We are surprised by death when it gets close to us. And so, our favorite uncle or an old friend of ours from high school or something, all of a sudden we hear about a death, and we say, “Jesus Christ, you know, this is going to happen to me too, I’m next.” And this is a coming of age thing obviously, where you’re suddenly — and usually it comes through one’s family. But in my case, in a lot of people’s cases, there is a key human being who you identified with because of your political and cultural responses, who just seems to be bulletproof. You can’t imagine the world without that person.
And for me, that was Richard Fariña. I just thought he would live forever. It never occurred to me that he’d put himself in a situation that turned out to be pretty irresponsible. He was on the back of a motorcycle driven by a guy who didn’t know what he was doing. And he had done that, I believe, to sort of blow out his head to just go to the edge or just say what the heck, what the fuck, because of the frustration he felt quite frankly within the Baez family. And Joan Baez felt that Richard was not the kind of person that she wanted her kid sister to hang around with.
And so, she was very protective of Mimi, and for good reason, because Richard was — he had some really romantic and — well, he was just so full of talent. He’d started off as a poet. That’s how it had come up in him, and he’d gone into music. And I knew him when I don’t really think he could play the guitar. I mean, I don’t think — when I first met Richard, I don’t think he had an instrument. And he came up with that generation that produced Dylan, where all of a sudden — whether your model was Woody Guthrie, or your model was like Pete Seeger, or your model was — who is he? Tom Lehrer, and I thought Lehrer was one of the first — yeah, he was one of the first men who really kicked us off into what life was all about.