Gret Kot/Chicago Tribune, Pilotonline/January 13, 2017

ae-cover-burnsomethingbeautiful

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.

As Escovedo emerged from 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. (On the current tour that stops in Virginia Beach on Tuesday, his band includes them, along with Kurt Block of Young Fresh Fellows and John Moen of the Decemberists.)

 Buck was enduring his own personal crisis when he began working on the song before showing it to Escovedo. “I was going through a lot of life stuff, depression, and I had a whole notebook of stuff that was very on the down side,” he says. “I’d written the first verse and chorus, basically asking, ‘Why am I doing this?’ When I brought it to Al, the melody got better, he wrote new verses, it became not so much, ‘I’m moving up,’ but ‘I’m going to persevere in the face of all this’ – which is what the record is all about.