Posts Tagged ‘Warren Zevon’


Sorrow and solitude
These are the precious things
And the only words
That are worth rememberin’

Townes Van Zandt, Nothin’


A kind of gray and glum Sunday morning, wet and cool. It has the feel of the season turning, of the green of the leaves to be soon fleeing. The deer outside my window are taking on their new dark winter coats, the beautiful rich reddish coats of summer gone leaving them to look like they have rolled in coal dust, grimy and gray.

But they carry it well.

Myself, I feel as gray and glum and grimy as the scene and I fear I don’t carry it as well as my dear deer.

But that’s okay.

These gray days aren’t pleasant but there is something of value in them. They make you feel something and that is an important thing. It sometimes feels like we live without feeling the moment. And even if the moment isn’t a glorious moment of elation, to feel anything– even sorrow and solitude– at any given time may be the the only gift we have in the precious time we spend in this world.

Like Townes says in the lyrics at the top. Or maybe Warren Zevon said it correctly in Ain’t That Pretty At All:

Going to hurl myself against the wall
‘Cause I’d rather feel bad than feel nothing at all 

On that note, let’s get to this Sunday morning music which is, of course, the song Nothin’ from the late great singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt. His voice is a bit of an acquired taste but on songs like this, its flat simplicity and plaintive tone are absolute perfection. One of my favorites from many that he wrote. I have also included a bit of a different version from the Grammy winning collaboration of Robert Plant and Allison Krauss. Plant’s falsetto set against the heavy crunch of Krauss’ electrified fiddle make it a powerful version.

Have a good Sunday.

PS: The painting at the top Exiles: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a reminder that I will be giving an Art Talk this coming Thursday, September 12 beginning at 6 PM, at the Patterson Library Octagon Library in support of my Icons & Exiles exhibit that hangs there until September 20.

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I want to live alone in the desert
I want to be like Georgia O’Keeffe
I want to live on the Upper East Side
And never go down in the street

Splendid Isolation
I don’t need no one
Splendid Isolation

–Warren Zevon, Splendid Isolation


Over the next several days I will be showing paintings from my upcoming show, Moments and Color, that opens Friday, July 12, at the West End Gallery. Today is a piece called Pondering Solitude, a 24″ by 24″ canvas, that was a favorite of mine during its time here in the studio.

Like much of my work, I can’t exactly put my finger on any one thing in this painting that makes it hit the mark for me. Maybe it’s something as simple as the color combinations or the way the light flows within the composition. Or just the simplicity of it as a whole. Or the feeling of warm solitude it emotes.

Again, I don’t know. That probably sounds strange to some of you. After all, I painted it so shouldn’t I know the entire what and why of a piece I have created? You would think so, wouldn’t you?

Oddly enough, in my best work–or at least what I feel is my best work– I have no answers. And that makes sense to me because the work is for me a way to get enough clarity to understand enough to be able to ask questions. Then, hopefully, answers emerge.

It’s hard to find answers when you don’t really know the questions.

And that is kind of the story of this piece. I see it as the Red Tree feeling a need for clarity and light, answers to questions that it can’t articulate, and finding solace in the light and warmth of its solitude.

There is more likely than not more to say here but I think I am leaving it at that for now.

I used some lyrics from the song Splendid Isolation from the late Warren Zevon above. Here is the song.



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GC Myers-Hasten Down the Wind smThis is a painting  that I finished over the weekend.  It’s 10″ by 30″ on canvas and is titled Hasten Down the Wind.  If that sounds familiar you probably remember the old Warren Zevon song from the the 70’s most famously covered by Linda Ronstadt on her album with the same title.  It was a pretty big album at the time.  I just always loved the imagery in that phrase– hasten down the wind– and thought it fit well with this piece.

The song is about the end of a relationship, where the girl recognizes that nothing is working for them any more and the guy finally grudgingly admits it as well, telling her to leave , to go hasten down the wind.

I see this in this painting with the Red Tree reluctantly holding onto those leaves as they struggle to depart on the wind even though it knows that it has to be this way, that they must leave.  There is something bittersweet yet liberating in this idea that sometimes things are just not meant to be.  We often hold onto things–people, ideas and hopes and dreams– that don’t truly fit with who we are with the thin hope that things will somehow change to match our perceptions.  But recognizing that this is not meant to be and letting these things go allows us to perhaps find our truer selves.

In short, we sometimes have to lose things to reveal who we really are.

