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  Listen Up! 9/11/03 Listen Up!

Thursday, Sept. 11

Warren Zevon, “The Wind,” Artemis Records. This is the first time I’ve been able to hear this record, though I’ve wanted to for some time. It’s amazing to me that Zevon was able to put together a final work, and even more impressive that it sounds damn good. I was unprepared for the elegiac tone of it all, considering no review I’ve read mentioned it. But, without being able to hear the words at all, that’s what comes through most powerfully here. Most people, when they learn they’re going to die soon, probably feel something like this at some point, a sense that there is so much good in the world that they don’t want to forget. (Or, as Zevon so eloquently put it on his last David Letterman appearance, “Enjoy every sandwich.” Thanks to Dan Durchholz for cluing me in to that.) But most people don’t have the talent or the drive to put this and other feelings into song. Zevon was one of the greats; if his career had ended in 1979, he probably would have been lionized as a genius, since his first few albums were so perfect. That he lived long enough to settle in as an interesting but inconsistent songwriter in the 80s and 90s means that it’s harder to place him in the pantheon. He’d shown signs of regaining his old form on the albums done after the turn of the century, so who knows what would have happened had he lived even longer? I do know I miss his presence in the world, and I am very happy to know he wanted to share his thoughts with the world one more time.

Nappy Roots, “Wooden Leather,” Atlantic Records. Hip-hop that doesn’t sound like either the empty bling-bling of the big hits or the empty beats of the indie stuff. Very thick, sample-drenched, vocal layered stuff. It goes on too long, of course, but any few songs are fascinating.

--Steve Pick


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