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Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña
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Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  2,602 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
When twenty-five-year-old Bob Dylan wrecked his motorcycle near Woodstock in 1966 and dropped out of the public eye, he was already recognized as a genius, a youth idol with an acid wit and a barbwire throat; and Greenwich Village, where he first made his mark, was unquestionably the center of youth culture.

In Positively 4th Street, David Hajdu recounts the emergence of fo
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 10th 2002 by North Point Press (first published April 28th 2001)
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Dec 28, 2007 Kirk rated it liked it
I picked this up during a time I was really into Farina and was wishing there was a good biography of him and the story behind BEEN DOWN SO LONG IT LOOKS LIKE UP TO ME. It's not many people, after all, who can claim to have gone to college with Thomas Pynchon and C. Michael Curtis and then become a near-brother-in-law to Dylan. The book is strong on the cafe culture of the late 50s and early 60s. Dylan fans will no doubt feel a bit defensive bc Mr. Zimmerman is treated more as a human than a dei ...more
Aug 09, 2007 Mary rated it really liked it
Bob Dylan looks like a real asshole in this book. Maybe he was?
Apr 19, 2010 Derek rated it liked it
Obviously, there are more Dylan bios than even the most dedicated fan would have the time to slog through, so David Hajdu's fresh take on the subject puts it somewhere above most of the others. I'm sure there are some readers who picked it up out of an interest in Farina or the Baezes (kudos to all seven of you), but for the most part, I think this is a book mostly meant for Dylan aficionados. What sets the book apart is that Hajdu doesn't necessarily treat Dylan as the focus, and the book is st ...more
Jun 09, 2008 Cyndi rated it liked it
Man, Joan Baez is fucking irritating.
Jan 04, 2012 Jeff rated it really liked it
I considered reading Positively 4th Street when it first came out, but never got around to it. I considered reading Hajdu's second book, Lush Life, but never got around to it. But when The Ten-Cent Plague, his third book, was published I couldn't resist, it seemed like it would be such a fun book and it was. So naturally I went and got a copy of this book, the subject of which I was familiar, i.e., the tragic story of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Richard and Mimi Fariña.

I've never been a big fan of Dyl
Aug 12, 2010 Terry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dusty Henry
Jul 24, 2012 Dusty Henry rated it liked it
David Hadju was pretty ambitious taking on a four headed biography where each of the subjects could have (and some do) their own books devoted to them. To be honest, I wasn't even aware of Mimi and Richard Farina before this. Despite these things, Hadju pulls it off with an interesting "he-said-she-said" style which reveals the surprising roots of the folk revival.

When I started reading I was a bit concerned, it seemed a bit "Baez-centric." Dylan wasn't even mentioned until something like 60 pag
Nov 18, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it
The books timeline was roughly 1960-1966 centering on all four of the names in the title and largely in that order. The book took a unique and intimate approach by way of introduction to the four characters and leading the reader to some logical conclusions about the musicians and music. A lot of material is packed in this book to give you the background and feel for the characters and the scenery and it moves on like a thriller towards the last third of the book. For the most part Hajdu kept a ...more
Feb 17, 2008 jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, memoir-bio
while much has been written about the king and queen of folk, there is remarkably less to be found about richard fariña & mimi baez. this book chronicles the early years of the scene, from the late 1950's through the mid-1960's. it is an interesting read, and was clearly researched quite thoroughly (hajdu even scored interviews with fariña's notoriously media-wary college roommate & famed novelist, thomas pynchon).

to me, the most fascinating parts of the book dealt with richard & mi
May 22, 2007 Aaron rated it liked it

