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Warren Zevon
Preludes: Rare and Unreleased Recordings

New West Records


Disc One:

1. Empty Hearted Town
Mr. Bones Publishing

2. Steady Rain*
Mr. Bones Publishing

3. Join Me In L.A.
Zevon Music

4. Hasten Down The Wind
Warner-Tamerlane Music

5. Werewolves of London
(LeRoy Marinell, Waddy Wachtel, Warren Zevon)
Zevon Music (BMI), Tiny Tunes Music (ASCAP), Leadsheet Land Music (ASCAP)

6. Tule’s Blues
Mr. Bones Publishing

7. The French Inhaler
Compnaion Music c/o Warner-Tamerlane Music

8. Going All The Way*
Mr. Bones Publishing

9. Poor Poor Pitiful Me
Companion Music c/o Warner-Tamerlane Music

10. Studebaker*
Mr. Bones Publishing

11.  Accidentally Like A Martyr
Zevon Music

12. Carmelita
Companion Music c/o Warner-Tamerlane Music

13. I Used To Ride So High
Mr. Bones Publishing

14. Stop Rainin Lord*
Mr. Bones Publishing

15. The Rosarita Beach Café
Mr. Bones Publishing

16. Desperados Under The Eaves

Companion Music c/o Warner-Tamerlane Music

All recordings on Disc One previously unreleased
* denotes a song never before released on any Warren Zevon album
All songs written by Warren Zevon except where noted.
All songs BMI except where noted.

Disc Two: Primate Discourse: Warren Zevon Talks


2. Discourse - Warren waxes and wanes on songwriting, Los Angeles, modern classical music, the early days of his career and playing the guitar versus the piano (7:14)

3. Discourse - Musings on mortality, song noir, religion in his music and The King of Rock n’ Roll (6:07)

4. Discourse – A chat about the producers of Life’ll Kill Ya, the album’s stark sound and other singers covering his songs (5:09)


6. Discourse – His take on Steve Winwood’s classic, the split personality, images and inspirations in his compositions. (3:58)

7. Discourse – His feelings about Rhino Records 2 CD anthology of his work, the size of his audience, having his music used on TV shows and movies, performing and the response to “Don’t Let Us Get Sick.” (5:14)

8. DON’T LET US GET SICK (5:10) (solo acoustic)
Recorded live 12/3/99 at Austin City Limits for 107.1 KGSR Radio Austin 9th Anniversary Concert, Engineered by Bill Johnson.

Songs from Life’ll Kill Ya produced and engineered by Pal Q. Kolderie and Sean Slade


Producer and Interviewer: Jody Denberg
Project Coordinator: Diane Gentile
Recorded by Marty Quinn at Quad Recording Studios, New York City
Mastered by Jerry Taub & Bill Johnson at Terra Nova Digital Audio, Austin, Texas
Special thanks: Bill Cason, Raymond DiPietro, Barbara Koonce
Used by Permission of The Warren Zevon Trust


In 2002, shortly after my father was diagnosed with cancer, we had a conversation in which we both realized that, in the little time he was told he had left – 3 months (though he lived on a little over a year) – we ought to have a father/son heart to heart. We should say all those things that were never said, profess our love for one another and apologize for any wrongs. The funny thing was, when we started that conversation, we had nothing to say. It had all been said at our lunches at Hugo’s; on our way to the latest Bruce Willis action movie; during a road trip to Reno to see Boom Boom Mancini in a disappointing loss to Greg Haugen; throughout the drive to Mountain View where he performed at Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit Concert; when I spent a week with him riding on the bus for the Sentimental Hygiene tour, and our almost daily phone calls. We talked and talked throughout his life and more often than not, we laughed. On that trip to Reno we’d go back and forth – he played me a CD by some 60s folk duo whose name escapes me and which I found excruciating (I threatened to jump out of the moving car), while I played him the latest Andrew Dice Clay record called The Day The Laughter Died, Part 2, a rather strange and little known album that almost went out of its way to make you hate it. We loved it. We laughed like idiots and until the day Dad died we were quoting it to each other. We were father and son, but more importantly we were friends. Good friends.

