(Photo Credit: Bruce Fyfe)
If the first words that pop into your head after reading that title are "Who is Alejandro Escovedo?” then cross yourself you pagan and go directly to Itunes. Download this
(a seminal record to have if you love music at all and it’s oh so beautiful to hear), and his brand new one, Real Animal. I had the distinct pleasure of hearing a live version of all the “Real Animal” tracks in March at Escovedo's annual Sunday-night-of-SXSW show (since about 2000 he's played Austin’s Continental Club with whatever friends he decides to bring along; this year included Lucinda Williams and Tim Easton, among others).
Produced by David Bowie producer Tony Visconti, "Real Animal” is an aural “This is Your Life,” Escovedo passionately ruminating on the life he’s led, and the people who've come and gone along the way. I know, I know, you're saying, "Ok so how exactly is this record different from the others that detail one's life and the people encountered?" Because, my friends, Escovedo has lived a life you'd actually want to hear things about. It would take three lives of three people to top Escovedo's one; the man has lived more and done more and survived more in the past 40 years than anyone except maybe Keith Richards and Iggy Pop (who, fittingly, is Escovedo’s topic of the song “Real As an Animal”). "Real Animal" chronicles everything from Escovedo's seminal punk band, The Nuns (Nun's Song, Hollywood Hills, Chelsea Hotel ‘78), to his seminal cowpunk band Rank and File (Chip n Tony), to the Austin-based band True Believers that included his brother Javier and Tom-Waits-sound alike John Dee Graham (Sensitive Boys), and all the people and places that fell before, between, and after.
“Real Animal” is about a man paying appreciative tribute to those things and to those people who personally and professionally made him the person he is today. With a musical cocktail of punk, rock, and strings backing up the lyrics, "Real Animal" is about coming to peace with one's past in order to move forward into one's future. “To love in this moment/gotta let go of the past,” he says in the record's lovely closer “Slow Down." "Real Animal" is Escovedo sharing with us his past and by doing so, makes us better appreciate his talent from the past, and the present, and definitely, what's to come.
(Alejandro Escovedo is out supporting "Real Animal" currently and is playing the 930 Club here in Washington, DC this Saturday, July 12).
Always a Friend (From Real Animal)
Castanets.mp3 (From A Man Under the Influence)
One of the songs I love the most from the record is the opener, "Always a Friend." Here it is live with Bruce Springsteen during a Bruce show in Houston earlier this year.