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Zevon Captures His Times

Singer-songwriter cheats death for one last record

Warren Zevon beat the reaper. Diagnosed last summer with
mesothelioma, a rare, inoperable cancer, and originally given three
months to live, the singer-songwriter has finished what is likely
to be his final studio album, The Wind, to be released in
August by Artemis Records. “I was more prolific than I’d ever
been,” Zevon says. “I had this goal, and it kept me going.”

Co-produced by Zevon, his longtime co-writer Jorge Calderon and
engineer Noah Scot Snyder, The Wind features ten new
original songs — wry observations on mortality such as “Dirty Life
and Times” and poignant messages to real people in Zevon’s life,
such as “El Amor de Mi Vida” — plus a live-in-the-studio cover of
Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Friends and stars who sing
and play on the album include Don Henley, Ry Cooder, Tom Petty,
Billy Bob Thornton and Emmylou Harris. Bruce Springsteen, who
appears on the rocker “Disorder in the House” and the bluesy lament
“Prison Grove,” chartered a plane in midtour last December and flew
to Los Angeles for a day’s work with Zevon.

That was Zevon’s last studio session; he taped his final vocals
— for “El Amor de Mi Vida” and the album’s closing prayer, “Keep
Me in Your Heart” — at home in April. “He was weak,” says
Calderon. “But he sat on the couch and sang, and it was great. The
weakness in him made ‘El Amor’ have more meaning — the exhaustion
and yearning for this love from before.”

But Zevon’s illness has not dimmed his famous wit. “I told
Warren the other day, ‘OK, when do we start the next album?'”
Calderon says. “He laughed and said, ‘Oh, let’s see how I
feel.'”

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