Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

Actually I am sleeping until 3pm every afternoon as the school won't let me come back to work until Saturday as I might have Gaikoku Flu. Yesterday I finished reading I'll Sleep When I'm Dead , the biography of Warren Zevon by his ex-wife Crystal Zevon.

Somewhere between him trying to make his wife have sex with his girlfriend while their newborn daughter cries in the next room and him forcing a groupie to have an abortion I began to question my love for him as an artist. Insert Ezra Pound equation. In the end, he probably does enough to make his excesses somewhat palatable. I think I am most empathetic and understanding with artists not being able to fit into the conventional world. There is that. Then there is being a narcissist and a drain on society. The life of an addict. It made me go back and rethink whether his talent actually justified the people around him's tolerance. I started to compare him to other artists. Is he a better songwriter than Blake Schwarzenbach, Ben Folds, Lance Hahn, Joe Strummer or Bob Mould? (that is a very random sampling) No. I think he isn't. But....then again, the age and time and place are a little different. I went back and watched some clips and he definately was quite a talent.

(A note on the Excitable Boy clip: I started out laughing at what everyone looked like and then realized how great they were playing and felt kind of bad.)

I base my thoughts around punk rock the way scientists base their worldview on evolution so it is no surprise that I will fall back on it here and say that part of Zevon's issues was the scene he was in. His friends were Jackson Brown and Bonnie Raitt and Don Henley, so he saw himself as rejected by the industry even though he was on the cover of Rolling Stone and constantly on Letterman. I think J. Robbins or Bobby Sullivan are every bit the songwriters Zevon was, but who knows what bank account they are digging into now. But, what does a corrupt industry really owe you anyway? And that is another place where the book makes me slightly ill. Rock and roll is just another power structure where sucking up to money helps your path to success. Fuck it. The way music is depicted as being made and the odd ways that money are thrown at it and the politics invovled makes you see music legends for what they really are; non-threatening chums.

Nevertheless, it is a book worth the read and you will feel for Warren and those around him and you will reconsider his music, which is the most important part anyway.

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attempting to silence the voices in my head.