Sympathetic Stupid

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Warren Zevon: Genius [Track]

My appreciation for the Warren Zevon oeuvre is restricted to that Werewolves Of London. A mental short circuit connects this directly to the Teen Wolf movies and so to Michael J Fox and then... Anyway, it just seemed like a throwaway novelty hangover from my Triple M flirtation in the mid 90s.

I've just listened to the track Genius nine times in a row. I'm a words junkie, and two lyrics in particular seem to do it for me:

"There's a face in every window of the songwriter's neighbourhood,
Everybody's your best friend when you're doing well, I mean good."

A nice little pun delivered perfectly straight.

"Albert Einstein was a ladies man,
While he was working on his universal plan,
He was making out like Charlie Sheen,
He was a genius."

This one always tingles my spine. Einstein must be the least disputed genius in history but seems one-dimensional in a way famous people can't be in the Information/Tabloid Age. Whether this is true or not, I love the thought of Einstein wandering down to a club after a hard day slaving over the atoms. And the delicious juxtaposition with Charlie Sheen is excellent.

Throughout, the song equates success in love with genius. Through Mata Hari and Einstein, to "You broke my heart into smithereens/And that took genius". Which is probably why this song appeals to me at the moment, that's right, it's a breakup song, underneath the elaborate images and tales. Though there seem to be a number of breakups conflated into this, she left him for the hairdresser, or for someone who could help her career.

As for the music, it's well produced, very clean with a nice slow groove, on assorted percussion, behind accompaniment from strings. Zevon's voice floats over the tune with some standard but tasteful studio magic messing with the vocals.