Inside Llewyn Davis Poster
Set in 1961, Inside Llewyn Davis was inspired by the cultural disconnection within a New York–based music scene, where the songs seemed to come from all parts of the United States except New York, but whose performers included Brooklyn-born Dave Van Ronk and Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Well before writing the script, the Coens began with a single idea, of Van Ronk being beaten up outside of Gerde's Folk City in the Village. The filmmakers employed the image in the opening scenes, then periodically returned to the project over the next couple of years to expand the story using a fictional character. One source for the film was Van Ronk's posthumously published (2005) memoir, The Mayor of MacDougal Street. According to the book's co-author, Elijah Wald, the Coens mined the work "for local color and a few scenes". The character is a composite of Van Ronk, Elliot, and other performers from the New York boroughs who performed in the Village at that time. Joel Coen remarked that "the film doesn't really have a plot. That concerned us at one point; that's why we threw the cat in. "