Warren Zevon died on Sunday, September 7, shortly after this report was filed
Last year, 56-year-old singer and songwriter Warren Zevon was diagnosed with a rare type of terminal lung cancer. Known for hits such as Werewolves of London and Excitable Boy, Warren wanted to record one last album as a way of saying goodbye to his fans and loved ones. Doctors estimated that he had three months to live, so he wrote and recorded at a furious pace. VOA's Bernie Bernard tells us about Warren Zevon's farewell album, The Wind.
When he learned that he was dying, Warren Zevon turned to his music to help him face the grim months ahead. He called old friend and producer Jorge Calderon, and told him he wanted to record an album while he still had some strength and dexterity to play his guitar and sing. During the sessions, Warren fortified himself with painkilling drugs, but the strain in his voice is evident in some of the songs. On the days when he was too weak to go to the studio, Warren and producer Jorge set up portable recording equipment in Warren's apartment.
Warren asked for instrumental and vocal assistance from his friends Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, John Waite, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne and Eagles members Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schimdt. Actor, director and musician Billy Bob Thornton also participated in the recording sessions. Songs on The Wind address Warren's illness, look at politics and society, and recall old lovers. He also covers the Bob Dylan tune, Knockin' On Heaven's Door, which tells the tale of a doomed gunslinger from the Old West.
Cable music television network VH-1 was invited to film the recording of The Wind, along with Warren's candid, intimate statements about his personal journey with terminal illness. Fans, family members and fellow musicians also gave emotional statements about Warren's life and career. The documentary, Warren Zevon: Inside Out, recently debuted on VH-1. In some of the more poignant moments, viewers can see how Warren's condition affected the writing and development of the album.
More than a year has passed since Warren Zevon was told he had inoperable lung cancer and had only three months to live. Those close to the performer say he set short-term goals to help him through the year, such as finishing his album, witnessing the birth of his grandchildren, and anticipating the release of the latest James Bond film.
In addressing his long-time fans, Warren says, "I don't have anything to say to them that I haven't already said. Writing songs is an act of love. You write songs because you love the subject and want to pass that feeling on. I've always said that songwriting was designed for the inarticulate, so I don't have any big farewell speech."