36 ARTICLES EXAMINING THE AWESOME THAT IS WARREN ZEVON, PUBLISHED OVER 36 WEEKS. THIS IS

WEDNESDAY WARREN

Wednesday Warren – Excitable Boy

Well, he’s just an excitable boy

“Excitable Boy,” off of Zevon’s album of the same name, is a somewhat strange and disturbing song, though no less amazing for it. It’s got a bouncy, light-hearted rock rhythm to it, but as you listen to the lyrics, you realize Zevon is singing about a complete psychopath.

He took little Susie to the junior prom
Excitable boy, they all said
And he raped her and killed her, then he took her home

All sung with the same inflection one would use for singing about, say, taking your girlfriend to the movies. It’s sort of jarring, this juxtaposition of happy, bouncy music and enthusiastic voice with… Well, with this:

After ten long years they let him out of the Home
Excitable boy, they all said
And he dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones

But you know, the power of Zevon’s music (and the truest indicator of his genius) is his ability to put himself and the listener into an alien frame of mind. We’re not meant to sympathize with the Excitable Boy. We’re not meant to think that what he does is all right. But through the contrast of music and meaning, Zevon does allow us to live — for the length of the song — in the Excitable Boy’s world and in his mind. For the length of the song, we see a world in which killing people is a fun and easy and casual thing.

As you may imagine, this is of particular interest to me as i work on the I Hunt Killers series: How do you make the audience see things through a lunatic’s eyes without appearing to endorse that lunatic view?

Check out Warren’s method:

 

iTunes Album Link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/excitable-boy-remastered/id256615448

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