In the last few months of his life, he began to pass the torch of his legacy to Ariel (his daughter from his second marriage) and me. When NARAS asked which songs to submit for Grammy nominations, my dad asked us to pick and went back to watching a newly released Humphrey Bogart DVD. He was happily done with making those kinds of decisions. At one point I went over to tell him that Matthew Ralston had asked me to pick photos from his brilliant Rolling Stone photo shoot (one of which provided the cover to his final album, The Wind) and to let Matthew know which ones he could add to his portfolio. It was a big moment for me. I’d wanted to manage him for years, always using Tony Bennett’s son and manager as a model. I knew that I’d be up to the challenge, but my dad refused, telling me, “I need someone I can yell at without it being personal.” I went through the pictures, made notes, made my picks and went to Dad to impress him with my pre-meeting preparations. His response was, “Jordan (when he was irritated he would call me by my name; otherwise it was “Johnny Son’), I’m too tired for this. That’s why I’ve asked you to make all these decisions.” I was dejected at first, but then realized what was happening. He was turning over the family business to his children and had begun the process while he was still alive to prove his confidence in us. He sent me to Colorado for a Radio & Records trade convention to oversee the debut of the VH-1 special, “Keep Me in Your Hear.” It was overwhelming, exhilarating, frightening and touching. There I was, writing and recording my own music, and suddenly my sister and I are handed control of the 40 year career of one of the greatest singer/songwriters in rock and roll history.

Dad released his final album, The Wind, on August 27th, 2003. He saw the massive critical praise and the first week of sales, which were the greatest of his career. With his days numbered, he set a goal which the album not only achieved but surpassed, and a week later he passed away. He died quietly at home in the arms of his dear friend Ryan, and was later joined by Jorge, Ariel and I as we took turns with tears and heartfelt goodbyes. The Wind has sold over a half a million copies to date and the VH-1 documentary about his last days was so moving that the network decided to air it commercial free, repeating it numerous times over the few months after he passed. My dad faced death, embraced his art and showed his children what an amazing man he truly was. I’m glad you did it, Pop, but we already knew.

Months rolled by and the family business continued to call. With the emotion and exposure that the album and VH-1 special stirred up, Dad’s music became an ideal choice for music supervisors who were trying to score TV shows, movies, and commercials. Ariel and I knew enough abut Dad to know that he would have been thrilled with the attention, but we also knew that there was a line between tribute and exploitation. We’d have to work together to make sure that anything that bore his name was worthy of the years that he’d spent on his career and legacy.

A few months later I drove out to the Valley and started the process of cleaning out one of my Dad’s storage spaces. I’d been there before almost 10 years prior to help him organize it. After a few hours of moving boxes upon boxes of books and commercial cassette tapes (and frighteningly enough, a box of .45 Magnum ammo), I had cleared off a massive blue case that rested at the bottom of the space. It was an anvil flight case that had been used for a full sized piano that the success of Excitable Boy had afforded him to take on tour. Now, years later, it was used to store his most important possession. Among the pictures, memorabilia, and even, the suitcase that held the few items that my grandfather had left behind after his passing, there was a box that sent a jolt of electricity through my spine. It contained dozens of reel-to-reel tapes, as well as a huge stack of acetates and test pressings. I read some of the titles – “The Rosarita Beach Café,” “Steady Rain,” “Empty Hearted Town” … Over the next month I went through them and was consistently blown away by these incredible demo recordings. There were no recording dates, locations or personnel listed, which only served to make it more mysterious. I took the lot of them to my friend Bruce at Cups N Strings Studios in Santa Monica to work his magic in restoration, archiving and transferring everything to CD. A few weeks later, six CDs arrived at my door. I went through them with my jaw dropping to the floor – all this beautiful music that hadn’t been heard in over 30 years.

One of the first things I learned as a musician is that if you want to break new ground, you have to break the rules. Coltrane found notes that we didn’t know existed. George Martin and The Beatles lifted pop music into the world of orchestration and imagination. Hendrix played the guitar like it had never been heard. They broke the rules and expanded the format. I always saw my dad in the same light. Although he fit neatly into the category of the California, mid 70s, singer/songwriter, there was always something different abut hi style. It pushed the envelope, it didn’t quite fit in the norm and it broke the rules.

The second thing I learned was that if you want to break the rules, you have to learn them first. My father knew the rules. From his mentoring sessions with Stravinsky to his stint as the bandleader for the legendary Everly Brothers, he worked, paid attention and studied hard. But he used what he’d learned to do something different. One of the most exciting things for me about this set is the opportunity to share some of the wonderful, early compositions and performances that gave shape to the artist that my father finally became.

As close as I was to my dad (and anyone who knew him would agree), he was an extremely complex man. He could love something or someone one day and turn a full 180 degrees on it or them the next. He was a man of many moods and opinions and even Nostradamus couldn’t have predicted which one you’d get at any given moment.

