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 "I'm insane. I'm fucked up. I have problems. But I don't get depressed and I don't get bored."


Warren Zevon (1947-2003) was a Southern California singer-songwriter who had one big hit in the late 1970s with "Werewolves of London" and a cult following. Friend to Hunter S. Thompson, he was the only known student of Stravinski ever to break the top forty.

The list of songs he wrote for other artists is long, and may contain surprises. He wrote songs for artists ranging from The Turtles to Prince to Linda Ronstadt to Bruce Springsteen, in styles from rock to country to punk. In interviews he often described himself as a "heavy metal folk singer."

In 2002, just as he was in the middle of a commercial and critical comeback while touring for his album My Ride's Here, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma and was given months to live. He recorded the critically acclaimed album The Wind in 2003, and died a month after its release.

He's often described as a One-Hit Wonder, though this isn't actually true. Two of his songs ("Werewolves of London" and a cover of "A Certain Girl") made the Billboard Hot 100 (and "Leave My Monkey Alone" got up to #12 on the Dance/Club list), two of his albums (A Quiet Normal Life and The Wind) went gold, and another (Excitable Boy) went platinum. He also won two Grammys posthumously. These days, though, "Werewolves" is all anybody remembers.

Warren Zevon provides examples of these tropes:


 Little old lady got mutilated late last night

Werewolves of London again

    • "Roland the headless Thompson Gunner":

 The deal was made in Denmark

On a dark and stormy day


 You'd better stay away from him

He'll rip your lungs out, Jim

Huh, I'd like to meet his tailor

  • Black Comedy
  • Censored Title: The song "My Shit's Fucked Up" wasn't listed on the back of the CD case for "Life'll Kill Ya".
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "My Shit's Fucked Up," off of "Life'll Kill Ya."
  • Creator Breakdown: Zevon was a very personal songwriter. Many of his songs reflect his romantic feelings ('Reconsider Me', 'Searching For A Heart'), his issues with drugs and alcohol ('Desperados Under The Eaves', 'Trouble Waiting To Happen'), his experiences with Los Angeles and California in general ('Carmelita', most of Transverse City possibly). Of course, the man had a sense of humour, so this is lampshaded frequently (see 'Poor Poor Pitiful Me', 'Bad Karma', 'Mr. Bad Example', etc.).
  • Dead Artists Are Better: His only Grammys were awarded after his death.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: Which could sum up a lot of Zevon's career in general. See such classics as "Excitable Boy," "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner," "Mr. Bad Example," and others.
    • Discussing his inoperable, fatal cancer: "I may have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for 20 years."
    • "Excitable Boy", perhaps, but "Roland" is hardly comedic, despite the ironic nature of how he settles his score. Roland's supernaturally reanimated corpse stalks all of Africa for the man who blew his head off. When he finds him, he blows the man's entire BODY away.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: "Gorilla, You're a Desperado".
    • "Leave My Monkey Alone." Sorta.
  • Mistaken Nationality: Often mistaken for being a Brit due to his hit song's subject matter.
  • No Export for You : For many years, many of Zevon's albums were unavaliable in different parts of the world, particularly Europe, for different reasons. Thankfully, this was largely changed in the 2000s when previously rare albums were finally released... with bonus tracks.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: In "Werewolves of London" they satisfy their meat cravings at Chinese restaurants.
    • Not exclusively. They still mutilate little old ladies and will rip your lungs out if they get the chance. More a matter of a somewhat broader diet than a human-friendly one.
      • Also, Lee Ho Fook's doesn't sell beef chow mein, so some think it is people after all
  • Precision F-Strike:

 Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money

The shit has hit the fan

  • Production Posse: They didn't all show up on every album, but you can reasonably expect the following names to show up in the credits: Jackson Browne, Waddy Wachtel, Jorge Calderón, David Lindley, J.D. Souther, at least one Eagle (usually Glenn Frey, but sometimes almost the entire band), at least one member of Fleetwood Mac, and, in the later ones, his son Jordan Zevon.
  • Shout-Out: "Johnny Strikes Up the Band" is reportedly a tribute to Elton John.
    • The Stand in the Fire live version of 'Werewolves of London' has a couple, if only in passing. Some of these are quotable in Zevon fan communities.

  You'd better stay from him, he'll rip your lungs out Jim, AND HE'S LOOKING FOR JAMES TAYLOR.

    • "Excitable Boy" has a disturbing one. The name of the eponymous boy's victim is "Little Susie." Zevon had previously been in the Everly Brothers' road band.
  • Signature Song: "Werewolves of London"
  • Surreal Music Video: Leave My Monkey Alone.
  • Take That: Zevon may have had a grudge against Talking Heads. Not only did he title a song "I Was in the House When the House Burned Down", but in his song "The Overdraft" (mocking the Talking Heads's gloomy "The Overload"), the singer is paranoid and on the run much like in the Heads' "Life During Wartime" — except in Zevon's song, the guy is on the lam because of a bounced check.
    • The entirety of "Porcelain Monkey" is one against Elvis .
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: Warren was hired to write several of these for a Tales from the Crypt episode called King of the Road. One of them, "Roll with the Punches", appears on the album "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead."
  • Villain Song: "Mr. Bad Example".