Get Me Out of This

Warren Zevon – underappreciated musical genius – died a little over ten years ago on September 7, 2003. I’ve been a Zevon fan for years. Recently, in the midst of a nostalgic romp through his catalog, I was musing about “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” the closing track from his classic 1978 album Excitable Boy. The song ends:

I’m hiding in Honduras
I’m a desperate man
Send lawyers, guns and money
The s**t has hit the fan

Here’s the origin story, from the man himself: “Back in the late ‘70s, I was working on the album Excitable Boy, and I decided I needed a vacation, so I went to Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands. I wrote this song late one night on wet cocktail napkins after a long day of improbable and grotesque mischief. Obviously I, I survived all that, but I learned something from the experience: I never take vacations.” A 1994 video of Zevon telling this tale and playing an acoustic version of “Lawyers, Guns and Money” can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjVbypiUOHA. And here’s a nice version of the song from Letterman (starting at 1:42): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTFSLHHEMa8.

We lawyers get a bad rap. A recent Pew poll found that only 18% of respondents thought lawyers contributed “a lot” to society (sorry, Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela). One thing I appreciate about “Lawyers, Guns and Money” is that it’s darkly funny, but not at the expense of lawyers – that would have been a cheap shot. You don’t have to gamble in Havana for the s**t to hit the fan – it can happen to anyone. And when it does, a good lawyer can suddenly seem a lot more useful. Money is good too – let’s be honest. Guns I can’t recommend.

Anyway, RIP Warren Zevon.

–Duncan Manville

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