Each day this month, I’ll be spotlighting a song that seems particularly appropriate for the season.
Although Warren Zevon had been an active singer-songwriter for several years before Excitable Boy dropped in 1978, it was his first album to achieve major commercial success. It also established his dark and ironic sense of humor, particularly on the title track and “Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner.” On “Werewolves Of London,” Zevon’s jubilant piano playing and boisterous howl celebrated the violent antics and fashion choices of a homicidal beast. He was joined by veteran session guitarist Waddy Wachtel (who along with singer-guitarist LeRoy Marinell helped Zevon write the song) and the Fleetwood Mac rhythm section of bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. The lyrics ranged from the graphic “He’ll rip your lungs out, Jim” and “Little old lady got mutilated late last night” to the classic understatement, “Lately he’s been overheard in Mayfair.” Zevon conjures a trendy werewolf cruising Soho for beef chow mein and sipping a tropical drink at Trader Vic’s. Later, Lon Chaney appears with his son and the Queen, making this a full-fledged Halloween party.