Saturday, October 22, 2011

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL.A. ADDENDUM (Or, AHHWOOOOO! WEREWOLVES OF VENICE)

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Published on this blog recently was a piece titled “ROCK ‘N’ ROLL.A.” (Or, “The Return Of Warren Zevon’s Pioneer Chicken Stand”) . It featured a number of photographs I took of notable Rock ‘N’ Roll-related landmarks in Los Angeles.

Well, I have just learned something I was ign’ant about when that former blog bit was posted, and so I feel an “Addendum” to that piece is in order.

“I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD: The Dirty Life And Times Of Warren Zevon” is a book I’m currently reading, which I borrowed from my good buddy DiscConnected on the same day I loaned him a copy of my old screenplay “Billy ‘N’ Billie”. (Anyone wanna bet which of us has gotten further into his respective reading material? Ha!)



[Warren Zevon's cigarette-smokin' symbol]

If you’re new to this blog, then you might not already know that I think Zevon was one of the all-time great lyricists. Heck, he’s the first person I quote here at STUFFS – he’s “the second Z-man”. (What, I gotta ‘splain everything to you peoples? McSheesh!)

As of this writing, I’m up to page 146, and already there have been a few surprises along the way. The following was not one of them:

Warren Zevon could alternately be a lowdown dirty dog or a crying, sentimental kitten. But when he was drunk (thus far, about 140 of the 146 pages) he was either an out-of-control Werewolf or an out-of-control Mr. Hyde. Take your pick.

And like so many of these famous Rock musicians, the “Excitable Boy” was often exceedingly self-centered and self-destructive.

According to many sources, Zevon was one of those mad creative types. There are plenty of them, most of which we never hear about. For every Warren Zevon who makes it big there are ten Stephen T. McCarthys who blog in obscurity.

Success in the arts is dependent upon three things: Who You Know; Lucky Breaks; and Talent. Yes, in THAT order!

“Wait! Is this bloke, Stephen T. McCarthy, really comparing himself to Warren Zevon? Does he really think he’s as creative as Zevon was?”

You bet I am; you bet I do!

Then why have you never heard of me before? Well, who did I know? I knew Pooh, Twinkie and Cranium. What lucky breaks did I get? Well, some dude once hit me in the mouth and chipped a tooth. I was “lucky” he didn’t “break” all my teeth. What talent do I have? Well . . . uh . . . two outta three ain’t bad . . . and it ain’t enough.

No, seriously, Warren Zevon and I did have something in common: both of us done had been in a less than sober condition at L.A.’s Venice canals. (But not together. I didn’t know Warren, and neither did he. At least not for a significant portion of his life he didn't.) And that brings me to the point of this blog bit.

On page 69 of “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” we learn the following about the writing of Warren’s One-Hit Wonder, “Werewolves Of London”:

ROY MARINELL:
The story starts out with Crystal, Warren, and me sitting around my house [“little shack on a canal”] in Venice … Actually, Phil Everly likes to stay up all night and watch old movies, and he had talked to Warren about a great English movie called Werewolf Of London that was made in 1930. He thought we should write a song called “Werewolves Of London” and make it a dance craze. So, Warren was telling me the story and I said, “What a great idea.” Waddy [Wachtel] walks in and he said, “You mean, ah-oooh,” We said, “Whoa, great.”

CRYSTAL ZEVON:
Warren and I drove to Venice with him obsessed abut Phil’s idea of starting a dance craze. When we got to Roy’s, our first priority was the sinsemilla pot Roy had just bought. We got stoned, and then Warren started telling Roy about Phil’s idea. Waddy dropped in and they wrote the whole song in ten or fifteen minutes. … I knew this song was good…

When I read that, my first thought was:

So, "Werewolves Of London" was written while Warren was high and at the Venice canals. Why... am I... not... surprised?

Here’s the photo of a Venice canal that I took seven weeks ago . . .



And here’s the photo I took of a Venice canal circa 1982, and more representative of what the place looked like during the time that “Werewolves Of London” was written there . . .



Back on June 16, 2010, a few of us participated in the “10 Favorite Drinkin’ & Drivin’ Songs” blogfest. I had Warren’s “Werewolves” on my list. That’s ‘cause I’m in tune with Zevon’s mad creativity, because I’ve been out of my mind on the Venice canals, and because . . . I knows my stuffs! Er . . . well, at least I knows a good “drinkin’ song” when I hears one!

