Warren Zevon aint 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 wouldnt 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 couldve 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 theyd 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, theres 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 Lennons most gentle solo work. Zevons weary voice only adds to the immediacy of the tracks. The latters 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. Cmon, he repeatedly shouts at the end to some unknown, ominous dark force. Its clear that the prison that hes longing to escape is his own body. Its 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 dont want your pity or your fifty-dollar words. I dont share your need to discuss the absurd, and in a typically smarmy move, theres a cover of Dylans Knockin On Heavens Door. Imbued with Zevons 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, its clear that its 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 theyre running out of steam, you know hes resigned to the fact that he wont be back. Its 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 youre doing simple things around the house, maybe youll 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