MTV Video Music Awards

Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon

Question: "Why is Warren Zevon not one of the most heralded American songwriters of the last quarter century? Discuss." And here's the disc for your research.

Question: "Why is Warren Zevon not one of the most heralded American songwriters of the last quarter century? Discuss." And here's the disc for your research. Drawing from all of the excitable boy's studio albums from 1976's Warren Zevon to this year's fatalistically titled My Ride's Here, these 22 tracks constitute a 100-proof cross-section of the man's work. Whether you like his more commercial material ("Werewolves of London," "Poor Poor Pitiful Me"), the dark and downtrodden stuff ("Carmelita," "Reconsider Me"), or the outright outrageous ditties ("Excitable Boy" et al.), you won't be disappointed. Every face from the gallery is represented here—the thudding combo-punch beat of "Boom Boom Mancini," the wryer than wry "Detox Mansion," etc. As the 55-year-old Zevon—who revealed last month that he has been diagnosed with terminal lung and liver cancer and has a very short time left on this earth (Declaration of Independents, Sept. 21)—says in the song "Genius": "There's nothing I could do or say/I haven't done or said." This is the chronicle of a sparsely saluted renegade talent, a one of a kind, and, yes, a genius. Ahhoooo!—AZ