Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina, and Richard Farina
by David Hajdu
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2002
(from the publisher) The story of how four young bohemians on the makeBob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mimi Baez, and Richard Farinaconverged in Greenwich Village, fell into love, and invented a sound and a style that are one of the most lasting legacies of the 1960s
When Bob Dylan, age 25, wrecked his motorcycle on the side of a road near Woodstock in 1966 and dropped out of the public eye, he was recognized as a genius, a youth idol, and the authentic voice of the countercultureand Greenwich Village, where he first made his mark as a protest singer with an acid wit and a barbed-wire throat, was unquestionably the center of youth culture.
So embedded are Dylan and the Village in the legend of the '60sone of the most powerful legends we have these daysthat it is easy to forget how it all came about. In Positively 4th Street, David Hajdu tells the story of the emergence of folk music from cult practice to popular and enduring art form as the story of a colorful foursome: not only Dylan but his part-time lover Joan Baezthe first voice of the new generation; her sister Mimibeautiful, haunted, and an artist in her own right; and her husband Richard Farina, a comic novelist (Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me) who invented the worldliwise bohemian persona that Dylan adoptedsome say stoleand made as his own.
The story begins in the plain Baez split-level house in a Boston suburb, moves to the Cambridge folk scene, Cornell University (where Farina ran with Thomas Pynchon), and the University of Minnesota (where Robert Zimmerman christened himself Bob Dylan and swapped his electric guitar for an acoustic and a harmonica rack) before the four protagonists converge in New York.
Based on extensive new interviews, and full of surprising revelations, Positively 4th Street is that rare book with a new story to tell about the 1960s. It is, in a sense, a book about the '60s before they were the '60sabout how the decade and all that is now associated with it were created in a fit of collective inspiration, with an energy and creativity that David Hajdu captures on the page as if for the first time.
About the Author
David Hajdu's first book, Lush Life, won the ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and is being adapted for a feature film. Hajdu lives in New York City and writes for The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and The New York Review of Books.
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