Friday, June 1, 2007

Enjoy every sandwich

I've been haunted by the ghost of Warren Zevon for the past few weeks.

In reading Crystal Zevon's poignant biography, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, I found myself re-immersed in music, like lots of music, that I love, forget, and rediscover that I love again. No small part in this rebloom of romance for Zevon's music is understanding where much of it came from. I was talking to my friend Jim Chapdelaine, himself a great guitarist, a cancer survivor, and a reader of great depth and breadth, and we agreed that in terms of popular music, in terms of all music, about half of what Warren Zevon produced was great, truly great. The other half is dismissable. And that is a great accomplishment for any composer over the course of fifteen albums of music.

But aside from the "deep liner notes" aspect of the biography, reading about Zevon's life also provides lessons about art, love, family, living and dying.

In a marketing confluence, the arrival of the book coincided with the arrival of three re-mastered Zevon albums, and a collection of rare cuts and demos. So anyone, like me, who felt like being immersed has had the opportunity to do so.

So, I leapt to the next level, and put the VH-1 documentary about the recording of Zevon's last album The Wind, at the top of my Netflix queue. Unexpectedly, in watching the doc for the second time, I found myself in tears, as if I were watching the slow demise of a good friend.

As Zevon said to David Letterman, the lesson of learning the bleak lesson of your mortality is to "enjoy every sandwich."

And so, for at least the next couple of days, as this lesson remains sharp, I will.

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