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Zevon Diagnosed With Lung Cancer

Veteran singer-songwriter's disease untreatable

September 12, 2002 12:00 AM ET

Warren Zevon has been diagnosed with lung cancer, and the disease has advanced to an untreatable stage. The fifty-five-year-old singer-songwriter received the news last month and is currently spending time at home with his children and in the studio recording new songs.

In keeping with the acerbic wit found in his songs like "Life'll Kill Ya" and "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," Zevon said of his diagnosis, "I'm OK with it, but it'll be a drag if I don't make it till the next James Bond movie comes out."

Nearly three years ago, Zevon released the eerily prophetic Life'll Kill Ya, with several songs addressing death and illness. "Sickness, doctors, that scares me," he told Rolling Stone at the time. "Not violence -- helplessness. That's why I turn to violent stories, I think." At the time, Zevon said the songs were not inspired by any sort of health scare. "It's kind of the fun of it, pretending to deal with something that you don't want to, and try to laugh about it. I mean, I've had guns in my face, I've been robbed, but the doctor stuff -- it's too much for me."

Zevon began his career in the late Sixties as a session man and songwriter for the likes of the Everly Brothers and the Turtles. He also penned Linda Ronstadt's 1978 hit "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" and scored one of his own that same year with "Werewolves of London." In May, Zevon released his eleventh studio album, My Ride's Here, which featured collaborations with writers Hunter S. Thompson, Carl Hiaasen and Paul Muldoon. Rhino Records will release a new anthology of his work, Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon, on October 15th.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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