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The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film

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bflat 22 Aug 00 - 11:58 PM
kendall 23 Aug 00 - 10:54 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 23 Aug 00 - 10:57 AM
kendall 23 Aug 00 - 03:48 PM
Art Thieme 23 Aug 00 - 03:56 PM
bflat 23 Aug 00 - 10:43 PM
catspaw49 23 Aug 00 - 10:47 PM
kendall 24 Aug 00 - 08:35 AM
bflat 24 Aug 00 - 08:17 PM
kendall 24 Aug 00 - 08:54 PM
bflat 29 Aug 00 - 08:25 PM
Dale Rose 11 Sep 00 - 12:08 AM
Joe Offer 15 Sep 00 - 07:57 PM
Art Thieme 16 Sep 00 - 01:22 AM
GUEST 16 Sep 00 - 12:31 PM
katlaughing 16 Sep 00 - 02:28 PM
MAG (inactive) 16 Sep 00 - 05:53 PM
bflat 16 Sep 00 - 10:41 PM
Art Thieme 19 Sep 00 - 06:04 PM
Wotcha 20 Sep 00 - 03:11 AM
Art Thieme 21 Sep 00 - 01:13 AM
MAG (inactive) 21 Sep 00 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,Dale 18 Jan 02 - 01:26 PM
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Mark Clark 30 Jan 02 - 12:19 PM
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Subject: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: bflat
Date: 22 Aug 00 - 11:58 PM

Film Forum in NYC is showing the premiere of a film by the subject's daughter Aiyana Elliott. It is a bittersweet and poignant portrait of a folk icon. The film is absolutely wonderful. Don't miss it when it gets national release and comes to a place near you. Ramblin' Jack Elliott is an authentic personality. You will laugh and you may shed a tear and you will certainly get your money's worth. The list of those interviewed is impressive. Great film clips. I don't wish to spoil the surprises. But if you coax me I'll reveal a tad more.


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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: kendall
Date: 23 Aug 00 - 10:54 AM

If you want to see a recent picture of Jack, go to resources and bring up my picture

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 23 Aug 00 - 10:57 AM

I thought the surprise might be Jack talking boats and music with Cap'n Morse.

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: kendall
Date: 23 Aug 00 - 03:48 PM

we did. He needs a gudgeon for his dinghy

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Aug 00 - 03:56 PM

This will NEVER come to Peru, Illinois. I'm pretty sure I'll need to wait for the video. But it's sure wonderful to know about it. Thanks so very much.

Art Thieme

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: bflat
Date: 23 Aug 00 - 10:43 PM


I looked at your picture a long time ago. I've got a great memory so I won't be doing that. I think Ramblin' Jack was quite the looker as a young fella. So if you are drawing a comparison go ahead.

Back to the film, here is a brief list of some of the folks included: Kinky Friedman, Dave Van Ronk, Arlo and Nora Guthrie, Odetta, Wives of Mr., Harold Leventhal, Woody Guthrie( photos ), Lead Belly ( photos ), Dylan and many others. Don't leave until you see the credits and a brief commentary by Jack himself, which follows. I'm going again to see it. I was asleep during those years,long story, and I'm playing catch-up.


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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 Aug 00 - 10:47 PM

I know the feeling Art!!! But I look forward to it anyway.


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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: kendall
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 08:35 AM

I have no clue what you are talking about b flat?? I sent that picture of Jack to Pene, and he put it in with mine thats all.

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: bflat
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 08:17 PM

Kendall, oops, you were referring to the second photo with Jack on the resources page. I read into your post that you and he looked alike. Excuse me.

How about sharing a story if inclined, about Ramblin Jack? It's only a slight thread creep.

Thanks, bflat

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: kendall
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 08:54 PM

Actually, I dont know him all that well.. He stayed at the home of a mutual friend here in Portland. Did a gig here, and I was off somewhere, so didnt go. Next day, mutual friend called me and said that Jack wanted to meet me. We all went to dinner, and later made some music. He was very tired so it wasnt a long evening. Not a very exciting story, but, the truth seldom is! He got married recently, pretty good for a man his age..No, spaw, he didnt HAVE to.

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: bflat
Date: 29 Aug 00 - 08:25 PM

Perhaps some of you were listening to NPR's Morning Edition today when a feature included a discussion with Aiyana and Jack Elliott. One of the points of interest is that it is currently in Nashville and Los Angeles as well as NYC where I had seen it. Sooooo, if that is a theatre near you, check it out. Also, it will be distributed nationally. Morning Edition has some candid comments by Jack revealing his uncomfortableness about the honesty of the portrait, to which he seems to have reconcilled himself. Growth happens at any age, my editorial.


