The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #49465   Message #746936
Posted By: Little Hawk
12-Jul-02 - 12:01 AM
Thread Name: Richard Farina's 'Morgan The Pirate'
Subject: RE: Richard Farina's 'Morgan The Pirate'
Morgan The Pirate was directed very pointedly at...Bob Dylan. He and Joan Baez and her sister Mimi and Richard Farina had been hanging out a lot together in the early 60's...they all stayed at Albert Grossman's house together for weeks while Grossman was away. Prior to that, Dylan and Farina had partied quite a bit together in England, and they played music together there too.

There were lots of reasons for hard feelings...both Farina and Dylan (and Joan Baez, for that matter) were very ambitious to make it big in those days. Joan had already made it big and was beginning to have her thunder noticeably stolen by Dylan, who was rapidly becoming more famous even than she was. Matter of fact, everybody was having their thunder stolen by Bob Dylan! She herself thought that Dylan was a genius, far and away the most important songwriter around, but she was not happy to be eclipsed by him nonetheless...nor scorned, for that matter.

Farina had big ambitions when it came to writing, and had been working hard for years on a novel that he took VERY seriously (Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me), but he was having a hard time finding a publisher. Albert Grossman had already found a publisher for Dylan's "novel", which hadn't even been written yet!. What Albert wanted, Albert got, and so what Dylan wanted, Dylan got too...Albert was adept at manipulating and controlling his clients in that fashion. He used to say things like "Just tell me what you want. Tell me who you want. I'll arrange it."

Joan Baez couldn't stand that attitude, and avoided working with Grossman, but Dylan clearly saw that Grossman was the most effective managemer around, even if he was a sleazeball.

At any rate, Richard Farina was absolutely furious that Dylan could get a publisher in a second for a book that hadn't even been written, when he figured his book was way better than anything Dylan would ever come up with in the form of a novel. He had some justification for feeling miffed about it...the so-called Dylan novel "Tarantula" ended up being an extremely disjointed and incomprehensible stream of consciousness thing which made almost no sense to anyone! Dylan's gift is in writing songs, not novels.

(I have the same problem. I know I'm a good songwriter, but I couldn't write a good novel to save my life...believe it.)

Farina envied Dylan's meteoric success, and was well aware of his flaws (virtually all people have feet of clay when you get to know them well). He figured he was far more deserving of that kind of success than Bob was.

He also had legitimate reasons to be angry with Bob's cavalier behaviour toward himself, Joan, and just about everyone else in their tight little circle of friends and acquaintances. Mimi was also mad at Bob over his bad treatment of Joan.

Bob, for his part was fed up with all of them...for a variety of reasons. There are some good books out there about it.

So, Dylan wrote "Positively Fourth Street" and "Like A Rolling Stone" and other vitriolic songs like that...and Farina wrote "Morgan The Pirate"...and Joan Baez eventually wrote "Oh Brother" ("you've done dirt to lifelong friends with little or no excuses...who endowed you with the crown to hand out these abuses?")

Yeah, well, these things happen. They were young, very bright and intense people with great ambitions and big egos, and they were caught up in a viciously competitive and commercial game...while consciously espousing the highest of ideals in their writing and performing. It makes for a pretty tense lifestyle...

But...they could never have gotten that mad at Dylan if not for the fact that his songs mattered so damn much to them and a lot of other people! That's what must have really hurt.

It's the old unrequited love thing. That's probably what it was with Bob too.

Richard Farina finally got his book published, and died in a motorcycle crash on the very day of the official book signing! Dylan cracked up on one 6 months later, and it probably saved him from dying, truth be told.

Life is strange, that's for sure.

- LH