Monday, July 25, 2005

"Werewolves of London"

Well, this is probably the only Warren Zevon tune that anyone's ever heard of, and normally I wouldn't have blogged it, except that I came across a live version recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon (back in the days when it still WAS the Hammersmith Odeon) that is really, truly excellent. For a start, the intro is an extended piece of semi-classical improvisation on the keyboard from the man himself; a spare, beautiful piece of cascading, climbing, Oriental-tinged wizardry. And just when you think you may have the wrong track, he ever-so-gently leans into the piano intro to "Werewolves" and before you know it, we're off and running into a solid, meaty rendition of his (sadly) signature tune.
Why "Werewolves" came to be a so-called novelty hit is still beyond me. It's not the best song he ever wrote by a long way, it's not even the funniest, but it is clever. Jackson Browne, who produced the album, said this song is all about young well-dressed gigolos preying on old ladies. He said the whole song is wrapped up in the line "Well, I'd like to meet his tailor". It sounds far-fetched, but then far-fetched was pretty normal in Warren's world. And so listen to this now with the benefit of insight and enjoy its dark humour, enjoy the spontaneity of the live recording and raise a glass to a wayward genius.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Waddy Wachtel had a lot to do with establishing the feel of that song:

http://www.templeofme.com/archives/2004/05/zevon_and_waddy.html

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lessthansix said...

I think the curse of this song (pun unavoidable) is that it just sounds like the makings of a one- hit-wonder and by anyone else I think it could've been but Zevon had the ability to not only duplicate the novelty of this song i.e. "Gorilla, you're a desperado" but he could go in just about every other stylistic direction as well.

And as the earlier comment mentions, his collaborators were a very eclectic bunch.