Monday, August 1, 2011

Ramblin' Jack Elliott (August 1, 1931)

A few years ago, I saw a documentary film about the life of Ramblin' Jack Elliot, American folk singer -- The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack.

I learned that his birth name was Elliot Charles Adnopoz, and that he grew up Jewish in Brooklyn and then recreated his folk music identity so people thought he was maybe a cowboy or a country boy or anything but what he was. He learned from Woody Guthrie, and from his wanderings around the country. I also learned about his extensive influence on American folk music, including on Bob Dylan, and began to wonder why so many Jews participated in the folk music revival as collectors, singers, and other innovators. I wonder. But I can't think of any but the most trite and sterotyped answers about Jews as semi-outsiders.

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