Light up a doobie, brothers, or mix yourself a salty margarita, click on the video below and “Play It All Night Long” (it may not be as cool as a good buzz on the Venice canals but it’s “The Next Best Thing”) . . .



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZa3EYWCY3w&feature=related

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Link:
10 Favorite Drinkin’ & Drivin’ Songs

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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10 comments:

DiscConnected said...

>Anyone wanna bet which of us has >gotten further into his >respective reading material?

Well some of us don't get paid to read six hours a night, Mr. McCarthy...

>when he was drunk (thus far, >about 140 of the 146 pages

141 out of 146-you missed that sentence on page 73 where he chugged a fifth of Southern Comfort...

>I knew Pooh, Twinkie and Cranium.

Yep...and WZ didn't know 'em! Maybe he'd have turned out different if he knew the same three guys!

>our first priority was the >sinsemilla

Words of wisdom. Kind of like "leave the gun, take the cannoli."

LC

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

DISCDUDE ~
>>...Well some of us don't get paid to read six hours a night, Mr. McCarthy...

And neither do I. Or not so's you'd notice when payday rolls around.

But actually that was a sly little inside joke. I wrote:

"(Anyone wanna bet which of us has gotten further into his respective reading material? Ha!) ... As of this writing, I’m up to page 146"

Seeing as how I was already up to page 146 in the Zevon book, but my screenplay only has 110 or so pages, it wasn't even possible - no matter how much time you spent reading my screenplay - for you to have "gotten further" than I had.

Sneaky bastard, ain't I?

>>...141 out of 146 - you missed that sentence on page 73 where he chugged a fifth of Southern Comfort...

Oops, you're right! How'd I miss that? I guess I just got used to seeing the word "vodka".

>>...Yep...and WZ didn't know 'em! Maybe he'd have turned out different if he knew the same three guys!

Yeah. No doubt worse! Probably intoxicated 146 out of 146 pages.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Kelly Robinson said...

I sang 'Poor, Poor Pitiful Me' at karaoke the other night. It's the only Zevon song they have. :-)

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

KELLY ~
That's GREAT! Wish I coulda heard it. Only, I'll bet they had the "toned-down" Linda Ronstadt version, right?

To me, it's got to have that "kinky", "uncomfortable" part about "the Rainbow bar" and "the Hyatt House" (found in the Zevon original) to make it really fabulous.

It's funny you mentioned this though, because last night (having just posted this blog bit that afternoon), as I was lying in bed about to fall asleep, I got to thinking: What are my Top 5 Warren Zevon zongs?

And compiling that list just off the top of my head, I put "Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me" at Number 3.

What would your Top 5 be?

"She really worked me over good
She was a credit to her gender
She put me through some changes, Lord
Sort of like a Waring blender"


That is a PERFECT example of Zevonism, and it's because of lines like that he so appeals to me. A "Waring blender", yeah, that'll change things. Drop in some ice cream, some strawberries, and half a Hershey's bar, mix on 'High' and see if it don't change in consistency.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Pooh Lynth said...

It is terrible what has happened to the canals (and our boyhood homes in Santa Monica). Having failed to grow up a block from the canals, I recall the glory days when it was populated with hippies, bikers and artists. Not to mention the Irish/English/Scottish imigrants in the surrounding areas of Venice.

Today, it is full of producers, doctors, lawyers, and trust fund babies. Hell, they haven't seen a moss covered rusting shopping cart in the canals for years.

No one would be tempted to steal a barge after a few Mickey's and accidentlly fall in today, it is just too clean.

Love the Zevon stuff, I remember us (I think it was you) seeing him at the Wiltern, quite a rocking show. I think I bought a hat with that cigarette logo, where it is...I don't know. Perhaps with the bitter buttons.
Love, the JW kind only,
Pooh

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Oh, what a GREAT comment, GENERAL POOHREGARD!

>>...Having failed to grow up a block from the canals,…

Ha! Most people would “fail” to “get that”, but not me. I “got it”.

>>...Today, it is full of producers, doctors, lawyers, and trust fund babies. Hell, they haven't seen a moss covered rusting shopping cart in the canals for years.

