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Sintesi dell'editore

Positively 4th Street is a mesmerizing account of how four young people (Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mimi Baez Farina, and Richard Farina) gave rise to a modern-day bohemia and created the enduring sound and style of the 1960s.

The story of the transformation of folk music from antiquarian pursuit to era-defining art form has never fully been told. Hajdu, whose biography of Billy Strayhorn set a new standard for books about popular music, tells it as the story of a colorful foursome who were drawn together in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s and inspired a generation to gather around them.

Even before they became lovers in 1963, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were seen as the reigning king and queen of folk music; but their songs and their public images grew out of their association with Joan's younger sister, Mimi, beautiful, haunted, a musician in her own right, and Richard Farina, the roguish, charming novelist Mimi married when she was 17. In Hajdu's candid, often intimate account (based on several hundred new interviews), their rise from scruffy coffeehouse folksingers to pop stars comes about through their complex personal relationships, as the young Dylan courts the famous Joan to further his career, Farina woos Mimi while looking longingly on her older sister, and Farina's friend Thomas Pynchon keeps an eye on their amours from afar.

Positively 4th Street is that rare book with a new story to tell about the 1960s: the story of how some of the greatest American popular music arose out of the lives of four gifted and charismatic figures.

©2001 David Hajdu (P)2002 Blackstone Audiobooks

"A hauntingly evocative blend of biography, musicology, and pop cultural history." (The New York Times)
"One of the finest pop music bios." (Booklist)

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  • Generale
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Courtney
  • 17/08/2005

Hard Times

Positively 4th Street is an able portrait of the intersection of lives (Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina, and Richard Farina) but does not "bring alive" the individuals themselves. There are lots of facts and stats (recording session held October 12, first meeting with X the very next week), many of which I did not know before. However, knowing about concert dates and set lists does not give me any sense of who and how these people were. I wish I had finished this book thinking that I understood them a little. Curiously, neither does this book provide much of a sense of the times these people moved in. I expected to understand what 1955-1965 felt like in the Village and Carmel but learned very little about this either. Nevertheless, the happenstance and coincidence of romance and business and art amongst the four title peronalities (and plenty of others) is interesting and is well contextualized by Hajdu. Content-wise, this was a pretty decent read.

I found the book very difficult to listen to. The reader uses accents and other voice inflections for various "characters" and I found them all to be irritating. She gives Bob Dylan a drunk, Southern, imbecilic voice I could barely tolerate for its inaccuracy(he wasn't Southern or an imbecile). Most of her voices seem to have a Southern drawl quality to them and I was constantly distracted by wondering why. Almost none of the people quoted in the book were Southern, so I began to think she had equating "folkiness" or naivete with being Southern. To do so here is inappropriate and misguided and rather undercuts Hajdu's thesis. Some of the reader's other character voices (particularly Mimi's abused, frightened child voice) were also grating, but not as damaging to the book's premise.

Make sure your iPod is loaded up with all your favorite folk revival songs while you're reading Positively 4th Street--you'll want to dip into your music collection as an appendix!

10 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Barbara
  • 20/10/2004

Lousy reader ruins otherwise interesting history

I have no idea who Bernadette Dunne is or what her credentials might be, but she does a terrible job of reading this otherwise adequate fragment of American history. Her attempts to "do" the voice of Bob Dylan or the accent of Dave van Ronk, and the arch snottiness of tone she inflects when speaking the words of Joan or Mimi Baez or Carolyn Hester make the whole deal almost unpalatable. As for the writing of David Hadju, he may be deliberately trying to dethrone the Kings and Queens of this story by playing up every instance in which one fabricated a life event or exaggerated a triumph. He comes across as quite contemptuous of the women of whom he writes, and largely unimpressed by the men, as well. While a position of abject worship is probably not suitible for such a production, he might have considered the audience for such a major work would be made mostly of real fans who don't appreciate his efforts to vilify.

18 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Herman D
  • 16/06/2018

Wonderful History and Great Performance by Dunne

This is an excellent book that details the history of folk music as it relates to Joan Baez, Mimi Farina, Richard Farina, and tangentially Bob Dylan. As someone who does not like Dylan, this book affirmed my impressions of Bob Dylan and introduced me to people who were more interesting and inspiring than any contemporary musicians in the news.

I am not someone who likes folk music so I was surprised that the quality of this book is so good that it maintained my interest. Hajdu does a brilliant job putting events in chronological order and detailing the evolution of these different musicians and why their music evolved. The misogyny of the period is plainly described and Hadju uses first person quotes whenever possible.

The way the folk scene had moments of synchronicity, politics, and apathy are really interesting. I enjoyed this book quite a bit and became a fan of the Farinas in the process.

