Allusions to Richard or Mimi Fariņa
In which we consider references in unexpected places


ALLUSIONS IN SONGS:

"Down So Long"
by the Grateful Dead
(unreleased)

The early Grateful Dead had a song called "Down So Long" which they performed at concerts in 1966. It's hard to tell if this song is raally about Fariņa's novel, but considering the time frame, it seems likely. The Deadhead's Taping Compendium describes this song as "definitely a dud." You can judge for yourself on the amazing deadlegs.com website, which has a recording from November 29, 1966:
http://www.deadlegs.com/menu/1960/1960.htm
Click on the 11-29-66 set. "Down So Long" is about 32 minutes into the recording.
The lyrics can be found here:
http://www3.clearlight.com/~acsa/introjs.htm?/~acsa/songfile/DOWNSOLO.HTM

"Been Down So Long"
from the album, L.A. Woman (1971) by The Doors.

Jim Morrison often based his songs on favorite books. For instance, "I'm a spy in the house of love," which is the first line of the song "The Spy," was from a novel by Anais Nin, and "Ship of Fools" was a novel by Katherine Anne Porter. Morrison might have borrowed the phrase "been down so long it looks like up to me" directly from the Furry Lewis song, "Dry Land Blues," but it's also possible that he had Fariņa in mind. It is reported in several sources that Morrison had read and admired Fariņa's novel (see No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Daniel Sugerman and Wild Child: Life With Jim Morrison by Linda Ashcroft.) However, the lyrics don't have much of a connection to Gnossos.

"Distant Cannon Fire"
from the album, Dark Blonde (1976) by Tom Jans.

This song contains the phrase "child of darkness":
Why in the world did they bring me here
So near to the fire
The sins of the fathers have gone
But still they call me a liar
A child of darkness may never get much higher.
I asked Geoff Gough, author of The Tom Jans Website, if he thought this was an allusion to Fariņa's "Children of Darkness," and this is what he said:
"I met Tom Jans just once and of course I never asked him if the line was a Farina reference when he talked about the song. My guess (without any evidence to back it up) is that it was a totally subconcious reference used by Jans. He and Mimi did indeed sing "Children of Darkness" together in concert in 1971/1972. Tom Jans did value "Distant Cannon Fire" and talked to me at length about Spain and Franco. There are other Spanish Civil War references on Dark Blonde. Many who met Jans asked about Richard and I believe he always tried to be gracious. He was with me when he used his well rehearsed witty line "different size of shoes"; but I think he always wanted to be his own man."

"Cracked and Crumbled"
from the album, Looks Like Up (2001), by John Train.

Richard Fariņa is briefly mentioned in the lyrics:
"been down so long, looks like up to me"
richard farina, 1963
then his rear axle locked and he died all crumpled up upon the ground
1963 presumably refers to the Dick Fariņa & Eric von Schmidt where the phrase "been down so long..." is sung (although it's actually Eric singing!).

The rest of the lyrics to this song may be found at www.trainarmy.com/Lyrics/looks/cracked.htm on the John Train Website.


ALLUSIONS IN BAND NAMES:

Children of Darkness
This short-lived band from Oblong, Illinois apparently only released one 45, "She's Mine"/Sugar Shack A-Go-Go" (Royce 5140) in 1966. Considering the year, it's not unlikely that the band named themselves after the song by Fariņa. Here's how the Fuzz Acid and Flowers database describes this single:

"The 'A' side, is a typical garage punker with great organ about an independent-minded girl whose really cool. The flip, is a sing-along party track, with brilliantly numbskull lyrics."
Compilation appearances of these songs:
"She's Mine": Back From The Grave Vol. 2 (LP), Garage Kings (Double LP)
"Sugar Shack A Go Go": Pebbles Vol. 7 (CD) and Hipsville, Vol. 2 (LP)

Birmingham Sunday
This band seems to have released only one album: Message from Birmingham Sunday, in 1968, on the All American Record label. In 1999 it was released on CD on Vanguard's Italian label, Akarma. The style is very much 1968 pop-psych, with no particular resemblance to Richard and Mimi.


ALLUSIONS IN NOVELS:
Living on Air.
by Anna Shapiro.
Soho Press, 2006.

