Goodbye to Warren Zevon and Johnny Cash
Published on September 13, 2003 By Larry Kuperman In Current Events
This week two of my favorite musicians passed away. Johnny Cash, the legendary Man in Black, and Warren Zevon, the Excitable Boy, both joined the celestial choir this week. Their songs were important to me and I will miss them both. In memorial, I would just like to share the impact that they had on my life.

I would never have said that I liked country music until I heard Johnny Cash perform "A Boy Named Sue." (Written by children's story writer Shel Silverstein, I should add.) The song is witty, humorous and turned me on to a whole genre of music that I might have otherwise eschewed. After hearing Johnny perform this song, I sought out his other works. Folsom Prison Blues, San Quentin and of course Man in Black were all songs about the social issues of the time. Johnny Cash taught me the country roots of Rock and Roll.

Warren Zevon is perhaps best known for Werewolves of London. In my humble opinion, no rock and roller could ever write lyrics as witty and sarcastic as Warren could. His Poor, Poor Pitiful Me was performed by Lind Ronstadt and Bruce Springsteen covered Zevon's Cadillac Ranch. Warren lived a high voltage lifestyle and sought treatment for alcoholism at the Betty Ford Treatment Center. Out of this experience he wrote "Sentimental Hygiene." A lot of his songs and albums dealt with death. He wrote "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" and the album "Living Will Kill You." Despite his sometimes morbid subject matter, he was always funny and kind. He numbered among his close friends writers Stephen King and Carl Hiaasen and performers Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Don Henley and Jackson Brown. In fact he once insisted that Stephen King sing the vocals for a performance of Werewolves of London.

Warren smoked for many years and was diagnosed with lung cancer some time ago. He lived well beyond the three months that the doctors initially predicted. His final album was titled The Wind and began with these lyrics:

Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath

Keep me in your heart for awhile

Their music lives on, but I'll miss them both. Thanks Johnny and Warren for the happiness you gave me.

on Sep 13, 2003
John Ritter died too. That was a real bummer as well.
on Sep 15, 2003
I'm as saddened as the author, these were tremendous talents. However, Zevon did not write CADILLAC RANCH. He did cowrite JEANNIE NEEDS A SHOOTER with Bruce, however.