Jack Elliott is a self-made man... When some people find that Jack Elliott was born in Brooklyn -- he with his cowboy hat and boots, rough lingo and expert guitar playing -- their first reaction is, "Oh, he's a fake." They're dead wrong. Jack reborned himself in Oklahoma. He didn't just learn some new songs. He changed his whole way of living.
We are used to this happening in the opposite direction; a country youth goes off to college and then gets into business in the city. When he goes back to visit the farm, the people back home hardly recognize him with his fancy talk and fancy clothes. But this kind of change happens to so many, nobody calls him abnormal, nobody calls him a phony, at least not usually.
My guess is that there will always be young people who for one reason or another will feel that they have to violently, radically, reform themselves. A personal revolution. They abandon the old like a hated mask and rebuild on new foundations.
Pete Seeger, The Incompleat Folksinger, Simon and Schuster, New York, NY, 1972, pp. 252-254.
DAVE VAN RONK:
As far as Bobby knew, Jack Elliott was absolutely good coin goyisha cowboy. In the course of the conversation it came out somehow that he was Elliott Adnopoz, a Jewish cat from Ocean Parkway, and Bobby fell off his chair. He rolled under the table, laughing like a madman... We had all suspected Bobby was Jewish, and that proved it...
quoted by Anthony Scaduto, Bob Dylan, London, 1973, p. 67.
RAMBLIN' JACK ELLIOTT:
The very first person I met when I came back from Europe was Bob Dylan. I met him while we were visiting Woody in the hospital... This was in 1961. He had only been in New York a short while...
Robbie Woliver, Hoot! A 25-Year History of the Greenwich Village Music Scene, St. Martin's Press, 1986, p. 51.
Upon returning to the United States in 1961, Elliott headed straight for the hospital where Guthrie was staying.
``I met Bob Dylan right there in the hospital,'' he recalls. ``He was still doing a lot of traditional songs, great old Jimmie Rodgers songs, railroad blues. Most everybody couldn't stand his voice, because it was way out of control. And he was going through puberty. Couldn't even grow a beard. He was a cute kid, though. He looked like a poet.''
Dylan's continuing impact on Elliott is evident throughout ``Friends of Mine.'' The album title was inspired by the bard's ``He Was a Friend of Mine,'' which Elliott recorded with Jerry Jeff Walker.
John Prine suggested they collaborate on the Dylan obscurity ``Walls of Red Wing,'' a song Elliott admits he still doesn't know by heart. And Dylan's recent hospitalization for a heart problem inspired Elliott to write one of the few original songs he's ever penned, the record's final track, ``Bleecker Street Blues.''
``I don't know how to start writing,'' he says. ``I never even gave it a try. I noticed that every guitar player had (printed lyrics for) 50 to 100 songs they wrote in their guitar case. I was the only one I knew that never wrote his own.''
"Ramblin' Jack's Friends Join Him on CD: Artists from Waits to Weir team up with legendary folksinger," James Sullivan, Chronicle Staff Writer, Sunday, March 15, 1998
©1998 San Francisco Chronicle
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It must have been 1960 or 1961, in New York City, when somebody came over with a weird-looking English 10-inch lp by a guy named Rambling Jack Elliott... So we put it on, and the guitar started, and then Jack started talking over the guitar, kinda slow. And this is what he said:
"Oakland is right across the bay from San Francisco. That's where Jesse Fuller lives. Jesse Fuller plays the 12-string guitar... Guitar and a harmonica too. Electric. Also has a kind of a 5-string... bass-like thing on the floor, that he plays with his foot. Called a foot-doola. And Jesse wrote this song. And I'll sing it to ya now, 'cause I sing it all day long..."
Michael Goodwin, liner notes for Jesse Fuller, Brother Lowdown (Fantasy 24707)
RAMBLIN' JACK ELLIOTT:
I suppose I taught Bobby a few of my songs. Those old VD songs by Woody that nobody wanted the young kids to know, he picked them up from me....
quoted in Robert Shelton, No Direction Home, London 1987, p. 104.
Ramblin' Jack Elliott was also a member of the "Rolling Thunder Revue" tour I (Oct. 1975-Jan 1976).