Wind

Wind

4.8 5
by Warren Zevon
     
 

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It's impossible to listen to The Wind without pondering the circumstances surrounding its creation -- namely, the terminal cancer diagnosis that Warren Zevon received just before embarking on his final musical journey. But as with everything else the mercurial, acerbic singer-songwriter has produced, the disc is anything but a simple epitaph. Yes, he drops aSee more details below

Overview

It's impossible to listen to The Wind without pondering the circumstances surrounding its creation -- namely, the terminal cancer diagnosis that Warren Zevon received just before embarking on his final musical journey. But as with everything else the mercurial, acerbic singer-songwriter has produced, the disc is anything but a simple epitaph. Yes, he drops a cover of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" into the middle of the disc, but he doesn't stoop to milking it for maudlin effect -- heck, he even cracks wise at the pearly gates, ending his version with shouts of "Open up!" The Wind is evenly split between rock numbers and more subdued ballads, the latter of which, especially "Please Stay," show the wear and tear Zevon's illness has had on his already gravelly voice. He's bolstered, however, by a slew of guests, including Ry Cooder, Don Henley, T-Bone Burnett, and Emmylou Harris, who impart a feel midway between a house party and an Irish wake -- particularly the bluesy "Rub Me Raw," which is cleaved by a raucous Joe Walsh guitar solo, and the ribald romp "Dirty Life and Times," on which he gets some vocal aid from Dwight Yoakam and Billy Bob Thornton. Similarly, when Bruce Springsteen chimes in on "Disorder in the House," Zevon's barbed-wire wit is honed to an even more affecting sharpness. It's rare that an artist is given the opportunity to write his own epitaph, and it's somehow fitting that providence granted the chance to someone as capable of handling it as Warren Zevon.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
In late August of 2002, Warren Zevon was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a virulent and inoperable form of lung cancer; with his life expectancy expected to be no more than a few months, Zevon focused his dwindling energies on completing a final album, and The Wind, released a year after Zevon learned of his condition, was the result. With a back story like that, it's all but impossible to ignore the subtext of Zevon's mortality while listening to The Wind, though, thankfully, he's opted not to make an album about illness or death (ironically, he already did that with 2000's Life'll Kill Ya) or create a musical last will and testament. While The Wind occasionally and obliquely touches on Zevon's illness -- most notably the mournful "Keep Me in Your Heart" and the dirty blues raunch of "Rub Me Raw" -- in many ways it sounds like a fairly typical Warren Zevon album, though of course this time out the caustic wit cuts a bit deeper, the screeds against a world gone mad sound more woeful, and the love songs suggest higher emotional stakes than before. The Wind also lays in a higher compliment of celebrity guest stars than usual, and while obviously a lot of these folks are old friends wanting to help a pal in need, in some cases the ringers help to carry the weight for Zevon, who, while in good voice, can't summon up the power he did in his salad days. And remarkably, the trick works on several cuts; Bruce Springsteen's rollicking guest vocal on "Disorder in the House" offers just the kick the tune needed, Tom Petty's laid-back smirk brings a sleazy undertow to "The Rest of the Night," and Dwight Yoakam's harmonies on "Dirty Life and Times" are the perfect touch for the tune. In terms of material, The Wind isn't a great Zevon album, but it's a pretty good one; "El Amour de Mi Vida" is a simple but affecting look at lost love, "Prison Grove" is a superior character piece about life behind bars, and "Numb as a Statue," "Disorder in the House," and "Dirty Life and Times" prove the prospect of imminent death hasn't alleviated Zevon's cynicism in the least. (It's hard to say if he's being sincere or darkly witty with his cover of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," though he manages to make it work both ways.) And the assembled musicians -- among them Ry Cooder, David Lindley, Joe Walsh, Don Henley, and Jim Keltner -- serve up their best licks without taking the show away from Zevon, who, despite his obvious weakness, firmly commands the spotlight. The Wind feels less like a grand final statement of Warren Zevon's career than one last walk around the field, with the star nodding to his pals, offering a last look at what he does best, and quietly but firmly leaving listeners convinced that he exits the game with no shame and no regrets. Which, all in all, is a pretty good way to remember the guy.
Rolling Stone - Charles M. Young
The Wind reminds the rest of us that we're going to be gone someday, too, and it leaves a heroic lesson in how to face the truth.
Entertainment Weekly - Chris Willman
[Zevon's] most consistently involving CD since his late-'70s/early-'80s Asylum heyday. (A-)
Blender - Greg Kot
Warren Zevon is facing death with as much solemnity as he brought to his previous 56 years. That is to say, he's doing it with a mixture of mirth, mayhem and a pinch of poignancy.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/26/2003
Label:
Indieblue Music
UPC:
0699675115623
catalogNumber:
51156
Rank:
5576

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Warren Zevon   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Electric Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals
Emmylou Harris   Background Vocals
Dwight Yoakam   Background Vocals
Jackson Browne   Background Vocals
Ry Cooder   Slide Guitar
Don Henley   Drums
David Lindley   Background Vocals,Lap Steel Guitar,Electric Saz
Tom Petty   Background Vocals
Bruce Springsteen   Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
John Waite   Background Vocals
Joe Walsh   Slide Guitar
Jorge Calderon   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Electric Guitar,Maracas,Background Vocals,Tres,Spanish Vocals
Tommy Shaw   Background Vocals,Guitar (12 String Acoustic)
Mike Campbell   Electric Guitar
Jim Keltner   Drums
Gil Bernal   Saxophone
T Bone Burnett   Background Vocals
Luis Conte   Percussion,Bongos,Conga,Drums,Maracas
Brad Davis   Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Steve Gorman   Drums
Reggie Hamilton   Upright Bass
Randy Mitchell   Background Vocals,Slide Guitar
James Raymond   Piano
Timothy B. Schmit   Background Vocals
Jordan Zevon   Background Vocals
Billy Bob Thornton   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Bob Dylan   Composer
Jorge Calderon   Composer,Producer
Hugh Brown   Art Direction
Steve Churchyard   Engineer
Stephen Marcussen   Mastering
Warren Zevon   Composer,Producer
Jordan Zevon   Executive Producer
James Michell   Engineer
Joe West   Engineer
Matthew Rolston   Cover Photo
Greg Hayes   Engineer
Bridgette Barr   Executive Producer
Noah Scot Snyder   Producer,Engineer

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