Q:   Is there any reason for Roland being Norwegian.  There is an ancient Norwegian song based on the central European poem called "The Roland Poem", but I don't think the reason is there. The Norwegian song is about a king and his helper Roland that fights against heathen people...Or is it a comment to Norwegian double standards, giving out the Nobel Peace Prize at the same time as selling weapons to many different countries around the world?

Arne (from Norway)

A:   In many interviews, WZ gave credit for most of the lyrics to the late David Lindell, American mercenary.  I can find no mention of why they chose Norway, but it does seem to fit in with the Roland Poem you mention...Roland fighting in the name of whomever hired him. Well, at least until that Son-of-a-Bitch Van Owen shows up.  (I know, it's not much of an answer, but I really did try to find it.)

I had some questions about the exquisitely funny photos in the booklet that came with the "Genius" CD.  They were generously answered by Hugh Brown, the photographer:

Q. "Where the hell do you get stuff like that?"  (Referring mostly to the ball gag)
A. Pleasure Chest, a West Hollywood sex toys store, for the ball gag. A gift from Mickey Rourke when he was moving out of his loft, which was next door to the studio where all the Genius photos were shot, for the riding crop.(Trivia bit - The very riding crop which was used by Mr. Rourke on Ms. Basinger in 9½ Weeks.)

Q. "Did somebody have to go out and buy that just for the photo?"
A. Yes. My own weren't as photogenic.

Q. "Did Rhino foot the bill and how do you explain that on an expense report?"
1A. Yes.
2A. Don't have the report in front of me but I believe it said "ball gag, warren zevon photo shoot."  I think the same report included "prop rental of 11 coffee cans filled with shell casings".

Q. "Or did somebody actually have them on hand?"
A. Skulls, warmup jacket, Prince necklace, eyepatch, bandana, chopsticks, wig, toothbrush, straight razor, bolo tie, some passports, on hand. Everything else rented, borrowed or bought. Monocle, mirrored by my optometrist. Glasses from WZ.

Regarding the two Lee Ho Fook menus, Hugh said: The redder one in the WOL photo I made, based (loosely) on a photo of an old menu from the restaurant.

Warren had told me that he'd never been there so I wasn't sure how Lee Ho would respond to a request for a menu or if they even liked the song, so I made my own. The day I finished the menu, Will's liner notes came in talking about the restaurant and the old posters. After a few difficult phone calls, (their English was slightly better than my Chinese), I sent them a fax with my request. Turns out the manager was a fan, asked if I had any WZ memorabilia to send them and they sent me the slightly worn version now located in the liner notes.

