Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Rambling on about Rambling Jack


Yep, Ramblin Jack is still alive and well and living in West Marin. He may be pushing 88, but he’s not exactly pushing daisies just yet. He may also not have been a real cowboy by birth, but he is a cowboy of the heart. Still cruising the back backroads in his big blue Dodge truck, he takes it slow. I remember when he used to live in Forest Knolls. He wasn’t so much the country boy back then, but he sure liked girls on horseback. If he wasn’t half cocked, he was generally half-lit. Before I was working for Mimi Fariña at Bread & Roses, I ran into him at a concert, at San Francisco State, in 1974, where nobody showed up, so we all hung out in the cafeteria. Hoyt Axton was hunkered down, with his sledgehammer hands performing a strange CPR to the formica tabletop. I remember sitting at that circular coffee table on its singular iron leg, as they swapped yarns, their knees lifting the small table off the ground, as if it was levitating from the sheer exuberance of all the collective tall tales being told as they outdid themselves and each other. I was a fly on the wall mesmerized into muteness. That iron claw foot was scratching the floor, was screening, and wailing like a monster—tidal waves of coffee splashing in our cups. Their hands thrumming hoofbeats into the proverbial sunset. Move along, little dogies, move along.

The Last Folksinger Ramblin’ Jack Elliott befriended Woody Guthrie, hung out with the Dead, and hit the road with Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue. At 88, this self-made cowboy is still on the move
His life story, Ramblin On, by Steve Heilig

Ramblin on with Ramblin Jack and Steve Heilig at Michael Lerner’s Commonweal, Marconi Station

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