Thirty-five years later at New York's Bottom Line, Elliott covered protégé Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice." In this extraordinary performance, Elliott -- a man named for his manic celebration of American individualism, a cowboy since he ran away from home at 15 -- voices more regret than Dylan ever could. When he sadly holds onto the last syllable of You're the reason I'm traveling on, Elliott sounds like a man rationalizing his compulsion to roam.
These highlights transcend the rest of this fine album. The other 18 performances are also gems, giving the feeling of what it must be like to spend an evening with Elliott. He can make the banal truck stop dialogue of "Cup of Coffee" riveting, and he can tell a story like Guthrie's "1913 Massacre" and bring tears to every eye in the room. His vocals demand attention by scraping and moaning and shouting for joy. And though he could wow any circle of listeners with some fast picking, his guitar playing is just as likely as his voice to opt for a primitive pause at any unexpected moment. But while Ramblin' Jack Elliott's road-honed performances charm, the sounds that resonate are those that reveal his addiction to adventure, cutting him off from something much deeper.