This is not a happy record and this is not a cheery blog. As Wikipedia puts it “several of the songs deal with the topic of death”. It was released in January 2000. I can’t remember why I bought it; it probably got a good review in UNCUT or MOJO. I didn’t have any of his other albums although I knew “Werewolves of London” from 1978. Altogether Warren Zevon made 12 records before he died in 2003. I have very sad memories of playing this CD on the car stereo non stop in February and March 2000 whilst I was driving from Sussex up to see my ailing parents. My Dad died on 26th February 2000 and my Mum died on 15th March 2000. For some reason, it seemed appropriate to me to be playing this music as I drove the unfamiliar streets around Croydon, Bromley and Orpington to see my parents whilst continuing to carry on teaching. There’s a couple of pedestrian crossings in West Wickham and I can vividly remember stopping at one of the crossings whilst “My Shit’s Fucked Up” was playing. It certainly didn’t seem right to be playing a Beach Boys album at this moment of my life. I’m not sure that listening to this made it any easier though. On the other hand, I wasn’t expecting anything to make things easier. It was a terrible time.
If we take some of the lyrics, they don’t make for light reading. They resonated with me in 2000 and in the middle (beginning?) of the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020, they are still mightily appropriate.
Take this from the title track: “From the President of the United States/To the lowliest rock and roll star/The doctor is in and he’ll see you now/He don’t care who you are/Some get the awful, awful diseases/Some get the knife, some get the gun/Some get to die in their sleep/At the age of a hundred and one/ Life’ll kill ya/That’s what I said/Life’ll kill ya/Then you’ll be dead”.
Or take this from “My Shit’s Fucked Up”: “Yeah, yeah, my shit’s fucked up/It has to happen to the best of us/The rich folks suffer like the rest of us/It’ll happen to you”.
This is from the last track on the record: “Don’t let us get sick/Don’t let us get old/Don’t let us get stupid, all right?/Just make us be brave/And make us play nice/And let us be together tonight”.
I’m pretty sure I haven’t played this record since 2000 and listening to it now, bringing back such terrible memories, I’m not sure I ever want to hear it again.