Warren Zevon

The Wind

Mortality is never far away; it lurks in the back of our minds, even when we try to push it out. And it gets more critical if we are confronted by our imminent demise. Ergo Warren Zevon, dead this week from cancer, whose final album is a courageous up-yours to the Reaper. Even though he emerged on the 1970s Southern California singer-songwriter label Asylum Records, Zevon was always an unhinged wild boy, his lyrics closer to Hunter S. Thompson than to Jackson Browne or John David Souther, while his music had the urgency of a converted wino turned gospel singer bellowing at rummies in a rescue-mission mess hall. Here, he mixed rabble-rousing (“Disorder in the House”) with haunting beauty (“El Amor de Mi Vida”) to make one of this year’s essential albums.