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Music notes: Rock musician Warren Zevon loved his craft

Warren Zevon
Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon died Sunday.

He succumbed to a type of inoperable lung cancer called sothelioma.

I remember when he was diagnosed. It was August, 2002. I read an interview with him. He said he quit smoking back in 1994. But his heavy smoking days proved to be his end.

A couple of weeks ago, Zevon released his last studio album, "The Wind." It was his way of dealing with his illness. And like a true musician, he used music as his outlet. He wrote songs about his sickness and mental and spiritual therapy.

The man loved his craft. He started off as a classical pianist and trained under Igor Stravinsky.

Then rock music came into his life and changed it forever. He not only wrote the trademark hit "Werewolves of London," but also wrote for the Turtles and played guitar for Phil Ochs. He wrote songs for Linda Ronstadt and country singer Terri Clark. He toured with the Everly Brothers in the '70s and hung out with the likes of the Eagles and Jackson Browne.

In fact, when he recorded "The Wind," Zevon asked Browne and the Eagles' Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh to join him in the studio. Then he asked some other friends to take part in the recording process.

The list is impressive. Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Ry Cooder, Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Springsteen, John Waite, Styx's Tommy Shaw, T-Bone Burnette and Tom Petty all heeded Zevon's call and laid down some tracks for this special album.

Songs such as "Dirty Life and Times" "Disorder in the House" and "Numb as a Statue" are accounts of Zevon's regrets, flairs of anger and denial in this past year.

Two poignant works — a remake of Bob Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door" and "Keep Me in Your Heart" — are Zevon's way of looking death in the face.

The "Wind" is a strong album, filled with emotion. The issue and music go hand in hand. There is a balance here. A balance that Zevon undoubtedly set off to attain when he found out he was going to die.

With this album, Zevon leaves no stone unturned. And he doesn't pull any punches.

Rest easy, man.


E-MAIL: scott@desnews.com