Top Ten Warren Zevon Songs: Detox Mansion
By Four Walls
April 9, 2016 8:46pm CST
I'm working on my 20 favorite Merle Haggard songs, and I've recently completed a "top ten Elton John songs" countdown. @JohnRoberts did his ten favorite Linda Ronstadt songs (maybe I should do that one day, to compare and contrast my ten favorites and his!), and currently @teamfreak16 is counting down his ten favorite songs by the seminal punk band Bad Brains. Amid my Merle Haggard countdown I'm starting a new top ten list. Hey, I can multitask! This one is on my all-time favorite rock songwriter, Warren Zevon. He had a connection to Linda Ronstadt: she covered four of his songs, including having a mid-sized hit with "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" in 1978. Zevon's music changed my life (I'll explain in detail when I get to the song I credit with that feat). I saw him 15 times over the course of the years, and when he died of mesothelioma in 2003 I had friends sending me sympathy e-mails. I still consider him one of the most brilliant songwriters I've ever heard. Most people only know him for that 1978 novelty song "Werewolves of London," but there was so, so much more to him than that. So, with that background, I'll begin the countdown. #10: Detox Mansion Zevon had a few battles with alcoholism in his time. When he was at the apex of his commercial success he was also, as he later told David Letterman, consuming "a couple of quarts of vodka a day." He went through an intervention and therapy and got sober, but by the time his 1980 follow-up Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School came out music had so dramatically changed that he never had another hit. His record label cleaned house at one point, dropping Zevon and a number of other critically-acclaimed singer/songwriters from the roster (including Steve Goodman and Tom Waits [what, were they nuts????]). They didn't have the decency to tell Zevon, letting him discover the news in the "Random Notes" section of Rolling Stone magazine. That caused him to fall off the wagon again. Once he recovered he and longtime pal Jorge Calderon wrote "Detox Mansion," a very funny look about rehabilitation. "I've been raking leaves with Liza," Zevon sang, "me and Liz clean up the yard." At one point during an instrumental break he let out a primal scream, as if he were getting shock therapy. The backing band on "Detox Mansion," and most of the album it came from, is R.E.M. PS -- if you have a "top ten favorite songs" list by a particular singer or band, post 'em! Join the party! Detox Mansion Written by Warren Zevon and Jorge Calderon From Sentimental Hygiene, 1987
2 people like this
• Los Angeles, California
10 Apr 16
Even though he was born in Chicago, Zevon was part of that particular 70s LA group that included Linda, Eagles, his pal Jackson Browne, Linda's former BF the late Andrew Gold and the late much adored Nicollette Larson all of whom were friends and collaborators. I saw him once at the Roxy. Lou Adler owned the Roxy and it did have a notorious reputation. Most of them played the Roxy but not Linda as she was too big.