Ramblin' Jack Elliott: Falling Down Blues
Falling Down Blues
Ramblin' Jack Elliott (vocals, guitar)
A Stranger Here (Anti 87005)
Ramblin' Jack Elliott (vocals, guitar),
Greg Leisz or David Hidalgo (strings), David Piltch (bass), Keefus Ciancia or Van Dyke Parks (piano), Jay Bellerose (drums).
Composed by Furry Lewis.
Recorded: South Passadena, CA, July, 2008
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
Somewhere in the Bill of Rights, American citizens must have been granted the right to complete self-reinvention. How else could Elliott Charles Adnopoz, raised as the son of a respectable Brooklyn doctor, abandon all conventional ties, run away with the rodeo, and end up as Ramblin' Jack Elliott?
That was an eternity ago, and Jack is still ramblin'. Fortunately his travels include (all too rare) stopovers in the recording studio, where he leaves the rest of us a digital taste of what Americana is all about. Elliott is perhaps best known as an influence on Bob Dylan or as an heir to the legacy of Woody Guthrie. But it isn't fair to this artist to see him primarily in terms of those he influenced and those who influenced him. His sound is his own, raw and beautiful, and exists outside of the orbits of Dylan and Guthrie.
On the 2009 album, A Stranger Here, recorded a few days before his 77th birthday, Elliott covers a wide range of traditional songs, but my favorite track is this reinterpretation of a sweet old Furry Lewis tune "Falling Down Blues." Elliott captures the traditional Memphis blues sound perfectly here, with its contradictory combination of lamentation and celebration. This was a style that both recognized the blues as a lover's complaint, but also knew that it was meant to entertain an audience. And Ramblin' Jack Elliott certainly knows how to do just that. May he keep ramblin' forever.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia