Warren Zevon, to me, is famous for dying. i know that he was an acclaimed musician and songwriter. i've heard him described as "a musician's musician" and "one of the greats" and i respect those accolades. the first time i saw him though was on the Late Show with David Letterman. he played throughout the episode and dave adored him vocally. who is he? i wondered. "warren zevon," my brother answered, "he's dying."

death is my biggest fear. i accept mortality right now as an incentive to feel deeply, to be kind, and to get busy doing the things that we really want to do. that's what fascinated me about warren zevon. he appeared on television several times before his death from lung cancer in September 2003. those appearances, including documentaries about his life, his death, and his final album, were his answer to a question i ask myself very often. how would we spend our lives if we knew how much life we had left? what would we do if we had one year to live? what would we do if we had one month? or one day?

this portrait of Warren Zevon was commissioned for the premiere issue of Measure Magazine.

© 2004 rama hughes