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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: Dale Rose
Date: 11 Sep 00 - 12:08 AM

Roger Ebert Review, Chicago Sun Times, September 8 ~~ Three stars.

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Subject: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film review
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Sep 00 - 07:57 PM

Art Thieme asked me to post this review, written by a friend of his.
-Joe Offer-
Film Criticism: by Warren Leming

The Ballad of Rambling Jack
Directed by Alyana Elliott
Music: Jack Elliott
Lot 47 Films
Running Time: 105 minutes
Featuring: Odetta, Pete Seeger, Dave Von Ronk, Arlo and Nora Guthrie, and Kris Kristofferson.

"As through this life I've rambled: I've seen lots of funny men
Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen."
(Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd the Outlaw: Woody Guthrie)

I first encountered the already legendary Jack Elliott in the winter of 1961, in Champaign, Illinois; the bleak college town where Elliott and a French girlfriend had been coughed up, courtesy of a faulty oil-pan, in the midst of a cross country journey. Elliott was showing the lady his version of America. Elliott and his lady remained with us, in an unheated back room on Stoughton Street, for some of that winter. In exchange for room and board, we got to witness his unending drollery, songs, and guitar.
I had first heard Elliott on a ten-inch compilation EP issued sometime in the late Fifties, singing and flat-picking a version of the Ballad of Jesse James. The record revealed him a superb guitarist, who had mastered that flat, adenoidal Southwestern twang natural to Woody Guthrie; a man whom Elliott befriended and came to idolize. The accent was not native to Elliott, born in 1931 in Brooklyn, New York; the son of a doctor. But that cowboy drawl does illustrate Elliott's natural and extraordinary mimetic gift. He has a fantastic ear, and can duplicate anything spoken or sung that he happens to hear.
Aiyana Elliott is the daughter of Jack Elliott, and in the course of this film she sets out to document her fathers peripatetic life-style and her attempts to have some "quality time" with the ever- elusive Dad who bedeviled her childhood. Elliott was often a no-show parent, as recounted ad nauseam by Elliott's daughter and ex-wife. The film's premise is a staple of documentary diet since Michael Moore did Roger and Me; the tale of a single quest for an elusive, deceptive figure, whose pursuit and evasions form the spine of the documentary.
The New York Times reviewer (Stephen Holden) finds that at the core of the film are Mr. Elliott's "mania for self invention," and the story of a man "unable to meet his most basic family responsibilities." Happily for the morally improving Times, Mr. Elliott's life veers from the platitudes of Middle Class normative with an alarming regularity. As Ms. Elliott interrogates her father, she begins to reveal, both to Elliott and the viewer, just why the quest for an identity which must always elude her, has come to dominate and dilute so much of America's cultural life. Elliott's daughter is a pure, earnest example of the terrible, frustrated sibling culture-now a Hollywood staple, theatrical and Performance cliché, and inescapable tool of American television. Whole generations of Americans out there now, producing, writing and directing-for whom mom and dad take on the proportions of Zeus and Hera: the twin Gods who soiled their lives and must pay and pay and pay (with the rest of us.)
The Times reviewer defines the singer as a "purist" whose lack of commercial success is due to his purity. This is the classic condescension paid to artists by a bogus Art culture now so dominated by corporate imagery and lore that it has acquired Capitalist amnesia.
Elliott is one of the aging representatives of an East Coast Bohemian scene which rejected corporate life; Capitalism, and the Bourgeois media. The film does not touch on this and omits a number of salient points, most tellingly: Guthrie's radical Communism; the large Left culture which made New York, from the Twenties on, a place termed "Little Moscow," and Elliott's own romantic version of Left politique.
Unlike Guthrie, whom he imitated and revered, Elliott's politics are those of the Beatnik inspired wanderers of the Fifties: a fascination with the Road-as spiritual source. It's an American tendency traceable to Walt Whitman: "The only home of the soul is the open road."
Elliott, the product of a narrow, stifling home, from childhood on was fascinated by Americana. For him this took the form of the cowboy (once our most enduring myth), the folksong, trucking and ranching, and a love of the sea. It's the most anti-employee agenda imaginable, now barely left alive in a corporate world, which has radically reworked all of those ideas. The cowboy got reworked to the Marlboro man; the folksong was sanitized and made academic; trucking and ranching are highbrow nostalgia, and as for the lure of the Road, it's a staple of "Jet Set" promo. To say that Elliott's legacy and life have been distorted to the point of twisted contusion is to put it lightly. It's a wonder the singing cowboy has survived a United States where all of what he came from has disappeared in the face of rampant advertised distortion and the cop-out that someone like Dylan represents.
Dylan, once a disciple of both Guthrie and Elliott, is now a millionaire, gloomily brooding on his love life, when not doing highly paid benefits for firms out of Silicon Valley. This was not to be Elliott's fate. This is not to suggest that Elliott is in any way consciously, unlike Pete Seeger or Ewan McColl, political.
The saddest aspect of the film is Elliott's bemused reflection on why he failed to achieve a significant stardom while Dylan went on to mansions in Malibu, expensive divorce, and Playboy prose accolade. Here we discover that Elliott absorbed a great deal from Guthrie, but not his well-honed hatred of a System based on stardom, alienation, and investment advisors. Guthrie once composed a song, whose sole lyric was:
"I hate your Capitalist system."
The film is proof that consciousness is losing ground.
Elliott's daughter has a penchant for whining, which can veer to grousing yammer in mid-sentence. She is testament to the strident, pathetic, perpetual adolescence now at the epicenter of American culture. That Elliott can endure the endlessly repeated interrogations about how and why Mom and Dad's marriage did not work out is testament to a man who can field with the best, and give, as occurs in one on-mike exchange, as well as he gets.
Elliott, a charismatic, handsome cabaret performer with a significant body of recorded work, has been married four times. His disorganization and irresponsibility can be pronounced, and are seen as evidence, not of his insistence on spontaneous improvisation-which he has extended to a life principle, but as telling evidence of his inability to make big money.
The singer has been poor for much of his life, and was apparently, for a time, drug dependent. Inexplicable to some, the filmmaker included, in a world where celebrity is now assumed to be a profitable extension of one's commodity status. An ex-wife at one point comments on Elliott's "interest in so many things," as reason why Elliott did not achieve what Dylan's "focus" brought him: pop-stardom and financial reward beyond mere avarice. A man's worst enemies, as the Good Book notes, are often from his own House.
In 1998, Clinton awarded Elliott the National Medal of Arts, after he released an award-winning album: South Coast.
Elliott is pushing 70, and stands unbowed and with considerable wit, the unabashed Brooklyn cowboy, a man who-(and here is the hard part) never seems to have betrayed what is at the heart of his life and music: the songs, and style of an Okie Communist who died broken and betrayed by a System he fought all of his life. Guthrie remains the great, American anti-Capitalist poet of the 20th century.
That Guthrie's legacy remains battered but still intact is part of Elliott's gift to the Republic. It has been a considerable feat.

(Warren Leming is a writer/critic who lives in Berlin and Chicago.)

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Sep 00 - 01:22 AM

Howdy folks: Thanks to Joe for knowing how to take my e-mail and insert Warren Leming's revue into this thread where I believe it belongs. Both sides can be championed------and knowing Mudcatters, we might have a discussion here to rival the great one we've been having via e-mails on JACK ELLIOTT, this film and, mostly, what, if anything, we owe the biological family as opposed to the artistic family (community) we have joined out on our various hot dusty roads.

For me, once I bought into the mesmerizing lifestyle of "the road" and a life singing folksongs, I realized it would be difficult to also have a family and be there for them while staying true to my musical ideals. I made choices that I hoped would allow me to mesh the two worlds and make both work -- on some level at least. We all had to accept less of the stuff (toys) the American Dream seems to be made of these days. But the path we, as a family, have trod is one that has been loving and mutually fulfilling in so many mentally enriching ways (some might call that intellectual spirituality) that I will forever be ecstatic I took the road I did.

It was Sandy Paton, about 40 years ago, who told me to hit the road and see America if I was going to sing the songs that sprang from her soil. Sandy, jokingly, says that he wonders if I've ever forgiven him. I'd best take this opportunity to thank him in public. (SANDY, THANK YOU !)

If Jack Elliott has had to endure the public flogging from his family because he chose the beat/folk pathway that Woody abandoned so trgically and prematurely (and therefore avoided being called on the carpet himself for similar doings)----I submit it is because he committed the crime of simply surviving until the kids were old enough to take out their anger in a venue like this film. As Roger Ebert said in his review, it does smell very like revenge.

Somehow, Carol and Chris and I, as totally different as we are, made it work---so far. Why?---You might well ask. Probably pure luck !

I'd be interested to see what others here might feel about the points made by Warren Leming or by anyone else posting in this thread. Decisions many of us have made over tha last half of the last century---lifestyle choices---philosophical meanderings----many other factors that have not hit me yet---there's lots of good grist for this forum's mill to be ruminated on possibly.

