Continuing our look at Warren’s 1989 release, Transverse City, an album that most Zevon fans don’t put on their Top Anything list. But I love it.
The second cut off the album is “Run Straight Down,” which picks up immediately from the previous title track, bridged by crackling electricity. (“Run Straight Down” segues directly into the next track — “The Long Arm of the Law” — via the sound of a police helicopter.)
In “Run Straight Down,” we’re still stuck in Warren’s imagined near-future dystopia, this time examining the destruction of the environment as a background vocal recites chemical compounds:
Dimethyl sulfate, chloromethyl methylether
2, 3, 7, 8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-
para-dioxin, carbon disulfide)
benzenes, 2-Nitropropane, pentachlorophenol,
Benzotrichloride, strontium chromate
Now, seriously — how many rock stars would even think to turn chemical compounds into a backing track? Of them, how many could pull it off?
I went walking in the wasted city
Started thinking about entropy
Smelled the wind from the ruined river
Went home to watch TV
Vintage Warren — what a slam-bang beginning to a song. He immediately sets the mood, communicates the history and present of his universe, and tells you volumes about the narrator. In four lines. In less than two dozen fucking words. God, I wish I could write like that!
Here’s “Run Straight Down.” Keep that abrupt helicopter ending in mind until next week, when I’ll talk about “The Long Arm of the Law.”