Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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***1/2

WARREN ZEVON
My Ride's Here
Arista

Warren Zevon is now fifty-five, and if you want to believe he's playing out his string, no one can stop you. Nevertheless, My Ride's Here makes two crucial improvements on Zevon's honorable 2000 Artemis debut, Life'll Kill Ya. First, it rocks harder (and louder) without stinting on the musicianly colors that have always redeemed his sessionman whomp. Second, it doesn't dwell much on his love life, which, after decades of dysfunction, we have the right to judge a not especially interesting permanent disaster area. And even when it does--as in "Genius," where a honey in a halter top dallies with Zevon's barber--My Ride's Here finds metaphors and fictions that deliver it from being merely therapeutic. This reflects the structural strategy of most of these lyrics, which boast input from detective novelist Carl Hiaasen, poet Paul Muldoon, sportswriter Mitch Albom and the right honorable Hunter S. Thompson: Start with a recognizable narrative conceit, Lord Byron's luggage or Jesus at the Marriott, and take it somewhere strange in word or incident. Note, however, that the sure classic is completely literal. It's about a hockey goon who finally scores a goal, and it's tweaked rhythmically by David Letterman, who barks the title just when you need to hear it again: "Hit Somebody."

Rolling Stone, June 6, 2002