A novel about a 14-year-old girl named Maude living in Levittown in the sixties. In chapter six we learn that Maude's school is equipped with a "pop hovel," an unheated shack to accommodate teens' need for music, where each student was allowed to play two songs:
Maude came to school with two albums from her brother's untouched if not exactly forbidden room. Naturally, these were not the Beatles or the Rolling Stones: one was a sickly sweet folk duo favored by his old girlfriend, and also by Maude the other was a singer obscure even to folkies, so pure that the addition of anything more than a dulcimer to his guitar constituted sellout capitulation to the pop forces of slick commercialism, or so it seemed. That summer Maude had fallen in love with certain lines he sang in a plaintive, rough voice,

Thought I heard somebody call my name
Painting a picture across the amber sky
Of love and lonely days gone by.

They had a power for her, sitting on the black seafoam floor, she didn't even try to formulate, and she had played them over and over.

The other song she wanted to hear, or by which she intended to display herself, was fairly popular: the pretty couple depicted on the cover begged each other to pack up their sorrows and "give them all to me"....

As she went toward the turntable, a boy, seeing the album cover, crowed in tones of purest adolescent derision, "Mimi and Richard Fariņa!" By the time the one cut was over--the lyrics begging a lover to unburden himself of troubles--only two boys remained. Another boy stuck his head in and left as soon as he heard what was on. As she put on her second cut, "Somebody's Gonna Miss Me," boy one said to boy two, "Let's go for a smoke." She had cleared the pop hovel.
(p. 40-41)

The other folksinger alluded to is Fariņa's friend Mark Spoelstra.

Such a Killing Crime.
A folk noir mystery featuring Joe Talley.

by Rob Lopresti.
Kearney Street Books, 2005.

This murder mystery takes place in Greenwich Village in March, 1963, at the height of the folk boom. An Irish folksinger has been murdered, and coffee shop manager Joe Talley is a suspect. Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton are minor characters in the book, and almost everyone else involved in the New York folk scene back then is mentioned--Paul Clayton, Peter Lafarge, Fred Neil, etc. Richard Fariņa wasn't in NYC in March of 1963, but it is told (on page 14) that he left a poem on the protagonist's apartment wall.

Tales of the City
by Armistead Maupin
Harper & Row, 1978.

Mimi has a cameo appearance in this novel set in San Francisco (pages 74-75):

     They ended up sitting two tables away from Richard Brautigan. Or someone who was trying to look like Richard Brautigan.
     "That's Mimi Fariņa over by the bar."
     Edgar drew a blank.
     "Joan Baez's sister, you philistine. Where have you been all your life? The Peninsula?"
This book was also made into a TV mini-series in 1993, and the scene had an actress dressed like Mimi did in the seventies. She had no speaking lines.

Enamorado de Joan Baez
By Bernardo Verbitsky
Editorial Planeta, 1975.

In this novel set in Buenos Aires, an idealistic young man is engaged to a cold woman who shows no love for their son. He comes to idolize Joan Baez, and in one scene he puts "Children of Darkness" on the record player.


ALLUSION IN A SHORT STORY:

"Mirror/Mirror, Off the Wall" by Spider Robinson
from his collection, Time Travelers Strictly Cash
Ace, 1981.

The Monkey Demon makes a cameo appearance in this story:

"But I was not prepared for what I saw. As I cleared the doorway, a tall demon with pronounced horns came at me fast out of the gloom. Callahan and Eddie and I went down in a heap, with me on top, and it knocked the breath back into Eddie. He said only one word, but it killed three butterflies and a yellowjacket. We sorted ourselves out and Eddie glared at me accusingly.
"Demon," I explained, and backed away from the open door.
Callahan nodded again. "Monkey demon. Probably lookin' for Richard Fariņa--he usta drink here." He dusted himself off and lumbered into the bar, receding red hair disarrayed but otherwise undisheveled. Somehow I knew he planned to buy the demon a drink..." (page 200)


ALLUSIONS IN MEMOIRS:

Mezcal
by Charles Bowden.
University of Arizona Press, 1988.

The blurb on the jacket describes it as "A book haunted by the ghosts of Richard Fariņa and Jack Kerouac." Although it is a travel memoir, the book reads more like a novel. It evokes the wanderlust of the rucksacking days of the sixties, roaming through midwestern towns, southern deserts, and Mexican pueblos. Here are the author's comments on Fariņa (page 20):

"We are in a dark room and outside I hear the hum of Guadalajara traffic.... The phonograph plays Richard Farina, dead that very spring from a motorcycle accident. We treasure his book, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me, because it makes perfect sense. I lie on the bed and listen to "Reflections On A Crystal Wind" and assume it must be about Methedrine. Everything is drenched in chemicals and we all know and enjoy this fact."
Life Inside: A Memoir
by Mindy Lewis
Atria Books, 2002

As a rebellious teenager in 1967, Mindy Lewis was committed to a psychiatric hospital when her mother caught her taking drugs. In this memoir, she describes her experiences there, as well as her reading habits:
"We read with a vengeance, absorbed in worlds and lives more compelling or cool, amusing or tragic than our own. Richard Fariņa's novel, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me, has obvious appeal. Ted sometimes reads aloud a particularly hilarious or bizarre paragraph, so that Fitzgore and Heffalump become familiar characters even before I read Fariņa's book. We appreciate the bizarre, the arcane..."


