His Sh*t’s F***ed Up

“Warren said, ‘We have to go into show-biz mode,’” his manager Brigette Barr says in Crystal Zevon’s hair-raising 2007 book, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon. “‘I’m giving you permission to use my illness in any way that you see fit to further my career right now.’”1

… when he got sober, he kept apologizing for a specific instance when he struck Crystal, giving her a black eye, which made her resentful. Why didn’t he say sorry for all of the other times he hit me? And then she realized that he had been too drunk to remember those other instances.

I found the anecdotes about Zevon very informative, but I think the author (Steven Hyden) works from invalid premises:

What does a person who is moved deeply by “Reconsider Me” think when he hears this story? Sometimes, I can’t get over Warren Zevon being a bad father. Other times, I marvel at the romanticism required to believe that playing a song, even one as gorgeous as “Reconsider Me,” would have actually worked in that situation, and I’m unexpectedly moved all over again.

The issue is not whether the power of love should overcome the obstacles to a successful relationship and family that Zevon’s horrible behavior imposed. It’s whether the manifestation of that ‘power of love’ is that Zevon changes and makes amends, or that he gets what he wants without having to. Which is narcissism, not romanticism.

Hyden seems to think that we now want “unambiguous virtue” just as a fad, that we’re lowering hemlines and raising necklines … No, we’re actually listening to women and considering that their problems matter. Zevon was “shy and introspective”? You don’t say. I have never seen a woman be able to use “shy and introspective” as an excuse for anything, much less becoming a blackout wife-beating drunk. … I was supposed to be focused on Zevon’s bond with Letterman, but all I could think was that here was someone else who has never paid any public price for his treatment of women.2