Alejandro Escovedo – The true believer
For all the stories he could tell — all the adventures he actively sought out or accidentally stumbled upon, all the characters he has known and loved along the way, all the highs and lows flowing through five decades of dreams chased in glory or in vain, and all the memories that remain — Alejandro Escovedo’s music finally boils down to the most simple, direct connection between the artist and any one person who might be out there listening.
When I close my eyes, I can see myself sitting there in the dark, cozy confines of Chicago House, a late, great acoustic music haven in downtown Austin that played host to several Alejandro Escovedo shows around 1989. The previous year, Escovedo’s long-struggling, hard-rocking band the True Believers had gradually crumbled into dust, leaving him to redefine himself as a solo artist. Nobody, least of all Alejandro, quite knew how he’d respond to the challenge.
But those evenings evolved into pure magic, Escovedo’s eloquent passion pouring out of his voice on songs such as “One More Time”, “Broken Bottle”, and, most of all, “Five Hearts Breaking”: “He hears the pain, roaring in his head/He’ll close his eyes and the world turns red,” Escovedo sang, and it did. “She held his hand, looked him in the eye/And said believe, believe and everything will be fine,” the muse of his song answered. And it was.
All three of those tunes, which appeared on Escovedo’s 1992 solo debut Gravity, are featured on More Miles Than Money: Live 199496, along with eight other tracks recorded at various venues across the country during a three-year span. The album, released Feb. 24 by Bloodshot Records, gathers material from Escovedo’s three solo albums plus two covers that have been longtime staples of his live shows (the Rolling Stones’ “Sway” and the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”). As an abbreviated sampling of several years spent writing songs from the heart and performing them powerfully in nightclubs across the country (and beyond), More Miles Than Money serves as a solid closing statement for those who would contend that Alejandro Escovedo’s accomplishments in the 1990s have made him the decade’s most significant musical artist.
Not a live album in the traditional sense of the term — there’s essentially no crowd noise, and no intros or between-song banter — More Miles Than Money wasn’t even intended to be an album at all when the recordings were made. Co-producers Erik Flannigan and Bob Whitfield, both fans of Escovedo’s music who owned high-fidelity portable DAT recorders, had taped several of his shows during the mid-’90s, usually straight off the mixing board (with Escovedo’s permission). When Escovedo’s record deal with Rykodisc came to an unexpectedly rapid demise less than a year after the label released his 1996 album With These Hands, Flannigan and Whitfield approached Escovedo with the idea of compiling an album from their accumulated archives.++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
This is an excerpt of the article which appeared in The Best of No Depression: Writing About American Music, which features 25 of the finest articles from the magazines back issues, and was published in 2005 by University of Texas Press to help celebrate the magazines 10th anniversary. Due to our agreement with UT Press we are unable to include this article in our online archive.
The Best of No Depression is the only place you can find these articles other than our back issues. Visit the No Depression store to buy your copy for only $10.
The 300-page volume includes co-editor Grant Aldens award-winning 2001 feature on Billy Joe Shaver, co-editor Peter Blackstocks 1998 Artist of the Decade piece on Alejandro Escovedo, senior editor Bill Friskics-Warrens 2002 cover story on Johnny Cash, contributing editor Paul Cantins deep exploration of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era Wilco; and many other high points from our print heyday.
Table of contents for The Best of No Depression:
Preface, by Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock
Los Lobos, by Geoffrey Himes
Alejandro Escovedo, by Peter Blackstock
Jon Dee Graham, by Peter Blackstock
Billy Joe Shaver, by Grant Alden
Ray Wylie Hubbard, by John T. Davis
Flatlanders, by Don McLeese
Ray Price, by David Cantwell
Johnny Gimble, by Bill C. Malone
Johnny Cash, by Bill Friskics-Warren
Rosanne Cash, by Lloyd Sachs
Lucinda Williams, by Silas House
Buddy & Julie Miller, by Bill Friskics-Warren
Kasey Chambers, by Geoffrey Himes
Loretta Lynn, by Barry Mazor
Patty Loveless, by Bill Friskics-Warren
Kieran Kane, by Peter Cooper
Paul Burch, by Jim Ridley
Hazel Dickens, by Bill Friskics-Warren
Gillian Welch, by Grant Alden
Ryan Adams, by David Menconi
Jay Farrar, by Peter Blackstock
Jayhawks, by Erik Flannigan
Wilco, by Paul Cantin
Drive-By Truckers, by Grant Alden
Iron & Wine, by William Bowers