1978, Music

Excitable Boy (1978) by Warren Zevon

My only previous experience with Warren Zevon is Sentimental Hygiene. An idiosyncratic songwriter backed by REM – I thought it was going to be really up my alley. But, alas, I really don’t love that record. It was enough to put me off listening to him again.

So I find myself listening to this record with perhaps a wee bit too much baggage than I should really be bringing to it. The good thing is that it is a lot less obnoxiously produced than Sentimental Hygiene, though there are still touches that are a little odd, but this time it doesn’t feel dated.

Zevon is an idiosyncratic songwriter who writes about topics that most of his contemporaries and predecessors do not. For example, on this record he writes about a mercenary in Africa, US military intervention in Mexico during the First World War, and numerous other things. Also, he’s funny. I should like him.

But there’s something about his lyrics that do not grab me like those of other songwriters. Maybe he’s just too straight ahead – if you remove the refrains sometimes his lyrics feel like prose. (But that’s something Lou Reed does to and I like Lou Reed.) I don’t know, he just doesn’t speak to me.

But the melodies are strong enough and the record sounds good – and occasionally weird – without sounding too much like 1978. I can’t really criticize it but only say so far he’s not for me.


  1. “Johnny Strikes Up the Band” Warren Zevon 2:49
  2. “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” David Lindell, Zevon 3:47
  3. “Excitable Boy” LeRoy Marinell, Zevon 2:40
  4. “Werewolves of London” Waddy Wachtel, Marinell, Zevon 3:27
  5. “Accidentally Like a Martyr” Zevon 3:37
  6. “Nighttime in the Switching Yard” Jorge Calderón, Lindell, Wachtel, Zevon 4:15
  7. “Veracruz” Calderón, Zevon 3:30
  8. “Tenderness on the Block” Jackson Browne, Zevon 3:55
  9. “Lawyers, Guns and Money” Zevon 3:29
  • Warren Zevon – lead, harmony and backing vocals, piano, organ, synthesizer
  • Jorge Calderón – harmony and backing vocals, Spanish vocals on “Veracruz”
  • Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar – guitar, percussion
  • Russ Kunkel – drums

Additional personnel

  • Karla Bonoff – harmony vocals on “Accidentally Like a Martyr”
  • Jackson Browne – guitar, harmony and backing vocals
  • Luis Damian – jarana on “Veracruz”
  • Kenny Edwards – bass on “Veracruz”, “Tenderness on the Block” and “Lawyers, Guns and Money”
  • John McVie – bass on “Werewolves of London”
  • Mick Fleetwood – drums on “Werewolves of London”
  • The Gentlemen Boys (The Gentlemen Boys consisted of: Jackson Browne, Jorge Calderón, Kenny Edwards, J. D. Souther and Waddy Wachtel) – backing and harmony vocals
  • Arthur Gerst – Mexican harp
  • Bob Glaub – bass on “Roland the Headless Gunner”, “Excitable Boy” and “Nighttime in the Switching Yard”
  • Jim Horn – recorder on “Veracruz”; saxophone on “Excitable Boy”
  • Greg Ladanyi – bells on “Nighttime in the Switching Yard”
  • Rick Marotta – drums on “Veracruz” and “Lawyers, Guns and Money”
  • Jeff Porcaro – drums and percussion on “Nighttime in the Switching Yard”
  • Linda Ronstadt – backing and harmony vocals on “Excitable Boy”
  • Leland Sklar – bass on “Johnny Strikes Up The Band” and “Accidentally Like a Martyr”
  • J.D. Souther – backing and harmony vocals
  • Manuel Vasquez – requinto on “Veracruz”
  • Waddy Wachtel – guitar, synthesizer, harmony and backing vocals
  • Jennifer Warnes – harmony vocals on “Excitable Boy”

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