By Bruce Sylvester
Richard and Mimi Farina were among the earliest ‘60s folk acts, and among the best, to move into rock. They were the stuff of legend. He was an ambitious, self-promoting writer who wiped out in a motorcycle crash after a party to celebrate the publication of his first novel, Been Down So Long It Looks like Up to Me. Beautiful Mimi (Joan Baez’s kid sister) wasn’t even out of high school when he married her in Paris.
In response to a query about whether a tape of a 1965 interview/performance they did at WTBS-FM (now WMBR-FM) at MIT really exists, the station just put it on its blog (www.wmbr.org).
The tape was done between the releases of their two Vanguard LPs (Celebrations for a Grey Day and Reflections in a Crystal Wind) during Richard’s lifetime. Electric guitarist Barry Tashian (of Barry & the Remains) accompanies Richard’s wild dulcimer and Mimi’s guitars. Farinas devotee Peter Mork tracked down the name of the DJ/interviewer, who was so unassuming that he never identified himself during the radio session. It’s Ed Freeman, who went on to produce Don McLean’s “American Pie” before establishing a career as a photographer.
Some people believe that Bob Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street” is aimed at Richard. The Farinas’ “Morgan the Pirate” (which isn’t on the tape) is directed at Dylan.
People who’ve read David Hajdu’s revealing Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina won’t be surprised that Richard does almost all the talking. Much younger than he was, Mimi may have merely been a stepping stone in his anticipated career that ended so abruptly on a Carmel, CA, road a year later.