Like most artists, Alejandro Escovedo has a long list of influences and esteemed contemporaries. But unlike most artists, he also calls several of them “collaborators.” Velvet Underground hero John Cale produced Escovedo’s 2006 album, The Boxing Mirror; Tony Visconti, whose credits include T. Rex, Iggy Pop and David Bowie, helmed three in a row after that. Chuck Prophet co-wrote all three; Bruce Springsteen harmonized on Street Songs’ “Always A Friend.” When Escovedo’s label didn’t hear an album’s worth of songs for Real Animal, he asked Ian Hunter for help. “I have a tape of Ian singing all my songs back to me, and they sound just like Mott the Hoople,” Escovedo recalls while sitting outside an Austin coffee shop one sunny afternoon. Despite his own accomplishments, which, at the time, included sharing management with Springsteen, Escovedo remembers feeling like a fan boy. He still doesn’t regard himself as a peer to those artists (except for Prophet). Which is why “legend” status confounds him as much as it did when No Depression, the one-time alt-country/Americana bible, anointed him in 1998 as its first Artist of the Decade — two years early. In 2006, he also earned the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance. But he regards legends as posthumous entities, and hasn’t yet reconciled his mother’s disapproval of his career choice, or the fact that he stumbled into it. Escovedo didn’t even play guitar until he was 24, when a college film project about a band that couldn’t play spawned reality-imitates-art (pre-Spinal-Tap) punkers the Nuns. The San Francisco band opened for the Ramones and the Sex Pistols before dissolving. “It wasn’t like I was this ambitious guy who was... Sign In to Keep Reading
Gain Access to the American Songwriter Vault of Resources with a Free Membership
Sign up to gain access to exclusive aticles, members-only contests, archived interviews, and more.
Already a member? Sign in here.