Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Crystal Zevon: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead 'The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon'

If you are even remotely interested in rock and roll, Warren Zevon, music, or American Popular Culture over the past half century I'd say this is a good book for you to check out. Warren told Crystal Zevon before he died that if she was going to write this book there was only one demand he had to make: "Put it all in there. Don't sugar coat it or try to make me look better. Tell them everything and exactly who I am."(Quotes are included here to show that it's Warren speaking, but this is actually completely paraphrased by the midge) The best part about this book is that it is actually transcriptions of interviews from all the major role players in Warren's life from his ex-wife Crystal, to guitarist Waddy "Wah-Wah" Wachtel, Jorge Calderon-Warren's co-writer, producer, and friend, his gamblin' man father, his children, his cousins,Bruce Springstein, Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Waits, and even notes from his own journals. These are not just put in there randomly, however, they are chopped up and put together to create a narrative that flows quites seamlessly as if written by one storyteller. This is truly a gem. I know I always write reviews of books I love on here, but you'll see the stark differences between my reactions to this book and the biography of Tom Waits that I read once I post something on that bad boy. This is one of two books that I read based on reading or hearing a recommendation on the book from Ben Harper (the other was Leonard Peltier's "My Life is My Sundance," which is a moving piece written by a wrongly imprisoned native American who to this day uses his spirituality to rise above the hell of a life he is forced to live inside a cell) Both books are worthy of your time in my opinion, but I suppose that's obvious. Back to the book at hand.....This Zevon book is really a special one and documents everything from Warren's meeting Igor Stravinsky as a child piano prodigy to his long friendship with and many stints on TV with David Letterman, right up to being diagnosed with cancer, recording the wind, and dying far too young. The book also has a guide in the back to explain a little bit about all of the interviewed contributors and their roles in Zevon's life. The guy was a freak of nature, an enigma, a genius, and often an asshole, you gotta read for yourself if you care to know. It doesn't disappoint.