Warren Zevon Wiki

"The French Inhaler" is a Warren Zevon song, written by Warren Zevon, off his 1976 self-titled album.


"The French Inhaler" is mainly intended as a kiss-off to "Tule" Livingston. The over-all bitter tone of the song was lyrically modeled after when Zevon found out about Livingston's post-breakup meeting with another musician. Jordan Zevon has described the lyrics of the song as "French Inhaler is [Warren Zevon's] way of saying 'fuck you' to my mom after she slept with another guy ... as much as it pains me that it's about my mother, it is the greatest ex-girlfriend 'fuck you' song of all time." He also commented that "despite the subject matter, my mom would play that song to me after a couple of glasses of wine and laugh and say: 'Isn't that brilliant?' She knew he was a genius".

She said, "So long, Norman."

At the conclusion of the song, Zevon's lyrics also incorporate the furor surrounding Norman Mailer's exploitive 1973 Marilyn Monroe biography.


The song is in the key of D major. There are also short points where the song is more prominently heard in D major's relative key of B minor (specifically at "we both came down with an acute case"). The song's most prominent instrument is the piano, yet also features short, mildly distorted guitar fills throughout parts of the song. This album version's run time is 3 minutes and 49 seconds long.


How're you going to make your way in the world, woman

When you weren't cut out for working

When your fingers are slender and frail

How're you going to get around

In this sleazy bedroom town

If you don't put yourself up for sale

Where will you go with your scarves and your miracles

Who's gonna know who you are

Drugs and wine and flattering light

You must try it again till you get it right

Maybe you'll end up with someone different every night

All these people with no home to go home to

They'd all like to spend the night with you

Maybe I would, too

But tell me

How're you going to make your way in the world, woman

When you weren't cut out for working

And you just can't concentrate

And you always show up late

You said you were an actress

Yes, I believe you are

I thought you'd be a star

So I drank up all the money,

Yes, I drank up all the money,

With these phonies in this Hollywood bar,

These friends of mine in this Hollywood bar

Loneliness and frustration

We both came down with an acute case

And when the lights came up at two

I caught a glimpse of you

And your face looked like something

Death brought with him in his suitcase

Your pretty face

It looked so wasted

Another pretty face


The French Inhaler

He stamped and mailed her

"So long, Norman"

She said, "So long, Norman"


Warren Zevon - Piano, Vocals

Waddy Wachtel - Guitar

Bob Glaub - Bass

Larry Zack - Drums

The Sid Sharp Strings

Glen Frey & Don Henley - Harmonies

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