I only ever watched approximately ten minutes of The Larry Sanders Show. And I only did that by accident as I flipped through the channels looking for something to watch and stumbled upon Warren Zevon talking. This fluke caused me to pause at which point I learned that Warren was the “guest” on The Larry Sanders Show. I proceeded to watch the next few minutes of the show to take in the gag involving Zevon. The joke of this bit was that Warren was to play a couple songs live on the show but didn’t want to play “Werewolves of London”, the song he is solely known for by pretty much everyone except other musicians and a few genuine fans.
Warren and Larry argued about this before Larry finally agreed to let him play something else. The scene then cuts to Larry Sanders at his desk introducing Warren Zevon to his audience and in doing so specifically asks Warren to play “Werewolves of London”. Zevon is pissed but has no choice but to accommodate Larry’s request as the audience applauds appreciatively.
It’s a great little bit of humour because it accurately depicts what I imagine must be the worst nightmare for any gifted artist. Having one of your creations become such a huge, overwhelming hit that it utterly dwarfs anything else you ever did or do must be such a frustrating conflict. And in the case of Warren Zevon it is doubly frustrating because he had a long, productive career and is revered by his peers as a singular songwriter.
I own a greatest hits package and I can attest that there are many terrific songs in his repertoire. All employ catchy melodies with darkly humourous lyrics and are a pleasure to listen to. Still, that one song is hard to top. So to kick off your weekend, I’m going to pull a Larry Sanders and play Warren Zevon’s biggest hit song, likely the only one many of you know, “Werewolves of London” from the 1978 album Excitable Boy.