Richard Farina: The Would-Be Rival to Bob Dylan’s Folk Music Throne

Richard Farina, a name lost to the sands of obscurity, trampled under the feet of progress, was, at one time, one of the greatest of rivals of Bob Dylan for voice of his generation. The would-be author would find his way to the intellectual capitol of the world in the early 1960s, New York City, where he would seek out like-minded people in the folk music scene. Once established, Immensely talented with a similar gift for language as his rival, Richard Farina would match Bob Dylan step for step, even going so far as to marry longtime Dylan companion Joan Baez’s younger sister Mimi.

The product of an Irish mother and a Cuban father, Farina was born in New York City March 8 1937. Farina would display a talent for writing. The wikipedia page for Farina takes the story:

“He earned an academic scholarship to Cornell University, starting as an engineering major, but later switching to English.[5] While at Cornell he published short stories for local literary magazines and for national periodicals, including Transatlantic Review and Mademoiselle.[6] FariƱa became good friends with Thomas Pynchon,”

Farina would become involved in the growing social unrest happening in universities around the country . The protest scene was in its infancy and was desperately looking for voices to amplify its message. The country was recovering from the nightmare of the McCarthy nightmare witch hunt. The nightmare would continue, however with the Congress taking up the Communist fight in the guise of The House of Un-American Activity Committee.

Farina moved to the epicenter of the Folk/Protest music Greenwich village in New York city and immersed himself in the scene. Bob Dylan was king and everyone was in agreement that he would lead then to the promised Utopia. None of that interested Dylan, however. And he wasn’t the one offering the utopia.

The movement and the music began to inspire the young Farina. He would met and marry the 17-year old younger sister of Joan Baez, Mimi. Farina, like Dylan, had an innate songwriting ability. He would craft protest songs from a literary perspective that would lend itself a distinct sound from most of his contemporaries as Dylan’s did.

Ultimately, fate would separate the two men. Both would suffer motorcycle accidents within months of each other. Dylan would survive his accident. Farina would not be so lucky. His accident would claim his life at the tender age of 29, robbing a Mimi Baez of a husband, Bob Dylan a rival and the world lost an artist.