ND: “Rosalie”, the other song from the play on this record — is that one about your father, too?
AE: No, that came from Rose Portillo, a story she told me about her mother. There is an actual “Rosalie.”
ND: The last time I saw you play that one live, it was kind of a letdown when you said during the song’s introduction that they eventually divorced.
AE: Yeah, and I always regret saying that. I don’t know why I do it, I need to learn to shut up when the going’s good. It’s a beautiful courtship song, which is what it’s meant to address rather than the aftermath. When I wrote that first line, “There’s an ocean between us, my love/An ocean of powder and dust,” that’s meant to represent the desert as an ocean rather than a literal ocean.
III. SOME SORT OF SLIDE SHOW OF YOUR LAST TEN YEARS
ND: “Castanets” might be the hardest-rocking song you’ve had on-record since Buick MacKane. Is there really an “arrhythmic castanet player” that it’s based on?
AE: There was, actually, this woman who owned a club in Florida. My old violin player took a liking to her, and we went to a party where she was trying to play castanets with absolutely no sense of rhythm whatsoever. Horrendous, doing this hippie seaweed dance and playing arrhythmic castanets. So I thought that’d be a good subject to write about. The violin player would always crack up when I introduced that one, because I told the story differently every time.
ND: “Wedding Day” sounds like a pretty wistful song.
AE: I wrote that one a long time ago, for Jon Dee Graham’s wedding when he married Sally Norvell, as a gift to them. That was when he and I were still in the True Believers, more than ten years ago. We finally did that as a Make Believers song, on a little cassette we put out. But that’s one I started playing out of the blue while making this record. I always thought it was a beautiful song, but I’m not sure why it came up again now.
ND: Speaking of the True Believers, there was some talk last year of another reunion.
AE: I had called Javier [Escovedo, Alejandro's younger brother] about it, but we just never got it together. Truthfully, I think we’ve just gotten too far away from it now. I don’t think anyone cares anymore.
ND: But that last True Believers reunion [March 1994 at South By Southwest] was really something.
AE: That was one of the most emotional rock ‘n’ roll moments I’ve ever had. We hadn’t played together in I don’t know how long. A while. Years. We rehearsed, and it was great to play with everybody again, we were all having a good time. Then when we finally got onstage and looked out at this sea of faces, it was just like some sort of slide show of your last ten years. I saw so many faces from all over, it was like a private movie. I didn’t regret that reunion at all, and I’m not big on reunions.