Alejandro Escovedo Shares His 'Street Songs Of Love' The venerable singer-songwriter, whose career spans more than three decades, drew inspiration from punk and doo-wop for his new album. Here, he discusses struggling with his identity growing up and finding his voice in music.
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Alejandro Escovedo Shares His 'Street Songs Of Love'

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Alejandro Escovedo Shares His 'Street Songs Of Love'

Alejandro Escovedo Shares His 'Street Songs Of Love'

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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When you listen to computer-generated music, you may get the impression that some of the music is coming straight out of a science lab. It turns out that some music is, in fact, coming out of a science lab.

Here's one example.

(Soundbite of piano music)

INSKEEP: That music was created by scientists working with the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. It is the most expensive science experiment in history - one that physicists hope will explain why objects in the universe have mass. A team there is working on a computer program to convert data that it collects into musical sounds.

And they're not the only scientists getting their groove on. Solar physicists at the University of Sheffield are using magnetic field vibrations of the sun's atmosphere to make their music.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: There it is - what the sun sounds like. Of course, it may be sometime before solar flares crack the top 40. Until then, most musicians will probably avoid particle colliders in favor of more traditional instruments, like guitar.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: The newest songs of Alejandro Escovedo tell the stories of people who seem to be searching for something.

Mr. ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO (Singer/Songwriter): That something that they're trying to find is love.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. ESCOVEDO: (Singing) Everybody has got a debt with a blues sometimes.

(Speaking) The love that may be has slipped through their fingers sometimes for various reasons. You know, demons that got in the way; alcohol or drugs, or bad decisions, whatever it is.

INSKEEP: In this song, Escovedo searches for a way to make someone happy.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. ESCOVEDO: (Singing) I (unintelligible) you smile in a minute but would you wear it? If you had one moment to spare, would you come down and share it?

INSKEEP: Escovedo's new album is "Street Songs of Love."

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. ESCOVEDO: (Singing) I want to see you out on the streets making a scene for everybody...

INSKEEP: Who are you singing about?

Mr. ESCOVEDO: Im singing about my son. My son, Paris Diego, who - you know, I see a lot of myself in my son. He's quiet, very tall. He's about 6'2". He's 18 years old. Very much into graffiti art and he's a singer in a punk rock band, drummer. A kid who's kind of awkward sometimes, or has been, you know. And I relate very much to that feeling as an adolescent.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. ESCOVEDO: (Singing) I hope you live long enough to forget half the stuff they taught you. And when it's all said and done, I hope youve got your own set of rules to hang on to.

(Speaking) So I wanted to write a song which kind of just told him that I love all the things that he is and will be, and that I will always love him and support him in whatever it is that he chooses to venture into. And it was something that no one ever told me when I was a kid. You know?

INSKEEP: Alejandro Escovedo says what he finally learned about life he learned from music. He comes from a musical family. Several of his brothers are musicians. Two of them played with Santana. His niece is Sheila E. His father was a Mexican immigrant who played in Mariachi bands and influenced Escovedo, even though he started as a punk rocker.

(Soundbite of a song)

Mr. ESCOVEDO: (Singing) My suicide child. My suicide child, you stole my junk, you low down punk. Down, down, down, down, down...

INSKEEP: Is there anything you learned from your father that has that has carried over to your music, even though you're playing such different music?

Mr. ESCOVEDO: I think everything that I know about music, in a way, I learned from my father and my older brothers - the way to listen, the space in music, the compositional quality of rock and roll - even, you know, in just trying to fit different sounds and textures into songs.

INSKEEP: What did you mean about learning how to listen?

Mr. ESCOVEDO: You know, when they would rehearse, like play drums, play timbales, they would play back to back, just practicing, not looking at each other, but just listening. And they really impressed that upon me, that it was just really important to listen to the people that you play with. You know, listen to the silence in-between notes.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: Have you struggled a little bit with your identity over the years?

Mr. ESCOVEDO: Yes, I have. You know, I grew up where my mother and father were speaking Spanish I'd say 90 percent of the time. And then when we moved to California, I just became so infatuated and in love with rock and roll and the language that I just kind of lost that other part of me somehow.

You know, it's funny, I was also a surfer. And in Southern California at that time in the early '60s I was caught in no man's land because I was not, you know, a Chicano in the sense of what a Chicano was at that time. And I wasnt a white surfer jock. So I was in this no man's land in which they kind of thought I was Hawaiian sometimes, you know?

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. ESCOVEDO: (Singing) You got to have faith in the one that you love. You got to have faith beyond the above.

(Speaking) I was just kind of lost in this place, you know.

INSKEEP: You were lost. You weren't finding who you were. You were a little lost from who you were.

Mr. ESCOVEDO: I was, yeah, for a long time.

INSKEEP: How'd you get out of that?

Mr. ESCOVEDO: I struggled with that. You know, I found some kind of middle way in which I embraced all the things that I was and that I loved. You know? Yeah, I embraced my culture and my family. Eventually I grew into all those ideas of who I thought I was, I guess.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. ESCOVEDO: (Singing) Sometimes you got to lose it just to lose it, just to find it again.

INSKEEP: Well, Alejandro Escovedo, thanks very much. It's been a pleasure talking with you.

Mr. ESCOVEDO: Yeah, it's been great talking to you. Thank you very much.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. ESCOVEDO: (Singing) You got to have faith in the one that you love. You got to have faith beyond the above...

INSKEEP: The album from Alejandro Escovedo is called "Street Songs of Love." You can hear it all at or on the NPR music app. You can find links at Facebook and Twitter. We're @morningedition and @nprinskeep.

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