Bob Dylan and Warren Zevon. Heartfelt and Primeval

by Aaron Galbraith.

In 2009 the Huffington Post ran one of Dylan’s greatest latter-day interviews, revealing his own favorite songwriters and thoughts on his own cult status. It is worth a moment of your time to take a read. Here it is.

The interviewer asks Dylan who are some of his favorite songwriters. Dylan answers: “Buffett I guess. Lightfoot. Warren Zevon. Randy. John Prine. Guy Clark. Those kinds of writers.”

The interviewer goes on to ask how well Dylan knows Warren Zevon.  Dylan replies, “Not very well.”

Then the journalist asks, what Dylan likes best about him.  Dylan is quite clear in his answer this time:

“’Lawyers, Guns and Money’.  ‘Boom Boom Mancini’.  ‘Down hard stuff’.”   And then he adds, “‘Join me in LA’ sort of straddles the line between heartfelt and primeval. His musical patterns are all over the place, probably because he’s classically trained. There might be three separate songs within a Zevon song, but they’re all effortlessly connected. Zevon was a musician’s musician, a tortured one. ‘Desperado Under the Eaves.’ It’s all in there.”

The Telegraph also listed Dylan’s 20 favorite musicians and songwriters, including the usual suspects, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Robert Johnson, Liam Clancy and, once again, Warren Zevon.

During the sessions for Zevon’s 1987 album ”Sentimental Hygiene,” Bob Dylan showed up one day. ”When I walked into the studio and they said, ‘Bob Dylan’s here,’ I said, ‘Why?’ ‘To see you.’ ” Zevon pauses. ”That’s worth a million records to me.”

In 2002 Dylan was in Los Angeles in October performing at the Wiltern Theater. Zevon was in attendance and was taken up to Dylan’s dressing room, where the pair shared a long glance before Dylan mumbled something about how sad he was to hear about Zevon’s illness. ”I have come to value every moment,” Zevon replied. A few moments later, they are discussing songs and musicians. When it was show-time Dylan looked to Zevon and said ”I hope you like what you hear,”.

That night Dylan would sing three Zevon songs without introduction or comment: ”Accidentally Like a Martyr”, ”Lawyers, Guns and Money” and ”Mutineer”. Zevon listened with concentration, soaking up the moment as his idol paid tribute to him. Due to his illness he had to leave early as fatigue set in.

Here is “Accidentally Like a Martyr”

And the lyrics

The phone don’t ring
And the sun refused to shine
Never thought I’d have to pay so dearly
For what was already mine
For such a long, long time

We made mad love
Shadow love
Random love
And abandoned love
Accidentally like a martyr
The hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder

The days slide by
Should have done, should have done, we all sigh
Never thought I’d ever be so lonely
After such a long, long time
Time out of mind

We made mad love
Shadow love
Random love
And abandoned love
Accidentally like a martyr
The hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder

And in case this is new to you here’s the original.  We really would recommend you listen to this as well as Dylan’s version.

There is in both version, and sudden, unexpected modulation in the instrumental section – a crashing from key to key which tears apart one’s ability to settle into the song.

And of course this is where we have “Time out of mind” which takes on a crashing meaning of its own in this context.

Bob would perform “’Accidentally Like A Martyr” 22 times.

Now, “Lawyers Guns and Money” which shows the amazing range of Zevon’s writing and his instrumentation.

 

“Lawyers, Guns and Money” was played four times by Dylan.   Here are the lyrics

Well, I went home with the waitress
The way I always do
How was I to know
She was with the Russians, too

I was gambling in Havana
I took a little risk
Send lawyers, guns and money
Dad, get me out of this

I’m the innocent bystander
Somehow I got stuck
Between the rock and the hard place
And I’m down on my luck
And I’m down on my luck
And I’m down on my luck

Now I’m hiding in Honduras
I’m a desperate man
Send lawyers, guns and money
The shit has hit the fan

And here is Warren’s version.  And may we say, if you are inclined to skip over tracks in these articles that are not Dylan singing, please do listen to this.

“Mutineer” was played by Dylan 31 times in the year.

