Where gentle tides go rolling by

In this, the last post for 2014’s National Poetry Month, a tip of the hat to Richard Fariña, who died on this day in 1966, and his wife, Mimi Fariña (Joan Baez’s sister), born on this day in 1945. They were both important figures in the American Folk Music revival of the 1960’s.

Richard and Mimi were primarily songwriters. Richard did write “poetry,” some of which were collected in the posthumous collection Long Time Coming And A Long Time Gone. That is, as I recall. It’s been a long time gone since I had a copy of that book. Whether Mimi wrote poetry or not, I don’t know.

Now, I am making a distinction between poetry and songwriting that in my opinion is not always valid. I’m sure some within the poetry establishment, whatever that may be, probably look down their nose at the idea of songwriting as serious poetry, but that’s their problem. Poetry has always been lyrical, and whether it was the ancient Greeks or Chinese, or the Medieval and Renaissance poets of Europe and the Middle East, it has often been set to music.

The examples below demonstrate that both the Fariñas were gifted lyricists. Richard was also a novelist, author of Been Down So Long It’s Looks Like Up To Me, a companion piece of sorts to Kerouac’s On The Road.

Together they made some wonderful harmonies. Richard’s voice was clear and pleasing, and while Mimi’s voice lacked her sister’s power and range, it was sweet, and rather haunting I always thought. It’s a shame they are not better remembered today, for they were not only terrific folk singers, they were also among the first of the genre to move into rock.

First, a song Richard Fariña set to an old Irish ballad, “My Lagan Love.”  The song is also rather well known as the first tune ever recorded by the British folk group Fairport Convention.

The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood

Where gentle tides go rolling by
Along the salt-sea strand
The colors blend and roll as one
Together in the sand
And often do the winds entwine
To send their distant call
The quiet joys of brotherhood
When love is lord of all

Where oat and wheat together rise
Along the common ground
The mare and stallion light and dark
Have thunder in their sound
The rainbow sign, the blended flood
Still have my heart enthralled
The quiet joys of brotherhood
When love is lord of all

But men have come to plow the tides
The oat lies on the ground
I hear their fires in the field
They drive the stallion down
The roses bleed, both light and dark
The winds do seldom call
The running sands recall the time
When love was lord of all

Richard and Mimi’s recording:

The subject of these lyrics by Mimi Fariña is rather obvious:

In the Quiet Morning (For Janis Joplin)

In the quiet morning, there was much despair
And in the hours that followed, no one could repair
That poor girl, tossed by the tides of misfortune
Barely here to tell her tale, rolled in on a sea of disaster
Rolled out on a mainline rail

She once walked tight at my side, I’m sure she walked by you
Her striding steps could not deny, torment from a child who knew

That in the quiet morning, there would be despair
And in the hours that followed, no one could repair
That poor girl, she cried out her song so loud
It was heard the whole world round, a symphony of violence
The great southwest unbound

In the quiet morning, there was much despair
And in the hours that followed, no one could repair
That poor girl, tossed by the tides of misfortune
Barely here to tell her tale, rolled in on a sea of disaster
Rolled out on a mainline rail

The version recorded by Mimi’s sister, Joan Baez:

Something else for your musical pleasure, perhaps Richard and Mimi’s best known song:

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