autobiography Blog

famous last words

the windWhen Warren Zevon began work on The Wind, he knew it would be his last album. Zevon was diagnosed with cancer early; unfortunately, nothing could be done. Fortunately, he used his remaining time on earth to give us a great album. Knowing it was his last chance to say something made each line more poignant.

Most of us don’t have advance notice of impending death. We know it will happen someday, but the day, month, even year are uncertain at best. Most of us don’t get the chance to craft our last words. Or do we?

The sad fact is, every artist will have a parting shot. As I have said before, I hope Bob Dylan outlives us all, but there will come a day when he’s booked his last recording session. What will come of that music? Will it be especially meaningful? Will it be a continuation of whatever aspect he was exploring up to that point? Or will it be a sharp departure?

Buddy Holly didn’t have a head’s up from the Reaper. 50 years ago the world was left with what he hadn’t yet finished. The Apartment Tapes stand as the only glimpse we’ll ever get into Holly’s future recording plans. They are excellent, but they are finite.

George Herriman, cartoonist extraordinaire, died with a week’s worth of Krazy Kat dailies sitting at his desk. Some are nearly complete, some merely pencil sketches. I wonder if he was having a good week up until he died. If given the choice, would he have wanted to finish off that batch? Or would he have preferred to let another week stand in as his last words to the public?

This is all very morbid. I’m sorry. Allow me one final thought.

According to one website, my death will occur in exactly 47 years, 10 months, 23 days. (I was surprised at how soon I’m expected to go. Maybe I should move away from this nuclear waste storage facility.) I know the exact number of days because it’s on my Google homepage (right above the weather and NASA’s Image of the Day).

When I get Falling Rock syndicated, I’m going to begin work on the final week’s worth right away. That way I can tinker with it for a long time. Crafting my final message will be difficult, epecially if I’m in my 20’s when I start. Hopefully by the time I’m 77 I’ll have it all worked out.

Of course I’ll have to make changes as technology evolves. I expect to incorporate a few hover cars and a Mars colony in my final comics. Stay tooned! Who knows what wacky hijinks those desert critters will get up to in the future.

autobiography Blog

top of the charts

Warren Zevon 1980
I’d like to live alone in the desert
I’d like to be like Georgia O’Keefe
So begins Warren Zevon’s “Splendid Isolation,” the most-played song on my ipod. Why does this song have the highest play count of them all? In a machine that contains over 8,000 tracks – almost 40 gigabytes’ worth of music – why does a non-hit by an artist best known for “Werewolves of London” top them all?
Part of the reason is accessibility. I’ve had all my Beatles and Bob Dylan CDs for years and played the heck out of them. When I finally migrated to ipod, the need to listen to any one song by either of those artists had mellowed. I still love it when “Come Together” or “Visions of Johanna” come up on shuffle, but I rarely seek them out. The songs I listen to most on my ipod were purchased after I began listening to it more than CDs. The only place I can hear them is there.
As for the song itself, “Splendid Isolation” is a perfect mix of happy beat and wry humor. Zevon was a master at writing meaningful songs that were funny. “Like Michael Jackson in Disneyland/Don’t have to share it with nobody else/Lock the gate Goofy, take my hand/And lead me through this world of self.” In the end, the song seems to be a simple break-up story, with the narrator saying he wants to be alone when he’s really just sad. The long lyrical lead-up keeps you guessing.
All this is a long way of saying that I’m totally happy with my current “favorite” song. If somebody were to ask me about it (which they won’t have to now, after reading this blog), I would proudly tell them.
This small bit of credibility is totally canceled out by the 1452 Hannah Montana bootlegs I’ve got on there, though.