- This is to introduce Jack Elliott, my long-lost father, who abandoned me at the age of 12.
- Bob Dylan, in a letter to Columbia A&R; man John Hammond
- I suppose I taught Bobby a few of my songs. Those old VD songs by Woody that nobody wanted the young kids to know, he picked them up from me....
- Ramblin' Jack Elliott, quoted in Robert Shelton, No Direction Home, London 1987, p. 104
- At one point in Bob Dylan's film "Renaldo and Clara," an off-camera voice asks
some fairly portentious question about Beauty. " Beauty?" Dylan mutters in response,
and the film immediately cuts to Ramblin' Jack Elliott yodeling.
Of all the folk performers who influenced the young Dylan (including
Dave Van Ronk, Eric Von Schmidt and Martin Carthy ) none matches Ramblin
Jack in both the breadth and depth of his affect. Dylan hit New York
City to find his icon Woody Guthrie too ravaged by Huntington's Chorea
to show him much. But Ramblin' Jack Elliott, a Brooklyn born rodeo rider
and cowboy singer, had spent the previous decade learning everything
Woody had to teach. It was he, not Guthrie, who was best able to pass
on Guthrie's canon to the young acolyte. The eccentric vocal phrasing,
rack harmonica, and driving guitar strumming now forever associated
with Dylan actually found their highest and purest expression in Elliott,
whose yodeling Dylan never mastered or wisely, even attempted.
- Peter Specer, Newark Star Ledger, 11/23/97
- "My ex-wife was visiting from Europe, and I was showing her around the Village. And she was really irate about that kid, and kept saying, why didn't he get a haircut, why didn't he stop imitating me. She didn't see the humor of it at all. I thought she was being real dumb about it. 'You don't understand. He's a talented kid, honey, just learning his trade.'
"He was doing what I did," Elliott adds. "I used to imitate Woody Guthrie to where people were pissed off at me too. All of Woody's old friends and fans would go, 'Oh, you think you're Woody Guthrie or something? I know Woody, you're not Woody. Who the hell are you anyway? Find your own goddamn self!'"
But where many of the Village folk purists thought of Dylan as little more than a pushy, overzealous youngster, Elliott befriended and promoted the singer/songwriter.
- Rob Patterson, Houston Press, 4/9/88
like a friend of mine, jack elliot, [sic] who says he
was reborn in Oklahoma, I say I was reborn in
there is no age limit stuck on it
an no one is more conscious of it than I
- Bob Dylan, A Message From Bob Dylan, Open Letter - December 1963