Bob Dylan: Accidentally Like A Martyr (Warren Zevon)

bob-dylan - warren zevon

The phone don’t ring
And the sun refused to shine
Never thought I’d have to pay so dearly
For what was already mine
For such a long, long time

We made mad love
Shadow love
Random love
And abandoned love
Accidentally like a martyr
The hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder

‘Accidentally Like a Martyr’ was released on Warren Zevon’s brilliant 1978 album “Excitable Boy”

warren zevon exitable boy

BF: Who are some of your favorite songwriters?
Bob Dylan: Buffett I guess. Lightfoot. Warren Zevon. Randy. John Prine. Guy Clark. Those kinds of writers.
~Bob Dylan (to Huffington Post – May 2009)

original version:

Here is a fantastic live version from Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ. Oct 1, 1982:

Also Check out: Bob Dylan: Mutineer (Warren Zevon)

Bob Dylan

A few weeks after Warren Zevon announced that he was terminally ill with cancer, Dylan
began his 2002 Fall tour in the USA. At the opening concert in Seattle, Washington
(October 4), Dylan surprised his audience by playing a song that left many people guessing.
The song, ‘Accidentally Like a Martyr’, a Warren Zevon number, was a tribute to its writer.
Six songs later Dylan played another of Zevon’s songs, ‘Boom, Boom Mancini’, and before
the concert ended, he paid a further tribute by performing a third Zevon song, the utterly
gorgeous ‘Mutineer’. Although this was the only performance of ‘Boom, Boom Mancini’,
‘Accidentally Like a Martyr’and ‘Mutineer’ were both played frequently on the remainder
of the tour and a further Zevon song, ‘Lawyers, Guns And Money’, was also added to the
sets. For Dylan to perform four covers as tributes to Zevon was an astonishing and
unprecedented homage to an extraordinary yet criminally under-appreciated talent.
~Derek Barker (The Songs He didn’t write)

Dylan performed Accidentally Like a Martyr 22 times in 2002. Here are 3 great versions…


“Accidentally Like A Martyr”, hit me like the proverbial large railway vehical moving at high speed. The vocals conveyed an astonishing depth of feeling and insight and an immense gravity. You could fail to understand immediately that this song was of import.
~Andrew Muir (about the Seattle performance of Accidentally Like A Martyr – from “One More Night“)

First Union Center
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
21 November 2002

unknown location, but beautiful performance:

The days slide by
Should have done, should have done, we all sigh
Never thought I’d ever be so lonely
After such a long, long time
Time out of mind

We made mad love
Shadow love
Random love
And abandoned love
Accidentally like a martyr
The hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder

Check out:


12 thoughts on “Bob Dylan: Accidentally Like A Martyr (Warren Zevon)”

  1. Warren doesn’t just sing Bobby’s songs, he gets inside them and imparts passions of his own. Bobby and I were friends back in the Greenwich Village of the 1960s. Robert Shelton mentioned three newcomers to the scene in his review of a concert at Riverside church, NYC. In the New York Times, July 31, 1961, he wrote: ” Among the newer promising talents deserving mention are a 20-year old latter-day Guthrie disciple named Bob Dylan, with a curiously arresting mumbling country-steeped manner; John Winn, a polished, poised tenor whose art-song approach to balladry was impressive; Tom Paxton, a western singer with an obvious potential for songwriting.” Bobby was also kind enough to give me a mention in Chronicles. It was brief and though my last name was spelled with a “y” instead an “i” it was nice to be remembered. I’m now and 82 year old troubadour who would like to add my tribute to Bob on his 75th. It’s a video of one of his most enigmatic songs of his early writing years. “Love Is Four Letter Word”. I know he gave it to Joan and told her to see what she could do with it and a short time later she surprised him with her version, which is a classic. At 82 my voice has lost some of its youthful spring but my goal was not to compete with younger singers but to infuse the complex lyrics with a passion and energy derived from many years as a traveling troubadour combined with love,
    great respect and wonder for what Bobby has given and continues to give to the universe. Here follows the link:

  2. Been a huge Dylan fan for years. For too many of those years I thought that Warren Zevon had written and recorded only 1 good song (Werewolves of London). Boy was I wrong !!!!
    Watched Warren with Letterman who gave him that great tribute and devoted the entire show to him, something I don’t recall his ever doing for anyone else. Remember the song Dave requested he play that night? sure you do…. Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner…still cry thinking about it. RIP Warren.

  3. Stunning! Remember buying a bunch of Dylan bootlegs around the time of these shows, and at that time I hardly knew who Zevon was, but those songs, my goodness, they were an emotional punch in the stomach. Still are. He surely knew where to aim for the maximum emotional punch good old Zevon, and Bob certainly knew his choices. Those Dylan shows are among the ones that I play most frequently, and partly because those covers are SO amazingly heart felt. Thanks Bob for pointing me in the direction of Zevon, and thanks Warren for those amazing songs!

  4. Did I just slice an onion? My eyes are leaking.
    Thanks so much, Egil, for this incredibly touching insight to a great tune. I had downloaded a copy of Bob performing “Accidentally…” in the Boston Fleet Center. The Seattle version is even better. Warren was so underrated. A true musical genius. I always loved Warren’s Letterman appearances. I’m seeing a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand.

  5. I saw Warren on South Street in Philadelphia playing at a venue. He and his band, did solo stuff, band stuff , rocked and kicked ass, he was so sweet at moments it was stunning. Songs like the best storys ever written. Brilliant guy. Then we all heard he was sick, the Dave show on late night tv, sobering. Later in the fall I believe it was I went to see Dylan someplace in PA. and he performed “Mutineer” for someone he obviously admired, I could not prevent the tears from rolling down my face. Emotions overwhelmed everyone I was around. Sometime around this time Zevon put out his last album,”The Wind” my wiife and I had it in the cd player on the way home from the shore, it was the first time we had listened to it, jusst bought it that day before leaving. “Knocking on Heavens door came floating through the speakers as we sat still stuck in a traffic jam. We both cried like babys. Thats the type of artist these guys are, they strike for your heart and more times than not it’s bulls eye. Thanks for the reminder.

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