never had a true appreciation for the agony, angst and struggles he experienced to complete his final album, The Wind. VH-1 filmed portions of the production of this CD, and produced a beautiful and gut-wrenching documentary of the event.

I am so glad I watched it once. And I am so not sure I can ever watch it again. At one point it shows a lost Warren Zevon having to be told by his best friend and session bass player, Jorge Calderon, how to time his singing to the music bed. Warren just couldn’t pick up the right timing signature. He was lost. Absolutely lost. And so was I. For him.

I write this through tears of confusion. Oh sure, I won’t soil the keyboard. But Warren was me and I am him. And another once-comfortable portion of my life is gone. Another one of those persons, unrecognized in Life, but finally recognized in Death.

He was me and I was him. Sarcastic, irreligious, fascinated with politics, war, death, black humor. And with some occasional glimpses of love.

Sometimes love is wet and cold;

Similar to rain, just as hard to hold.

Love can make you sad and blue,

If you don't watch out it'll fall all over you.

Talk about irony. He was all about irony.


I wrote this a week after Warren Zevon's passing in 2003 where it was published in a trade magazine. I reprint it here, now, to commemorate his passing. I too, like Warren, seek to "enjoy every sandwich."

It is said that Life is what occurs whilst you're making other detailed plans.

I recognize that now.

I also recognize how swift is the passage of time and how very important it is to proffer more hugs, love more, see more sunsets, witness more sunrises, hold more hands, and see things through the eyes of a child.

Life is too short for bad beer, and saying "some day we'll do that."

No you won't. Make plans now. Tell people you love them now. Expose your heart now. Step up. Step out.

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?



Blogger j00t said...

The first Warren Zevon song I ever heard (knowing it was by him) was "Myshit's Fucked up".

Sun Sep 10, 10:22:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

And so his was -- moreso than he knew at the time. The album "Life'll Kill Ya" followed with "My Ride's Here" was the epitome of irony.


Sun Sep 10, 02:05:00 PM PDT  

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