Monday, June 18, 2007
Lewes, 22 February 2005.
Clockwise: Original handout; performance shots by Phil Flowers;
Jack with JM (photo by Mick Hawksworth)
My mind, the Mind, is too Vast to keep up with.'
- Jack Kerouac - Book of Dreams.
- [Source: www.ramblinjack.com]
Here is the original Telegraph article using quotes from the interview
Woody, Bob and Me
Who taught Bob Dylan to sing like Woody Guthrie? Ramblin' Jack Elliott.
John May met him
The Telegraph 19 February 2005
Ramblin' Jack Elliott cuts an unmistakeable figure. In the
The tale of Guthrie the father and his spiritual sons is worthy of a Steinbeck novel. It's the story of two Jewish boys, Elliott Adnopoz and Bob Zimmerman, both from stable, middle-class backgrounds, who changed their names to Jack Elliott and Bob Dylan and left home in pursuit of the roots and spirit of American music – and who met for the first time at Guthrie's bedside.
As a child, Elliott was fascinated by cowboys. In his teens, he ran away from home and joined a rodeo for three months, where he met a rodeo clown named Brahma Rodgers who gave him his first exposure to cowboy and hillbilly music.
Suitably inspired, and having heard his first Woody Guthrie record, Elliott tracked down his hero to
Elliott ended up moving into the Guthrie family house and began a five-year apprenticeship and friendship: "We'd get up every day about five in the morning. His son Arlo would wake me by throwing toys at me. We'd feed the kids breakfast and Woody would make a fairly tall glass of whisky and soda and I got to drinking some, too. We would play music, tell stories and drink until it was about 12 o'clock, when he would start to get these dizzy spells and he'd lie down and take a nap."
In 1955, Elliott took off to Europe with his new wife June, spending six years there as a "guitar bum" before returning to
In a spooky echo of his own first meeting with Guthrie, Elliott found that Guthrie already had a visitor: "a kid wearing a funny hat. I thought he was strange, but really interesting – good-looking in an odd sort of way, with a peach-fuzz beard." It was the 19-year-old Bob Dylan. He had arrived, Jack said later, "right on schedule".
Didn't he find that eerie?
"It's fantastic. It's like a movie. That's the way they want it in the movies. Supposedly doesn't happen that way in real life."
Does he remember that moment?
"After an hour, we took a bus over to
"I thought his guitar style was really interesting. It was awfully rough but very good and I could tell by his angle of attack, his attitude and the way he sang that he was going to be great. Other people could see he was imitating me but I couldn't see it at first. I was imitating Woody, and I was helping Bob to learn how to do it."
Jack and Bob hung out for a year or two, even living on the same floor of the same hotel along with rodeo cowboy Peter La Farge for a time. "We were best of friends and I could go on and on about the good times we had at the Gaslight and Gerde's
Inevitably, their paths and careers diverged. Jack lost contact when Dylan moved to
But Jack's affection for Dylan remains undimmed and the spirit of Guthrie lives on in them both. "I thought he paid me a very nice compliment in the book and a lot of other people too," says Elliott. "He sent me a birthday telegram when I was 70, which I got at a party at my manager Roy Roger's house. It said: 'Happy Birthday Jack. This Land Is Your Land. Bob.' It's plagiarism – but who cares."
Sunday, June 17, 2007
on the title page of the booklet from the 'Our New Orleans' CD.
Meeting Allen Toussaint at the Brighton Dome last Friday was a rare privilege - particularly post-Katrina. He and the other musicians seemed charged by the tragedy that has hit the Crescent City. 'It was a baptism more than a curse', says Toussaint. We are happy to be able to broadcast our conversation at the Audio Generalist.
Listen up to these two great records: 'Our New Orleans', a benefit album featuring some of the city's greatest artists, and 'The River in Reverse', a brilliant collaboration between Toussaint and Elvis Costello. T & C are touring the album throughout Europe next month. I'm booked in for the Tower of London show.
Here is the New Orleans Presservation Band in action at Brighton Dome on 15th June 2007.
Above 5 of the 7: From left: Ben Jaffe (sousaphone); Shannon Powell (drums);John Brunious (trumpet/vocals); Walter Payton (bass); Rickie Monie (Piano)
Left: Ben Jaffe parades through the audience.
Photos: John May
Preservation Hall is on 726 St Peter's Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It was originally built in 1750 as a private residence and has since housed many businesses including a bar during the Civil War and, more recently, as an art gallery, when the owner Larry Bornestein began to hold informal jazz sessions.
Allan Jaffe was a tuba player and main organiser of these events and in 1961 took over the running of the Hall with his wife Sandra. They envisaged it as a sanctuary for original New Orledans jazz - and so it has remained to this day.
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was also formed at this time and have been playing in various forms ever since. They currently play about 200 dates a year. For periods, there were several bands touring under that name at the same time. Most of the original band members played with pioneer New Orleans musicians Buddy Bolden, Bunk Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong.
Ben Jaffe is the son of the founders and John Brunious's father composed many of the songs that the band still plays today.
Hurricane Katrina did not damage Preservation Hall physically. Its stone walls and thick wooden shutters were designed to survive such winds. But their business has suffered due to the downturn in tourism post-Katrina and the band personally have fared less well.
