Friday, May 20, 2016

40 Year Itch : THE California album of the 1970's

Warren Zevon : Poor, Poor Pitiful Me

  Warren Zevon was already cool even before he released his debut album in May of 1976. He wrote The Turtles most rocking hit,( 1967's "Outside Chance" ) and toured as bandleader with the Everly Brothers, before sharing a house with future Fleetwood Mac stars Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

  His debut album was produced by his buddy Jackson Browne and became a star-studded affair featuring Nicks, Buckingham, Phil Everly as well as The Eagles, Carl Wilson, and Bonnie Raitt. 

  So much star power and yet they're all outshone by the quality of the songs and by the truly human voice that sings them. 

  Let the Beach Boys sing about the sunshine and surf and the Eagle about life in the fast lane. Zevon's California songs are about people who aren't having such a good time : the junkies ("Carmelita") , the failed actresses ("The French Inhaler") , the disillusioned desperadoes under the eaves who are counting out their last dimes (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).

  Such tunes are balanced out by rockers that offer humor, if not hope. "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me" might be a humorous swipe at Jackson Browne's penchant for sad songs but in 1978 it went Top 40 for Linda Ronstadt who would also record Zevons "Carmelita", "Mohammed's Radio" and "Hasten Down the Wind".

For most, the great California album of the 1970's will be Hotel California or Rumours. But if you ever meet someone who argues it's Warren Zevon's debut, buy them a drink. You'll have a lot to talk about.

1 comment:

  1. Amen to all that. I've only got 2 or 3 of his albums, Greatest Hits being one of them obviously, so I'm not exactly a reliably knowledgeable source you say there's something about him that sets him apart from his contemporaries. The stellar Werewolves of London apart his underdog view of humanity trumps the false floss and glitter all around. A rare artist indeed and one to be cherished, Thanks for posting