The Genius of Warren Zevon Distilled To 48 Seconds

I think I may have mentioned it a time or two, but I really love Warren Zevon.  I’m always trying to convince people that he’s amazing.  I’m like Johnny-Appleseed, but instead of apples I spread my love of Warren’s music.  And instead of walking across America (committing eco-terrorism) I say things like “Warren Zevon is my all-time favorite songwriter” at parties and I write on this blog about Warren, when I can.

Writing about Warren’s music is tricky without falling victim to clichés like: tortured genius.  Clichés don’t do much in terms of convincing people the songwriter they’ve never heard of is worth their time.  A lot of people write funny songs and a lot of people have heartbreakingly sincere ones.  One of the things that made Warren so special was that often his songs were both.

“He was a genius.”

I’ve been trying to figure out what is the track to play for people when I’m ranting and raving about Zevon.  There are so many really good ones, too many really.  The cheap shot or most obvious choice is “Werewolves of London” which, to be fair, was the first Zevon song I ever heard.  But I figure that most people have probably heard that classic rock staple (even if they didn’t know it was Warren) so I didn’t even consider it.  It’s a good song, but most people consider it, wrongly, as a novelty song.  Then there are his really lovely love songs, some of which are so heartfelt they can reduce you to tears…but without knowing the sarcastic-edge of Zevon I find that these songs don’t have the same impact.

Which brings me to “I Need A Truck.”

“I Need A Truck” was not issued as an album track.  In fact, the song is really just a 48-second demo that was recorded during the sessions for his third album EXCITABLE BOY.  I heard the track when it was finally released as bonus material on the 2007 reissue of the album.  There is no music, just Warren singing.  It’s a funny song about needing a series truck to haul away life’s problems.  Guns, women, bad thoughts, Percodan, and gin—all of these things need their own truck.  The song goes from humorous to philosophical when Warren concludes by singing “And I need a truck to haul all my trucks in.”

It’s a tossed-off scrap, but “I Need A Truck” is a perfect microcosm for all the best Warren Zevon songs.  There is no bullshit to the song, nothing to get in between the new-listener and Zevon**. There is nothing but Warren, his wit, and his demons. You want to know why I love Warren Zevon so much?  Listen to “I Need A Truck.”



** When you find someone to have and hold, don’t let nothing come between you.

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