By Barry Gilbert
Of the Post-Dispatch


October 21, 2004

Various Artists
"Enjoy Every Sandwich:
The Songs of Warren Zevon"
Artemis Records

When singer-songwriter Warren Zevon appeared on his friend David Letterman's show last year to celebrate his music and discuss his impending death from cancer, Letterman asked him whether his experience had taught him anything.

"Enjoy every sandwich," Zevon replied, displaying in three words what made him such a fine songwriter: brevity, wit and a different way of looking at life.

Zevon's longtime collaborator Jorgé Calderon and his son Jordan Zevon have rounded up a dozen others who loved Warren and his music and delivered a tribute album that is long on lesser-known tunes and short on rote remakes. Even funnyman Adam Sandler does the unexpected, with a perfectly straight and more than competent version of Zevon's only megahit, the born-campy "Werewolves of London."

Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen contribute live concert takes of "Mutineer" and "My Ride's Here," respectively, performed within days of Zevon's death Sept. 7, 2003. Springsteen's sparse, heartfelt delivery reveals new depth in "My Ride," one of many songs in which Zevon cocked an eyebrow and took a look at death.

Steve Earle and young alt-country descendants Reckless Kelly rock through "Reconsider Me," the Pixies thrash the loud and sarcastic ("I've been to Rome/Guess what?") "Ain't That Pretty At All" and Jill Sobule caresses "Don't Let Us Get Sick," from Zevon's final, Grammy-winning album, "The Wind."

Zevon fans also get a gift of two previously unrecorded songs: the story of an unhappy man plagued by his "Studebaker," by Jordan Zevon; and "The Wind," which did not appear on the similarly titled album, by Billy Bob Thornton.

"Enjoy Every Sandwich" ends as did "The Wind" CD, with Warren Zevon's beautiful farewell, "Keep Me in Your Heart," done justice by Calderon and Jennifer Warnes. A hidden track of the "Heart" strings keeps the glow going for almost four more minutes.