Quick Book Review: “Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña” by David Hajdu
A well-written and detailed account of the intertwined lives of four prominent, larger-than-life fixtures of the folk music scene of the early 60s. The book very effectively transports you back to those heady, exciting days of the Greenwich Village music clubs and cafes. I really knew nothing about Joan Baez’s sister Mimi, nor anything about her enigmatic, fascinating husband, Richard Fariña. Richard wrote novels, songs, poems, sang, and played the dulcimer. I often stopped while reading to seek out on YouTube old videos of some of the songs mentioned in the book, and this added a lot to the context and enjoyment of the book. For all of the accolades Dylan has received in print, this book gave a pretty nasty portrayal of Bob as a selfish control freak with a fabricated past. I’m a Dylan fan, and the story of his rise to fame was certainly interesting, but the parts about Mimi and Joan, and especially Richard, were the most fascinating to me, mainly because the four principals are treated as real people and not put on a pedestal. Recommended for folk fans and New York nostalgia lovers.