Music Rock of aged

Paul Simon once suggested that the problem with most rock artists is that they stop progressing fairly early in their careers. While great pop songwriters such as Cole Porter or Irving Berlin managed to maintain a high standard for decades, Simon argued, rock’s greatest figures peaked by the time they hit their late 20s and failed to develop their talents any further. Among his many other attributes, Alejandro Escovedo is the foremost exception to that rule. A contented role player for much of his career, Escovedo was in his early 30s by the time he started writing songs, 40 by the time he demonstrated that he could be a compelling frontman, and 50 when he released his definitive album, 2001’s A Man Under the Influence.

If Escovedo grew into his talent gradually, it might be because youthful irreverence — a staple of rock from the get-go — never really suited him. He’s like a musical Patricia Clarkson, an artist who had to wait until his body caught up to the maturity of his voice and the gravity of his preoccupations. Escovedo can be mischievous, as on his greatest rocker “Castanets,” when he makes an insult sound flirtatious (or maybe a flirtation sound insulting): “I like her better when she walks away.” But he’s most convincing when he’s at his most melancholy, and even his humor generally has a weary, hangdog quality about it.

Current Choice

Alejandro Escovedo
Michael Martin

Sat, Nov 19

1719 Blanco

The great thing about Escovedo the live performer is that he inhabits those dark, doubting songs with a boisterous energy that consistently puts him on the right side of the thin line between self-pity and catharsis. Back in excellent form after a debilitating bout with Hepatitis C, Escovedo is currently touring with his string quartet, and continuing to challenge himself at an age when most rockers are resting on their laurels.

Gilbert Garcia


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