Warren Zevon “Excitable Boy”


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#579 in the Series) is Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy.

I don’t usually pick an artist’s most popular release. But this one is just too darn good, and too darn cool.

Yes, it contains “Werewolves Of London.” That track still sounds good. It was the song that you could say put Warren on the map with the mainstream.  I once heard a great saying by a stand-up comedian. ” You can’t be considered a superstar until my mother knows who you are.”  Let’s say that many mothers knew of Warren because of “Werewolves of London.”

Werewolves might have been the most popular track on the album, but it will have to get way back in line in regards to the qeue for “best song on the album.”  Other songs in that line would be “Lawyers, Guns and Money” (How many times did you play air drums to those Rick Marotta fills?) “Johnny Strikes Up The Band.” “Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner” would also be up there as well.

“Tenderness on the Block” was co-written by Jackson Browne. Jackson was known to do this song as part of his live shows for years. I’d forgotten that Jackson co-wrote this with Zevon. I’d have to say that his “cool quotient” just went up a notch or two.

Many of the big name Los Angeles studio musicians helped on this project. You know ’em, you love ’em, I’m of course talking about Russ Kunkel on drums, Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar on guitar. J. D. Souther is here, Waddy is here, Leland Sklar and Jeff Porcaro.   Mick Fleetwood and John McVie were  the rhythm section on “Werewolves of London,” not many people know that.  Jackson Browne and Karla Bonoff added vocals as well.

Years ago, WXRT here in Chicago ran a Sunday Night hour ‘UnConcert’ of Warren recorded some time back. It was funny to hear a spot they ran right before the tape. I remember it clearly.., “And You can see Warren Zevon this weekend at the Crown Point, Indiana Fair Grounds for just $9. Appearing with Zevon will be Poi Dog Pondering.”

Crown Point Fairgrounds? For $9 along with Poi Dog Pondering….. Yikes! How did I miss that one?!

— Larry Carta 

Track listing

All songs written by Warren Zevon except as noted.

Side One

  1. “Johnny Strikes Up the Band” – 2:49
  2. “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” (David Lindell, Zevon) – 3:47
  3. “Excitable Boy” (LeRoy Marinell, Zevon) – 2:40
  4. “Werewolves of London” (Marinell, Waddy Wachtel, Zevon) – 3:27
  5. “Accidentally Like a Martyr” – 3:37
Side Two
  1. “Nighttime in the Switching Yard” (Jorge Calderón, Lindell) – 4:15
  2. “Veracruz” (Calderón, Zevon) – 3:30
  3. “Tenderness on the Block” (Jackson Browne, Zevon) – 3:55
  4. “Lawyers, Guns and Money” – 3:29


  • Warren Zevon – organ, synthesizer, bass, guitar, piano, keyboards, Vocals
  • Jorge Calderón – vocals, harmony vocals, Spanish vocals on “Veracruz”
  • Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar – guitar, percussion
  • Russ Kunkel – drums

Additional personnel

  • Karla Bonoff – vocals, harmony vocals
  • Jackson Browne – guitar, vocals, harmony vocals
  • Luis Damian – jarana on “Veracruz”
  • Kenny Edwards – bass, harmony vocals
  • Mick Fleetwood – drums on “Werewolves of London”
  • The Gentlemen Boys – vocals
  • Arthur Gerst – harp, Mexican harp
  • Bob Glaub – bass
  • Jim Horn – recorder, saxophone
  • Greg Ladanyi – bells
  • Rick Marotta – drums
  • John McVie – bass on “Werewolves of London”
  • Jeff Porcaro – percussion, drums on “Nighttime in the Switching Yard”
  • Linda Ronstadt – vocals, harmony on “Excitable Boy”
  • Leland Sklar – bass
  • J.D. Souther – vocals, harmony
  • Manuel Vasquez – requinto on “Veracruz”
  • Richard Wachtel – guitar, vocals
  • Waddy Wachtel – synthesizer, guitar, harmony vocals
  • Jennifer Warnes – harmony vocals on “Excitable Boy”
  • Linda Warnes – vocals


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Give it a listen below..

Posted by Larry Carta


  1. Bill (16 Dec 2011, 13:00)

    Hey, Larry, give Jackson Browne a break! He’s one of my favorites! Lol! Jackson was extremely instrumental in convincing David Geffen to sign him to the Asylum label, thus giving Warren one of his first major breaks. He also championed Warren’s songwriting abilities to anyone that would listen back in the early days. It’s part of the reason Linda Ronstadt recorded Warren’s “Hasten Down The Wind” and even titled her album the same name, which turned out to be one of Linda’s biggest albums in her career. Also, were you aware that Warren was the band director for the Everly Brothers touring band prior to his solo career? Warren certainly did it all in his lifetime. Thanks for the review!

  2. Mark (16 Dec 2011, 15:40)

    Warren Zevon is one of those guys who I liked he hits (not that there were a lot of them) when I was younger, but as I grew older I began to like more and more songs in his catalog. It took a while for me to get just how talented he really was. Of course he was as self-destructive as he was talented, which is probably why he never gained mass acceptance outside of Werewolves and other miscellaneous songs. The guys had big brass balls too. I can’t think of anyone with the nerve/chutzpa/reckless abandon to take a Warren Zevon cover band on tour as his backing band…and make it work. His passing was sad, but after reading “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” I would venture to say that his life was sad too.

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