Meaning of “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

Dive into Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London,” and you’ll uncover a playful mockery of the London high society and British culture. On the surface, it paints a vivid picture of a werewolf roaming the streets, but dig deeper and it reveals an astute commentary on superficiality and societal norms. The song isn’t about a particular person, but rather a metaphorical portrayal of certain elements of society. Zevon brilliantly uses the werewolf as a symbol to challenge what’s considered “normal.”

Well, there’s so much more beneath the howls and the full moon. Stick around to unlock the mystery of London’s mythical beast.

“Werewolves of London” Lyrics Meaning

Starting off, we’re introduced to a werewolf holding a Chinese menu, an image blending the supernatural with the mundane. The lyrics might be telling us that even creatures of the night can’t resist the allure of worldly pleasures, much like the high society’s pull to materialism. As the werewolf roams SoHo, searching for “Lee Ho Fooks,” he’s not hunting humans, but craving “beef chow mein.” This comical twist underlines how our most primal urges can sometimes be as simple as a favorite dish.

With the refrain “Ah-hoo, werewolves of London,” we’re reminded that these creatures aren’t restricted to dark forests but have comfortably made the urban jungle their haunt.

The line about a little old lady getting “mutilated” feels like a stark contrast to the earlier playful verses. Yet, it underscores the unpredictability of the werewolf, just as society can, at times, be unexpectedly brutal.

Then there’s the “hairy-handed gent” reference, a reminder of the werewolf’s uncontrollable nature. Despite his violent tendencies, he’s spotted in Mayfair, an upscale district, and even has a tailor! This duality highlights how society often overlooks flaws for the sake of keeping appearances.

Interestingly, the werewolf sightings get more comical as the song progresses. Lon Chaney and his son, both famous for monster roles, are seen “doing the werewolves of London.” The clincher is the image of the werewolf at Trader Vic’s sipping a piña colada. His “hair was perfect,” poking fun at the obsession with appearances and how even monsters can be slaves to vanity.

Why Was “Werewolves of London” Written?

Warren Zevon was known for his wit and unique way of storytelling. At the time he penned “Werewolves of London,” he might have been reflecting on the duality of humans – how we often wear masks and hide our true nature. By placing a werewolf in an urban setting and juxtaposing it with humorous and dark imagery, he delivers a clever critique on societal norms and superficiality. The song is not just an entertaining tune but also a satirical reflection on the world around us.