Celebrate Ramblin’ Jack Elliott’s 90th 91st birthday!


"Perhaps I should say many years ago"Daughter Aiyana's telling of his first 70 years

I don’t think I’ve spoken to Ramblin’ Jack Elliott (The Last Folksinger) since I met him in 1966 in Columbia, MO. But, it is hard to imagine how different my life would be if not for the encouragement he gave to Caroline seven years later.

At the time, I hardly knew her, knew she had supported herself as a seamstress, and knew that I liked her cats. I didn’t know that she also was a painter/sculptor/singer/songwriter. I was recovering from a couple of overnight stays at the student health center with mysterious stomach viruses. I was trying to get my graduate school efforts back on track. I was bored with the band I was playing with.

A mutual friend said, “Why don’t you play with Caroline Abbitt?” Our friend told me of Caroline being invited to Luckenbach by Jerry Jeff Walker, meeting Elliott there, and singing harmony with Elliott. She knew all of his songs and told him of singing along with his records while washing dishes. Elliott was duly impressed and told her she should do more musically.

Caroline came to my place, played finger-style guitar as well as anyone I knew, inspired with her own songs, and belted out classics, while I played harmonica. She exclaimed that I sounded like Paul Butterfield (I might have aspired to sound like Tony Glover or Brian Jones).

We started playing together regularly. Whenever she had a new song, I would record it. We married four years later.

“Did you ever, stand and shiver, just because you were looking at a river?”

That’s the original 912 Greens. There’s at least one entirely different version, maybe others.


[Addendum July 3, 2022: The last time I saw Ramblin’ Jack live was in 1995 at the second Freight & Salvage location. However, I heard him live on the radio six weeks ago, so I’m looking forward to celebrating his 91st birthday soon!]
[Addendum August 9, 2022: Ramblin’ Jack Elliott Reflects on His Friendship with Woody Guthrie and Why Bob Dylan’s Act Made Him Stop Playing Harmonica Onstage

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