Three months into my 2018 new year resolution to listen to more music and this time, I’m looking at an artist introduced to me by Alfie but suggested for this project by Gill Jansingh. The artist is Warren Zevon and he wrote the song that has become my all time favourite song by Alfie Boe, the wonderful Keep Me In Your Heart. Although the basics of the song are the same in both versions, it’s Alfie’s interpretation and voice that really shakes the buttons on my blouse – they’re perfectly safe with Zevon’s original!
Of Zevon’s albums, I concentrated on three for this post, the eponymous 1975 album, 1978’s Excitable Boy and The Wind, released just before his death in 2003 (Keep Me In Your Heart is from The Wind). Of the three, although liking elements from all, my favourites are Warren Zevon and The Wind. Encompassing musical genres such as country, rock, folk, pop and blues, Zevon’s own style is somewhat harder to describe; in this respect at least, he reminds me of Alfie’s eclectic musical career so far.
There are several outstanding songs on The Wind, namely Numb As A Statue, Prison Grove, El Amor De Mi Vida and Rest of the Night, that showcase Zevon’s talent as a lyricist. Please Stay and Rub Me Raw are also little gems, while Knockin on Heavens Door is one of the best versions of the Dylan classic that I’ve heard. Prison Grove sounds like an old chaingang style song, similar to the rhythms of Rosie, from Alfie’s Trust album, while Rest of the Night is a great dancing tune which exhorts us to just enjoy life while you can – “we’ve got the rest of the night”.
Zevon’s eponymous album of 1975 has some cracking tunes and eminently singable lyrics, even if the meaning of what you’re singing takes you by surprise on occasion. Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me, also a hit for Linda Ronstadt, is a song with great danceability and simple yet powerful lyrics that take a somewhat dark turn, as does Carmelita, which beguiles with a country sound whilst Zevon sings about addiction. Sleep When I’m Dead, surely an anthem for would be rockers, has a definite edge of punk.
Excitable Boy was the least successful of the three albums I concentrated on for this post and also seemed to contain the most pop / rock sound. Having said that, there aren’t that many albums that reference the Biafran war early on – Zevon was certainly an intelligent lyricist who knew how to tell a story as well as make the listener think.
One of the most enjoyable parts of listening to music recorded a while ago is working out the musical influences; I could hear Springsteen, Dylan, Johnny Cash and Eric Clapton amongst others and yet I know that many of you will hear different things again. What do I take from Warren Zevon? The joy of music written for the sheer joy of writing and recording and not with one eye on the sales market, and it seems that his music was a critical success right from the start with the sales being a little harder to come by. This is perhaps due to the intrinsic difficulty of categorising the music so this would be a good moment to remind ourselves of Alfie’s perception of music: it’s either good or bad. And Warren Zevon’s music is good, very good.
The Wind and other albums are available here:
thanks for reading – please share!
if you like what you see, why not subscribe?
all your Alfie news straight to your inbox
plus 4 exclusive photos, a welcome message from Alfie
an an exclusive interview!