Ramblin' Jack Elliott on the YouTube and Online
January 20, 2008 7:37 PM   Subscribe

In more or less chonological appearance, here are examples of one of our very own still extant national musical treasures:
Ramblin' Jack Elliott - Talking Merchant Marine
Ramblin' Jack Elliott - San Francisco Bay Blues
Ramblin' Jack Elliott - Salt Pork West Virginia
And here, from SXSW 2006, is Ramblin' Jack Elliott & Billy Bragg - The Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd
Also from SXSW 2006, Jack Elliott & Marty Stuart - Engine 143
From last year, here is Ramblin' Jack Elliott - Old Shep
and Ramblin' Jack Elliott - South Coast
And from last week's Bill Graham's Birthday Bash, here is
Phil Lesh, Jackie Greene & Ramblin' Jack Elliott - Friend of The Devil

From his official, albeit maintained in a rather desultory manner, web site, here is a Ramblin' Jack biography, with a note about his legendary semi-talking blues 912 Greens, which is the very best of the two or three songs written by Ramblin' Jack. And here is another take on the same song. I first heard him sing it at the Sky River Rock Festival in 1968--And there was this three legged gray cat named Gray that useta to lope along and *snap* fall down because Gray, he had stroke and he couldn't run on those three legs so good no how... and loved him and the song ever since. (As does at least one other member here, or so I suspect.) I only wish there were a free mp3 of it available at this moment. Oh, well, it's on his Young Brigham album. so get thee to a record store forthwith. Young Brigham was his horse at the time the album was recorded. I only just this moment reversed the name Young Brigham, by the way.


In addition, his daughter Aiyana had made a film entitled The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack

There's a version of Ramblin' Jack's version of Don't Think Twice, It's Alright in this episode of A Prairie Home Companion. Supposedly the story goes--and I have heard this from Elliott himself in person--that a young and drunken Bob Dylan, upon hearing Elliott's take on the song, bequeathed the song to him for eternity. Somehow, I rather doubt that included royalties... It's a funny story in person with Elliott's Dylan impersonation. Not to mention the delicious irony involved in hearing Vanguard's Ramblin' Jack impersonating Columbia's Ramblin' Jack. It adds a whole other dimension of absurd. But, for a fact, he does own the song, singing alone....

And then there is....
To ask Ramblin’ Jack Elliott a question is to tug at a snag in a sweater, only to see the yarn unfurl of its own volition, dropping in aimless loops, curling and snaking itself into a variegated fable. Every answer is a folk tale. Conversation is an exercise in free association, switchbacks, good-humored evasion, meanders, and box canyons. Jack Elliott does his talking without aid of a compass.
On the Road

Oh, man, tell it brother... I once interviewed Ramblin' Jack for Seattle's own Rocket magazine. I had done my research, knew about him singing harmony on Bob Dylan's first studio recording of Mr. Tambourine Man in 1964 and had been to 912 Toulouse Street, to boot. And I had pictures to prove it--Wow, man, I've had people tell me they'd been to 912 Toulouse before but you're the first person to show me picturesand I got Ramblin' Jack ramblin' for near onto ninety minutes. And here's tip for future interviewers: don't eventhink of cutting him off. Go with the flow--for he brooks no interruption.

And never a word of it has as yet been printed, don't you know ? Not in the Rocket, that's for sure. Mr. Elliott didn't have any 'product' out at the time. GrrCharlesCrossGrr...
posted by y2karl (8 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Well you have made me very happy this Sunday night, y2karl, and now I will probably have to quit my job to do this post justice, so if I am soon scavenging and selling found books on the streets of NYC, it's all on you, my friend.

Thanks for this unexpected profusion of riches, I couldn't be more delighted than to have such a great and substantial post on Rambling Jack Eliot.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:13 PM on January 20, 2008

Man - this post rambles on more than one of Jack Elliott's stories. Luckilly the payoff is worth it (as was usally the case with jack Elliott's stories and song intorductions).
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:16 PM on January 20, 2008

Nice post! I live in Marin county home of Ramblin' and many a night spent at Sweetwater saloon watchin' Jack. If you ever get a chance to take in the man personally... Do it. A treat for sure. Thanks y2karl.
posted by orgvol at 8:25 PM on January 20, 2008

Thank you...Thank you.....you have provided me & my 7-year old boy with quite a treasure! WhoooWheeee!
posted by IslandTrust at 9:14 PM on January 20, 2008

Thanks y2karl for all the work you put into this post. Ramblin' Jack Elliott has a couple of songs on the cd Daddy-O Daddy! Rare Family Songs of Woody Guthrie that are worth checking out. He truly is a national musical treasure.
posted by Sailormom at 9:30 PM on January 20, 2008

y2rock! Thanks for introducing me to Ramblin' Jack!
posted by not_on_display at 9:33 PM on January 20, 2008

Ramblin' Jack lives in our neck of the woods. W00t! Thanks for the excellent post about our neighbor!
posted by Lynsey at 11:24 PM on January 20, 2008

Oh, and for the record, in a moment of YouTuberative Verité, Ramblin' Jack Rambles. Eponysterical before his time.
posted by y2karl at 9:20 AM on January 21, 2008

« Older Can Vick's dogfighting house be repurposed?   |   Protecting a Mountain Heritage Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments