Thursday, October 31, 2013

Warren Zevon - The Barricades of Heaven

When I look back onto the musicians and bands that made the biggest impressions on me in my childhood, Warren Zevon undoubtedly takes the top spot. I remember sitting in my father’s pickup truck playing “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” over and over on the cassette player (if he got tired of hearing it, he never told me). The story of a Thompson submachine gun-wielding Norwegian soldier carrying on his crusade even after being beheaded really captured my imagination. When I got a little older, I began to appreciate Zevon’s caustic wit and lyrical prowess, well beyond his interesting subject matter. His songs were ones that told stories, confined to 3-4 minutes but never lacking in breadth. If there is anyone to attribute my longstanding appreciation and preoccupation with the lyrical content of songs, it was Warren Zevon. By the time I learned of his diagnosis of inoperable lung cancer in 2003, I was listening to him virtually to the exclusion of anything else. And while his eventual passing that year was a terrible thing to bear, I am grateful for the vast musical legacy he left, one that acted as the catalyst for my fascination and love of music as a whole.