Drawing on interviews with singer-songwriter Warren Zevon’s family, friends, and industry associates, as well as on secondary resources, journalist Campion explores 10 songs and three albums that he believes offer the best insight into Zevon’s life and art.
Campion wants the world to know of Zevon's brilliance, and is not content for what has been said of the man to simply suffice as his cultural obituary ad infinitum ... Campion touches on a great deal of the Zevon songbook, but he has no aspirations to systematically catalogue its contents, ground Plasketes covered just two years ago. Instead, Campion culls specific selections from Zevon's discography, zeroing in on particular songs and records to illustrate his own understanding of Zevon corner, that macabre and hilarious world ... Campion gives the audience something deeper and richer than a standard biographical narrative or a thematically organized string of interpretive readings, even as both of those elements do play a role here. Instead, Campion tells the story of his experience with Zevon, bolstered by a sharp critical eye and an obvious expertise of Zevon's music ... for those who are even a little initiated, Accidentally Like a Martyr epitomizes that wonderful feeling of being a Zevon fan.
Campion brings the creative process to life. He ponders lyrical references, personal revelations by Zevon, and revels in the fierce, funny, sobering imagery that typified Zevon’s deepest cuts. Part love letter to an icon, part scholarly attempt to learn what makes an icon tick, Accidentally Like a Martyr is a tribute quite unlike anything I’ve seen before.
Campion’s music dissections are marvelously written, and often tie back into Zevon’s actual life ... While Campion does let his personal preferences for Zevon’s catalog and fanboy attitude seep through occasionally, it’s overall a very trenchant and insightful look into the madman of L.A.-based ‘70s singer/songwriters who was more than happy to play the part both on disc and in real life.