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I'LL Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon [Hardcover]

Crystal Zevon
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jun 2007

When Warren Zevon died in 2003, he left behind a rich catalog of dark, witty rock 'n' roll classics, including "Lawyers, Guns and Money," "Excitable Boy," and the immortal "Werewolves of London." He also left behind a fanatical cult following and veritable rock opera of drugs, women, celebrity, genius, and epic bad behavior. As Warren once said, "I got to be Jim Morrison a lot longer than he did."

Narrated by his former wife and longtime co-conspirator, Crystal Zevon, this intimate and unusual oral history draws on interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Stephen King, Bonnie Raitt, and numerous others who fell under Warren's mischievous spell. Told in the words and images of the friends, lovers, and legends who knew him best, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead captures Warren Zevon in all his turbulent glory.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (1 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060763450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060763459
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16.1 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 753,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

“In one of the most unflinching examinations of the rock & roll life ever, Warren Zevon’s ex-wife Crystal paints a harrowing picture of a brilliant mind ravaged by alcohol — using excerpts from the late singer-songwriter’s journals and interviews with friends including Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen.” (Rolling Stone, The Best of Rock Issue)

“I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead turns out to be one of the most casually insightful rock bios ever.” Grade: A- (Entertainment Weekly)

“ The book reveals a smartass satirist . . . as bankrupt as the characters he documented in his songs.” (Los Angeles Times)

“[A] new, riveting oral history... unflinching interviews with his friends, admirers and fellow hell-raisers.” (Rolling Stone)

“... an unforgettable journey into the depths of Mr. Zevon’s mad genius.” (New York Times)

“Few books have captured so well the L.A. rock and roll scene in all its mindlessness and eloquence.” (Los Angeles Magazine)

“…I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead definitely piles up enough horrendous behavior to back the title’s claim.” (New York Times Book Review)

“It’s a frank account of yet another great talent taken down by his own demons.” (Time Out Chicago)

“.. a fascinating collection of anecdotes... as assembled by his ex-wife, Crystal Zevon. ” (Philadelphia Daily News)

“[It’s] a satisfyingly sordid read that’s full of bad behavior…” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

“… that’s what this book is about—humanizing this mythic character” (Harp Magazine)

“… a grisly but fascinating rock ‘n’ roll journal…” (Birmingham News)

“Crystal Zevon succeeds in channeling Warren Zevon, giving us a complete, engrossing picture of a compelling artist.” (Orlando Sentinel)

“...the book [is] a tender song in itself.” (Seattle Times)

“It’s a lurid, page-turning read, filled with big successes and deep lows.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

“…packed full of... the cynical humor for which Warren Zevon was so famous.” (Bangor Daily News)

“This often searing, humorous, and brutally honest book captures him at his best and his worst.” (Booklist)

“All pop music collections need this book.” (Library Journal)

“This is an extraordinary book -- unflinchingly honest, scarily funny, relentlessly cynical and always immensely entertaining. Just like Warren Zevon.” (Dave Barry)

“A moralist in cynic’s clothing, Zevon nails a part of the American character rarely captured in pop music.” (Bruce Springsteen)

“Warren Zevon...was one of the most interesting writers of the era, and certainly ahead of his time. ” (Gore Vidal)

“A harrowing ride through the backstreets of the L.A. music business with the King of Song Noir.” (Jackson Browne)

“Zevon...was a brilliant, funny, biting, tender storyteller...and [this] will keep him in your heart.” (Mitch Albom, author of FOR ONE MORE DAY and TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Crystal Zevon is Warren Zevon's former wife and lifelong friend. She lives in Vermont near her daughter, son-in-law, and twin grandsons.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Bad Example 3 July 2007
Format:Hardcover
If you are not a fan (or, as he preferred, a 'customer') already, then this book is probably not the place to start. For those of us who followed his 'career' and stuck with him through the years, then this extraordinary book tells us just about all we need to know about he dirty life and times of Mr Warren Zevon, who was simply the most consistantly fascinating and talented songwriter of the rock era. Quite why he didn't become the star that, say, Bruce Springteen became is, in part, answered by this book.

He wanted to have the whole truth about his life (including 'the ugly stuff') to be published after his death, and his estranged wife, albeit lifelong friend, Crystal Zevon has done the man proud in meeting his wishes. She set about interviewing over 80 friends, collaborators, managers, lovers and relatives and has assembled the book from those direct quotations to present the story in a linear fashion, but from differing viewpoints. Not much is spared the reader; WZ was a man with a ferociously addictive personality, firstly to alcohol and drugs, and then, after giving up drink, to sex, all of which he consumed in Olympian quantities. As he says himself, 'I got to be Jim Morrison a lot longer than he did'.

His problems with relationships are also examined in forensic detail, most poignantly in comments from his children, who had to put up with a father who often ignored them. Thankfully, most of those rifts were healed by the time he died and the story ends with him cradling his twin grandsons a short time before he passed away.