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giphy falling leavesFirst frost of the season.  As I got out of bed and looked out the window, there was thin layer of silvery shine on the grass beyond the wood’s edge.  There is a real bite in the air as I walk to the studio understanding that autumn is truly upon us now.  A bit later,  as I look out of the studio window, this realization is reinforced as the sunlight filters through the oranges and yellows of the turning leaves, indicating with certainty that the summer is gone and the harsh beauty of winter will soon be here. This filtered light and thoughts of summer gone and winter ahead create a wistful feeling in the air.

It’s one of the rewards of the changing seasons here, a built-in reminder of time passing that serves as a metaphor for our own lives, our own mortality and the ephemeral gift which we are given.  And while simply watching a golden leaf lazily fall through the low angle of the sun to the frosted grass below might not seem like much of a gift, there are times when it feels priceless.

And that is how it feels this morning.

In that vein, the music I have selected for this Sunday morning is a wistful song from the late Warren Zevon.  It’s a song, Keep Me in Your Heart,  that he wrote while in the throes of the terminal cancer that took his life.  Zevon led an interesting, if sometimes crazy, life.  His father, a Jewish Russian immigrant, was a bookie and close friend of mobster Mickey Cohen.  When Warren was 13 he studied with Igor Stravinsky before quitting high school in the early 60’s to go to NYC to be a folksinger.  He knocked around for years before finding success both as a songwriter and performer.  This success came and went several times, often as result of his own self-destructive behavior.  He died in 2003 at age 56.  I’ve always thought it was shame that so many people only know him for Werewolves of London when he wrote so many other beautiful songs such as this.

Take in the day fully and enjoy.




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I’m in the middle of a piece at this moment so I’m going to be brief this morning.  Actually, I’m at two different points in two different paintings and am pretty eager to get to them.  Sometimes it’s difficult for me to go back and forth between pieces.  My focus sometimes gets broken in the transition from one to the other and both pieces suffer.  But this time there seems to be a seamless shift between the works and I’m actually taking energy from one piece and plugging it into the next. 

Wish I had four arms.  And eyes that worked independent of one another like some tropical fish looking for moray eels…

My selection for this winter Wednesday is from the late Warren Zevon, a wonderfully talented songwriter/performer best known for his Werewolves of London.  Actually, it sort of yoked him and overshadowed his abilities as a composer of unique and often beautiful songs.  Here’s one of my favorites, Mohammed’s Radio,  from way back in the day.  1976, I think.  Give a listen…

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Total FreedomI came across a snippet of an interview with Bob Dylan where he was asked about his favorite songwriters.  It was a short list with some interesting choices that might surprise some.  He mentioned the late Warren Zevon and Jimmy Buffett, two artists who were more or less pigeon-holed by the success of their best known hits.  For Zevon it was Werewolves of London and for Buffett, Margaritaville.  But when you look deeper into their work you find a treasure chest of beautifully written, poignant songs.  For instance, in the years before he became a caricature as the leader of the parrotheads (and vastly wealthy as a result) Buffett wrote several powerful albums.  Living and Dying in 3/4 Time is a beautiful album.  

But he also mentioned John Prine.  

I don’t know how well known he is among the general public but for me he has been a giant for about 35 years, writing simple songs that mix wit, wisdom and raw emotions.  His wordplay is wonderful and his melodies have deep hooks that instantly catch in my head.  His first album, John Prine, is packed with classics.  Angel From Montgomery, Sam Stone, Donald and Lydia, Six O’Clock News, Spanish Pipedream and on and on.  But my favorite is Paradise, a song wistfully recalling a young boy going with his parents to visit relatives in western Kentucky.

It brought to mind how the idea of paradise changes as we grow older, hopefully gaining wisdom.  When we’re young paradise is defined by place.  Where to find paradise.  For some, it might be a beach in the sun or a mountain in the snow.  For others, it’s being in the midst of a big city with everything at their fingertips.  We run to these places hoping to find what we define as a paradise.

But as we grow, we come to realize that paradise is not place.  You can be in the perfect place and still not be happy or fulfilled.  Paradise is an inside thing.  You have to find it in yourself to really find it.  Much like the kid in the Prine song.  Doing simple things in less than glamorous environments but feeling happy, safe and secure.  Kids can find paradise everywhere.

Anyway, I wanted to show this song.  There are other versions out there but I like this one from many years ago.  A much younger John Prine sings from his backyard.  Enjoy the paradise…

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