Saturday, October 12, 2013

31 Werewolves | "Werewolves of London"



Singer-songwriter Warren Zevon met guitarist Waddy Wachtel in Los Angeles in 1972 when Zevon was playing piano and Wachtel was playing guitar for the Everly Brothers. When the Everlys split up the following year, the two musicians went their separate ways, but rejoined when Zevon recorded his second album and asked Wachtel to help out.

It was while making that album that the two of them and Wachtel's friend Leroy Marinell came up with "Werewolves of London," though the song wouldn't be used until Zevon's third album, Excitable BoyAccording to Wachtel, the trio wrote the song in an afternoon, based on an idea that Phil Everly had had for a song title. Everly had been working on a solo album and wanted Zevon to write a song for him. As Zevon put it, "[Everly] said, 'Write a dance song. Like… "Werewolves Of London."' That's exactly what he said. I just said, 'O-kaayy...'"

Wachtel came up with the "ow-ooooo" and a bunch of imagery from London, since he'd just returned from a trip there. He wrote the first verse, then handed it over to Zevon and Marinell who wrote the rest. Marinell also contributed a guitar lick he'd been sitting on for a while and the rest is history.

With its focus on Victorian horror and hedonism, "Werewolves of London" is actually more true to the themes of werewolf mythology than the subjects of other recent posts in this series like Man-Wolf and The Wolfen. Jackson Browne, who produced Excitable Boy, said that the song's about "a really well-dressed, ladies' man, a werewolf preying on little old ladies. In a way, it's the Victorian nightmare, the gigolo thing. The idea behind all of those references is the idea of the ne'er-do-well who devotes his life to pleasure: the debauched Victorian gentleman in gambling clubs, consorting with prostitutes; the aristocrat who squanders the family fortune. All of that is secreted away in that one line: 'I'd like to meet his tailor.'"

When they recorded it for Excitable Boy, Zevon sang and played piano, Wachtel played guitar, and they were joined by Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood and John McVie on drums and bass.
I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand,
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain.
He was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's;
Gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein.

Awoooooo!
Werewolves of London!
Awoooooo!

Awoooooo!
Werewolves of London!
Awoooooo!

If you hear him howling around your kitchen door,
Better not let him in.
Little old lady got mutilated late last night.
Werewolves of London again.

Awoooooo!
Werewolves of London!
Awoooooo!

Awoooooo!
Werewolves of London!
Awoooooo!

He's the hairy-handed gent who ran amuck in Kent.
Lately he's been overheard in Mayfair.
Better stay away from him;
He'll rip your lungs out, Jim.
I'd like to meet his tailor.

Awoooooo!
Werewolves of London!
Awoooooo!

Awoooooo!
Werewolves of London!
Awoooooo!

Well, I saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen
Doing the Werewolves of London.
I saw Lon Chaney, Jr. walking with the Queen
Doing the Werewolves of London.
I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's
And his hair was perfect.

Awoooooo!
Werewolves of London!

Draw blood...

Awoooooo!
Werewolves of London!

3 comments:

Caffeinated Joe said...

I love it. A true classic and a good song, to boot!

Ken O said...

I love the song, but I don't like how it overshadows the rest of Warren's work. So many of his songs told stories, and he was an amazing story teller.

Michael May said...

I get the feeling Zevon felt the same way. I forget if it was him or Wachtel, but I read a quote from one of them about being surprised and disappointed that WoL was picked for the first single.

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