Zevon, Odds On Favorite

By Cary Stemle

Warren Zevon brought his wry brand of the macabre to Jim Porter's Good Time Emporium on Wednesday, January 8, and the result was a gut-wrenching, rocking good time.

Zevon and backing band, The Odds, came out smoking with the song that is surely Zevon's credo (if it's possible to narrow it down to one), I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. It's the defiant statement of a war-torn survivor, and Zevon spat out the words with a vengeance.

The song has an ominous tone, and, as one might expect, the evening's cast just got darker. But it always seemed that Zevon had a good-natured twinkle in his eye. Oh, he's still mad, but he seems to have reached a level of reconciliation.

Zevon's barbed sense of humor has only been sharpened over the years. His songs are timeless, and he spent the evening giving them new, updated readings. Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, a hit he wrote for Linda Ronstadt in the mid-1970s, continues to rock hard; Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, the tale of the globe-trotting mercenary who gets his head blown off by a CIA agent, and then comes back a la Ichabod Crane to exact his revenge, is still haunting and funny; Play It All Night Long, an ode to that dead band Lynyrd Skynyrd, kicks below the belt; and The Envoy, from the early 1980s, rings even more true today:

Nuclear arms in the Middle East

Israel's attacking the Iraqis

The Syrians are mad at the Lebanese

And Baghdad do whatever she please

Looks like another threat

to world peace

For the envoy.

The song takes on added irony in the wake of Saddam's recent admission of defeat.

Zevon played an acoustic show in Louisville just more than a year ago. And, as much of a treat as that type of show is, it was great to hear him with a revved-up electric band.