Weekend Songs: Warren Zevon, ‘Lawyers, Guns & Money’
Classic rock is about heavy hooks, power chords and tight harmonies. But it’s also about letting loose and enjoying the good times — and there’s no better time for that than Friday evening, when we pick up our paycheck, punch out of work and enjoy a couple days of much-needed rest and relaxation.
On the other hand, sometimes rest and relaxation isn't what the weekend calls for; sometimes we need to head out for a little adventure -- which often leads to misadventure, as many of Warren Zevon's classic records illustrate. Case in point: 'Lawyers, Guns & Money,' the splendidly unrepentant ode to rotten luck and worse behavior that closes out Zevon's 1978 'Excitable Boy' LP.
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.
Opening with the perfectly Zevonesque line "I went home with the waitress / The way I always do", the song goes on to list its narrator's various errors and increasingly desperate circumstances, pausing to offer a halfhearted apology between repeated requests for lawyers, guns and money: "I'm the innocent bystander / Somehow I got stuck / Between the rock and a hard place / And I'm down on my luck." Few of us have had to flee Havana after overplaying our hand at a seedy casino, but most of us have been stuck in that dark spot Zevon describes, and it's a lot less fun than 'Lawyers, Guns & Money' makes it sound.
So keep that in mind while you're suiting up for fun this Friday, and remember to think twice before taking that member of the bar staff home or placing that last bet at the poker table. And in the meantime, you can shave a few minutes off the work day by hitting 'play' on the live version of 'Lawyers, Guns & Money' above, turning up the volume and letting the weekend ... start ... now.