Song Of The Day 8/2/2014: Warren Zevon - "Piano Fighter"



88 Teeth: I don't know how much of this is true because the source was about 75% unreliable or flat-out lying about every subject, but maybe this was one of the 25% when they weren't. The topic was my parents and their perception of my career ambitions as a young adult. This was in the waning days of my songwriting. It was becoming clearer to me that I was going to have to try something else.

The details aren't important. Let's just say there was a time when I did not like to play a piano by request; I didn't want to be put on the spot. So if I happened to be in, say, a bed and breakfast in a remote Pacific Northwest location that happened to have a piano on the premises, that didn't mean I was going to throw on a Liberace boa and regale the guests with songs from my magic fingers. That's not how I operated back then. I was a troubled teen. I mean, I was 24, but I was a troubled teen anyway.

My father, who was on this trip, was very disappointed about this, even angry. And I hate disappointing people, but this was a time in my life where I wasn't in a Mr. Bojangles frame of mind. It's like they'd never even heard of Nevermind. Anyway, my mom and the unreliable source went off to have a little conversation about it, where I trust my position was restated to some effect. A little bit later the "source" relayed to me that my parents had thought my dream career was -- I am paraphrasing -- playing piano on a cruise ship.

This may or may not be something the unreliable source made up. But even if it's not true, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that my parents, with whom my communication was spotty at the time (no longer the case), might have considered that to be a closely held personal ambition of mine. I see where they got it.

Now it's some years later. I've spent most of my professional career in some aspect of the music business and I'm trying to find a way back in. I write about music, I read about music, I constantly pursue new music, I try to devise new contexts to experience music. I'm in a very rewarding music project right now. I have an ongoing conversation with all my friends about music. And you know what? As I stand here on a somewhat restabilized point in my life, with my family at my side and a barbecue spatula in my hand, you know what I now perceive as I flip through my proverbial back pages?

This: I should have been a goddamn piano player on a goddamn cruise ship!

Why could I not see it then? Why does it take the slow, sordid advance of time to realize I just flicked my future away by playing on land! "Good evening, Love Boaters! I'm Mr. Sweetdigits, your piano entertainer for the next six hours! Are you guys like me -- can you just not get enough of disco? Here's a little somethin' by Chic! Watch your heads now! Aaaaaaah, freak out!"

I screwed the pooch on that one. I missed out on all that Mazatlan sun, all that simmering Caribbean flesh, and all the Dramamine and wetnaps I could ever want because I wanted to do something quote-unquote "meaningful." I hate to end this theme week balled up in the corner under the harsh lights of self-recrimination, but Warren knew what I was talking about.

And now, my samba rendition of "Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing." Try the carpaccio.




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