Revered songwriter's songwriter tours in support of new two-disc retrospective

“Fame she was a one-night stand, fortune but a whore,” Eric Andersen sings on “Sheila.” The 75-year-old songwriter has treated notoriety with a similar attitude, so while you may not know Andersen's name, you've undoubtedly heard some of his songs. He's been covered by the likes of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Judy Collins and Gillian Welch.

Andersen bristles at the term “folk singer,” but the designation makes sense given he got his start in the Greenwich Village scene of the 1960s. Throughout his decades-long career, Andersen has opened for John Lee Hooker, co-written with Townes Van Zandt and Lou Reed, starred in an Andy Warhol movie, taught Joni Mitchell alternate tunings, lived in the Chelsea Hotel near Kris Kristofferson and Leonard Cohen ... and so on. (A forthcoming documentary, “The Songpoet,” will attempt to condense the man's life into a couple of hours.)

But all that is window dressing. It's Andersen's songs that stand the test of time. He's currently touring in support of a new two-disc retrospective, The Essential Eric Andersen, which reaches back to the songwriter's 1965 debut, Today is the Highway, and boasts collaborations with Lou Reed, Rick Danko and others. Some songs, such as “Rain Falls Down in Amsterdam,” which speaks of the European neo-Nazi resurgence in the 1990s, are all too relevant today. (Don't miss it)