Monday, December 30, 2013

The Never-Ending Need to Take Up the Slack in the Line

The moon has a face
And it smiles on the lake
And causes the ripples in Time
I'm lucky to be here
With someone I like
Who maketh my spirit to shine....
-Warren Zevon

Music is an intensely personal thing.  So much so that discussions about it - especially those that involve one's personal preferences - tend to be rife with expressions of opinion masquerading as fact.  People rarely say, "I like [fill in a name]" or "I do not like [Insert Name Here]".  Instead they say, "[Insert Name Here] stinks" or "[Fill in Blank] rocks!"  It is as if expressing an opinion is a sign of weakness or some such nonsense.

While Springsteen's music occupies a sizable share of the available slots in the jukebox of my life, a significant percentage of them are occupied by Warren Zevon as well.  Zevon was an artist whose music I have enjoyed for most of my adult life.  I have been aided considerably in my appreciation of it by my brother Bill who directed me towards any number of records and songs whose existence I had been been previously unaware. Zevon is dead more than ten years now and I probably listen to him as often as I did when he was still alive and producing new music on a semi-regular (if not regular) basis. 

This time of the year, as the days are dwindling down and the string is being played out, Zevon's "Don't Let Us Get Sick" inexorably moves to a place in the forefront of my mind.  Year's end is a time for reflection I suppose.  And as I reflect upon those I know who are struggling - whether due to ill health or any one of a myriad of other difficulties - and those who experienced real loss during this calendar year, I think of this particular marriage of words and music.  

It is - to my ear - a simply extraordinary contribution to the pantheon of pop/rock music, the twelfth and final song on an album Zevon released in 2000 - shortly before he was diagnosed with the cancer that would kill him in September, 2003.  An album named - either prophetically or ironically - "Life'll Kill Ya", the cover of which featured the man himself grinning that shit-eating grin of his.

I promise you that it shall not impact to any degree whatsoever my love of Zevon's music and the special place in the little piece of charcoal in my chest purporting to be my heart if you eschew my advice and do not listen to it prior to leaving this space for the more important parts of your daily regimen.  The disservice you shall do, I submit, shall be to you and you alone.  'Tis the season of giving is it not?  Give yourself the gift of these three minutes and seven seconds....


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