this winning stuff is contagious
what i watched last week

random friday, 2003 edition: warren zevon, “disorder in the house” and joe strummer & the mescaleros, “silver and gold”

One of these songs came up, and I couldn’t very well let it stand alone. In 2003, we lost Warren Zevon (cancer, expected) and Joe Strummer (heart attack, unexpected). The differing reasons for their deaths meant that Zevon was able to give us a farewell tour of sorts … he knew The Wind would be his last album … while Strummer & the Mescaleros were still working on Streetcore at his death.

The Wind has songs I can barely stand to listen to, they are so infused with the realities of Zevon’s fading health. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” is the obvious one, but the album’s closer, “Keep Me in Your Heart,” is perfect, and great, and awful. Shuffle play gives us “Disorder in the House,” which is much easier to listen to … as I’ve often noted, Zevon manages to get Bruce Springsteen to play his best guitar solos in decades. (I love the part near the end of the video, when it looks like Bruce is pulling licks out of nowhere, just for Warren.)


Zevon famously died with class. Whatever was going on in his private life during those last months, to the public, he presented the persona of a man who had made choices in his life, a man who wasn’t apologizing for those choices, a man who accepted that there are consequences. And he coined one of the great Words to Live By: Enjoy Every Sandwich.

Strummer’s death was startling … he was only 50 years old … and while Zevon was able to construct an album with a fitting end, it was left to others to create an album for Joe that was both coherent and fitting. They selected “Silver and Gold” to close the album. When, at the end, Joe says “OK, that’s a take,” it makes me want to cry every time.

At the Grammys after Joe died, Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, and Steve Van Zandt performed “London Calling”:

And here is Fats Domino singing “Before I Grow Too Old” in 1960: