Friday, July 06, 2007

Warren Zevon: "Happy Together"

An overnight success Warren Zevon was not. By the time his major label debut was released in 1976, he had been around the L.A. songwriting scene for over a decade, garnering respect from his peers and colleagues for his body of work, but falling far short of fame.

The degree to which that respect manifested itself is evident in this remembrance from Howard Kaylan of The Turtles, who were on the brink of releasing "Happy Together" and knew that it was their ticket to the big time:
"When we went into the studio at the beginning of 1967, we absolutely knew it was going to be a #1 record. The owners of the record company said, 'This is going to be a #1 record, so think carefully about what you want to put on the B-side because it's all gravy money.' We were so naive, and were so decent, that we said, 'Let's use Warren's song on the B-side of this one, too.' 'What? You've already used it as a B-side' [for a
previously released single]. 'I know, but that wasn't a hit. We want to give this guy every break that we can...'"

"...Believe me, we were not always that selfless...But, in Warren's case, he was a very, very special person. We wanted him to share our good fortune. So, 'Happy Together' wound up with Warren's song 'Like the Seasons' as the B-side internationally, and of course it sold millions and millions and millions of records."

Such regard for Zevon as an artist is prevalent throughout I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, and one of the great tragedies of his life was that he was unable (or unwilling, or some combination of the two) to accept that kind of largesse with dignity and grace.

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