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  • Writer's picturePhilip Bryer

Disorder in the House

Sex addict, drug fiend, alcoholic: Should troubled rock ‘n’ roll genius poet Warren Zevon receive a bombshell like, let’s say, the diagnosis of a terminal illness, at least he had some interesting hobbies to keep him going. Well…


To be fair, Zevon had been clean of booze and drugs for many years, but pretty much as soon as the cancer specialist donned the black cap, Warren was straight down to the much-missed off-licence and waiting on the street corner for his man with the pocketful of chemicals. Perhaps not so much on the street corner as holed up in his LA apartment with the gal from the same complex whom he’d fondly dubbed ‘porno neighbour’. Yes, I did say, ‘holed up’, and Warren would have undoubtedly approved — just take a look at his ex-wife Crystal Zevon’s extraordinary story of her husband’s life: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead | The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon. You’re advised to bring wet wipes and strong drink but leave your inhibitions and judgemental attitudes at the door.


December 17, 2002

Warren Zevon is in the midst of recording what will be his final album because he’s dying from a particularly nasty form of cancer called mesothelioma. Long-time pal and confidant Bruce Springsteen is due in the studio tomorrow to sing harmony and play guitar on a Zevon song ‘Disorder in the House’, but there’s a problem: Zevon is too plastered on liquor and painkillers to work on a track which has to be ready for the Boss's contribution in less than 24 hours.


Following a sympathetic talking-to from lifetime collaborator Jorge Calderon, Warren gets his act together by the following morning, has two or three goes at the vocal, and now it’s ready. Which is just as well, because “Bruce is coming”.


Young engineer Noah Snyder is excited. However, he’s also primed for Springsteen to be picky about his guitar sound or the amp or the recording process. What happens though, is rather different: Bruce plugs in his guitar, turns the amp all the way up and — keenly encouraged by Zevon — plays plenty of lead licks. So much so, that he kills the amp. “The speakers are ripped and torn,” says Snyder, “and the last sounds they made are those on the album.”


Noah Snyder recalls the playback, “There was nothing left for the amp to do — it had achieved the highest state of amp-dom and went right up to God at that point. Warren thought that was the greatest thing on earth.”


Here we go...



 

 

 

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