Turning 40 means chilling feet, not champagne, in ice buckets

THE FLIP SIDE

July 20, 1995|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,Sun Staff Writer

The thing to keep in mind here is that when a man has listened to rock and roll all his life and now finds himself easing into his 40s, he does not suddenly start cranking Mantovani on the CD player.

So when my friend Rob copped a couple of backstage passes and invited me to see the legendary Warren Zevon in concert and then meet the great man afterward, I viewed it as one of the shining moments of my existence.

(Let me just say this. The one thing I DON'T want to hear at this point is: "Who's Warren Zevon?"

(If you don't know who Warren Zevon is, you might as well just crawl back into whatever mossy crypt you climbed out of. Before I cuff you one. I'm serious.

(OK, fine. If you're REALLY that clueless, Warren Zevon is the guy who recorded "Werewolves of London" and "Lawyers, Guns and Money" and a bunch of other great songs. And he's still turning out terrific music today. Now, please. Let's not hear any more of that nonsense. You're embarrassing yourself.)

Since it had been some years since I'd attended a rock concert, I was afraid we'd walk in and 500 Megadeth disciples with green hair and nose rings would turn around and whisper: "Who's the old guy?"

And there I'd be, sitting in the back with my graying hair and my "I Love Bethany Beach!" T-shirt looking about as hip as Bob Vila.

But the crowd at this Georgetown club consisted mostly of long-time Zevon followers, some in their 20s but many in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

This immediately put me at ease, although if anyone had taken a group photo, you'd probably think it was from a bowling league banquet.

Anyway, Zevon and his band played a wonderful, energetic set, artfully mixing songs from his new album, "Mutineer," with old favorites such as "Werewolves," "Excitable Boy," etc.

After the concert, the big moment arrived. We went backstage to meet him. I know it's hard to believe, given the hipness quotient of this column, but I had never been backstage at a rock concert before.

So the whole time we're making our way to his dressing room, I'm thinking: "Oh, this is gonna be great! The groupies, the wild parties, people swinging from the chandeliers with bottles of Dom Perignon . . ."

Then we arrived at the dressing room. And it was . . . well, it was like that kids' game "What's Wrong With This Picture?"

For openers, there were no groupies.

There was no wild party.

There was no one swinging from the chandelier.

Instead, there was Warren Zevon and his band sitting around a . . . fruit tray. Nibbling apples slices, grapes and orange wedges.

And I'm thinking: Maybe we screwed up.

The fruit tray was bad enough, of course. Then I noticed that Zevon's band was also -- this is where I started to think we were in a parallel universe -- SOAKING THEIR FEET IN TUBS OF ICE!

Well. For a moment there, I almost lost it and blurted out: "Yo, Warren, enough with the fruit. Where's the babes?"

But then I realized the man is 48 years old and, like many of us, had probably made certain, um, adjustments in his lifestyle.

Or maybe he'd just gotten tired of the whole groupie, wild party, swinging-from-the-chandelier scene. Me, I don't see how you'd get tired of something like that.

I could see getting tired of, say, broccoli. But not that other stuff. Although I guess anything is possible.

Anyway, Warren turned out to be a real nice guy, very gracious and down-to-earth. We talked for 20 minutes about a lot of things. But mainly we talked about the one subject you'd expect EVERY rock star to talk about, which is, of course, bone-fishing.

Yes. Bone-fishing. It turns out Warren -- no, I don't know the man, but he's not my ninth-grade math teacher, I can't call him Mr. Zevon -- has done his share of bone-fishing off the Florida Keys.

To tell you the truth, though, I wasn't paying that much attention to the conversation. Because I was still craning my neck looking for the groupies and the hot party, thinking we had somehow made a wrong turn backstage and ended up at a Friends of the Georgetown Library meeting.

Then Warren really bummed me out by saying all he wanted to do was get back on his bus for the drive to Cleveland and his next gig. Then he wanted to go to sleep.

At this point, it was all I could do not to wrap a meaty arm around his shoulder and say: "Warren, you gotta loosen up, pal."

But then it occurred to me that going to sleep sounded like a great idea, since it was almost midnight and all and we'd had a couple of beers. This is what happens when you turn 40, I don't care who you are.

So we said goodbye to Warren, although not before his manager took a couple of snapshots of the three of us.

Someday, if you're nice, I might show them to you.

If you look real close, you can see the fruit tray in the background.

Not that you'd necessarily want to.

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