Saturday, May 26, 2012

Warren Zevon, and the 7 Deadly Sins



Yesterday, sitting in our lake cabin with the wind blowing strongly (not “fiercely”, exactly; that is for winter!) outside, Pat decided to put on some music using “Pandora” on the computer. “What did I want to hear?” she asked. “The Warren Zevon channel,” I answered immediately, wondering if there was such a thing. Turns out she got one; as anyone who uses Pandora knows it wasn’t all Warren Zevon, but they do a good job of figuring out that if you like him, you’ll probably like some stuff from The Band, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Dire Straits. I did.

I like Warren Zevon’s music, and am sad that he died a number of years ago so that there will be no more. The stories about really bad people like “Excitable Boy”, “Werewolves of London” and “Mr. Bad Example”; the political/social/antiwar commentaries like “Lawyers, Guns, and Money”, “Leave My Monkey Alone”,The Factory” and (combining both) “Roland, the Headless Thompson Gunner”; the “feature story” commentaries like “Boom Boom Mancini”; the commentaries on the celebrity scene like “Even a Dog Can Shake Hands”,Detox Mansion”, and the wonderful “Trouble Waiting to Happen”. And many, many others. I can’t figure which is my favorite (luckily there is no reason to choose), but I also really like the contrasting beautiful love songs: “Reconsider Me”, “El amor de mi vida, and poignantly released after his death, “Keep Me in Your Heart for a While”. I admit that the last, posthumous, album, “The Wind”, is strongly tied for me to the death of my son Matt, which was less than a year before Zevon’s own, and its release.

One of the songs that they played was in fact “Mr. Bad Example”, and it stayed in my head all night; I woke thinking about it, in particular the “seven deadly sins” with which Mr. Example is “very well-acquainted”; he mentions “greed” and that he has “no time for sloth”, but doesn’t list them all, so I kept trying to think of them. I knew I knew them (Dante, for one source; also the film “Seven”) but could only get Pride, Envy, Lust, Wrath, Greed, and Sloth. I left out Gluttony because I had lumped in my mind with Greed; in fact it occurred to me that Greed as in Avarice should be a separate one from Gluttony, although they have much in common.

So I started thinking about the ones that weren’t there, like Hate and Fear. Heck, this is all Christian theology, about which I know little and am committed to none. Hate is a big one, and I’m not even begin to go into all the evil things that have come from or been motivated by Hate. Almost as many as by the religious beliefs of Those Who Know. I recently saw a comment from on a blog about abortion who shared with us “I think the Creator would not want us to kill one of his creations.” I really thank him for his opinion on what the Creator thinks – not. Who cares? Well, those who are harmed or killed by folks that Know. While I’m sure (or hope!) this guy is not going around killing people, committing acts of terrorism, conducting Crusades, those all come from that same Certainty.

OK, fear is not really a sin (as far as I know), but really a lot of the bad in the world – including a lot of Wrath and Envy and Lust, as well as Hate – arises from Fear, transformed by the magic (from sports, about which I know more) of “the best defense is a good offense.” Fear of the Other is pretty common among Those Who Know. As a society, we could use a little less fear, and have a lot less to fear. And less Hate, and less Wrath, and sure as heck less Pride and Greed.

One of Zevon’s many iconic songs, “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”, is of course sadly ironic now. RIP Warren.

And Matt. We love you and miss you.

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And, for those not so familiar with Zevon, here are the lyrics to the refrain from “El Amor”, kind of bittersweet (“if only I could meet you”) which I have as my ringtone when Pat calls:

Tu eres el amor de mi vida
Si solo te pudierá encontrar
Con todo el corazón te diriga
Tu eres mi amor, de verdad.

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