I’m gonna go ahead and say that beyond just country and folk, Jack Elliot has had a tremendous impact on music. He was the intermediate Woody Guthrie before Dylan showed up. And without Elliot, who knows how little Robert Zimmerman would have turned out.
Elliot though is not known for his tremendous catalog of recorded music. In fact, he’s given to covering the songs of others – a true folk troubadour. As a follow up to the 2006 I Stand Alone, the new A Stranger Here is a collection of country blues standards.
Producer Joe Henry, who has worked with Solomon Burke and Elvis Costello, says that he came up with the idea to do blues covers, approached Elliot and ended up working together.
Elliot, who turned 77 last August, has a great deal of first hand knowledge about some of the folks he aims to cover on this album. Being a part of the first wave of American folk singers to make it to Europe and back in the ‘50s, Elliot paved the way for package folk tours during the next decade that would resurrect the career of some long forgotten blues giants.
A Stranger Here collects songs from the likes of Son House, Mississippi John Hurt and Rev. Gary Davis. But if that wasn’t enough, Van Dyke Parks will be backing up Elliot on the release.
Parks is best known for his 1968 album Song Cycle as well as being an indispensible collaborator with the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. That might mean that the music behind Elliot will be a bit fuller than in the past, but I Stand Alone benefited from the accompaniment of Flea, DJ Bonebrake and Lucinda Williams.
We’ll have to wait to hear the results first, but we’re still waiting for a complete track list as of yet.