Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Don't Trust Your Idol's

The Warren Zevon you read about in I'll Sleep When I'm Dead is a far cry from the musical genius whose records continue to inspire those looking for the perfect underground singer-songwriter of the 70's. He's a drunk, a woman beater and a generally nasty person to be around when you get on his bad side. But does such an unflattering portrait diminish the music that endures? It's hard for some fans to think that their idols have skeletons. Even near death, Zevon couldn't relinquish the bottle, after years of sobriety. But how much do you know about the people that occupy your record collection? I never knew Zevon was a wife-beater. I knew Ike Turner was. Turner was on drugs and Zevon was a drunk when they did what they did. But I've never thrown my Ike & Tina Turner records out and won't for Zevon. We have a tendency to think we're friends with our favorite singers. And when you read about something they did that is out of the character of their albums, it startles you. The genius of Warren Zevon was that he knew all of this, and it's why he asked his ex-wife to write his story (the bad and good) when he died. This book is nothing if not a caution to all fans who believe they've made a friend when they see their idol's in concert or buy their CD.
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