Brunious and Rickie Monie lost their homes. Brunious escaped the city but ending up on the floor of the New Orleans convention centre for four days - 'hungry, thirsty and in constant fear of being attacked by marauding youths', according to an Associated Press report.
You can take a virtual tour of Preservation Hall and find out more about the Band here
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Your exclusive chance to listen to a interview with writer Jon Savage on his new book 'Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, published by Chatto & Windus. This major new work by the author of the fabulous 'England's Dreaming: Sex Pistols and Punk Rock' (1991) is throughly investigated in this exclusive recording.
Listen to it here
'Teenage' has been widely reviewed. The best of all of these, to my mind, is 'The Young and the Restless' by Camille Paglia in the New York Times (May 6,2007).
(Above): Jon Savage at the office of Chatto & Windus on June 1st 2007 [Photo/John May]; (Right) Photobooth portrait Spring 1977
Two interesting interviews with Jon Savage appeared in 3:AM Magazine, both conducted by the magazine's Editor-in-Chief Andrew Gallix. The first dates from 2002 and is entitled 'London's Outrage'; the second from May 2007 - 'Juvenilia and Other Delinquences.'
Jon has sold a large quantity of his punk material to the Liverpool John Moores University, who have created the 'England's Dreaming Punk Archive.'
The Audio Generalist is proud to present an exclusive interview with Julien Temple, director of 'Strummer' the new feature-length documentary on dear Joe. You can hear it here.
[From the detailed research for the interview I would single out these two pieces as being of particular note:
'Joe Strummer: the film' by Stephen Dalton (The Times May 12, 2007). The strapline reads: 'Julien Temple's life uncannily reflected Joe Strummer's. No wonder he has filmed the biography.'
The immaculate punk' by Alexis Petridis (The Guardian, 10 May 2007)
Julien and I had not seen each other since 1982, when I interviewed him for Time Out magazine about his recently cancelled project 'Teenage', made for Granada with Jon Savage and Peter York. (I was, I believe, one of the few outsiders to see it). 'Three big egos in one small video box' is his comment on the episode 25 years later. Here is the original Time Out piece.
(Time Out June 11-17, 1982)
At the age of 28 Julian Temple has already made some 30 promotional videos; he has also directed two feature-length films, the Sex Pistols, 'The Great Rock and Roll Swindle' and 'The Secret Policeman's Other Ball'. A graduate of the National Film School and of the somewhat less institutionalised Malcolm McLaren Charm School, Temple is popularly regarded as being in direct contact with the Zeitgeist of modern youth, and was centrally involved in the production of 'Teenage', a TV series on teenage culture made for Granada that has since been shelved.
Temple regards the development of teenage culture since the war as 'an incredibly illuminating window on the historical process in Britain', but ironically believes that teenage, having become obsessed with the trappings of style over content, has ceased to be relevant as a social phenomenon. In other words: Teenage Is Dead.
'The Sex Pistols were the first people to say that in 1976,' says
'If you went to the Club For Heroes you see 49-year-olds still desperately trying to be teenagers. If you visit your uncle you see little kids aged four desperately identifying with Adam Ant. The kind of spectrum that exists now just makes total nonsense of the defined idea that the years 13 to 19 are anything very special.
'The other thing that rams it home now is the economic situation. In market terms, the people who have money to spend are older people who spend it on their young kids or themselves. The teenage thing has been isolated and age groups either side are actually consuming more.
'Kids did begin to have a certain spending power in the late 1950s but have now lost it. It's been interesting researching the programme, how many of the parents of the kids today — who were involved in the first wave of teenage culture in England — were saying how much better off they were as kids in terms of having a good time, having money to spend and things to do, than the kids of today.'
The fact that youth today has no understanding of its place in this cultural tradition is what concerns Temple most: 'If they don't understand that it's all been done before, that it's the endless recycling and re-exhumation of old ideas, then they won't reject it.'
This rejection, he feels, is important if youth and its culture are to progress into the modern age. But
'The whole idea of what we were doing (in the TV series) was to rewrite that history from the perspective of the thing now being over. Hindsight is a very useful perspective that hasn't really existed until now.
'What is killing any really new development in music is this old carcass of pretension and art, with NME theorists like barnacles all over the thing. They need to be cut off and music just needs to be like any other creative function in society. You dance to it and enjoy it but you don't have to read Paul Morley's ideas about it anymore.
'The notion of teenage now is a notion of controlling people, packaging people into a loop. It's like joining the army almost. You're fed in, you go round in a loop and every three years the rockabilly style comes up. It's just endlessly repeating itself and stopping people seeing beyond this stupid little whirligig.'
While many of today's pop figureheads have adopted a much more practical modus operandi than that of their predecessors,
'I didn't like the New Romantic style of music, thinking or videos. They all seemed to go hand in hand. "Let's run up to the attic and get out the dressing-up trunk." Every Ultravox mini-thing was more pretentious than the last one and further away from any kind of meaningful statement. It's very predictable in its decadence.
'I just think there's something a bit cleaner and healthier in the kind of one-finger synthesizer music that has replaced it, the Depeche Mode thing or the Human League. It actually seems one step nearer to the end to me, because anyone can do it.
'If you dial a push-button phone you can play your own tune. If you add up your royalties, you're actually writing your next song on your melodic calculator. Very terminal exercise but it's fun and less pretentious.'See previous post: NME: The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music
This was the first major piece on the first Sex Pistols film, published in late 1979.