I have three Zevon records in one form or another. Of the two "Best of..." albums I have, I recommend Genius. Genius came out near the end of Warren's life, and shows the listener that the muse never really left him, because the later songs hold up just as well as the earlier songs. Highlights include early classic, "Carmelita," "Detox Mansion," from the '80's, "Boom Boom Mancini." and "Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead," along with the more well-known stuff such as "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," "Lawyers Guns and Money," and "Werewolves of London." Warren Zevon's darkest lyric writing finds its place here in songs such as "The French Inhaler," "Excitable Boy," and "Play It All Night Long." How Dark? Well, the line from "Werewolves..." that goes, "You'd better stay away from him/ he'll rip your lungs out Jim/ Ha! I'd like to meet his tailor," shows the lighter side of Zevon's lyric writing in comparison.
The early '80's live album, Stand In the Fire, had critics hailing it as one of the best live rock and roll albums ever made when it first came out. David Letterman, a supporter of Zevon in the '90's and early 2000's, said he told Warren pretty much the same thing about Stand In the Fire, and Warren replied that he didn't remember anything about recording those live shows. Stand In the Fire holds up as a great live album, especially when one considers that so many major artists would later dub in vocal and instrument parts of so many "live" albums of the era ( The Rolling Stones' Get Yer Ya Ya's Out), and that others would just out and out put crowd noise on an obvious studio track (Waylon and Willie's "Good Hearted Woman"). Stand In the Fire puts the listener right there, front row, for a great show in comparison.
Enjoy Every Sandwich, a tribute album made soon after Warren Zevon's passing put out by his son, Jordan and Jorge Calderon, shows the regard major artists such a Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Pete Yorn of Radiohead had for Zevon. Other contributers include longtime friends and supporters Don Henley, Jackson Browne, and Bonnie Raitt, Zevon collaborator Jorge Calderon, and Billy Bob Thornton. Highlights of Enjoy Every Sandwich include a tough guy reading of "Werewolves of London" by Adam Sandler (it totally works), and "Studebaker" by son Jordan. I bought my copy in the dollar bin at a local record store a couple of weeks ago.
Warren Zevon certainly had an eventful life, if not the most successful of careers. His alcohol and drug use turned the aspects of his personality that made him seemed arrogant and superior acting into a full-on raging drunk who waved guns around and raged at the women in his life during altercations. I just tried to look up any testimony from the book that said whether Warren Zevon actually assaulted anyone, man or woman, but the book on the Hoopla App has no index, so it's hard to look that kind of thing up quickly. I'm glad Warren Zevon found a measure of peace in his later years, all the while never really losing that acerbic edge his friends go on and on about in the above-mentioned biography. And as a fan, I can really take heart in the fact that Warren Zevon remained a viable creative force-a force that survived the booze and drugs and escapades- right up until the end.