Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School

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Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School
Warren Zevon - Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 15, 1980 (1980-02-15)
StudioThe Sound Factory, Hollywood, California
ProducerGreg Ladanyi
Warren Zevon
Warren Zevon chronology
Excitable Boy
Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School
Stand in the Fire
Singles from Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School
  1. "A Certain Girl"
    Released: 1980
  2. "Jeannie Needs a Shooter"
    Released: 1980
  3. "Gorilla, You're a Desperado"
    Released: 1980
Professional ratings
Review scores
Robert ChristgauB−[2]
Rolling Stone(positive)[3]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[4]

Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Warren Zevon. The album was released on February 15, 1980, by Elektra Records. Three singles were released from the album, one of which charted: "A Certain Girl" (a cover of a song previously recorded by Ernie K-Doe and The Yardbirds) reached No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was Zevon's second and final hit on that chart.

"Play It All Night Long" is a bracing take on the presumed bleak realities of white southern rural poverty, or "country living". Its sardonic reference to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" in the chorus signals that Skynyrd's glorification of southern life is the target of Zevon's dark caricature, while also suggesting that such music can bring some degree of escape, if not transcendence, to an otherwise intolerable existence. (Ironically Zevon's more famous song "Werewolves of London" has a similar riff to "Sweet Home Alabama")[5]

The term "dancing school" has been used as a euphemism for a brothel since the mid-17th century.[6]

The album was dedicated to Ken Millar (1915–1983), popularly known as mystery writer Ross Macdonald, who had assisted Zevon in fighting through substance abuse addiction and successfully completing related treatment.[7]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Warren Zevon, unless otherwise indicated.

Side one
1."Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School" 3:00
2."A Certain Girl"Naomi Neville3:08
3."Jungle Work"Jorge Calderón, Zevon3:58
4."Empty-Handed Heart" 3:16
5."Interlude No. 1" 0:26
6."Play It All Night Long" 2:53
Side two
7."Jeannie Needs a Shooter"Bruce Springsteen, Zevon3:55
8."Interlude No. 2" 1:08
9."Bill Lee" 1:37
10."Gorilla, You're a Desperado" 2:47
11."Bed of Coals"T-Bone Burnett, Zevon5:04
12."Wild Age" 4:19


  • Warren Zevon[8] – organ, synthesizer, bass guitar, guitar, harmonica, piano, strings, keyboards, vocals
  • Jorge Calderón – guitar on "A Certain Girl"; backing vocals on "Jungle Work"
  • David Lindley – lap steel on "Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School" and "Play It All Night Long"; guitar on "Wild Age"
  • Rick Marotta – percussion, drums, vocals, bells, Syndrums
Additional personnel
  • The Sid Sharp Strings – strings
  • Jackson Browne – guitar, slide guitar on "Gorilla, You're a Desperado"; backing vocals on "A Certain Girl", "Play It All Night Long" and "Gorilla, You're a Desperado"
  • Don Felder – guitar on "A Certain Girl"
  • Glenn Frey – harmony vocals on "Bill Lee" and "Wild Age"
  • Don Henley – harmony vocals on "Wild Age" and "Gorilla, You're a Desperado"
  • Ben Keithpedal steel guitar on "Bed of Coals"
  • Linda Ronstadtdescant on "Empty-Handed Heart"; backing vocals on "Bed of Coals"
  • Leland Sklar – bass guitar
  • J.D. Souther – backing vocals on "Gorilla, You're a Desperado" and "Bed of Coals"
  • Waddy Wachtel – lead guitar on "A Certain Girl"; guitar on "Empty-Handed Heart"
  • Joe Walsh – lead guitar on "Jungle Work" and "Jeannie Needs a Shooter"
  • Ernie Sheesley, Niko Bolas, Serge Reyes – engineers
  • Jimmy Wachtel – cover
  • George Gruel, Jimmy Wachtel, Michael Curtis – photography


Sales chart performance for Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School
Chart (1980) Position
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[9] 35
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[10] 46
US Billboard 200[11] 20

See also[edit]

  • Letter to You, a 2020 Bruce Springsteen album featuring his rendition of "Janey Needs a Shooter"


  1. ^ Mark Deming. "Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School – Warren Zevon | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  2. ^ "CG: warren zevon". Robert Christgau. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  3. ^ "Warren Zevon: Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. March 6, 1980. Archived from the original on February 18, 2009. Retrieved October 23, 2015 – via
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  5. ^ Cichran, Jeff. "Warren Zevon: Play it All Night Long". Like the Dew. Jeff Cochran. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  6. ^ "dancing academy" in Jonathan Green, Cassell's Dictionary of Slang, 2nd ed., 2006.
  7. ^ Browning, Boo (April 18, 1980). "Zevon's 'Turning Point'". Retrieved January 28, 2018 – via
  8. ^ "View Image".
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 348. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ " – Warren Zevon – Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  11. ^ "Warren Zevon Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved October 27, 2020.