It's funny how people of history hold this cemented place in your mind. Mainly because you don't know much about them. That was true for me when thinking about Joan Baez and Bob Dylan before I read this book. But now my vision of these famous songwriters is more clear and more enjoyable. In short I'll say that I like Joan much more, and Dylan much less. I'd recommend this book to anyone who's enjoyed a folk song, or any music that had political meaning. You learn a great deal about the 4 title c
David Ward
Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina, and Richard Farina by David Hajdu (Farrar Strauss & Giroux 2001)(780.92) focuses on the period in Bob Dylan's development as an artist when folk went mainstream and international. This was the moment when Dylan and his lover Joan Baez became worldwide superstars. My rating: 5/10, finished 3/10/14.
Apr 04, 2013 Kim rated it liked it
Second reading. Especially interesting after reading Suze Rotolo. Regained appreciate for the genius of Richard Fariña.
Nov 29, 2013 Julie rated it liked it
Provided a lot of context about the 1960s folk scene.
Richard Levine
Oct 27, 2016 Richard Levine rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
A really interesting account of the folk scene of the early 1960s, structured to focus on the story of four musicians whose lives intersected at various key points: Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina, and Richard Farina. I picked this one up mostly because I wanted to read something about the early Bob Dylan, and although it does pretty much cover the Dylan story up through his motorcycle accident in 1966, it is not at all Dylan-centric: the Baez sisters and Farina are equally important part ...more
Mary Alice
Jan 09, 2017 Mary Alice rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating biography that sheds new light on Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. And it is an even more interesting tale of two people I never heard of -- Mimi Baez and Richard Farina.

We see Dylan as a hard nose talent, using Baez to get ahead in the music world and discarding her when he becomes more famous than her. We see Baez as a young woman attached to her family, but at the same time fearful of her sister Mimi's talent, even as she herself becomes the reigning queen of folk in the sixtie
M. Milner
Dec 19, 2013 M. Milner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A confession: I may have a slight Bob Dylan obsession. I own a bunch of his albums, have written a bunch of pieces about him and own a handful of books about him and his music. Dylan’s a fascinating guy: how did this awkward, mumbling guy from Minnesota take the folk world by storm, explode into rock music and revolutionize music in less than five years?

Those questions were part of the attraction for David Hajdu’s book positively 4th Street. His four-headed biography also covers Richard Farina
David Allen
Nov 22, 2016 David Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went in knowing little about Mimi and Richard Farina, and skeptical they merited equal attention with Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, but this thoroughly researched book (with an interview-by-fax with Richard's pal Thomas Pynchon!) brings the lesser-known Farinas to life. It also scrubs some gloss off the Dylan legend, offering the novel theory that he didn't really find himself until '64.
I really, really liked it. Liked hearing about the interconnected lives of the Baezes and Dylan and Farina.
Nov 30, 2016 Nina rated it it was ok
The book was interesting, but so many names without explanation of who they were bothered me.
Denis Farley
Jan 31, 2011 Denis Farley rated it it was amazing
Hmm, finished on Valentines Day . .. the heros of my youth, although Richard and Mimi were a subtext but certainly grew in stature after this reading. I had been aware of Richard's book but don't believe I read it or can't remember if I did and may have even seen the movie . . . It was it seems well researched and referenced, and quite a few quotes. Easy reading and essentially before my time . . . I mean, it was a good deal of the soundtrack for those years although I had always been eclectic, ...more
Tracy Jones
Jan 16, 2013 Tracy Jones rated it really liked it
I had originally bought this book for a college class I was supposed to take. Fate had a weird twist, and the professor died the weekend before the class started. So, I kept this book and the others because I was interested in them. (The class was about the 60's) Now, just about 4 years later, I decided to dust off the cover of this one and give it a whirl.
I enjoyed reading this book partially because I learned a lot about a subject I had never really thought about that much before. I really on
Mar 06, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Detailed, interesting, and gossipy. This deconstructed my heroes. A little bit.


"'I lived with her, and I loved the place,' Dylan recalled. 'And, like, I lived with her. Hey, I lived with Joan Baez.'"

"'Dylan was offensive in that he would really be rude to people, and Dick wouldn't be rude to people. But Dick was like 'Look at me -- here I am. Dig me!' Dylan was like, 'Look all you want. You'll never see me.'"


From Resilience Science, a review of Steven Johnson's Where Good Ideas Come From:
Aug 06, 2013 Kevin rated it it was amazing
Para alguien ajeno al origen de la escena folk de la costa este de EE UU, este libro acomoda muchas ideas y pasa lista de todos las cabezas relevantes del momento, especialmente para quiénes nunca han pasado más allá de los datos obvios y fragmentos de wikipedia o simplemente no son muy aficionados (como yo.)