I won’t know for sure how he would have felt about this release until I meet back up with him in the “great beyond,” where I’ll either receive a proud, fatherly hug or a posthumous ass-kicking. Truth is, it’ll probably be both. But I’ll take it all, wipe the blood from my chin and crack a smile. Just like Bogart would have. Just like my father did. Tough guy style.

I’m gonna start working on my uppercut.

Jordan Zevon


Danny Goldberg

After years of being a fan, I met Warren Zevon in 1999, shortly after creation of Artemis Records, when Jackson Browne sent me the song demos for the album that would be released as Life’ll Kill Ya. I knew immediately that the material was among the best of Warren’s career but I wanted to meet him to make sure he had the right attitude about the rigors of promotion. A lot of the songs were about aging and death, subjects not prevalent in the rock and roll canon.

Within minutes of our lunch at Un Deux Trois across the street from our office, I realized that I had nothing to worry about. Warren had not released an album in almost five years and, as a savvy veteran of many cycles in the music business, he knew that he, himself, would be the album’s best salesman. The interview he did with Jody Denberg was one of his best and is a wonderful companion to the collection of early versions of his songs and Crystal Zevon’s book.

Warren was the most literary of rockers. He counted among his friends Carl Hiaasen, Paul Mundoon, Hunter S. Thompson and Mitch Albom. He was fluent in both classical and modern poetry and he loved the hard-boiled mysteries of Raymond Chandler and Ross McDonald. He even agreed, on occasion, to play with the Rock Bottom Remainders – the vanity ‘band’ that consisted of writers Amy Tan, Dave Barry, and Stephen King.

But, as the Denberg interview reveals, the writer Warren most resembled was the literary hero of his teenage years – Norman Mailer. Like Mailer the writer, Zevon the rock artist was a man’s man as well as a woman’s man who combined sensitivity, intellectual acuity, macho sarcasm, wit, crudeness and aggression. He was the tough guy who wore his heart on his sleeve.

As you will hear, Warren rarely communicated in conventional language. He chose his words carefully and took care to maximize the intellectual honesty in every phrase. To listen to him talk is to enjoy every sentence.

Bones Howe

A phone call came to me from David Geffen who had been an agent I knew when I was producing The Association and we had grown to be friends. By then he had started Asylum Records, and he said, “You have a contract with a guy named Warren Zevon,” I said, “Yeah,” and he said, “I think he is a very talented writer and I want to make a deal for him to write some songs.” One of the caveats came when he said, “Look, I am going to sign him to a publishing contract but you have to give me a song he wrote called ‘Desperados Under The Eaves.’” I said, “David, if you will take care of him, I can’t get this guy off the ground. I have tried and tried and I don’t have the contacts or the image or whatever it takes to get him pointed in the right direction. If you can get him going you are welcome to it.” So I just signed his contract over and the rest is rock history.

Jon Landau

One of the interesting and unusual things with Warren was, with all of his issues, how productive he stayed. In many ways he got better creatively; he continued to grow. That is really the exception. Most of the people I met hanging out with Jackson, then Warren, in 1976, ’77, ’78, many of whom were very talented, weren’t able to continue to be at their best, creatively speaking, 25 to 30 years later, which to me is a sign of greatness.

For most genuinely great artists, it’s a lifetime endeavor. They’re at it forever. Warren was like that, too, but with him what was unusual was his level of perseverance mixed with the level of adversity he created for himself. It is a fascinating combination.

Bruce Springsteen

The first time I met Warren, he came to New York. I saw him at a club in the City and my man recollection was he did a version of Muddy Waters “I’m A Man” and instead of spelling out M-A-N, he spelled out his own name, Warren – which was very funny. It was one of those classic things that told you everything you needed to know about him.

Warren was a bit of an unusual character coming out of California because his tone was obviously not a typical Californian, unless you went back to maybe Nathaniel West or something. He had the cynical edge which was really not a part of what was coming out of California at the time. Outside of the songs being great, he was just an interesting character.

Roy Marinell

Writing “Werewolves of London” was a good lesson in never taking yourself too seriously. On most songs you write, you labor and you craft after a song for weeks. You put everything into it, every word is agonizing, and people say, hum, that’s a nice song. “Werewolves” was literally a 15 minute song that none of us took seriously. We did it as spontaneously as could be and look what happened. The story starts out with Crystal, Warren and I sitting around my house in Venice… Actually, Phil Everly likes to stay up all night and watch old movies and he had talked to Warren about a great English movie called Werewolf of London that was made in 1930. He though we should write a song called “Werewolves of London” and make it a dance craze. So, Warren was telling me the story and I said, “What a great idea.” Waddy walks in and, he said, “You mean, Ah oooh.” We said, “Whoa, great.”

