I'll Sleep When I'm Dead : The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon, Paperback

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead : The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon Paperback

4 out of 5 (4 ratings)


During his lifetime Zevon never quite achieved the recognition he deserved, but he did build up a huge cult following and critical acclaim for his songwriting from some of the biggest names in the music industry.

When he was diagnosed with cancer he asked his estranged wife Crystal Zevon to take notes for a 'no-hold-barred' oral biography and insight into the Los Angeles music scene at the top of it's game.

Revealing and unreservedly honest, the hardback earned much critical acclaim.

This work features an introduction by Bruce Springsteen and afterword by Carl Hiassen.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 480 pages, 100 Photos
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Rock & Pop music
  • ISBN: 9780060763497



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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

This is a fascinating and truly harrowing story of a deeply disturbed man told by his ex-wife, friends, and ex-friends. The brutal honesty is very jarring, but that is apparently the way Warren Zevon wanted his story told. One thing I can definitely say after reading it: I would not have wanted to live his life, even if you take away the tragic ending. The good thing is that reading this made me re-examine a lot of his older music, and I am finding more and more exceptional songs to go along with the ones I already loved. I think the best way to listen to his music is randomly. I'm not sure he made a great album, other than Excitable Boy. But he certainly had a lot of great songs.

Review by

This readable "oral biography" gives a panoramic and fairly thorough portrait of Warren Zevon, built by contributions from those who knew him. As Warren himself requested of his former wife Crystal, who edited this book, we see all of the good and the bad, and yes, the ugly of a troubled but incredibly gifted man. This biography does not fall prey to rock star cliches, because Warren was nothing if not original. This is an important document of one of America's greatest and most under-appreciated songwriters. With this book, we get some of the stories behind the songs, and we see that Zevon was a flesh and blood man with many flaws and a massive amount of genius. If you are devoted to this man's music, you will find something worthwhile in reading this biography.

Review by

I read this book in May of 2007.This biography covers the late singer-songwriter's wild life, including his childhood and youth as the only child of a Jewish gangster father and a long-suffering Mormon mother, his alcohol-soaked days as a influential musician in the Los Angeles music scene, and his untimely death from lung cancer at the age of 56.I don’t know much about his music, but Warren Zevon was a man with deep problems–a bad friend, negligent father, wife beater, hard-core porn addict and a very serious substance abuser. And yet, he had lots of well-known friends (Carl Hiaassen, Billy Bob Thorton, and Bruce Springsteen, among others) who vouch for what a great guy he was sometimes, what great parties they had back in the 1970s, etc. This oral history compiled by Zevon’s ex-wife kept me reading, but Zevon does not emerge as a admirable man.

Review by

I enjoyed some of Warren Zevon's music but I didn't realize just how much of it and how many artists that I love, that he was connected with. But that's not why this book received five stars. The book is written in a series of anecdotal paragraphs from different people in Zevon's life. In some cases, one story will be told from the different perspectives of all the people involved in a story. This more personal form of story telling makes you feel the more immediate impact of what was happening. This was a great time period in rock and roll in Los Angeles. It was the 1970's and the big players like Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young etc. are all there making an appearance.History is littered with tortured geniuses. Zevon is one of those. Rather than looking at someone through the long lens of time, this is a look at the immediate ramifications of someone who was brilliant but tortured. The impact of his behavior and actions was huge and left indelible marks on the people in his life: collaborators, children, wives and lovers and friends.Zevon was a raging alcoholic and although he was able to write music and lyrics during these periods, he was ill equipped to handle almost any other aspect of his life. To that end, we see all the people in his life, although often damaged by his actions, creating a scenario in which they both enabled the alcoholism and enabled the work to continue.To that end, this book isn't for everyone. The behavior of Zevon was at turns tragic, hilarious and selfish. Throughout the book I wondered why those who really cared and loved the man, allowed him to treat them the way that he did while rarely calling him on it. This might be the result of genius: one is afraid to touch any aspect of it for fear that changing one thing will change the nature of the work. Readers will be surprised at how much of the work they recognize and realize that like many genius's throughout history, Zevon's work will most likely come to be appreciated more in death than it ever was in life. He was respected and revered by artists who reached greater commercial success and this made him frustrated. He was a mess but oh, what a gloriously talented mess. Easily one of the best rock biographies I have read. Worth any amount of time and money spent on it and you will end up looking for Zevon's work and appreciating it more than you ever thought possible.

Also by Crystal Zevon