A Pair Of “Desperados” Indeed!
Tonight, the ending of “Ray Donovan” included “Desperadoes Under The Eaves”, a brilliant Warren Zevon Song from this Brilliant self-titled Warren Zevon album!
Let’s look at one of Zevon’s greatest artistic achievements, which was used on “Ray Donovan”!
“But don’t it make you want to rock and roll
All night long
“All night long” indeed…Warren Zevon’s brilliant self-titled album included some of Southern California’s most popular singers at the time…
Time To Celebrate Warren Zevon!
I wanted to look at some of Zevon’s greatest music, and what better place to begin than with his self-titled “kinda debut”! Let me explain…
Zevon is known of course for his major hit singles like “Werewolves Of London” and “Searching For A Heart”, but Zevon’s path to musical greatness was littered with frustration as well….
Warren Zevon’s 1969 debut album, “Wanted Dead Or Alive” – with his featured on the cover just as “Zevon”, was such a debacle that the singer waited almost six years before trying to record again…this time, however, the results were much different!
His “Unofficial” Debut!
While the self-titled “Warren Zevon” was the second studio album by Zevon, so much time had gone by that it really is his “debut” to the music world. This album was released in 1976 by Asylum Records – and Zevon had all of the “Southern California Sound” onboard to support him!
Producer Jackson Browne!
The album was produced by Jackson Browne, who of course was good friends with The Eagles…and a very successful singer/songwriter at the time, with classic hits like “Doctor My Eyes” and “Take It Easy”…
The Classic Songs Of “Warren Zevon”!
Here is a look at the classic music on the album! The first song up is Zevon’s simple but classic “Frank and Jesse James” – the story of two brothers who end up on the wrong side of the law.
“Keep on riding, riding, riding
‘Til you clear your names
Keep on riding, riding, riding
Across the rivers and the range
Keep on riding, riding, riding
Frank and Jesse James”
Does that remind you of this album? Yes, Browne was one of the cowboys show on the back cover of “Desperado”.
Here is a terrific live performance of the song by Zevon in his private studio:
Bravo to “TransatlanticMoments” for posting this on YouTube!
“Mama Couldn’t Be Persuaded” and “Backs Turned Looking Down the Path” are next…
Here’s a fun fact: another Fleetwood Mac band member, Lindsay Buckingham plays guitar on “Backs Turned”, and does harmonies on “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” and “Mohammad’s Radio” as well…
“Hasten Down the Wind”
Next up were two songs turned into big hits – by another friend of Zevon!
Here are some of the lyrics to “Hasten Down The Wind”:
“She tells him she thinks she needs to be free
He tells her he doesn’t understand
She takes his hand she tells him nothing’s working out
The way they planned
She’s so many women
He can’t find the one who was his friend
So he’s hanging on to half a heart
But he can’t have the restless part
So he tells her to hasten down the wind”
Here is just the audio of Zevon singing the song:
Linda Ronstadt Covers Warren!
Zevon’s song was perfect for Linda Ronstadt, who was one of the most popular singers at that time – and she loved the song so much she named her entire album after it!
Here is a live version by Ronstadt:
Of course, that was just the tip of the Ronstadt iceberg! Linda turned the next song on the album into a big hit as well…
The Smash Hit “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”
The next song on the album is Zevon’s iconic “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” – another great song.
Here is a terrific live version by Zevon from 1982:
Of course, as great as the song is, it wasn’t Zevon’s massive hit – but Linda Ronstadt’s! Here is Linda performing the song live:
Warren Zevon was quite candid about his penchant for partying, so a picture of him, Jackson and John belushi is no surprise, and the next song on the album addresses his take on “life in the fast lane” in Hollywood…
“The French Inhaler”
His lyrics on this song are quite vivid:
“You said you were an actress
Yes, I believe you are I thought you’d be a star
So I drank up all the money, yes I drank up all the money
With these phonies in this Hollywood bar
These friends of mine in this Hollywood bar
Loneliness and frustration
We both came down with an acute case
When the lights came up at two I caught a glimpse of you
And your face looked like something
Death brought with him in his suitcase”
Here is a great live version from 1993:
Thanks to “WarrenZevonFanatic” for posting this on Youtube!
The Brilliance of “Mohammed’s Radio”
Next up is one of his most beautiful songs:
“Everybody’s restless and they’ve got no place to go
Someone’s always trying to tell them
Something they already know
So their anger and resentment flow
But don’t it make you want to rock and roll
All night long
Here is a great live version of the song performed by Zevon with Jackson Browne!
Thanks to “WarrenZevonAddict” for this!
“I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” is next – the title used for a movie years later, then another classic Zevon song:
Here is a rare clip of Zevon performing the song live in 1977:
Thanks to “TransatlanticMoments” for posting this rare gem on YouTube!
“Join Me in L.A.” follows “Carmelita”, another cynical look at the city:
“Well, they say this place is evil
That ain’t why I stay
‘Cause I found something
That will never be nothing
And I found it in L.A.”
“Desperados Under the Eaves”
The album ends with another beautiful song with haunting, yet humorous lyrics, speaking about – again – life in Hollywood: and “Ray Donovan” just used it to haunting effect:
“I was sitting in the Hollywood Hawaiian hotel
I was staring in my empty coffee cup
I was thinking that the gypsy wasn’t lyin’
All the salty Margaritas in Los Angeles
I’m gonna drink ’em up
And if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this motel will be standing until I pay my bill”
The latest episode of “Ray Donovan” used this brilliant song so so well…
Here is a live audio performance by Warren at WMMS Studio, Cleveland OH on October 13, 1976.
So that’s the terrific, timeless music from “Warren Zevon.” It’s an album full of great songs, insightful, compelling lyrics, and a heavy dose of the “Southern California” sound, thanks to Producer Jackson Browne. Browne is heard on harmony vocals on tracks 2, 3 and 11…
The Eagles Sing Along As Well!
Glenn Frey and Don Henley also provide musical support, with Frey playing rhythm guitar on “Carmelita”, and harmony vocals on “The French Inhaler” and “Carmelita”, while Henley provides harmony vocals on “Inhaler” as well…
Zevon and Henley were good friends, and Warren performed at Henley’s “Walden Woods” concerts…and said this about his friend:
Henley also sang on the Warren Zevon tribute album – here is the audio of Henley’s rendition of Zevon’s beautiful “Searching For A Heart”:
The success of this album, especially with Ronstadt’s hit singles, led to a incredible period of creativity for Zevon…
What followed two years later was this:
“Excitable Boy” was his smash hit, with “Werewolves Of London” and “Lawyers, Guns & Money” – read more about it here:
Jackson Browne did a great job producing “Warren Zevon”, and he is still makings own music as well:
You can read more about it here, including the video for his “Take It Easy” sequel:
Of course, Don Henley is still releasing great music as well:
Henley just released another #1 album of country songs. See who is he singing with here:
Let me know what your favorite song is from “Warren Zevon!”