Sunday, July 08, 2007
Lately, I've been on a jag whereupon I've been reading rock biographies of folks from back in the day. Read several about the Beatles; Dylan, Baez, and the 4th Street folk-rock crowd from the Village; the SoCal Hotel California groups -- Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell. Donovan's autobiography. Randy Newman's. And the most recent one, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, about Zevon. He passed away a few years back, and his last album is hard listening -- he wrote the songs after he knew he was dying, and toward the end, he didn't have much left, he could barely sing. Lotta well-known folks in the biz turned out to play on that one.
I'm about halfway through the book. If the biography is anywhere close to accurate -- and it seems to come mostly from friends and family and people he worked with -- he was, for most of his early days, a mean drunk, heavy doper, prone to violent, jealous rages, and somebody who thumped his various wives and/or girlfriends around when he was soused or stoned.
If you had known the man up until he was in his early thirties, you might have thought he was a genius of a songwriter -- but a total asshole. Talent only excuses so much, and then it doesn't matter how brilliant you are ...
I'm hoping it is going to turn around soon, but it's really sad so far.