From the Vault...


Warren Zevon
"Excitable Boy"

© Asylum Records

Year of Release: 1978

track listing
  • Johnny Strikes Up
    The Band
  • Roland The Headless
    Thompson Gunner
  • Excitable Boy
  • Werewolves Of London
  • Accidentally Like
    A Martyr
  • Nighttime In The
    Switching Yard
  • Veracruz
  • Tenderness On The Block
  • Lawyers Guns
    And Money

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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    Warren Zevon
    "Excitable Boy"

    Warren Zevon -- a distinctive voice, a terrific songwriter, left us way too soon of cancer, at age 56. Excitable Boy developed two hits: "Werewolves Of London" -- the song that would pretty much be his signature song. However, with my love of music, "Werewolves" is one song I really cannot listen to. It's one of few songs I can say that I "hate." Why? Well, after hearing it so many times on the radio, the howling of "Ah-ooooh's" just really gets on your nerves. The rest of the song is not as bad, it's just those howlings gets under my skinh, I just cannot listen to it.

    Warren Zevon has been compared to Jackson Browne and the Eagles. In sound, I totally disagree. As for song storylines, yes. Jackson Browne is another artist that I can least listen to. Maybe it's because of his liberal views. However, some of his songs I do enjoy. (This was said of Prince, back when he was fighting with his record company: Love his music, yet his views were debatable. In Prince's case, I understand how his record company was pretty much "screwing" him. This was also the same for John Fogerty, when he returned to music with Centerfield.) (And by the way, Jackson Browne co-produced this album.)

    But Warren Zevon's music as a songwriter and singer is quite extroadinary. He may not have been one of the most prolific and most popular than others, yet he was very terrific in what he did. Sad to say, he died of cancer in 2003, age 56.

    The opening track, "Johnny Strikes Up The Band" is a great opener. "Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner" is different, and dark. The title track, as it's title -- very excitable, very enjoyable, in sound. "Werewolves In London" -- I've already spoken previously on this song...

    "Accidentally Like A Martyr" is another darker tune, and it does ring some memory bells, as I probably heard this song performed by another artist. Rockin' gets "Nighttime In The Switching Yard." The next two tracks I can compare to that of Bob Dylan: "Veracruz" and "Tenderness On The Block." "Lawyers, Guns And Money" was another song I vividly remember, and sung by Zevon.

    Definitely a working man's rocker -- Warren Zevon told his stories as they should have. The basics of Excitable Boy were a mix of "werewolves, mercanaries, drug abusers, and paranoid spoiled brats, yet while frequently offering exceptional tenderness and insight." (Taken from an Amazon review of this album.) Jackson Browne co-produced this album, and yet Browne's common sound of off-Country/California Rock is quite different in sound, to that of Warren Zevon.

    But Warren Zevon could be compared in songwriting to that (and maybe in sound) to other true songwriters, such as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. He wrote stories to tell, and sang them well as he did writing them. Zevon had an extrodinary career in music, yet most people will only remember him as the "Werewolf of London." As a songwriter, other artists covered his songs. Linda Ronstadt, most particularly, and she recorded "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me" (another great track, yet probably best remembered by Ronstadt.) Those two songs mentioned will probably be the only ones that a music fan will remember, and not being a huge Zevon fan. He recorded a total of 13 albums in his career, from 1969 to his death in 2003. His music was extroadinary, and should not be overlooked. His later albums may have not been as popular, but still, his storytelling and recordings are those that should and will be looked into, and admired, and getting the recognition it should have. Sure, he did encounter poor record sales, and personal life conflicts. Yet he took those into consideration in his music. (Like writing about the death of John Lennon, his divorce, and comeback albums in the start of the 2000 decade.) Also to mention was his close friendship with talk show host David Letterman. Likewise with actor Billy Bob Thornton in the last years of his life. Together, Thornton and Zevon shared their common experiences with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

    Excitable Boy is a great album. It is best to say, to discover Warren Zevon's music through his original albums. Best Ofs and Greatest Hits are fine also, but in Zevon's case, you would want to hear more of his music, rather than the common "Werewolves" and "Lawyers, Guns And Money." He wrote songs that other artists recorded, and to those familiar with the covers, his own versions would also be worth listening to. Warren Zevon has yet to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I believe an artist has to wait 25 years since their debut album. Zevon began recording in 1969, therefore his 25 years have already passed. He is long overdue to join the Rock Legends. He should. He will.

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