Monday, 7 July 2008

Werewolves of London

I've just been re-reading a book called Hotel California: Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the LA Canyons, by Barney Hoskyns. It traces the history of all those Californian bands and artists of the era 1965-1977 (approx.), and there's not many of them come out of it smelling of roses. Joni Mitchell and Neil Young at least score more points for artistic integrity than most, but basically it's a tale of monstrous egos running out of control, and ideals being sold to the highest bidder.

I'm not a huge fan of many of the artists featured (aside from Young) - Jackson Browne and his ilk always came over as a bit too smug for their own good - but I do love the late, great Warren Zevon, who features in the book as something of a footnote. He was a bit like a more rock and roll version of Randy Newman (to be fair, I like Newman too), but sadly, even now, he doesn't get the credit he deserves.

Anyway, the book set me searching YouTube for vids of the Big Z, and here he is performing his (almost) novelty hit, Werewolves Of London. OK, so it's a bit silly, but listen to those lyrics. That line "Huh! I'd like to meet his tailor" makes me laugh out loud every time.


Kirk Wisebeard said...

Best thing about werewolves of london.. annoying andy in the van by doing the howling while he's singing along to that Kid Rock track that sounds suspiciously like Zevon's masterpiece.. and remember Roland the Headless Thomson Gunner??

Matt Merritt said...

Interesting that on YouTube, there was a debate raging about who had ripped off who - lots of Lynyrd Skynyrd fans slagging Zevon off for pinching the hook from Sweet Home Alabama. Thing is, he had a bit of a friendly spat going with LS - they wrote SHA as a riposte to Neil Young's Southern Man, so the Big Z wrote Play It All Night Long as a reply. It starts with the wonderful line "Grandpa's pissed his pants again". I daresay this was all part of that.

He also used to plagiarise himself. Little musical motifs from his early albums keep cropping up later on.

Too many classics to name. Two of my own favourites are Gorilla You're A Desperado and Mr Bad Example.