Positively 4th Street is a mesmerizing account of how four young people--Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña--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, 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 Fariña, the roguish, charming novelist Mimi married when she was seventeen.
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, Fariña woos Mimi while looking longingly on her older sister, and Fariña'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.