Hurry Home Early: The Songs Of Warren Zevon
Hurry Home Early: the Songs of Warren Zevon is a tribute to the late, great artist that will surely lend further credence to the Zevon legacy while offering fresh and dissimilar interpretations of his songs. This is a loving, well thought out tribute by independent artists from all over the world.
The work began on this ambitious project two years before Zevon died. His son, Jordan Zevon, teaming with Simone Stevens, contributes a reading of "Warm Rain." The young Zevon's presence and involvement certainly gives this project more meaning and emotion. The contributing artists performed as if Warren's work was a part of them. You can take the man away, but the music lives on forever. With such a wonderful representation of Zevon's work, it makes what he left behind that much more special for all us that appreciated his unique artistry.
The flavor and atmosphere of the recording is different from the original Zevon recordings and each individual artist does each song very well. Their styles range from rock, blues, and country to a mixture of them all. Zevon's music was all of those genres as well, but with electric guitars and pounding keyboards featured in many of the tracks. While this recording offsets that approach with an acoustic sound, it manages to reflect the feeling and atmosphere of the Zevon catalog quite well.
Each track serves a dual purpose; it displays the independent artists and their talents in good light while maintaining the feel and atmosphere of the original artist in each track. This is not a cut and dried process by any means. To pull this off with conviction is a daunting task, and I have to credit each contributor with the fantastic job they did in keeping the Zevon spirit alive in the music and lyrics.
The ability to let your own personality come through in the music while paying tribute to someone else in a song is beautiful thing to hear. Each artist has his or her own distinct sound and style, yet when a song is over you know you just heard an interpretation of a Warren Zevon classic. That fact only speaks highly of all involved in this process and surely music fans will be delighted when they hear this tribute.
"Warren Zevon was arguably Lou Reed's West Coast counterpart - the "Poet of Gower Avenue." He was a literate songwriter who ventured into pop music. He understood something basic about human nature and communicated it." Mark Doyon is making a name for himself at his label for artists run by artists, Wampus Records. Even though Doyon is a performer himself, he opted to stay behind the control knobs on this particular project.
MuzikMan What was the process in selecting the artists for this project?
Mark We looked for a mix of familiar artists and some who, maybe, were less well known. Submissions were open, as they have been for all the tributes. The project attracted serious contributors, big fans who put a lot of love and care into their work. It was difficult not to include some of them.
MuzikMan When did you know you had everyone you wanted to complete the album?
Mark Although it is a compilation, it is a narrative album. We played with many track orders before we settled on this one. We did not select the tracks so much on merit - it was not a contest - as on the way they shaped the record. Warren Zevon's life had its own trajectory, and like anyone's, it tells a unique story. People can get a sense of that when they listen.
MuzikManWhat kind of experience was it for you producing it?
Mark Fantastic. So many great artists are huge Warren Zevon fans. Recalling and reworking his songs now is a show of regard. It shows his songs have life beyond his own great versions of them. I love the way the artists expressed themselves through interpretation. It is about appreciation, of course, but it is also about finding the core of the song and doing something with it.
The Contributing Artists Get Their Turn To Say How They Feel...
The Matthew Show: "'Mohammed's Radio' always stuck out to me. It's got a wistful melody and his delivery is less smart-assed than usual, which intrigues me. It seems to capture the essence of the time it was made in, a time of uncertainty much like our own, and I tried to get that time-capsule feel in my version as well."
Robbie Rist: "Zevon is one of my heroes, both as a music person and an individual. One of the few artists who did not start sucking after he got sober; he continued to make great art (both live and in the studio) and then faced his death with bravery and humor. I chose 'Mr. Bad Example' because it was classic Zevon."
Brook Pridemore: "Warren Zevon was quite new to me when I heard his album, Life'll Kill Ya, in the summer of 1999. I heard a certain cynicism in 'Life'll Kill Ya' that I strive for in my own songs."
Tom Flannery: "Something about 'Boom Boom Mancini' jolted me. The drums... the hugeness of the sound, maybe. If you wanted to explain to a blind man what boxing looked like, you could play him this song."
Simone Stevens: "I had been hangin' out with Jordan for some time, playing music and listening to records, He found 'Warm Rain' written out on some sheet music in his father's meticulous script. It had never been released but we had a recording of it from the '70s."
Dan Jeremy Brooks of Roughly Enforcing Nostalgia: "Like most Roughly Enforcing Nostalgia tunes, 'Run Straight Down' was created through a combination of plunderphonics, programming, self-sampling, looping, live performance and cut-and-paste techniques. Emotionally, this song's bleak outlook on our environmental future really speaks to a couple of bunnyhuggers like us."
Neil Luckett-tvfordogs: "The song 'Mutineer' really struck a chord with me because of the sentiment and the simplicity of its lyrical representation. I decided upon the simplest instrumentation possible: guitar and voice, and to shift the song into 6/8, 3/4 to give an almost sea shanty feel, which sounds a bit corny given the lyric but it seemed to work very naturally."
Will Crewdson, Guitarist, Rachel Stamp: "Apart from the fact that our drummer had just broken his leg making a rockin' version of 'Poor Poor Pitiful Me' somewhat out of the question, we all felt this song to be one of Warren's most beautiful."
Elizabeth McCullough-Alpha Cat: "My dad died around the same time as Warren Zevon and Johnny Cash, and I was struck by a similarity between these men, my father included. I picked 'Reconsider Me' because it felt like that - what they might have sung to us, as Zevon did, this plea for forgiveness and hope for a second chance."
Robb Johnson: "A lot of Warren's songs I like firstly for their witty lyrics. Of course, I also really like Warren's no-nonsense rock approach to the music, but with 'Suzie Lightning,' I was reminded of Warren's ability to write beautiful melodies, too. He is a great writer who pursued his vision with real honesty and integrity."
After absorbing, all of the responses from Doyon and his impressive stable of artists about Zevon the man, artist, and his work – it is rather apparent that the entire project from start to finish was a labor of love. I certainly heard the emotional attachment to each track come pouring out.
I have heard many tributes over the years, and most of them are sitting somewhere in pile collecting dust. There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the very best and most impressive gatherings of artists ever assembled for a compilation of someone else's work that I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. Being involved with the project on this level was of course an honor for me, just as it was for the contributing artists. CDs like this are as rare as the talent of Zevon, they only come around once in life.