3 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • James David Bottoms
  • 14/06/2018

Best music-culture book I've ever experienced.

Gripping, exhaustively researched and masterful. Simply a tour de force. I'd read The Ten-Cent Plague, and was dazzled, but this was something else altogether...

2 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Johdri
  • 09/05/2016

Cliched Narration of Flat Account

Would you try another book from David Hajdu and/or Bernadette Dunne?

Never

Would you ever listen to anything by David Hajdu again?

Probably not. It simplifies and doesn't reveal anything that resonates.

What didn’t you like about Bernadette Dunne’s performance?

It is a variety of disappointing conventional impersonations. I am sorry for having to say that.

2 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • R.S.
  • 10/05/2005

Positively gripping

The book was surprisingly good and interesting.

The story of the rise of folk music in the 50's and 60's is like a big puzzle, as it came on the heels of McCarthyism, and a long poltical chill.

David Hadju's book, which tells the story of Richard Farina and Mimi Baez, provided a vital piece to that puzzle, and in so doing fashioned a dramatic frame with which to make this account compelling.

The rise of folk music, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and this milieu has a special place in contemporary social history, besides its entertainment value. The sudden popularity of folk music is an often overlooked story of that generation. Not only does it describe an aspect of a protest movement, but also the evolution of a niche of mass culture.

I chose this book reluctantly because the reader's voice had been denigrated by a previous review.. At first I thought perhaps there was merit to the criticism, but I became accustomed to the reader's voice, and felt her dramatic inflections and vocal characterizations added considerably to this book's many merits. I would have no hesitation to chose another book performed by this reader.

Anyone who has read Bob Dylan's Chronicles, would certainly find this this book a fascinating companion volume.

7 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Knickers62
  • 03/03/2021

Fascinating and well-researched

Beautifully narrated by Bernadette Dunne, this is one of the most interesting books on the early folk scene and the evolution of Bob Dylan. Hajdu focuses equally on all four subjects (Baez and the Farinas) which is fascinating stuff, but Dylan's iconic status makes this look at his early years especially absorbing.

1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Utente anonimo
  • 25/12/2020

Great stuff!

For fans of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez this is a must. I first heard Dylan at school in 1966 in South Africa when we put on George Bernard Shaw's Arms And The Man and a teacher used Masters Of War as the main theme.
From their I got on to Baez and it opened a whole new world of music for me.
In January 1973 I was lucky enough to see Mimi performing at a coffeehouse in San Francisco with Hoyt Axton and it turned into one of my all time favourite evenings as Joan turned up. She had just returned from a concert tour in Japan.
She a Mimi sang together, performing In The Quiet Morning, written by Mimi about Janis Joplin.
Listen to this book. It opens up a whole new dimension on some of the greatest folk artists of all time.

1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • Generale
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Larry Lattig
  • 22/10/2020

I just wasted 12+ hours of my life

To read this book is to take a journey through a collection on incredibly detailed dates and times, names of a few well known people and most the reader won’t recognize or care about. Reading it is a laborious process of seeking an interesting detail that never appears.

1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Arthur
  • 02/01/2012

Folk music tangled up in blue

The characters are fascinating and the story reveals so much about interconnections and creative forces in music and literature that it's a wonder the author could have known so much, let alone presented it in such a compelling, coherent narrative. Just as important, Bernadette Dunne makes it all come alive. She was an ideal choice to read this book and she takes the listener through thick and thin. Hearing her was much better than reading it myself.

2 persone l'hanno trovata utile

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  • Generale
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    3 out of 5 stars
  • jadw137
  • 22/05/2019

Disappointing

This book is strangely dull. I expected to find it interesting and nostalgic as I lived through those times but I didn’t find it that way. I think that the choice that the reader should dramatise the quotations with imitations of the voices of everyone quoted is particularly unfortunate and aggravating.

2 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Utente anonimo
  • 15/02/2022

Bob Dylan? Not Really!

This was dull and hard going. The title implies that Bob Dylan is the main figure and as a big music fan that appealed. In fact the story starts with Joan Baez, her sister Mimi and her family and they remain central, with a harshly painted Dylan really only featured to the extent his life crosses paths with the Baezs. I had not previously heard of Richard Farina but despite being a most unappealingly and narcissistic character, he is given a much higher standing in the tale than the admittedly flawed legend that is Dylan. I was left feeling that the Dylan references had been used to suck me into what turned out to be a longwinded treatise about rather peripheral figures in the US music scene of the early 60’s

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Zachary C.
  • 01/02/2022

interesting, but harsh take on the scene

This book doesn't pull any punches, and in so doing, does well to peel of the veneer and folklore surrounding these characters, and show them as wholly fallible human beings. thoroughly informative, thoroughly entertaining.