From Scorn For Zevon, A Father-Daughter Moment Is Born A listener grew up hating her dad's musical taste, especially Warren Zevon's "Werewolves in London."

From Scorn For Zevon, A Father-Daughter Moment Is Born

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Audie Cornish. This summer, we've been asking for listener contributions to our series "Mom and Dad's Record Collection"; stories about one song introduced by a parent, a song that's stayed with you, for better or for worse.

SIEGEL: Today, we hear from a listener, Christina Pappas. She's from Lexington, Kentucky, and she joins me now. Welcome to the program.

CHRISTINA PAPPAS: Hi. How are you doing today, Robert?

SIEGEL: Fine. And we'd like you to start by telling us about the song that you wrote to us about.

PAPPAS: If there's one song that will always remind me of my father, I think it is "Werewolves of London," by Warren Zevon.


PAPPAS: When I was a kid, I hated my dad's taste in music. I still hate my dad's taste in music - but all of my hatred seemed to become focused on that one, particular song.


WARREN ZEVON: (Singing) I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand, walking through the streets of Soho in the rain.

PAPPAS: I would hear it on the radio, or my dad would play it on the CD player. And I go on these very long, elaborate rants about this song, and how it's what's wrong with the world today; and, you know, if our parents are listening to songs with this kind of nonsensical lyrics, then how could we ever hope to inherit a better world from them? Very melodramatic rants.


ZEVON: (Singing) Ah-oo, werewolves of London. Ah-oo. You hear them howling around your kitchen door. You better not let them in.

SIEGEL: There's nothing subtle about this song, and you and your father. This became a - I guess, a running joke between the two of you for years.

PAPPAS: Yes. It has now been going on for over 20 years. So every time I would get in the car, or I'd come to the house, he would start playing this song and, you know, I'd go on one of my rants and we'd have a good laugh. But then my dad got a cellphone, and that is when this entire thing grew to exponential proportions.

My dad's a truck driver now and, whenever he's on the road and hears this song, he will call me, no matter what time of day - usually, not too far into the night. And he will blast the song into the phone, and I will begin one of my rants. And then we'll have a good laugh together, and then we'll just chat and catch up. So it's also a good way to make sure that we talk to each other, you know, at least once or twice a week.

SIEGEL: He will put life and limb at risk, at the wheel of the truck, to make sure that you hear "Werewolves of London" on his cellphone?

PAPPAS: Yes, yes. That is what my father will do. That is the commitment and dedication he has to the wolfing. That is what this is now known as in the family - wolfing.


ZEVON: (Singing) I saw Lon Chaney Jr. walking with the queen - ooh! - doing the werewolves of London. I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's. His hair was perfect. Ah-oo...

SIEGEL: I gather that when you had roommates in college, this relationship with your father over "Werewolves of London" was - it wasn't easily understandable to them.

PAPPAS: It was not. When I left for college, this still continued. And when he would call and the answering machine would pick up, he would just blast the song into the phone, and hang up. And I would hear it and know he had called and, you know, chuckle to myself and make a note to call my father later that day. And I didn't think too much about it till one night, I came home and my roommates were clustered around the phone. And they were pale - pale as ghosts, and so terrified-looking. And I thought, oh, my God, something horrible has happened. And I said, you know, have we had bad news? Has someone's family been hurt? I mean, what's going on?

They're like, Chris, we have a stalker. I was like, oh, my God, how do we have a stalker? And they're like, you have to listen to the answering machine. We're going to call the cops here in a minute. You have to listen to it, and then we'll call the police. So I hit the button, and I hear that part where they're going, you know, ah-oo, werewolves of London.


ZEVON: (Singing) Ah-oo. Huh!

PAPPAS: They thought that this was someone, you know, messing with them, and they were so terrified. So I had to say no, no, this is not a stalker. This is my father. Please, do not call the police. We do not need to do that.

SIEGEL: He almost had his picture hanging from the post office wall there.

PAPPAS: Exactly, exactly. Nothing like a restraining order against calling your daughter.

SIEGEL: You know, it's not the most sentimental song to tie a father and daughter together.


SIEGEL: But I...

PAPPAS: But we are not a sentimental family.

SIEGEL: You're not a sentimental family. I see. (LAUGHTER) And this was - there was talk of this for your wedding, a bit.

PAPPAS: Oh, yeah. Ever since I first began to talk about how much I hated this song, my father swore up and down that when I got married, this would be the song that would play at my wedding. This is what I would dance to with him. And I told him it would over my dead body. And then I got engaged. And I told my father, when I called to tell him that I was engaged - that we had gotten engaged. And he agreed that whatever song I chose, that's what we would dance to.

And I was all set to dance with him to "What a Wonderful World." And as we were planning the wedding and - literally, just probably the week before the wedding, as my husband and I were finalizing the music that we were going to play, and I kept thinking in my mind about that first dance with my father. And I couldn't see us dancing to "What a Wonderful World." And the only song I could ever see myself dancing with - with my father, was "Werewolves of London."

SIEGEL: "Werewolves of London."

PAPPAS: So on my wedding day, as my dad and I are standing in, you know, the center of the dance floor, kind of waiting for the song to - queued up, once that opening line - that opening - kind of baseline to the song started playing, my dad froze. And he looked at me, and I just smiled and said, this is the only song we could ever dance to. And he started crying, and I started crying. And I can honestly say, that's probably only the second time in my entire life I've seen my father tear up. And we danced to "Werewolves of London." We danced, and sang along, to "Werewolves of London."

SIEGEL: Sang and howled along?

PAPPAS: And howled. We howled for all it was worth.


ZEVON: (Singing) Ah-oo, werewolves of London. Ah-oo. Ah-oo, werewolves of London.

SIEGEL: Well, Christina Pappas, thank you very much for sharing your story with us about "Werewolves of London."

PAPPAS: Thank you, Robert.


ZEVON: (Singing) He's the hairy, hairy gent who ran amok in Kent. Lately...

SIEGEL: Christina Pappas is a listener from Lexington, Kentucky. She sent us her story for our series "Mom and Dad's Record Collection." The series will continue throughout the summer.


ZEVON: (Singing) I'd like to meet his tailor. Ah-oo, werewolves of London.

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