Sunday, August 31, 2008

Warren Zevon; the Excitable Boy lives on

Sometimes in this crazy world of rock and roll, certain rock stars need to rob the grave to get a hit single. Case in point is Kid Rock with his infectious song "All Summer Long", taken from his current album "Rock N Roll Jesus".

The songs also samples Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" (which has a similar chord progression).

When it comes to the original,you can't top Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London". With the line, "Better stay away from him, he'll rip your lungs out, Jim - I'd like to meet his tailor," you know Zevon was up to something way beyond the confines of conservative American music.

'Werewolves of London' was taken from Zevon's 'Excitable Boy' (1978), an album that's right up there with any early Steely Dan album. Essential.

Similar in many ways to his fellow Southern California outcast counterpart Randy Newman, during his early career Zevon achieved moderate fame, but as time progressed, instead of writing songs on par with the likes of Dan Fogelberg and Jackson Browne, he opted for tunes about getting your lungs ripped out. The general public could relate.

Obsessed with corrupt anti-heroes, Zevon penned songs with the trademark of a down and out pulp fiction writer who created stories about mutilated mercenaries ("Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner"), mereciless city boys who will do anything to get ahead ("Lawyers, Guns and Money"), cowardly deviants ("Excitable Boy"), and, of course, losers with appetites for beef chow mein ("Werewolves of London").

Excitable Boy's 1976 predecessor (Warren Zevon) may be a stronger album, but this is the one that put Zevon on the map, and still holds a pop hook in the world's consciousness. Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" is a perfect exmaple.

"Werewolves of London"
by Warren Zevon

I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain
He was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's
Going to get himself a big dish of beef chow mein
Werewolves of London

If you hear him howling around your kitchen door
Better not let him in
Little old lady got mutilated late last night
Werewolves of London again
Werewolves of London

He's the hairy-handed gent who ran amuck in Kent
Lately he's been overheard in Mayfair
Better stay away from him
He'll rip your lungs out, Jim
I'd like to meet his tailor
Werewolves of London

Well, I saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen
Doing the
I saw Lon Chaney, Jr. walking with the Queen
Doing the
I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's
His hair was perfect
Werewolves of London
Draw blood

(c) 1978 Warren Zevon, from the album "Excitable Boy"

No comments: