The Wind
Artemus Records

 Warren Zevon CD cover.jpg (9793 bytes)

  Warren Zevon ain’t going quietly. His new CD resonates with just as much pissed off vision as any of his best work. After being diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer last year, the fiery singer-songwriter dove head first into recording his final album. He was told that he wouldn’t live to finish it. He did. I just hope he makes it long enough to see the reaction. With the shadow of the end hanging heavily, the weight of the proceedings could’ve overwhelmed the music itself. Luckily, it does not. “My Dirty Life & Times” starts it all off with an unapologetic twang. Ry Cooder tosses in some blistering slide guitar, leading the opener to approach what The Band may have sounded like if they’d survived. Bruce Springsteen adds aggression to “Disorder In The House,” a rocker that revels in its own imperfection and attitude. On the other hand, and as always with Zevon, there’s also a delicate side that is rendered even more poignant under the current circumstances. “El Amor De Mi Vida” and “Please Stay” are reminiscent of John Lennon’s most gentle solo work. Zevon’s weary voice only adds to the immediacy of the tracks. The latter’s plea, “Stay with me to the end” is particularly heartbreaking. But in case you thought Warren might be softening, he hits you with “Prison Grove.” In the tradition of the delta blues, he seems to be beckoning his fate. “C’mon,” he repeatedly shouts at the end to some unknown, ominous dark force. It’s clear that the prison that he’s longing to escape is his own body. It’s a dart straight to the center of the heart. Surprisingly, there seems to be less overt death imagery than in his previous collections. I guess that makes perfect sense in its own way. On the tongue-in-cheek Chicago blues inspired “Rub Me Raw” comes the lyric, “I don’t want your pity or your fifty-dollar words. I don’t share your need to discuss the absurd,” and in a typically smarmy move, there’s a cover of Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” Imbued with Zevon’s dark humor, the spiritual, healing nature of the song is even more intense. By the time the singer starts crying out to “Open up, open up for me” at the end, it’s clear that it’s being sung with a wicked smile accompanied by a bittersweet pang. Of course, the most affecting song is the beautifully understated set ender (and career ender) “Keep Me In Your Heart.” From the lyric of this song, “These wheels keep turning, but they’re running out of steam,” you know he’s resigned to the fact that he won’t be back. It’s with a soothing acceptance that he sings to say goodbye and comfort his loved ones. Fortunately, it has the same effect on the people who have loved him because of his music. “Sometimes when you’re doing simple things around the house, maybe you’ll think of me and smile…hold me in your thoughts, keep me in your dreams…when the winter comes, keep the fires lit and I will be right next to you. Keep me in your heart for a while.”


Chris McKay / concertshots.com