Richard Fariña (1937 - 1966)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Brooklyn, King's, New York, United States
Death: Died in Carmel, CA, USA
Cause of death: motorcycle accident
Managed by: Erica Howton, (c)
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Immediate Family

About Richard Fariña

Richard Farina was an American writer and folksinger. He was born on March 8, 1937, Midwood Hospital, Brooklyn and died on April 30, 1966, in Carmel, California as a result of a motorcycle accident.

Parents: Liborio Ricardo Farina (né Fariñas), of Matanzas, Cuba and Theresa Crozier, of Moortown, Northern Ireland

Married:

  1. Carolyn Hester (New York City, June 17, 1960)
  2. Mimi Baez (Paris, April 1963; Portola, CA, August 24, 1963)

Here are a few things we know about Fariña

"Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night." --Dylan Thomas

Information on Richard Fariña is scattered, sparse, tantalizing. We can only get at him indirectly. We have the music, the novel, the early poems and stories, a few liner notes. We have the anecdotes of his many friends. Over the years, many people have attempted to capture some fleeting essence of the artist for posterity: his musician friends, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and Eric von Schmidt have all written eloquently on Fariña. Various researchers have collected information on him from Mimi, Carolyn Hester, Richard Farina senior, and his Cornell friends, including Thomas Pynchon, C. Michael Curtis, and Kirkpatrick Sale. But none of these efforts found a widespread audience until David Hajdu's "group portrait" in Positively 4th Street. This book brilliantly and affectionately conveys Richard's unique character, but more work remains to be done. Aspects of Fariña's life remain unclear, because of his own self-fabrications, the brevity of his life, and the timing of his death, which coincided with the eclipse of folk music and the ascendance of rock. This shift in trends, while exciting for music, had the effect of entombing his reputation in a premature obscurity, enclosing in cultish secrecy the originality, energy, and verve of Fariña's music, the boldness of his songwriting, the poetic power of his lyrics.

Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me

Fariña is known for his novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me (originally published by Random House during 1966). The novel, based largely on his college experiences and travels, is a comic picaresque novel, set in the American West, in Cuba during the Cuban Revolution, and at an upstate New York university. The protagonist is Gnossos Pappadopoulis. The book has become something of a cult classic among fans of 1960s and counterculture literature. Thomas Pynchon, who later dedicated his book Gravity's Rainbow (1973) to Fariña, described Fariña's novel as

"coming on like the Hallelujah Chorus done by 200 kazoo players with perfect pitch... hilarious, chilling, sexy, profound, maniacal, beautiful and outrageous all at the same time."

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Richard Fariña's Timeline

1937
March 8, 1937
Brooklyn, King's, New York, United States
1963
1963
Age 25
Paris, Île-de-France, France
1966
April 30, 1966
Age 29
Carmel, CA, USA
????
????
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Monterey, California, United States