Warren Zevon and Philosophy is a collection of chapters on Zevon’s life and music, authored by philosophers who are also Zevon fans, providing new and exciting insights into Zevon’s thinking, his cynical lyrics, and the cruel ironies of his roller-coaster life and career.
Since his death in 2003 at the age of fifty-six, Warren Zevon’s following has grown, and seven books on Zevon have appeared in the last few years, with more in the works. The Zevon legend continues to attract attention both because of the outstanding quality of his best songs and because of the poignant trajectory of his life. According to the novelist Carl Hiaasen, Zevon “left behind a wildly intelligent and captivating body of music.” Warren Zevon was an American rock’n’roll singer-songwriter, born in Chicago, though associated with the music scene in Los Angeles. His early albums, Warren Zevon (1976) and Excitable Boy (1978) attracted a loyal fan following and ecstatic praise from critics. As a special talent to watch, the teenage Zevon was introduced to several notable people, including even Igor Stravinsky.
Zevon’s descent into alcoholism and other addictions, along with his debauchery and erratic behavior, took its toll and his performances suffered, an aspect disturbingly captured in the memoir by his ex-wife Crystal Zevon, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon (2008).
In the last few years of his life, Zevon rehabilitated somewhat, and his work returned to an impressive level of quality. His remarkable final albums, Life’ll Kill Ya (2000), My Ride’s Here (2002), and The Wind (2003) have made a lasting impact. The last of these was given the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album, while the song “Disorder in the House,” performed by Zevon with Bruce Springsteen, won Best Rock Vocal Performance.
John E. MacKinnon teaches philosophy at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has published scholarly articles on aesthetics and philosophy of literature.
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