Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Warren Zevon: Werewolves of London

Before Kid Rock, there was Warren Zevon. Written by Waddy Wachtel, Leroy Marinell, and Zevon, “Werewolves of London” is our Halloween themed song for this Wednesday. The song features the rhythm section from Fleetwood Mac and of course the memorable piano lick from the excitable boy himself.

I never understood why they never used this for the movie “An American Werewolf in London” as it would have been perfect; however, they chose CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising,” which was more familiar and worked well as the theme song.

When I think of this song, I remember reading a review of the tune in a Pittsburgh based music newspaper in 1978. The writer (for lack of a more fitting epithet) analyzed the line “He’s a hairy handed gent who ran amuck in Kent; lately he’s been overheard in Mayfair” as a throwback to the Kent State shootings in 1969.

Even in 1978, the American education system showed signs of trouble. The young lady needed a little English geography instruction of counties that border Greater London. Kent State, indeed. What did Mr. Werewolf do – get on a plane at Heathrow, fly to Akron, do his hairy handed deeds, and then fly back to London to be “overheard in Mayfair.”

Shortly after the Kent debacle, the same author also wrote an article on music that mentioned the Steel City in song. While most of her examples fit the theme, another geography question came into view. She referenced Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” lyric which stated, “Way down around Vicksburg, around the Louisiana way.”

She swore that the song said Pittsburgh (or in the vernacular Picksburgh). She justified this by referencing that Pittsburgh’s three rivers were in the Mississippi’s watershed – of which she was correct; however, Pittsburgh is a long way from Louisiana and Cajun ladies. Where were the editors on these two articles? Oh well, the paper was free, so she couldn’t have been making a living from her writing.

Well I bled all over this one. “Better stay away from him. He'll rip your lungs out, Jim. I'd like to meet his tailor.”

“Ha, draw blood.”

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