Aún más allá el libro es brillante: narración perfecta, velocidad, prosa, datos, fotografías, comentarios, entrevistas lo vuelven una historia atrapante y casi ficticia (sin alcanzar idolatr
Jan 21, 2016 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Thematically intriguing and thoroughly researched, David Hajdu's Positively 4th Street covers the emerging folk movement of the early 60's through the affair of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez as well as the marriage of Richard Fariña to Mimi Baez Fariña. With fascinating insights into the literary and musical careers of its protagonists, the biography focuses especially on the way these four influenced and inspired one another. The novel always maintains direction, never wandering off topic. For Hajdu' ...more
Todd Stockslager
Jun 08, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Those were hard times. Folk music fed on the Beat generation, the antiwar movement, the labor movement, mixed in the ferment of the times (drugs and sex are a potent brew). Some were nearly-instant celebreties in very small communities, and two become immense stars: Joan Baez first, who then supported the young Dylan, by this reading. While Hajdu seems biased toward the Baez family and too hard on Dylan, it appears to me that both got as good as they gave. They both used each other for what they ...more
Jan 13, 2014 Marti rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, scenes
Having just finished the Graham Nash biography, this was a good follow up. Although I never felt that I identified with this scene that much (it seemed a little too earnest and serious for me); it was a very insightful piece of social history. It pretty much confirmed my idea of Dylan as a scathingly sarcastic narcissist who claimed he was posing as a socially committed folksinger because "it seemed like that's what people wanted to hear." The only one of this group of four that seemed truly lik ...more
Nov 20, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it
Shelves: music-writing
Does something within rock crit unconscionable: suggests that the literary side of Dylan's lyrical audacity in the early love songs ("Don't Think Twice," "Girl From the North Country" "Tomorrow is Such a Long Time," "Mama You've Been On My Mind") comes, not from the Beats, as if, that's been boilerplate for way too long, but from Farina and the folkie coterie around the Gaslight. Hajdu explains, that is, Dylan's meteoric compositional game-raising that occurred between late 1962 (the time of wri ...more
Oct 11, 2012 Rick rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading Hajdu's joint biography of the Baez sisters Joan and Mimi and their relationships with Richard Farina and Bob Dylan. The background material on the folk scene was also interesting. Given Farina's friendship with Thomas Pynchon -it makes one wish that Dylan and Pynchon had met ( I do not think they ever have) but that would be a narrative well worth reading. Might be a novel there for someone to write.
Dylan dominates in all his eccentric irrascibility. He is probably not the mo
Arthur Cravan
Jul 03, 2013 Arthur Cravan rated it really liked it
Shelves: dylan
Adding a couple of reviews for fear of time doing what it does:
I don't recall how I came into possession of this book - something tells me I wouldn't have bought it, but I can't remember being gifted it. I enjoyed it thoroughly, much more than expected. I had heard of Richard Farina by then, but this was my first real exposure to his character, & he seemed quite interesting. I enjoyed the photos (Mimi was bangin', & seeing Dylan in swimmers seemed strange & wonderful to me)... I plan
Nov 13, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Coming to this book as someone not particularly interested in either Dylan or Baez, I was unexpectedly enthralled by this account of how the folk music scene got its start in the lefty enclaves of Cambridge and Greenwich Village in the 1960s. Given fantastic access by many of the characters in his story, Hajdu deftly reconstructs the period and shows how various individuals' success rested on a combination of luck, talent, personality and political winds -- not necessarily in that order. Perhaps ...more
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DAVID HAJDU is the author of Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn and Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina. He is a critic for The New Republic and a professor in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. He lives in New York City."
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“[Bob] Dylan said, "I don't have to B.S. anybody like those guys up on Broadway that're always writin' about 'I'm hot for you and you're hot for me--ooka dooka dicka dee.' There's other things in the world besides love and sex that're important too. People shouldn't turn their backs on 'em just because they ain't pretty to look at. How is the world ever gonna get any better if we're afraid to look at these things.” 2 likes
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