By Greg Kot/Chicago Tribune/November 17, 2016

Alejandro Escovedo had hit something close to rock bottom. He was struggling with hepatitis C and had barely survived a life-threatening hurricane on his honeymoon in Mexico, only to spend the next year working out from under the trauma.

Coming out of that toxic environment, a song titled “I Don’t Want to Play Guitar Anymore” made perfect sense. The idea seemed unimaginable for a guy who has defined his life by playing one. But for a while, it was very real.

The song, written in collaboration with former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, anchors Escovedo’s latest album, “Burn Something Beautiful” (Fantasy), co-produced by Buck and mutual friend Scott McCaughey, longtime R.E.M. sideman and leader of the Minus 5 and Young Fresh Fellows.

It was a song that Buck had actually started working on as a reflection on his own personal turmoil in the years since R.E.M. broke up in 2011.

“Peter and I shared that period of time where we kind of went dark,” Escovedo says. “The way I related to that line, when I was really sick with hepatitis C, I got to this point where I was asking, ‘Why me? Why did this happen to me?’ Everyone around me (on tour) was drinking just as much as me or more than me, but I got it. Why did I get it? I started placing the blame on music, which had led to that lifestyle. I didn’t play guitar for a year. I wanted to get away from it, go into this repentance. This was all in my head.”

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