Linda Ronstadt vs Warren Zevon

Fo some reason, Toronto record stores are filled with Linda Ronstadt 45s. It’s okay with me. The Asylum label promises California, mostly, and there are revelations there, not the least of which is LR’s “How Do I Make You?” which plays, to me, like the Stone Pony trying to sound like The Go Go’s or Joan Jett. This record, however, stands as something entirely different and good, owing to its composer, Warren Zevon, whose small records I’ve also chased down, and which I’ll inevitably be writing about in this space. The problem, really, comes in not trying to use up all the good Warren Zevon stories in one place. In his biography, co-authored by his widow, Zevon’s son talks about his dad getting him to pledge, on his deathbed, that he look after the old man’s pornography once he’s gone. Zevon’s son says he will, and when he visits his home after his death, he finds an entire cabinet filled with generic black video tapes: movies of his dad doing it with women on the road. Another story, told to me by an Alberta songwriter, took place at a Calgary Folk Festival, where Zevon was booked to headline. Famously grumpy, petulant and, at times, anti-social, the promoter asked my friend if he wanted to visit Zevon’s hotel room with the intent of luring the musician out and down to the hotel ballroom dance. Zevon surprised by saying yes, and the three men ended up watching Los Lobos play. Then my friend pressed his luck, asking Zevon if the chicken stand in the song, “Carmelita,’ was real. Zevon looked and him and said, “Of course it’s FUCKING real!” then left for his room, where he remained until flying out two days later. I have a story about Warren Zevon, but it has no ending. In the early 2000s, I found out that Zevon’s hero was Patrick Roy, so I sent him a copy of “Tropic of Hockey.’ I never found out whether he received or read it, but I like to think that it was somewhere on his book shelf, and that his son had to pass it before rummaging through all of that fabulous porn.

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