POSITIVELY 4TH STREET: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Faria and Richard Faria
Sometimes, gifted people intersect at the perfect moment and spark a cultural movement. According to acclaimed biographer Hajdu (Lush Life), Joan and Mimi Baez, Dylan and Fariña were of that brand of fated genius, and via romantic and creative trysts, they invented 1960s folk and its initially maligned offshoot, folk rock. But their convergence hardly emblematizes the free-loving media version of the 1960s. Egos—especially Joan Baez's and Dylan's—clashed, jealousies flared, romance was strategic. Hajdu does not dwell on Dylan's thoughtless, well-documented breakup with Joan Baez after riding to fame on her flowing skirts. Instead, he spotlights Joan's younger sister, Mimi, a skilled guitarist in her own right, and her husband, novelist-musician Fariña. After divorcing leading folkster Carolyn Hester, the disarmingly groovy Fariña captivated teenage Mimi via love letters and, but for his untimely death, might have pursued Joan. Though Fariña comes off as more opportunistic than Dylan, Hajdu compellingly asserts that Fariña, not Dylan, invented folk rock and provided fodder for Dylan's trademark sensibilities. Hajdu provides a skillfully wrought, honest portrait that neither sentimentalizes nor slams the countercultural heyday. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Forecast:Hajdu's reputation and Dylan's 60th birthday on May 24 will win the book attention.