Wednesday Warren

Wednesday Warren – Suzie Lightning

Ever been desperately in love with someone…but knew it wouldn’t work? And maybe — just maybe — you possessed the maturity and the wisdom to keep yourself from trying anyway? Because you know what? Your first, gut impulse was right: It wasn’t going to work. It was never going to work, and by not even trying, you’ve missed out only on misery.

Warren Zevon knows that feeling. “Suzie Lightning” is a paean to an amazing woman the narrator knows he can never have.

No use crying about it
No use trying to hold on
She lights up the sky
Then she’s gone

Here’s a live version. The opening instrumental is a little long, but it’s a lovely song. Give it a listen:

Wednesday Warren: Nobody’s in Love This Year

This week, we come to the last song on Warren’s 1989 album Transverse City: “Nobody’s in Love This Year.” I’m not sure what to make of this song, truthfully. Or — more precisely — I’m not sure what to make of it in the context of Transverse City.

The album begins with a Side One that explicates a near-future dystopia of denuded environment, soulless cityscapes, and perpetual war. Then Side Two comes along and reminds us that the “near-future dystopia” is actually the world we live in already.

And then there’s “Nobody’s in Love This Year.”

We keep walking away for no reason at all
And no one says a word
We were always so busy protecting ourselves
We never would have heard
And the rate of attrition for lovers like us
Is steadily on the rise
Nobody’s in love this year
Not even you and I

It’s one of Warren’s sad love songs. We’ve seen these before; they’re masterful. But what the hell is it doing on this album? What the hell is it doing in the final slot, as the last thing the listener will hear, the takeaway, as it were?

I’ve gone over the lyrics again and again, and I was fully prepared to talk about how the song’s later use of banking metaphors to describe lost love draw a connection between personal interrelationships and the wider global crises Warren describes in the rest of the album. But you know what? In thinking about, I’m pretty sure that’s all crap.

I think he was just sad.

I think he was just really, really sad and he put this song on the album because he was sad. And it doesn’t fit with the rest of the album, but it fits his mood.

So, here’s “Nobody’s in Love This Year:”

Wednesday Warren – Down in the Mall

You buy everything you want and then you want more

There’s a lot more to “Down in the Mall,” the penultimate track on Warren’s 1989 dystopian opus Transverse City, but that line sort of sums it up nicely, don’t you think?

An enterprising YouTuber did a nice job setting the song to some mall video. Check it out:

Wednesday Warren – Gridlock

The next song on Side 2 of Transverse City continues Warren’s speculation that the now (circa 1989) is just as much a dystopia as the future he’d conjured on Side 1. “Gridlock” should be familiar to LA drivers especially, but to pretty much anyone who’s ever spent way too much time in car.

It’s 5:00 P.M. on a weekday, friend
There’s one of me and two million of them
The whistle blows and the factories close
There’s a million more commuters on the access roads

Here, Warren’s experiences gridlock over scenes from The Great American Traffic Jam:

Wednesday Warren – Networking

If Side 1 of Transverse City (Warren’s 1989 album and the subject of the last halfdozen WednesdayWarrens) was a speculative leap into a dystopian future, then Side 2 hit a little closer to home, while being not one whit less mordant or pessimistic. Whether it’s last week’s yearning to be left alone in a world too close (“Splended Isolation”) or this week’s gnashing of teeth at the interconnectedness of relationships, Warren was rebelling not just against the future, but also the present as well. In “Networking,” he uses the then-new jargon of computer networking (remember: it’s 1989) as a metaphor for the noxious sort of interpersonal networking required by contemporary society:

Networking, I’m user friendly
Networking, I install with ease
Data processed, truly Basic
I will upload you, you can download me

If Warren had lived to see the rise of Facebook, he probably would have laughed his ass off at his prescience.