Warren Zevon vs. Jackson Browne
No contest. Warren had better lyrics, more interesting subject matter, weirder hair, more credible drug references, etc., etc. His first two albums (not counting Wanted Dead or Alive) were fucking great, minus a couple songs here and there. And anyway, what did Jackson Browne ever do for me? I mean, yeah, he did record an answering machine message for one of my friends who was attending Oklahoma University when JB was playing there . . . And then it must be granted that Warren did pal around pretty hard with Don Henley and Glen Frey and Browne himself produced Zevon’s best shit . . .
But come on! There’s just no contest here. Warren’s sense of humor and lyrical panache make even piano ballads piped full of Frey and Henley enjoyable! Now I can see where some people might prefer Browne’s safe, homespun, whimsical style of songwriting to The Weird One’s songs about rape & murder and geopolitical conflict. People also like vanilla ice cream. I guess I can see where one who hasn’t delved very deeply in to the music of these 1970s stalwarts of questionable importance might not see much difference between the two.
Some people might think it’s all just crap anyway . . . like that album Zevon did with the ballerinas on the cover.
It all comes down to subjectivity again doesn’t it? Perspective. It’s like the time that a female family member of mine was doggedly trying to convince me of the virtue of some contemporary country song or another. “You’ve got to hear the LYRICS”, she pleaded - something about a football jersey hanging in a high school locker that always moved her to tears. I guess her theory was that because I had a son playing high school football, I should like rancid, sentimental crap. But you can’t always come out and say, “I beg your pardon, you must not understand, I just can’t appreciate the asinine garbage in which you find meaning.”
So what – when Warren and the gang break into that huge chorus in French Inhaler and Don and Glen are “oohing and ahhing” so hard their nuts are in their stomachs and Warren is singing and me right along with him, “you said you were and actress, yes I believe you are, I thought you’d be a star, so I drank up all the money, yes I drank up all the money . . .” and I’m pumping my fist in the air – you’re telling me there might be people out there who wouldn’t feel the ancient gods beating the drum in their chest at that high and primal moment??? Well fuck, I could be listening to The Pretender.