Classics Revisited: Skipping Track Four



warrenzevon-excitableboyIf there is any great injustice being committed in the world today (We are, of course, limiting our scope to the appreciation of rock music. I’m not going to get all Bernie Sanders on you), it simply has to be the fact that Warren Zevon is most widely known for “Werewolves of London.” Nothing against that song, it’s fun enough, but it remains sort of an errant sprig of cilantro in the otherwise delicious sandwich that is 1978’s Excitable Boy. Well, maybe not cilantro, since I hate cilantro. Maybe something that I feel more neutral about, like cumin. I might go so far as to say that the song’s staying power and tendency to be featured among novelty compilations (The most recent being my Halloween Mix, entitled “Spooky Fuck Party.”) have caused it to overshadow the album upon which it appears. This is a bit of a shame. Though Warren Zevon certainly has his share of superfans, he didn’t really make the leap to classic rock radio in the way peers like Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles did. You might hear “Lawyers, Guns and Money” once in a while, but usually it’s “Werewolves” or nothing.

This is his legacy, and that just doesn’t seem representative of his catalog to me. This is a man that is capable of painting a haunting, novelistic portrait of the African Bush Wars in “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner.”

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Zevon’s gift for combining a California pop sound with melancholy and evocative lyrics is evident throughout. Check out “Accidentally Like a Martyr.”

This whole album, front to back, is alarming in its diversity and immediacy. Songs like the hilariously macabre title track sparkle with a whimsical and mischievous energy that is only barely contained by this collection of songs. There’s a reason Zevon used to walk onto the stage handcuffed to one of his roadies, who would then proceed to unleash the Excitable Boy Himself. Check out the first minute or so of this whole concert video.

While there’s no disputing the classic status of “Werewolves,” do yourself a favor and dig deeper into an artist that’s well worth the effort. Excitable Boy contains most of his more well-known songs, and is a pleasure from start to finish.

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