ALLUSION IN A POEM:

"Suburban Monastery Death Poem," by d.a.levy.
The poem contains an allusion to "Richard Farina's ghost":

Now i sit at home & fly with the Jefferson Airplanes
earphones taped to my head - listening to Judy Collins
Country Joe & the Fish - Buddhist Chants - Pink Floyd -
Richard Farina's ghost - classical spanish music
The poem can be found at http://www.thing.net/~grist/l&d/dalevy/levy-l1.htm


ALLUSIONS IN MOVIES AND TV SHOWS:

Eden (1996)
Written and directed by Howard Goldberg.

Set in a New England prep school in 1965, the drama concerns a rebellious teen named Dave (Sean Patrick Flanery) who is in love with his teacher's wife (Joanna Going). He is an intelligent but failing student who is interested in creative writing and is a fan of Richard Fariņa. Fariņa is mentioned several times in the movie, and at one point you can even see a copy of Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me (anachronistically, it's the Dell paperback, first published in 1967). In another scene, one can just barely hear "The Falcon" playing very quietly in the background. Writer/director Howard Goldberg captures the Fariņa spirit quite well through this character, who embraces many of the same themes: rebellion; the quest for spiritual fulfillment; floundering, and philandering.


Slacker (1990)
Written and directed by Richard Linklater
Towards the end of this stream-of-conscience movie, a man in a bar delivers a monologue about people who were buried by history, and he mentions Richard Fariņa:
"That's because they could fuck and think at the same time. So history buried them. It buries every young truth with balls that comes along. I mean, look at Italo Balbo, Christopher Maclaine, Richard Fariņa, Pierre Landais, Johnny Ace...they never had a chance."
To which Masonic Malcontent responds:
"The reason these guys are being forgotten is that they're not freemasons. The Masons are the ones that control history. Look, every president but one...a Mason. Every man that's walked on the moon...a thirty-third degree Mason."



Family Guy
"Fore, Father" (Season 2, Episode 21; August 1st, 2000)

It's no surprise that TV's raunchiest show would reference Fariņa's boundary-pushing protagonist. In the last episode of the second season, Peter says to the boy he's teaching golf, "Listen, for today, can you switch and call me Mr. Pappadopoulis?" This is one of the show's running jokes: in another episode Peter asks his son to call him Rooster Cogburn.


ALLUSION ON THE RADIO:

Theme Time Radio Hour
"Goodbye" (final episode)
There seems to have an allusion to Fariņa's song "Morgan the Pirate" in the form of a caller named Morgan who confesses to a life-long difficulty with saying Good-bye. This could be construed as Dylan's long-delayed apology to his old folk friends for leaving the scene with such hostility long ago. Fred@Dreamtime explains further in a post on the Expecting Rain message board:
http://www.expectingrain.com/discussions/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=60048&start=0


ALLUSION IN A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE:

"The Attack of the Monkey Demon: A Washington Parable About Power and Madness."
Washington Post, Jan 9, 2001.
A confessional (though anonymous) article from a former business executive in Washington who succumbed to bipolar disorder. He uses Fariņa's Monkey Demon as a metaphor for his illness. Now that's odd!!! The article begins abruptly: "The Monkey Demon delivered the blow with his ax. It sliced an arc several inches above and behind my left ear." And further on down:

"Back during the 1960s, I worked on an underground newspaper where my friends and I encountered the legend of the Monkey Demon in author Richard Fariņa's book, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me. Fariņa died shortly after the publication of the book, in 1966, when he was thrown off the back of his motorcycle. We knew the Monkey Demon was responsible. We figured the Monkey Demon would attack with an ax form behind, when you weren't looking, when you least expected it. That's what happened to Fariņa, and that's what happened to me. Except the Monkey Demon didn't kill me."
He then goes on to tell the sordid tale of his ruthless climb to the top, and his subsequent fall to madness. That's what you get for selling out to the establishment!


Home