Warren Zevon – Poor Poor Pitiful Me

I love this song. Not many songs deal with a failed suicide, domestic abuse, and a brush with sadomasochism. I’m a huge Warren Zevon fan. His songs tend to be on the dark side…and anyone who has listened to Excitable Boy will testify to that.

When I heard Zevon’s version of this song for the first time I was sold. I first heard the Linda Ronstadt version and I loved it. I’m a Linda Ronstadt fan but something about Zevon’s version draws me in. It’s raw and crude and I love the way he sings it.

Zevon wrote and recorded the song and it appeared on his self-titled album in 1976. It became a hit when Linda Ronstadt covered it the next year. She cleaned up the song a little. Ronstadt’s cover was a cleaned-up version with the gender reversed. Still, her character fails at suicide, but the S&M (sadomasochism) references are gone.

Like other Zevon songs this is a pretty crude and risqué song. His character is such a disaster that he can’t even kill himself: he puts his head on the railroad tracks, but the train doesn’t run anymore.

I met a girl at the rainbow bar
She asked me if I’d beat her
She took me back to the hired house
I don’t wanna talk about it, hut

It’s thought that the song was a friendly swipe at Jackson Browne, whose songs such as “Here Come Those Tears Again” and “Sleep’s Dark and Silent Gate” from The Pretender could be quite dark. The album was produced by Jackson Browne and had backing vocals by Lindsey Buckingham.

Another hit cover version of the song was recorded by Canadian country singer Terri Clark in 1996. It peaked at #1 in the Canadian Country Charts and #5 in the Billboard Country Charts.

Poor Poor Pitiful Me

I lay my head on the railroad tracks
I’m waiting on the double E
The railroad don’t run no more
Poor poor pitiful me

Poor poor pitiful me and poor poor pitiful me
These young girls won’t let me be
Lord have mercy on me, woe is me

Well I met a girl in West Hollywood
Well I ain’t naming names
But she really worked me over good
She was just like Jesse James

She really worked me over good
She was a credit to her gender
She put me through some changes Lord
Sort of like a waring blender

Poor poor pitiful me, poor poor pitiful me
These young girls won’t let me be
Lord have mercy on me, woe is me

Poor poor pitiful me and poor poor pitiful me
Oh these girls won’t let me be
Lord have mercy on me, woe is me

I met a girl at the rainbow bar
She asked me if I’d beat her
She took me back to the hired house
I don’t wanna talk about it, hut

Poor poor pitiful me
Poor poor pitiful me
Hut, never mind
Poor poor pitiful me
Yeah poor poor pitiful me

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

17 thoughts on “Warren Zevon – Poor Poor Pitiful Me”

  1. a good one, I never noticed the lyrics so much (especially not Warren’s … I’ve heard Linda’s far more often). With all the friends he had and the monetary backing from the label, it’s remarkable he didn’t become much bigger…but kind of like one person said of Canada’s Rheostatics, they might be just a bit too smart for their own good.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Like Dave, I’ve never really paid much attention to the lyrics. I like that he mentions the famed Rainbow Bar & Grill in West Hollywood, which I’ve been to several times. I worked as a city planner for West Hollywood in the late 80s.

    Like

  3. I do like the song and also heard it first by Linda R. I also like some of his other songs. Yet, I’m in a minority here by saying I don’t care much for this artist for some reason, can’t really say why.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I read this story where he was at high school when JFK got shot – and Zevon walked around saying “Jackie, I have a sore head”. Dark sense of humour there.

    It’s not surprising that Browne’s songs were dark around that time given the circumstances – although they were pretty serious even before he lost his wife.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well…I had to chuckle a little at that…yea that is dark. The first dark joke I remember was when Reagan was shot…James Brady was also shot in the head but lived…the joke was…he had a half of mind to quit that job.

      Yea Browne went through a rough time in the mid to late seventies.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great tune, Max. I’m not sure I had heard any version of it.

    I’m definitely more familiar with Linda Ronstadt and have covered her on previous occasions. When it comes to Warren Zevon, I pretty much only know “Werewolves of London” – poor poor pitiful me!

    It’s safe to assume I’m in the minority when I say “Werewolves” has never impressed me that much. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying it’s a terrible song. I do find it very repetitive though.

    That being said, while Zevon isn’t my first priority, he’s an artist I’d like to explore further.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He is very dark…take a listen to Excitable Boy with the lyrics in front of you…that is why…I think…he never broke into the mainstream. He has some good songs though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yea….he was a great songwriter but with a hell of a dark edge. He did have another hit…Lawyers Guns and Money.

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