Warren Zevon

(from 1983 “Off The Record” interview with Mary Turner): Actually, Phil Everly said, in the course of one of these albums he was making, he said, “I need a dance song. Why don’t you write me something. Like “Werewolves of London.” … you have to understand that, if the song is about anything it’s about the kind of friendship where you don’t question what your friends say. Waddy and I have been conversing that way for over a decade, and so we were at LeRoy Marinell’s house in Venice, CA. And we were playing and I was strumming 3 chords. Waddy walked in and said, “What’re you guys doing?” and we said, “We’re doing the Werewolves of London.”

Waddy said, “Ah-oooh, that’s easy.” I said, “That’s great.” We just rapped. Waddy said, “I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand” and I’d throw something back.. Crystal wrote everything down… she had this notebook … steno pad she always carried around, for occasions like that, I guess … we’d come up with lines and she’d write them down. It went very fast.

Jackson Browne

“Werewolves of London” and “Excitable Boy” were both written during the time we were working on the first album. They didn’t go on that album for a couple of reasons. I felt that they were songs that shouldn’t get nudged off – like “The French Inhaler” or “Desperados Under The Eaves.” There was a literary quality to those songs and I felt that it was better to get them established and out there first, and then come out with the record that had “Werewolves” and “Excitable Boy” on it. As a stage director, I just thought it was better to have that happen later … on the other hand, his first album might have been a much bigger hit had it had those songs on it.

Crystal Zevon

“Desperados Under The Eaves” is a very autobiographical song. During a low period in the late 60s, Warren was living from motel to motel. At one point when he couldn’t afford The Tropicana anymore, he checked into the Hollywood Hawaiian. He spent several weeks stepping over the junkies who blocked his doorway and sharing stories with the winos camped out on the corner of Yucca and Gower. Of course, he had no way of paying the bill, so one night his buddy who had been one of the original Beach Boys, David Marks, pulled mother’s station wagon into the alley behind the motel and Warren climbed out the bathroom window and left with the bill still unpaid.

The song started while he was still at the motel, listening to the air conditioner hum. He finished it shortly after we started living together. Years later, he returned and tried to pay his bill. They settled for an autographed copy of his Asylum album.

Compilation producer: Peter Jesperson

Executive producers: Jordan Zevon, Cameron Strang, Danny Goldberg
Mastering: Gavin Lurssen at Lurssen Mastering, Hollywood, CA
Family photos provided by Jordan and Crystal Zevon
Still life photography by Susie Delaney
Art Direction and design by Kat Delaney
Legal: Ken Anderson

New West & Ammal would like to thank: Jordan Zevon, Crystal and Ariel Zevon, Ken Anderson and George Fontaine Sr.

Jordan Zevon would like to thank:

Cameron Strang, Peter Jesperson, Katherine Delaney, Michael Ruthig, and all the staff at New West, Bill Harper, Ken Anderson, Carl Hiassen, Cheryl Pawelski, Linda Reinstein, and Lucy Pfeffa.

Special thanks to Danny Goldberg for his inspiration, friendship, and support.

Dedicated in loving memory to Tule Livingston Dillow and Alan Reinstein.

Jordan would also like to thank Jodi for her continuing love and support. To quote one of his songs, “I woke up early/Next to an angel/ When it hit me/How can this be?/I’m not worthy.”

Honorable mention to: Lee Hurtado, The “title man.”

Warren died of mesothelioma, a form of asbestos related lung cancer. Please take a moment to visit these web sites and educate yourselves about this serious and continually escalating disease:


And finally to all of Warren’s fans (or as he liked to call them – ‘customers’ – because he thought the term ‘fans’ was demeaning!). You’re all nuts! So that makes you an honorary Zevon. But you’re also the most kind and supportive people on the planet and Hunter would be the first to agree – normal is boring. We’ll sleep when we’re dead!

Told in the words of his musical accomplices, fellow-travelers, friends and lovers, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is an intimate and unusual biography of fabled singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, the original “Excitable Boy,” literary hoodlum, OCD sufferer, brilliant songwriter, and rock-and-roll icon. Available wherever books are sold.

The ruminations of Bones Howe, Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen, Roy Marinell, Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne and Crystal Zevon in the CD package are excerpts from this memoir.

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