Inside Llewyn Davis is based only loosely on the life of folk icon Dave Van Ronk and the 1961 pre-folk boom Greenwhich Village scene he describes in his posthumous memoir, The Mayor of MacDougal Street, but there are many glimmers of truth to be found if you know where to look.
To start, the cover art for Llewyn Davis' solo album, Inside Llewyn Davis, which is briefly glimpsed in the film, draws directly from Van Ronk's 1963 release, Inside Dave Van Ronk. Both covers show the eponymous artist leaning against an open door, wearing a tweed jacket, a cigarette in hand. One difference? The cat lingering by Van Ronk's feet is missing from Llewyn's. Must have gotten away. —Zara Golden