If you don't know the man's work, then I urge you to discover it; almost uniquely, there are no poor albums in his discography, so dive in with confidence. Then this book will tell you all the rest you need to know.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By Barmee
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was really looking forward to this book but it has turned out to be quite a let down.

Sorry this is a long review but I wanted to justify my view to other Zevon fans. If you don't have time to read all of my thoughts just cut to my closing remarks at the end.

The book has lots of details for sure and numerous contributors. However the details are often not of the sort of things you want to hear and the contributors are all too frequently folks you have never heard of (granted there are some big names making brief contributions too - Carl Hiaasen, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty etc).

Overall the book makes for a wearing read with very few uplifting or amususing moments. The bulk of the book covers Warren's drinking - or rather lists times when he was drunk and (very) badly behaved. Sadly while him being a drunk may be an unavoidable fact, it seems a shame that this should be the only real focus of a book like this.

There seems no doubt that his former wife was very badly treated (both phsically and mentally) by Warren and as such she has a slanted view of the man for good reason. However It becomes wearing to have page after page of tales about him 'drinking several bottles of vodka' and then behaving awfully (allegedly beating up his wife etc) without any light at the end of the tunnel. You have to assume that he might have sometimes done amusing things when he was drunk (as hinted at with a tale of him playing with a loaded gun), but all too often the details of what he did when drunk are not there other than in a general sense to make us feel he was not nice guy.

The book hints that when not drinking he was quiet, polite, intelligent and likable. However examples of THAT bevaviour are thin on the ground.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MR. BAD EXAMPLE 2 July 2007
Format:Hardcover
If he hadn't have been who he was, Warren Zevon would have had very few friends at all.

This is a compelling book for all fans of Zevon music - it just makes you want to listen to all the songs again and try to understand them a little more.

Lots of lows and just a few highs in the life of a man who was insecure and very unstable - but loved (pitied?) by most whom came into contact with him.

Crystal Zevon has put together a wonderful collection of words and photographs - it's compulsive reading and difficult to put down.

How does Warren come across? A complete bastard who uses and abuses people and substances - a loyal friend a some - a person of weird habits and tastes.....but then anyone who knows his music wouldn't have it any other way.

He's the kind of guy you wish you could have known - in a dangerous sort of way - a bit like playing with fire....you know you'll get burned - but the temptation is too much.

All the greats die young - and usually sell more of their music post mortem than when alive. Warren will be jamming with the best of them now - he was an absolute genius above all else. Bob Hewitt 2nd July 2007. North Wales UK.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warren Zevon's life captured 21 Jun 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Do you ever get depressed browsing through the music sections in book shops? Thick tombs of Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison analysed to death & so-called musicians writing their memoirs after 5 seconds of fame. Well here at long last we have a quite brilliant book about the GREAT Warren Zevon, wonderfully put together by Crystal Zevon containing superb photos of Warren's life - the book vividly reveals the complex man that was Warren Zevon. What comes through in this book is the high regard fellow songwriters held Warren, Warren's sense of humour and of course his records that stand right up there with any fellow song writer of the last 30 years. As Bruce Springsteen says 'Zevon nails a part of the American character rarely captured in pop music'. Buy this book and then buy the back catalogue - Warren's story and music should be heard.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A thoroughly a absorbing read. I read the Kindle book so I found the quality of the pictures particularly poor hence the four stars. Read more
Published 12 days ago by bilbo2007
5.0 out of 5 stars The wild life and times of Mr Zevon!!
A brilliant read, fascinating stuff!
Published 27 days ago by R. Seymour
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The life of an icon
Published 1 month ago by Reeso
5.0 out of 5 stars Born to rock the boat
A fascinating life a very honest account as he wished.Not since NIck Drake has an artist not had his music as truly appreciated as he should in his lifetime. Read more
Published 5 months ago by steve
4.0 out of 5 stars The collected recollections of the people in Warren's life
As a long time fan of Warren since 'Stand In The Fire', finally got around to reading this account of his life through the multitude of people who helped make his records and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Widnes Bob
4.0 out of 5 stars Werewolf
Well- and evidently lovingly-written biography, but it's impossible not to feel at least some regret for a creative life ultimately squandered. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Clarsach
5.0 out of 5 stars warren zevon
A present for my husband, he likes it.
Book was cheap and new, so what more can I say?

I have to say, writing reviews is very boring!
Published on 10 Jan 2012 by Izzy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book - whether you are into him or not
I really enjoed this but then again i am a fan. do think you can enjoy it even if you are not, but you are maybe into music from that period or music generally. Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2010 by forbesjr
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight
Read this while on holiday and it makes for a great beach read. I knew nothing about WZ befoe I read this book. Now I do. Simples.
Published on 7 Oct 2009 by Colin Gillman
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, enjoy every sandwhich ... A true tortured genius who found some...
I found this book to be deeply moving, affecting and touching. It allowed me to travel with Warren through his life, thanks to interviews with friends and family, and - from what I... Read more
Published on 25 May 2009 by Celtic Mystery
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