Thursday, March 19, 2015

"Detox Mansion" Warren Zevon 2/27/1990 for LIZA MINNELLI

"It's hard to be somebody. It's hard to keep from falling apart."

So sang Warren Zevon on "Detox Mansion."

The song somewhat comically referenced Minnelli (as well as Elizabeth Taylor).

So the other day, it was reported that after a decade of sobriety, Liza's had to check in for some treatment.

I'm no poofter, and I'm not exactly fond of hearing her sing "Life is a cabaret, old chum," but I've always had a soft spot for the lady. This is sad news.

Musically speaking, while she was never all that interested in rock, she sometimes worked outside of her show-tune-bombast comfort zone, covering "For No One," "Everybody's Talkin'," "Look of Love," and other songs that didn't require pipes like her mother or Ethel Merman. And while it's certainly disco-fruity more than cutting edge, the results weren't bad on her Pet Shop Boys collaboration from 1989, "Results," which included strong beats in a pulsating take on the sad Sondheim ballad "Losing My Mind."

That was the CD booklet she autographed for me. A mutual singer friend, older than both of us, was an alkie. He appreciated the Poe line I sometimes quoted to comfort him: "What disease is like alcohol?" To which he'd be prone to snort, "Ain't I a pain in the ass?" And yes, getting a call to come scrape him off a sidewalk after a bar binge did make him a pain in the ass sometimes. I have no idea what caused Liza's relapse, but it was probably one of her various physical ailments that required medication and unfortunately, some added self-medication.

I haven't glimpsed Liza in person in a long time; not since the debacle of her relationship with some waxy guy not worth mentioning by name. The weird thing was I saw those two in a local restaurant. She went out to have a cigarette, and he stayed behind, looking grim. He seemed so bored and miserable I thought maybe he was just a bodyguard, or some escort hired for the evening. They were not a love match. But shouldn't a hired hand have followed the lady outside, in case of photographers or some autograph hound? Later on, when their photos together appeared in the tabloid, I realized this fame queen (him, not her) was unfortunately for real, another bad decision in her life.

Zevon was right: "It's hard to be somebody." Especially if your mother was somebody, too. As for the chords of fame, yes, "It's hard to keep from falling apart." Liza probably wasn't even famous to most of the under-40 viewers of the Academy Awards show when she was STILL subjected to a zinger. She was sitting in the audience when a tranny joke slapped her in the face, courtesy of the normally oh-so-elfin and nice Ellen Degeneres. Charming Ellen singled her out, pointing at "one of the best Liza Minnelli impersonators I've ever seen in my entire life. Good job, sir."

Zevon tended to rock "Detox Mansion" with that arched eyebrow, suggesting that self pity is as dangerous as self-medication. So hopefully L.M. is getting that combo of tenderness and tough love to help her along. And, no, I don't think in Liza's case going into detox is a publicity move. Warren had a feeling some past-the-prime celebs do enjoy that kind of drama: Well, I'm gone to Detox Mansion, way down on Last Breath Farm. I've been rakin' leaves with Liza. Me and Liz clean up the yard..."

Warren Zevon Detox Mansion, Live In Minneapolis, February 27, 1990

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