Here are the lyrics

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Hoist the mainsail – here I come
Ain’t no room on board for the insincere
You’re my witness
I’m your mutineer

I was born to rock the boat
Some may sink but we will float
Grab your coat – let’s get out of here
You’re my witness
I’m your mutineer

Long ago we laughed at shadows
Lightning flashed and thunder followed us
It could never find us here
You’re my witness
I’m your mutineer

Long ago we laughed at shadows
Lightning flashed and thunder followed us
It could never find us here
You’re my witness
I’m your mutineer

I was born to rock the boat
Some may sink but we will float
Grab your coat – let’s get out of here
You’re my witness
I’m your mutineer
You’re my witness
I’m your mutineer
I’m your mutineer……

 

After the Wiltern show Warren would remark: ”There are levels past which things no longer connect, there’s nothing to relate them to; there’s no way to really analyze them. To hear Dylan sing not just one song, but another. It’s a big thrill, but beyond the honor, it’s just so strange, beyond even computing.”

On that same tour Dylan would also perform “Boom Boom Mancini” from 1987s “Sentimenal Hygiene”. This was a one-off performance on October 4th.

And here is the composer – this time with a live performance

 

Hurry home early – hurry on home
Boom Boom Mancini’s fighting Bobby Chacon
Hurry home early – hurry on home
Boom Boom Mancini’s fighting Bobby Chacon

From Youngstown, Ohio, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini
A lightweight contender, like father like son
He fought for the title with Frias in Vegas
And he put him away in round number one

Hurry home early – hurry on home
Boom Boom Mancini’s fighting Bobby Chacon
Hurry home early – hurry on home
Boom Boom Mancini’s fighting Bobby Chacon

When Alexis Arguello gave Boom Boom a beating
Seven weeks later he was back in the ring
Some have the speed and the right combinations
If you can’t take the punches it don’t mean a thing

Hurry home early – hurry on home
Boom Boom Mancini’s fighting Bobby Chacon
Hurry home early – hurry on home
Boom Boom Mancini’s fighting Bobby Chacon

When they asked him who was responsible
For the death of Du Koo Kim
He said, “Someone should have stopped the fight, and told me it was him.”
They made hypocrite judgments after the fact
But the name of the game is be hit and hit back

Hurry home early – hurry on home
Boom Boom Mancini’s fighting Bobby Chacon
Hurry home early – hurry on home
Boom Boom Mancini’s fighting Bobby Chacon

Another take of “Mutineer” would appear on the 1995 Warren Zevon tribute album “Enjoy Every Sandwich”

Also, on the album was Jakob Dylan’s Wallflowers doing “Lawyers Guns and Money”

 

Zevon has been a massive Dylan fan since his early days. In the mid 60s he was a member of a short lived duo called “Lyme and Cybelle” that released three 7” singles, the second of which was this fun version of, “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” from 1966.

Into the 90s Zevon was covering Dylan in concert. Here is a fine 12 string version of “All Along The Watchtower” for once, modelled after Dylan’s original, rather than the Hendrix version. Followed by a splendid version of “Ring Them Bells”. Both are taken from a 1996 Denver concert.

 

Then in 2002 he added versions of “Dark Eyes” and “Chimes Of Freedom” to his live shows.

And here is Chimes of Freedom…

 

In 2002 Zevon commenced recording on what would be his final album “The Wind”. He was diagnosed with an inoperable cancer of the lining of the lung. The album was released just two weeks before his death on 7th September 2003. He was inspired to include a Dylan cover after seeing Dylan cover three of his songs at the Wiltern. Here is the most beautiful and poignant versions of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” you will ever hear. Hear how he repeats towards the end “Open up, open up, open up for me”.

Now to round things off, to promote the “Enjoy Every Sandwich” album, The Wallflowers went on Lettermen to sing their take of “Lawyers, Guns and Money” but this time they brought along Warren’s son Jordan to sing with them. Bob and Warren’s sons give us a special performance on this one, particularly when Jordan sings “Dad, get me out of this”.

What else is here?

An index to our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

There is an alphabetic index to the 550+ Dylan compositions reviewed on the site which you will find it here.  There are also 500+ other articles on different issues relating to Dylan.  The other subject areas are also shown at the top under the picture.

We also have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook which mostly relates to Bob Dylan today.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews.

 

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3 Responses to Bob Dylan and Warren Zevon. Heartfelt and Primeval

  1. Aaron G says:

    Let’s think about this for a second, has Bob every done anything like this before or since, drop 3 songs by the same writer into a set list – and whilst he was in attendance! Not since the Guthrie days. Also when he does Tribute songs like this he stumbles over words and melodies. Here he doesn’t put a step wrong with the lyrics!

    What a tribute.

    Warren Zevon for the rock n roll hall of fame!

  2. Larry Fyffe says:

    Bell, bells, bells
    To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!
    Hear the loud alarum bells
    Brazen bells!
    What a tale of terror, now, the turbulency tells
    In the startled ear of night
    How they scream out their affright!
    (Edgar Allan Poe: The Bells)

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