What the H is Mohammed's Radio about?

I’m not thick, y’know. I’ve been a fan of Warren Zevon for more than ten years, and I can “read” his songs pretty well. The one that eludes me is “Mohammed’s Radio”. Everything I’ve ever read about Zevon or his songs claims that MR is about the superficiality of life in Southern California in the '70s. Or some aspect of that era.

I can’t see it.

“I heard the general whispering to his aide-de-camp
Be watchful for Mohammed’s lamp”


I always heard the same. (Superficiality, SoCal, '70’s.)
Funny, that is probably my favorite Zevon album, I have owned it since it came out. But while I love the melodies in MR, the meaning pretty much eluded me, too.

I always took it be about ennui (alas their lives are incomplete) and the petty concerns of surburbanites (the price of gasoline) as a pale reflection of serious issues. A dulled life, an urban Play it All Night Long.

Zevon has remarked that all the songs he wrote from that era were done under a haze of drugs. He himself doesn’t really recall what they were all about.

From Zevon’s comments in the “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (an Anthology)” liner notes:

“I wrote it on the piano in my ex-in-laws’ house in Aspen. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were there - it’s a longish story - and they started singing harmony. It’s like a gospel song.”

The rest of the notes are just who else has done it, where it was recorded, etc.

I’d guess that supports the “nobody really knows what was going on here” line of argument.

I see. Thank you.