Friday, July 19, 2013

Richard Farina and Roman Candles

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved ... who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

― Jack Kerouac

The poet, the writer, the singer
Richard Farina was more than a cross-over figure of the 1960s, conjoining the folksy, woody-guthrie-depression-era-communist sing-alongs with the electrified, drug-infused, youth-enabled latter half of the decade. He sang with Pete Seeger and jammed — kind of — with Bob Dylan. He did that —but he was more.

He married Joan Baez’s sister, Mimi, (of whom critic Greil Marcus once wrote she was so beautiful it was hard to look at her) and was a college pal of Thomas Pynchon.

1966. Farina died in a motorcycle accident, age 29, after the launch party of his only novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me. The book is more interesting than great, part relic, part testament, with the loopy, lasting and atavistic appeal of an Easy Rider. The talent was there.

Richard and Bob

And the talent was in his poems, songs and singing. You can feel it. He was driven, ambitious, creative, and young—and it was the 1960s and beatniks were hanging at the coffee bars while the hippies began the Quest for Woodstock.

Rich and Mimi go for it
Does a short wick burn brighter? Never. Then what to make of a Roman candle with his ghostly shadow, his trembling voice and votive glow that sails across the stars.