Art Thieme

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
Date: 16 Sep 00 - 12:31 PM

Congratulations to Warren Leming for his superb writing.

No one should ever have to compromise their art or the lur of the open road just so that they can give their children a decent life.

Of course, doing drugs and singing folk songs is more more important than being there for the children you bring into the world.

Anyone can be a parent. You have to know how to play guitar, sing and be irresonponsible all at the same time to be a folksinger like Eliott Charles Adnopoz.

BTW, it wasn't just his daughter that good old Ramblin' Jack rejected. Many years before, he rejected his parents and changed his name because he didn't want people to know he was Jewish.

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Sep 00 - 02:28 PM


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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 16 Sep 00 - 05:53 PM

You can hardly blame Jack for changing his name to be a folk singer in the 50's. Tony Curtis did it to be an actor; Kirk (!) Douglas did it to be an actor. He loved the music.

I am critical of people who commit parenthood, especially when there are hints of leeching off some woman in the process, and then not demonstrating love and caring. If my generation has a lot of whiners who haven't learned how to move on, there is good reason. His daughter is probably doing just what her shrink suggested: confornting her Dad dwith the things she really wants to know. I work with so many kids who are scarred in unimaginable ways by callous inept parents, and these are parents who are AROUND.

I remain critical of Guthrie for the same thing, though I admire his work. Note that family closeness seems very important to Arlo. (Of course, then, he knew his father was ILL.)

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: bflat
Date: 16 Sep 00 - 10:41 PM

Art, Thank you for your thoughts. I hadn't thought about the choice of the road vs. parenthood and responsibility. There is of course a responsibility to be the person we strike out to become. Sometimes when we fall short the shortage is ever more apparant than when we are a huge success and become admired by one and all. In any event, I am truly glad for you that your choices have been positive.

For Jack Elliott, I as an onlooker, admire his uniqueness and talent. It easy when you are not personally involved.


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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 Sep 00 - 06:04 PM

People, I love Jack's music---and I truly loved his westering and lure of the road mystique carrying on the romance and the traditions of Woody and the Wobblys and Pete and Joe Hill and even O'Carrolan. I think it's possible to do both---to be both---to be there in and for a family and still be true to your music/art. Foremost, though, is the role of dumb luck in the equation --- and being in the right place at the right time

Art Thieme

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: Wotcha
Date: 20 Sep 00 - 03:11 AM

The movie is showing at the Landmark Century Center, 2828 N. Clark, in Chicago.
If you ever get in this way, check out the Abbey Pub (3420 W. Grace) on Tuesday nights or The Gallery Cabaret (2020 N. Oakley) on Thursdays nights. At least one Mudcatter will be in Chicago in mid-Oct ... maybe an excuse to have a gathering ...
Cheers, Brian

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Sep 00 - 01:13 AM

Brian, I grew up walking distance from the old Century Theater on Clark near Diversey---before they became a vertical mall. Are they a theater again??? If I wasn't at the Lake Shore Theater at Belmont and Broadway every Saturday afternoon, I was at the Century. They had the only Cinemascope screen around the area back in the 40s and 50s.

Art Thieme

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 21 Sep 00 - 05:00 PM

Yes, Art, the top layer of the vertical mall is a theater again.

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Subject: Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack on Sundance
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 01:26 PM

Looks like this hasn't been posted yet ~~ if it has, sorry.

Sundance channel will be broadcasting The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack this evening at 8:30 CST (9:30 Eastern, you'll have to figure out the rest).

Better yet, since this is Sundance Festival time, you don't even have to be a subscriber if your system carries Sundance, because it is being transmitted free.

The next showing is scheduled for next Wednesday, but I have no idea if the free preview will still be on then.

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Subject: RE: Ballad of Ramblin' Jack on Sundance
From: Mudlark
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 02:30 AM

Just saw it...2 hours of great film...very candid...well, at least it SEEMS candid. I was at a party in LA that he was at back in the early 60's..for a while his sole (and enraptured) audience as everybody else was off getting high. .He seems much the same, only more so.

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Subject: RE: The Ballad Of Ramblin' Jack --the film
From: Mark Clark
Date: 30 Jan 02 - 12:19 PM

Well I finally got a chance to see this film. We live in a news blackout area (Cecar Rapids) where cultural events are generally viewed with suspicion so “The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack” never made it to our fair city.

Fortunately, we can still afford cable and the film is showing this week on the Sundance Channel. It will be shown again at 1:35PM Mudcat time on Thursday, January 31, and later that night at 12:35AM Friday.

      - Mark

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