What do rec.music.dylan readers think of Richard Farina's Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me? And of his music? How significant a figure would he have become if he had not died in a motorcycle crash in 1966?
qms1.life.uiuc.edu (Stewart Berlocher):
Well, the book was a favorite of mine in college (66-70), but then I wasn't very well read at the time (I am from Texas, ya know).:^). The only music of Farina's I have listened to extensively is the first (I think there were two) Richard and Mimi Farina album (sorry, I can't quite remember the title sitting here at work). It was sort of interesting, folk performed with standard guitar and non-standard fake-sitar-sounding-dulcimer. Judy Collins did a stronger version of "Spoonful of fun" than did R & M F. My favorite song on the album, and actually a favorite of mine in general, is "A swallow song", a melancholy song that works quite well with their rather odd vocal and instrumental mix.
Could he have become a significant figure? I don't really think so, but then who knows? Joan Baez (Mimi is her sister) wrote more extensively about Farina than Dylan in her first autobiography, "Daybreak". Apparently a very bright guy.
Just to finish up some trivia, Joanie wrote a very moving song entitled "Sweet Sir Galahad" about the guy who married Mimi after Farina died. And finally, to end on a Dylan note, the liner notes to the album discussed above thank, along with a huge list of other people, "Bob Dylan for the use of his red Ford station wagon".
email@example.com (Timothy Bowden):
Jealous, Mimi told it. Here was this Jewish kid with all this success...
_Been Down So Long -_ was an anthem, I recall. It featured a wayward radicaland `immunity', but then I haven't looked at it in over twenty - thirty years.
The motorcycle was an ironical touch...
The story from his collection, I can't think of the title, but the story is wonderful. "A Passing Of Various Lives" is as good as it gets, I say.
What's the name of the blasted story collection?..
Anyway, he was bettern' Dylan at fencing, I think it was. Also basketball.
firstname.lastname@example.org (George Rothe):
well, when the frost was on the pumpkin he was a hard loving son of a gun!
i tend to think he was overrated. i have some of the farina/farina things... i don't play them. never really did. and his stuff with von schmidt in dobell's (london) wasn't that great either.
or were you referring to the book?
RS: Farina's best songs could be as chilling as any of the other Dylan-inspired folk-rock singers, and he used rock rhythm sections more effectively than any folk rocker except Dylan and the Byrds.
Richard Farina wasn't just a good dulcimer player and brother-in-law to Joan Baez through marriage to his performer/songwriter wife Mimi, but he was also a novelist, Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up to Me, and a hell of a songwriter. When my wife and I were married in September, 1968, in the wake of the Martin Luther King and RFK assassinations, the urban uprisings, and the Chicago demonstrations, we chose to have the congregation recite the lyrics to one of his songs. ... It rings as true now as it did then. Children of Darkness
> Joan Baez's sisters name is Mimi Farina. She is married to Richard Farina.
> He wrote Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me. One of the great novels
> of the '60s. The rumor that Dylan fooled around with Mimi is unlikely.
> Before Dylan was anybody, Richard and Mimi were together. Just after John
> Hammond discovered Bob and prior to him doing any recording, Bob sat in on a
> recording session of Mimi and Richard and played harmonica on their record.
> Richard and Bob were not close but friendly. It would be unlikely for him
> to attempt to break up this relationship.
Richard Farina has been dead for almost 31 years. He was killed in a motorcyle crash
leaving a party celebrating the publication of his book. He was married to Mimi Farina
at the time. They made two incredible records for Vanguard, Celebrations For A Grey Day
and Reflections In A Crystal Wind. After his death, Vanguard released Memories, a
collection of left-overs, outtakes and assorted other tracks. Richard Farina's first
wife was Carolyn Hester. It was her recording that Dylan played harmonica on.