Hello Stranger from Issue #14
Peter thought maybe I should write a few words about Alejandro Escovedo since he’d already assembled, oh, about 8,000 of ’em for this issue’s cover story.
And he left out a bunch.
All of which makes my feeble efforts here a little superfluous. And yet this story, some months in the making, has been a happy reminder of why we started this magazine, and how much fun it’s been to watch it grow. (If it doesn’t kill us.)
Artist of the decade: Alejandro Escovedo. We’ve been tossing that cover line around for almost a year now. Not simply because it’s one of those rare cases in which the co-editors’ tastes converge, and certainly not out of some futile impulse to joust with the inequities of the recording industry. Because we really believe it, that’s why.
Name another artist who has sustained such a long, varied, and enormously rewarding career. Three other, more visible names come to mind: Neil Young, David Byrne and Steve Earle. Alejandro’s recorded output, though less frequent than those three (and, needless to say, in fewer homes), has been of unequaled quality and durability. He has challenged himself constantly as a musician, and through his music as a human being. He has toured throughout the ’90s with a succession of excellent bands, putting on a succession of revelatory shows and constantly reinventing his own songs.
All this despite having almost never (save for that recent Whiskeytown promotional EP, and a cut of “Gravity” by his wife’s band, Pork) had a song covered by another artist, and having never come close to producing a gold album.
If life isn’t fair, it can at least be fully lived.
Probably we are preaching to the choir in these pages. If not, welcome to our party.
Speaking of parties, we’ll be throwing our third annual soiree in Austin during SXSW this March. We’ve moved to a larger space (the hallowed Broken Spoke, out on South Lamar), but it’s still Saturday afternoon. Y’all come see us.
We’ll be celebrating not only the fact that we lived through the production of this issue (at 128 pages, our largest to date), not only the enormous pleasure of the food and music and friends in Austin, but release of an anthology of No Depression articles in book form. (This, for those who care about such things, will explain what I’ve been doing these last couple months, and why very few words within this issue have my name attached to them.)
Called, oddly enough, No Depression, the book contains 30-odd articles and is meant as an introduction to (sigh) alternative country music. Whatever that is. We hope you’ll like it. Our publisher (Dowling Press, here in Nashville) hopes you’ll buy a few copies. It’s also meant as an opportunity to reprise some of our early articles that appeared in back issues which are now sold out.
We hope publication of an anthology by a small, living-room magazine in its third year isn’t the grotesque gesture of hubris it seems occasionally just before I drift off to sleep. And we hope you like it as much as your kind words have told us you enjoy our magazine.
Once again, thanks to all — especially to Alejandro for passing along a handful of precious snapshots from his younger days, and for providing the soundtrack to these last few hectic days.