Ha!-Ha! Oh, dude, that is SO true. I went there any number of times, and if I didn’t find a moss-covered shopping cart somewhere in the canals, I wouldn’t have been sure I was really there! (“No semi-submerged shopping cart. I must have overshot my mark and be in Marina Del Rey.”)

>>...No one would be tempted to steal a barge after a few Mickey's and accidentlly fall in today, it is just too clean.

Too true! Gosh, didn’t we have some great times back then?! I had no idea we were living in “the good old days”.

As the ol’ girl sang:

“Keep a third eye watching behind you
You never know when you’re making a memory”


In the Bay Street Daze, the Canals were always sorta my own “secret place”. You were the only person I ever took there with me, and what did you do the first time? Fall in, of course! CLASSIC CHIT, MAN!

I remember we wanted some more Mickey’s (or whatever we were drinking – yeah, probably Mickey’s) but you were dripping wet and I said, “You can’t go in a liquor store like that!” So we parked the raft (“barge”, whatever) under one of the canal bridges out of sight, and you waited under there for me while I walked to a liquor store and “came back with the chit”.

I actually used that bit in my “Billy ‘N’ Billie” screenplay. Neither of them actually fall off into the canal, but they “borrow” a barge, and later, they get caught (“First time I ever got caught”, Billie says) and they have to splash across a canal to get away from an angry mob.

No doubt I was remembering that “episode” with you when I wrote that bit.

>>...Love the Zevon stuff, I remember us (I think it was you) seeing him at the Wiltern, quite a rocking show. I think I bought a hat with that cigarette logo,…

Yeah, that was you and me again. Zevon at the Wiltern. I remember by that point I had seen so many Rock concerts that I felt it was just another show. But, you’re right, now that you mention it, I DO recall you bought a cap with that cigarette-smokin’ skull logo on it. Black hat and white logo, as I recall.

>>...Love, the JW kind only.

LOVE? This is KAOS! We don’t “love” here!

Well, OK, as long as you always remember to include the “JW”.

Good times, McBrother. Wish I was blacking-out through them again.

~ D-FensDogg
‘Loyal American Underground’

Missed Periods said...

I think that you could totally start the next dance craze.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Uhm... yeah... well, they don't call me "Dance Craze McCarthy" for nuttin'!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Sheboyganboy VI said...

NICE POST, McFriend!

I don't know Zevon like you, DiscC, and Pooh, but I was a fan. I never saw him live, though. My favorite songs were Lawyers, Guns and Money, Poor Poor Pitiful Me, and Roland... etc.

I was interested in the Waddy Wachtel info, and how he was essentially responsible for Werewolves of London. it doesn't say that exactly, but that was my opinion after reading the quote. He came up with the most memorable part: the ah-OOOO. Without that inspired howl of support, the song may never have been written.

I used to note that Waddy was featured on almost every album I bought. James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Andrew Gold, Zevon, Henley, Ronstadt and on and on. What a great sessions player!

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

MR. SIXGUN McBOYGAN ~
Yeah, Waddy was a major voice in the California Rock 'N' Roll scene, wasn't he? And he was an important part in the early phase of Zevon's career, too.

According to this book, Waddy not only came up with the howl, but he wrote the entire first verse, about the Werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand, walking through the streets of Soho in the rain, etc.

Then everyone just started adding stuffs to it. My favorite part though (other than the howl, which is what really cinches it as a great drinking song) is that bit about a Werewolf drinking a Pina Colada at Trader Vic's... and his hair was...PERFECT! I don't know why exactly, but that totally amuses me.

It's also interesting that when they met for the first time, Warren and Waddy did not like each other at all; they really got off on the wrong foot.

Warren was serving as musical director for The Everly Brothers at the time and Waddy was trying to get the guitarist job. Warren insisted on playing a certain song for Waddy before he auditioned it even though Waddy repeatedly said - being a huge Everly Bros fan - that he already knew the song and didn't need to hear it beforehand.

But Warren demanded he hear it first anyway. So Warren plays it on piano and Waddy tells him he's playing it wrong (which he was).

So then Warren says "Alright, wise guy, what's this?" and he plays some Beethoven. Waddy says, "That? That's Beethoven's Fourth in G, asshole. See you later", and he walks out.

Waddy later admitted that Beethoven's Fourth was the ONLY Classical piece he knew and had Warren played ANYTHING but that one, he would have had him stumped.

Ha! Pretty funny stuffs.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'