Sunday, May 21, 2023

Fairport Convention - "Reno Nevada" by Richard Fariña at Cropredy 2017

A lttle over a year ago I posted about Fairport Convention's doing Emitt Rhodes' "Time Will Show the Wiser" on their first album, recorded in 1967, and fifty years later, at the 2017 Cropredy Festival, with the same lineup of musicians except for the drummer. The clip above is also from Cropredy 2017, and shows them doing "Reno Nevada", a song by Richard Fariña. described by The Guardian as a "lost genius who bridged the gap between beats and hippies." He and his wife Mimi, who was Joan Baez's sister, were a folk singing duo. I remember him best as the author of Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up to Me, which I read during my third  year of law school, not long after it was published in 1966. To me it is the ultimate sixties novel, although it is set in the late fifties. It is suffused with the sixties spirit that was being brewed in the late Eisenhower years. There is no mention of Vietnam, which wasn't in the news at the time, but the novel ends when its protagonist, Gnossos Pappadopoulis, gets a draft notice. No one uses marijuana, but "Paps" gets high smoking tobacco cigarettes that have been soaked in paregoric. A few days after Been Down So Long was published Fariña, then 29, died in a motorcycle crash.

I think Fairport's cover of "Reno Nevada" is excellent. One thing I especially like about this video is that it shows Judy Dyble, with whom I enjoyed a lively trans-Atlantic electronic friendship for about seven years, until her death from lung cancer three years ago, doing what I had read she often did on stage during long instrumental breaks: knitting.

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