Warren Zevon’s Parting Present Left David Letterman in Tears


Warren Zevon‘s ultimate look on the Late Present With David Letterman on Oct. 30, 2002 was memorable for a number of causes.

One was how Zevon’s profound sense of braveness got here throughout — earlier that very same yr, he’d been unexpectedly given a grim analysis of pleural mesothelioma, a most cancers typically attributable to publicity to asbestos. Zevon had been advised he solely had a number of months to reside, and but, sitting beside Letterman, he projected a sense of acceptance and understanding, with a contact of humor. “To begin with,” Zevon stated on the present, “let me say that I may need made a tactical error in not going to a doctor for 20 years. It was a kind of phobias that actually did not repay.”

However he was additionally prepared to speak about how his analysis affected his everyday life. “You place extra worth in each minute,” he stated. “It is extra priceless now. You are reminded to get pleasure from each sandwich.”

Over the course of a number of many years, loads of musicians sat down with Letterman on his Late Present, together with a handful of earlier appearances from Zevon, however that night held particular weight. Each males had been acutely conscious this was seemingly the final time they’d sit collectively on set, and Letterman was nervous – Zevon was not solely his visitor however a pal, one which he wished to deal with respectfully as they mentioned his impending demise on nationwide tv.

“The one a part of it that felt regular to me,” Letterman advised The Ringer in 2022, “was after the present upstairs in his dressing room.”

Following the present, the pair had been chatting whereas Zevon put his guitar away in its case. “It was small discuss. Simply fill the air with one thing whereas he’s going by means of the enterprise of placing the guitar within the factor,” Letterman recalled. “He places it in, closes the lid, snaps it closed, fingers it to me, and he says, ‘Take excellent care of this for me.’ And I burst into tears. Uncontrollable. I had no concept that I might be bursting into tears, however I did. And I hugged him and I stated, ‘I simply love your music.’ And that was it.”

Watch Warren Zevon’s Last ‘Late Present’ Look on Oct. 30, 2002. 

Zevon finally outlived his prognosis and acquired to witness the start of his twin grandsons, plus the discharge of his twelfth studio album, The Wind. He handed away at age 56 on Sept. 7, 2003, 12 days after the album was launched.

Letterman has by no means forgotten that second within the dressing room in 2002, and although he is acquired many guitars from visitors through the years, none examine to Zevon’s. “It is simply my favourite,” Letterman stated. “The others had been form of, ‘Hey, thanks. Loved the gig,’ sorts of issues. This was, ‘Thanks, and goodbye.'”

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