Lovers Lane
In The Flesh

Hello, My Name Is Ramblin’ Jack

| April 1, 2009

Hello, My Name Is Jack
Q&A With Ramblin’ Jack Elliott


IE: How’s your family?

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott: Well, I’ve got a lot of families scattered all over the world. I have a daughter who lives in Los Angeles and she’s a filmmaker.

IE: She has some of your blood.

RJE: You might say. She did a documentary movie about what it’s like to be the daughter of a no-talent guitar picker who doesn’t come and visit. It was called The Ballad Of Ramblin’ Jack.

IE: You were born in Brooklyn, right?

RJE: Yeah. The stork was headed for Arizona or Montana and he stopped off and got drunk somewhere and ended up in Brooklyn by mistake. Dropped me off there.

IE: How does a boy from Brooklyn get hooked on cowboys?

RJE: Well, I saw the rodeo in Madison Square Garden when I was 9-years old. My parents made the grave error of taking me to that rodeo. Gene Autry was the singing star that year.

IE: What was your interest as a boy before that?

RJE: I thought I might like to be a merchant marine sailor and sail around the world in tramp steamers and ocean-going vessels. I was fascinated with ships and the sea thanks to a next door neighbor of mine who was a sea captain. Ol’ Captain Hinkley would teach me all about ships. But my career as a folk singer must have really started when I ran away from home in 1947 to become a cowboy. I got to traveling with this rodeo called the J.E. Ranch Rodeo. I was grooming horses for $2 a day. Rogers The Clown played guitar, banjo, and sang hillbilly songs and would entertain us rodeo hands up in the stands between shows. We’d put 50 cents or a dollar in the hat, and I was only making $2 a day. But I put some money in his hat because I sure enjoyed his singin’ and pickin’. That was the first real live cowboy music I ever heard. When I got back from that rodeo trip, I was going on 16-years old I found an old guitar in the closet.

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott releases A Stranger Here April 7th on Anti Records. Q&A by Steve Forstneger.


Category: Columns, File, Monthly

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