By Wil Forbis
I can't say I was ever a huge
Warren Zevon fan. I'm mean, sure, I dug his hit song "Werewolves of
London" as much as the next lycanophile, but it was never enough to
make me go out and buy the CD. (1978's "Excitable Boy" for
those of you keeping track.) When I'd come across Zevon's albums in
the $3.99 bin of the local record store I was never inspired to part
with my hard earned dollars. For that matter, I've just never found much
appeal in the whole of the "70's singer/songwriter" acts. I primarily
think of Jackson Brown as the guy who beat up Daryl Hannah. Bruce Springsteen
didn't show up on my radar until the eighties. And Warren Zevon was
just a guy emitting sarcastic howls over a bluesy chord progression.
Still, when I recently caught
wind of the fact that Mr. Zevon had terminal lung cancer my curiosity
perked up. You can't help but take a morbid interest in the final decline
of a rock and roll star. It helps ease the raging jealousy fueled by
the realization that their life was exactly 1,098 times more exciting
than yours will ever be.
How did I come about the
news of Zevon's condition? In the most gentle way possible - by reading
article on the subject while eating an "All American Slam" at Denny's.
It was a standard journalistic send off - a summation of Zevon's musical
contributions and personal tribulations peppered with several witty
quotes of a lyricist known for his blunt tongue. The following stood
''Regrets are so far
from reality. Would I like to tell someone, 'Look, if you don't want
to die at 55, you might not want to smoke for 30 years'? Sure. I'm a
living example of that. But this is my life, these were my choices.
I lucked out big time because I got to be the most (expletive)-up rock
star on the block, at least on my block, and then I got to be a sober
dad for 18 years. I've had two very full lives.''
And that's when I realized:
here's someone who gets it.
"Gets what?" you ask. "Are
you saying that Warren Zevon gets that we all have a limited time in
this mortal plane before hurtling into a murky black void that swallows
our souls for all eternity?"
Well... uh, that too, I
guess. But what I'm saying is that Mr. Zevon understands that after
smoking for 30 years, he got cancer and it's nobody's fault but his
own. That's pretty damn refreshing in a nation where a moron like Richard
Boeken gets to smoke cigarettes for three decades then sue the Phillip
Morris company for three billion dollars because he developed (surprise!)
terminal cancer. (I think I've made it abundantly clear in previous
columns what I think of people like Boeken. He should be killed*. Then
his entire family should be killed. Then the city in which he lived
should be struck by a nuclear bomb. Then we should blow up the earth,
ensuring that no piece of Richard Boeken exists.)
Boeken died of cancer before I had a chance to kill him.
The truth is, I think we've
gotten so used to people flailing about on their deathbed, blaming everybody
and everything but themselves, that it kind of catches you off guard
to see someone like Zevon show up and say, "I did it. It was me and
I can live with that." And as I read through the USATODAY piece, I got
the distinct impression Zevon will have something on his deathbed that
overgrown babies like Boeken never have: peace of mind. Because, inherent
in this final chapter on the life of Warren Zevon is a rather admirable
treatise on how to die. He lays it out rather plainly, stating that
in his final days he simply wants, ''Comfort, a sense of continuity
and serenity, and people who are going to do the job of living better
than you did.''
Three things that Richard
Boeken certainly never deserved. And three things that Warren Zevon,
when the times comes, will have. Because a lot of how you die depends
on how you lived.
As for me, I think I'm going
to pick up a copy of "Werewolves of London."
But I better do it soon,
because once Warren dies, I won't be able to find it in the $3.99 bin.
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Interesting Motherfuckers: Warren Zevon.