Alejandro Escovedo & Townes Van Zandt


Heading for the store’s cash register, Escovedo catches a glimpse of a photo of Townes Van Zandt hanging on the wall that stops him in his tracks and elicits a memory of his last time seeing the famed Texas songwriter.

“We were touring through Italy. It was Rick Danko, Joe Ely, Townes, Jimmie Dale [Gilmore], Eric Anderson and me,” Escovedo remembers with a smile. “The last night of the tour, we had this big dinner in this little town called Sesto Calende. It was like the Last Supper. Townes, Rick and Joe Ely were sitting at the head of the table. We drank a bunch of wine and then the guitars came out. Each of these guys sings a song by himself sitting around the table at this restaurant. It’s coming around to me and I’m just wondering how I can get out of there. I ended up doing a song called ‘Broken Bottle’ and as I’m playing, I’m closing my eyes trying to get lost in the song so I don’t have to look. Then I hear Rick Danko whisper to somebody, “Hey, that guy’s pretty good, man.” He came up to me after the dinner and told me how much he liked my song. We ended up going back to my room, drinking wine and gambling with Joe Ely.

“The next morning, everyone was leaving to go home and I went by Townes’ room to say goodbye. The door to his room was open, and he was sitting on his bed wearing a fringed buckskin jacket with beautiful beadwork on it facing the wall, almost like he was staring at it. He was holding a toothbrush in one hand and what appeared to be a nearly empty bottle of vodka in the other hand. I walked in and asked him what he was doing. ‘Just trying to keep it together,’ he said.

"That was the last time I ever saw him.”