(Because they were so accommodating I changed one aspect of the WOL photo. I had gotten a bunch of shed coarse wolf hairs from the zoo and I was going to sprinkle them on the table, plates, etc. but I didn't want to imply that LHF was dirty so I chickened out.)
~~~end of Hugh Brown segment~~~

Q: What does "Monkey Wash, Donkey Rinse" mean?
A: Courtesy of stories told by Mr. Dave (Lindley) in between songs:  WZ called Mr. Dave and asked him to play on a song called Monkey Wash Donkey Rinse. "Wow, that sounds great. What is it about?" "Awww, I can't explain it." "Well, no, I want to know what it's about." "Well, in Marrakech they do this thing, where they bring a donkey into a courtyard. And the donkey has a very, very good friend. And this friend is a monkey. And the monkey does certain things that make the donkey very, very happy. And because he's very, very happy, he reacts in certain ways. So the monkey washes, and the donkey rinses." "Oh."

Q: What about Wanted Dead Or Alive? Is it true WZ disowned the album?
A: He was asked this very same question in 1995, in the Goldmine Magazine interview:

GM: Is it true that you disown your first album, Wanted Dead Or Alive?

WZ: Oh, no, on the contrary. Other people do. But that's their problem. There are some amusing things about it. Like the fact that there's only one drum track. Maybe there are two drum tracks. We just kept speeding it up and slowing it down, or playing it backwards. On the reissue, they deleted the most interesting track, which was some kind of weird, acid-head instrumental I played live, with all my friends in the studio.{ed.: Fiery Emblems} No, it's interesting because it's essentially a guy alone trying to make a rock album that sounds like John Hammond.

Q: What is a French Inhaler?
A: The technique of French Inhaling is when one exhales through the mouth and inhales through the nostrils simultaneously. It’s a somewhat spooky look - this stream of smoke moving steadily from mouth to nose. For some people, this is, apparently, a big turn-on. Go figure.

Q: Where does the phrase “Learning to Flinch” come from? It’s not a song.
A: The phrase can be found in the Robert Lowell poem, “Eye and Tooth.”

Q: What about “A Quiet Normal Life”? That’s not a song either. Did WZ come up with that name or was it a record company idea?
A: Mr. Zevon stated in an interview that it’s from a poem by Wallace Stevens of the same name. While we’re at it, “Quite Ugly One Morning” is a paraphrase of a Dylan Thomas piece, “Quite Early One Morning.”

Q: What instruments did WZ play?
A: In early 2005 the Bulletin Board re-started this discussion. Jordan weighed in with:

All things keyboard related. Guitar, Bass. Maybe some percussion here and there. He started digging the penny whistle in his last couple years. Harmonica. I'm sure some percussion, but not full on drums.

In the January 2000 “Idiot’s Delight” interview with Vin Scelsa (in support of LKY) there was discussion of what instruments he played on that album:

VS: But, um, you’re credited on this album in the liner notes with playing not only pennywhistle and piccolo, but theremin, as well.

WZ: I did play them all, not necessarily for long, but I thought it made an amusing kind of spectrum.

VS:: Theremin! That’s a cool thing.

WZ: Yeah.

VS: Which song is the theremin on? Do you remember?

WZ: “Porcelain Monkey.”

VS: Is it “Porcelain Monkey?”

WZ: Yeah.

VS: Kind of wave your hand over this uh...

WZ: Yeah, you just move around the rod.

VS: oooooOOOOOOoooooo...Twilight Zone thing...

WZ: That’s what it is. The Apparatus.

And we have a high-school band photo, showing WZ, front left, holding some type of woodwind - oboe? The clarinets look to be in the second row and the flutes are silver...

Q: Did WZ ever say anything about playing the piano?
A: Referring to the 1995 Goldmine Magazine interview with Steve Roeser, there’s the following exchange:

GM: On the outro portion of "Boom Boom Mancini," the studio version, you play a great piano solo. But that's kind of a rare thing on your albums. Is there any reason why you haven't done more of that?

WZ: Duncan Aldrich has been my partner in most recording projects, and touring projects, for the past decade. For some curious reason, Duncan and I spent all night doubling that piano part with guitar. And I don't know why, but I think it's worth noting. So I have, in fact, never played a piano solo but that it was also a guitar solo. Is there some reason?

GM: Yeah, well, it's just you're so equipped to play a lot of piano, but you don't seem to take solos on your records.

WZ: I don't like piano solos. I remember that my manager and co-producer wanted me to play, like, lead piano on one of the tracks on Sentimental Hygiene , and I made him give me $200. I said, "Piano is like drudgery. You know, that's my job. So you oughta pay me." Yeah, I don't like, um, I'm not interested in rock 'n' roll piano. I find it a little grating. As a percussion instrument, I'm not that crazy about cymbals, either. So I'd rather use it percussively in the low mid-range, like I do. My idea of piano solos, contemporary piano solos, are more like... like Chick Corea! <laughs> Bud Powell. And since I couldn't begin to play that way, I'd rather get somebody else to play lead piano, like Michael Wolff, who I got to play piano parts (on Mutineer), because they involve playing lead piano.

Q: Did he ever play the flute?
A: In 2000, Mr. Zevon did two interviews where it was mentioned. The first is from “The Oregonian” - its Arts & Entertainment section - dated 11 March 2000; written by Michael Evans...

ME: How's learning the flute going? Do you play it onstage?

WZ: No, not right now. I'd play it if I had a band. Actually, I do play flute with my band--the Rock Bottom Remainders. I play the flute on a Dave Barry song and an old tune of mine “The Hula Hula Boys.” We all wear grass skirts.

ME: “Hula Hula Boys” is an oddly popular song amongst a certain segment of your most fervent fans.

WZ: I did not know that. But I am pleased to tell you that I can play that flute part pretty well.

The second is from Rolling Stone, of 28 January 2000 by Richard Skanse:

RS: What have you been up to for the last five years?

WZ: The older you get, the more you realize that there's a shit-load of stuff to do. There are certainly a lot of things to do besides single-mindedly pursue a show-business career. I decided I wanted to play flute like Hubert Laws. I decided I should be able to read “Pater Noster” in Russian. Both of those are pretty difficult goals, but even a laughable attempt at either one can keep you busy as a mothercrappity smacker for years and years.

RS: How did the flute playing go?

WZ: Unfortunately, because I used to smoke, I find that I play the piccolo better than the flute. It requires considerable less wind. But I play it OK; I don't play it like Hubert Laws, but I play it well enough to play on the record.

RS: And the Russian reading?

WZ: Didn't go as well.

Also, from that same interview is a Q&A that I just can’t leave out:
RS: Where do you think you'd be if not for music?

WZ: Adult film.

Q: "Did WZ ever give any advice on songwriting?"
A: According to Jordan, "Dad's advice about song writing is that the best starting point is a great title. I would think that was the origin of the song. "I'm putting tinfoil up on the windows" is actually true. At one point he did have tinfoil on his bedroom window to block out the light."

Q: "lyme and cybelle" - Who was cybelle?
A: She was NOT Tule Livingston.  She was Violet Santangelo, a schoolmate of WZ's. They happened to sing together and found their voices blended well. It is said there was no romantic attachment, but, hey, they were in high school...who knows?  I believe the confusion set in when someone decided "Tule Livingston" and "Violet Santangelo" were anagrams of each other, which is not really so. True, they have the same consonants, but the vowels are different.


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