Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lyrics of the Day

I'm listening to a Warren Zevon concert from 1982 today, and it includes "Charlie's Medicine," one of my favorite "forgotten" songs -- one that never shows up on the greatest hits compilations. It's from The Envoy, a good album that wasn't particularly popular. In fact, it just became available on CD last week, and even then only as an import. I bought it used on vinyl years ago for $5. It isn't Zevon's best, but it's worth having. "Charlie's Medicine" is about a prescription drug dealer who gets shot by a doctor. I haven't heard about its veracity, but it could easily be a true story. I love the chorus for its wordplay and how the singer expresses regret while admitting complicity in Charlie's dangerous occupation:
Charlie had to take his medicine
Charlie got his prescription filled
I came to say goodbye
I'm sorry Charlie died
I came to finish paying my bill
Like many rock stars, Zevon had his share of substance abuse problems. It's rather ironic that plain old tobacco killed him.

Last Christmas, I bought my brother a Zevon compilation called Genius that he absolutely loves. It doesn't include "Charlie's Medicine," but it's a good place to start your Zevon collection. By the way, his son Jordan has generously permitted Archive.org to freely share his live recordings via FTP and bit torrent (66 performances so far). That is a great move on Jordan's part -- a way to help his father's songs live forever.

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