Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A genius of the imagination

Forty years and two days ago, April 30th, 1966. Dick Fariña dies in a motorcycle crash in Monterey, CA, after a booksigning for his just-published novel, "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me."

The day was also his wife - Mimi's - 21st birthday. Mimi would later remember that she had been irritated with Dick because he had apparently completely forgotten the day; too excited about his booksigning later that afternoon. After the accident, Mimi spent several days at her sister, Joan's house. When she finally returned to the small cabin where she and Dick had lived she found that he had secretly decorated it with flowers for her, and had a private birthday celebration meal prepared.

The Monterey County Herald has a retrospective on Fariña here, with quotes from several people who knew him. As in Hadju's, "Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña and Richard Fariña," he comes across as a more-or-less charming rogue, the "more-or-less" dependent on how you feel about rogues.

It would have been interesting to see the person - the artist - Fariña might have evolved into if he had survived: a Dylan or a Phil Ochs? Would he have abandoned music as the folkie boom faded, or would he have built on the electric base he had already sampled? What would his next book have been like?

But he's frozen in time, and maybe that's the way he would have wanted it; the curly-haired child of darkness, forever young.

No comments: