Sunday, November 22, 2009

Top 25 of the 2000s, #12 - "The Wind," Warren Zevon


“Maybe a year before his diagnosis, I watched Warren on the Letterman show and I told Jorge, “You have to get Warren to a doctor right away.” Jorge says, “Why?” I said, “Because he’s very sick. Look at the way he looks.” Jorge says, “I just saw him. He’s fine.” I’m going, “Jorge, I swear to you, please.” – Yvonne Calderon, the wife of Jorge Calderon, who was the most prolific Zevon songwriting collaborator (18 songs) and the producer of “The Wind.”


“I kept saying, “Warren, go to the doctor.” “Twenty years I haven’t gone to the doctor. I don’t need to go to the doctor. It’s stress. It’s anxiety. It’s the workouts. I’ll cut back on the workouts a little bit.” He kept refusing, refusing, refusing. Then he said, “Brigette, I’m afraid if I go to the doctor I’m going to find out something I really don’t want to hear.” – Brigette Barr, Warren Zevon’s manager.


Press release, D.Baron media relations, September 12, 2002. Los Angeles, CA – Celebrated recording artist composer Warren Zevon, one of rock music's wittiest and most original songwriters, has been diagnosed with lung cancer which has advanced to an untreatable stage.


“He called and said, “I know what I want to do. I want to make music until I can’t make it anymore.” He said, “Do you think we can get some money from Danny?” “Absolutely.” I honestly was nervous that I wasn’t going to find the money, but then I thought, well, if I don’t find it at Artemis, I’ll find it somewhere else.” – Brigette Barr


“I never thought he would have the strength or focus to do a whole album, but I was happy to pay for whatever he wanted to do. I knew it was going to be good, and I knew it was going to be the last work. All the way through, I kept being amazed that he was still writing and that he was still doing it. Every time another song would come it was like a miracle.” – Danny Goldberg, Chairman and CEO of Artemis Records, 1999-2003.


“Once he found out he was sick, the level of clarity was something: not only have I never seen anything like it, I’ve never even heard of anything like it. Before that, I don’t know how much was conscious or unconscious or coincidence, but once he got sick, man, he was focused like a laser. “ – Danny Goldberg



“After the first songs were recorded, it got really hard. He never came back to the studio. He got very depressed, started drinking…He had started drinking before that. I didn’t know it. I found out after Letterman, when he came back from doing Letterman. And I told him, “Listen, I heard about this…I don’t blame you…but the only thing I have to tell you is watch it. Drinking on top of the pain medication that you have could be lethal. It would be a shame for something to happen before you can live out your life as long as you can.” He understood that. He said, “Oh, I just had to. I couldn’t do without it.” I said, “I understand, but please. You need to be very careful.” I was the only one around who knew what he got like when he was drunk. I didn’t blame him, but it got pretty bad. Just like the old days.” – Jorge Calderon


“The first time I was at the studio, they were doing “My Dirty Life and Times.” There’s that line “I’m looking for a woman with low self-esteem,” which he told me Billy Bob Thornton asked could he please sing that line. So, they remixed it specifically for that. I haven’t seen anybody actually write about that line yet, but at some point that’s going to be one of the line’s he’s known for.” – Danny Goldberg


“He called me one night and said, “I was writing poetry and it was really bad and flowery and esoteric, but I wrote this one line, “Disorder in the house.”…I said, “That’s a great line for a rock and roll song.” He said, “See what you can do with it.” – Jorge Calderon


“December 17th of 2002 [drummer Jim] Keltner and I put the track together for “Disorder in the House” and Bruce Springsteen was coming the next day to sing on it. We started putting the track together, and we said to Warren, “You play guitar, too.” But, he was so out of it that his timing was totally bad and we couldn’t get a track. I said, “Listen, why don’t you lay off and let me do this with Keltner.” So, we put the track together, then I said, “Okay, let’s sing it.” You can see him on the VH1 documentary and he’s trying, but he had taken painkillers and he had a flask in his bag that he was drinking from. He was totally unable to do it.” I had to tell him, “There’s no use going on. Bruce can’t sing to this. Come back tomorrow and do it fresh when you first get up. In other words, don’t start drinking. Just come here and do it and then you can do whatever you want.” I said, “Bruce is going to sing on top of you. It has to be good. You can do it. I know you can do it.” He gave me that whole trip about I’m dying and I said, I know, I know, but we’re here – celebrating today. So, if you’re alive, let’s do it.” The next morning…he apologized. “I’m really sorry. You had to take me to the side like in the old days to give the ‘You’ve got to straighten up, you’re too drunk’ rap, Jorge. I wouldn’t want to put you in this position.” I said, “Don’t worry. Let’s just do it right. Bruce is coming.” - Jorge Calderon


“It was a lovely experience for me. I enjoyed being there, and he let me play a lot of lead guitar, which he seemed to get a big kick out of, and so that was fun. We spent a few hours, and I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be seeing him again. We hugged and talked a little bit. At the time, he was concerned with what kind of treatment he was going to get. He was debating…I’m not sure if it was the chemotherapy…but I remember he said, “Gee, it’s a sin not to try to stay alive.” We just hugged and said good-bye. He played me a big piece of the record, and it was quite an afternoon. But, he was different. He was fatigued. You could see that he was fighting and had been worn down. He was struggling to get the record made, but on the other hand, he was very wide open and loving. He was appreciative of where he was standing and what he was doing at that time. It was a memorable afternoon.” - Bruce Springsteen



“When Springsteen played on “Disorder in the House,” which was a cosmic event as far as both Warren and I were concerned, there was something so magical about the energy that he brought. When he came in, I’m all ready for him to be picky about how he wants to record the guitar, the amp, whatever. Then, all he does is turn the amp all the way up. So, after he plays, he kills the amp. The speakers are ripped and torn, and the last sounds he made are those sounds on the album. He calls Warren the next day, and we had been knocked out by it at the time. We listen to it, and it was incredible. I said, “The amp died. It was like Sir Galahad at the moment he finds the Grail. There was nothing left for the amp to do – it had achieved the highest point of amp-dom and went right up to God at that point.” Warren thought that was the greatest thing on earth.” – Noah Snyder, recording engineer/co-producer, “The Wind.”


“Then, suddenly, it was done. He was so happy and so sad, it was an amazing time to be around him. He was mostly enjoying the attention…Ry Cooder was playing on his record. He was like a little kid. Ry had blown him off on all his previous records, and this one was just a spiritual album for everyone.” – Danny Goldberg

No comments: