Nightly Song
Musings on Songs that Strike a Chord Tonight

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Boom Boom Mancini by Warren Zevon

May 16, 2010

Boom Boom Mancini

Written and performed by Warren Zevon.

“The name of the game is be hit and hit back”

Write a line like that and you can go home knowing you’ve done your job. It comes from Warren Zevon’s song “Boom Boom Mancini,” as tough and hard a song as you will ever hear. His voice – direct, insistent, in your face, singing from a place that has learned some hard lessons – finds its match in the pounding and furious rhythm laid down by Bill Berry and Mike Mills of R.E.M. No jingle-jangle here as Berry pounds the drumheads. Peter Buck fills out the sound with wailing guitar riffs. This is not background music.

Zevon tells the tale of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, a true story, but the art comes in selecting the facts and telling them right. Zevon’s paean succeeds with the sparseness and incisiveness of a Raymond Carver story. In the first verse, we glimpse an entire life:
From Youngstown, Ohio, Ray Boom Boom Mancini
A lightweight contender, like father like son
He fought for the title with Frias in Vegas
And he put him away in round number one

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