Music Monday: From Black Monday to “Enjoy Every Sandwich”

On this day thirty-three years ago the stock market experienced its biggest one day decline, percentage-wise, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 508 points, a 22 percent decrease.

The date is referred to as Black Monday; to put it in perspective, a 22 percent decline today would mean a drop of over 6,500 points.

I was trying to think of a song to commemorate the event, and my first thought was “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears. The song has the famous line, “What Goes Up, Must Come Down”. But I had already written about this song back in March of this year.

So then I thought, perhaps a song about Mondays, but I had already done such a post on that as well.

Then it hit me, a song that mentions money might be appropriate.

And that’s what led me to Warren Zevon and his classic song, “Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money”:

Zevon once stated that this was based on a true story. He and his manager were partying in Mexico, when the “party” decided to take to the road and it looked liked it was “about to hit the fan.” Zevon’s manager feigned a phone call: “Send lawyers.” Zevon jumped in: “And guns… and money.”

Well, that’s one interpretation. Another web site had this to say about the song:

Inspired by Cold War paranoia, Zevon framed his protagonist’s charmingly sleazy behavior in an espionage setting. Unlike a lot of his songs’ narrators, the guy telling ‘Lawyers, Guns & Money”s story is a globetrotting secret agent rather than a garden-variety barfly. The result is more exotic locations (including Cuba and Honduras) and higher stakes, all serving as backdrop for Zevon’s favorite narrative arc: thoughtless mistakes leading to panicked and often eloquent regret.

I guess we’ll never know.

The song was on Zevon’s third, and most successful album, Excitable Boy. The album also included some of his most famous songs – Werewolves of London, Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, and Excitable Boy.  Rolling Stone record reviews editor Paul Nelson called the album “one of the most significant releases of the 1970s” and placed Zevon alongside Neil Young, Jackson Browne, and Bruce Springsteen as the four most important new artists to emerge in the decade.

In mid to late 2002, Zevon announced to the world that he had cancer.

On October 30, 2002, Zevon was featured on the Late Show with David Letterman as the only guest for the entire hour. He noted, “I might have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for 20 years.” It was during this broadcast that, when asked by Letterman if he knew something more about life and death now, he first offered his oft-quoted insight on dying: “Enjoy every sandwich.”

He also thanked Letterman for his years of support, calling him “the best friend my music’s ever had”. For his final song of the evening, and his final public performance, Zevon performed “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” at Letterman’s request. In the green room after the show, Zevon presented Letterman with the guitar that he always used on the show, with a single request: “Here, I want you to have this, take good care of it.”

Zevon died from cancer at the age of 56 in September 2003.

He should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame…


35 thoughts on “Music Monday: From Black Monday to “Enjoy Every Sandwich”

  1. I thought I’d never heard of him before, but I remember the Werewolves of London song. Too bad he died so young. But good thing he went 20 years without seeing a doctor, or he might have died sooner.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never read his books. I’ve only read of him. But maybe one day I’ll get around to it, because he was quite an interesting character, so I’ll bet his books are interesting also.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sadly, I know little about Warren Zevon. I remember Werewolves of London got plenty of airtime back in the day. I used to watch Lettermen a lot, and I have a vague memory of him from there. What an incredible gesture on Zevon’s part to donate his guitar to Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great choice, Jim! When I think of Warren Zevon, I think of all the work it takes to make a place for yourself in the music industry. Warren spent years as a studio musician, jingle writer, song writer, and touring musician before he ever saw an ounce of fame for his musical craft. And just in case we forget how proud we should be of being a “melting pot” of society, his father was a Jewish immigrant from Russia. Well written post, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, he seemed to be on the fringes of success, but it certainly seemed like he was friendly with a lot of the big-name musicians. His songwriting had a quirky nature to it, which I liked…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A great choice of song and artist! I’ve been a big fan of his for many years, and still have difficulty watching that final Letterman performance. The closing track on his final album has the same effect. If you can find the documentary about the making of that album I can recommend it – a very emotional watch.

    His absence from the Hall of Fame is to their eternal shame, given some of the nonentities they have allowed in. I follow a Facebook page dedicated to getting him admitted. Fingers crossed…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s the first one – I was just about to send you the link! I knew it as being titled ‘Keep Me In Your Heart’ but it looks as though they rebranded it – you can just spot the original title in the opening credits. It’s a beautiful film.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I always enjoy hearing the background stories of songs. A touching story about Letterman and him. It is sad that he died while still young. So now you have decided not to wait 20 years to see a Dr, right? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Warren Zevon, to me, despite his talent, seemed to operate on the fringes of the music industry. May be part of the reason why he is not as well known as perhaps he should be…


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