Album no. 17/1001
Ramblin Jack Elliott is kind of a folksy cowboy storyteller. Woody Guthrie sings with him on one of these tracks! Early prediction: Christie will hate this.
The introduction for the opening track takes the same amount of time as it takes him to sing the song, so you’re not left wondering why they called him ‘Ramblin’ Jack. He was big into traditional songs that got passed around in the folk tradition, lots of finger-picking and a bit of harmonica. He was pally with Woody Guthrie, and judging by this album he had a fair influence on Bob Dylan.
Have you listened to this album before?
NK: I haven’t, but I’m keen to. He was a contemporary of Woody Guthrie! He used to introduce Dylan as his son! I have heard of him, but never heard his music.
CL: No I haven’t. Look, as I said previously, I really don’t enjoy country music. Is this country music? It sure looks like it. I know, don’t judge an album by it’s cover except no, I can do what I want, and this looks like it’ll be country. Gross.
NK: WELL. I liked the whole album quite a bit. It’s totally different from the last few we’ve had, and I think that helps, but the songs are so easy to listen to. I liked ‘Old Bluelue’ about his dog that dies, it’s really sad! That’s my pick, but I also like ‘New York Town’ with Woody Guthrie, and ‘East Texas Talking Blues’. I like his way of introducing songs, as if he’s giving a lecture. Also, ‘Cocaine’ sounds suspiciously like the Jackson Browne song ‘Cocaine’. And you know what, I think Ramblin’ Jack Elliott did his first. I’m looking at you, Jackson Browne.
CL: UM. WHAT IS HAPPENING. YOUR PREDICTION WAS WRONG. I ACTUALLY LIKED THIS ALBUM – and yes, I’m surprised. I’d say it’s certainly closer to folk than country – and I quite like a bit of folk. Old mate Ramblin’ Jack knew what he was doing. I really liked the opener ‘San Francisco Bay Blues’. Or ‘Cocaine’. There’s even a song with yodeling that I listened to the whole way through – I didn’t like that one as much.
NK: I am stunned. I would have bet good money you’d detest this. It’s more folk than country I guess, but still. I don’t know, I had it in my head you would hate this and hate Dylan when we get to him, but I’ll have to rethink that now.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
NK: Round a campfire, preferably in a moving boxcar at night. If the economy is broken and half the country is out of work, even better.
CL: I think this music really should be listened to whilst out in the bush. American or Australian, doesn’t really matter. But somewhere very desolate where old mate is your only companion.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: I think it’s the influence it had on folk music going forward, particularly old mate Bobby D. The talking blues stuff is in country music as well, the influence is pretty far-reaching I think.
CL: Surely for the spoken word introductions of nearly every track (which I actually really liked – he had a nice talking voice. Not like Woody Guthrie – who sounded like the cat lady from The Simpsons). I spose it’s one of the first folk albums to make it to the big time – you can easily hear it’s influence in everything Bob Dylan to Nick Drake to The Tallest Man On Earth.
NK: Woody was a bit abrupt, wasn’t he? Jack’s intro is really nice and relaxed, and then Woody is like a panicked horse. “Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllll, Jack.”
Will you be listening again?
NK: I reckon so. It’s easy to listen to, simple finger-pickin’ good times.
CL: You know what, WEIRDLY ENOUGH I reckon I might – not ALL the songs. But definitely a good handful.
Out of context youtube comment