Joan Baez, Daybreak.
New York: Dial Press, September, 1968. 191 pages.

Reviewed in:
Saturday Review, September 7, 1968, p. 43ff
Atlantic, October 1968, p. 136ff (this was a negative review by Robert Coles. There was a rebuttal in the December 1968 issue, p. 48, in a letter to the editor)


Daybreak, Joan's first autobiography (now out of print) included a chapter on Richard Fariņa called "Child of Darkness" (pages 129-136). This chapter was first published as an essay in Esquire, September 1966, under the title "Introduction to (and Conclusion of) a Future Hero." A couple years later it was rescued from its glossy trappings and tacky title and reprinted in Daybreak with the more appropriate title. It was reprinted again the following year in Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone.

Though only eight pages long, "Child of Darkness" is an essential part of the small body of writing available on Fariņa, giving a deeply personal insight into his complex, enigmatic character. Joan picks out vivid, well-chosen details from her memory to bring Fariņa warmly to life in the milieu of parties, celebration, craftsmanship, and fame. She also discusses his darker side, the part haunted by "the thorny demons of the night."

If you already have this essay in some other form (such as Long Time Coming or the original magazine), you should still get Daybreak, because Richard comes back for an encore in one of the "Dream" mini-chapters, in which Joan dreams that he has come back among the living temporarily. There are quite a few dreams like this on record: Judy recalls seeing Richard in a dream in her autobiography, Trust Your Heart, and Mimi of course mentions having dreams about him in the notes to Long Time Coming. Strangely enough, in all these dreams Richard seems to have come back to life (in a benign, peaceful way) rather than being still alive or never having died.

Joan's memoirs set the tone for writings about Richard Fariņa for the next thirty years. Most of the subsequent books were personal reminiscences that responded to his charisma, and to his strange two-sided aura of celebration and gloom. Unterberger's chapter on Richard and Mimi in Urban Spacemen was one of the first to take a more critical approach concentrating on the music.

Readers wishing to learn more about Joan Baez may find Daybreak slightly unsatisfying. Though beautifully written, it is more of an impressionistic self-portrait rather than an autobiography, a drifting collage of memories that was perhaps more intelligible to readers in 1968 than it would be now. It was a best-seller in the sixties and was reprinted more than a dozen times. But for a more conventional (and updated) narrative that gives a more solid sense of Joan's life and accomplishments, I recommend her 1987 autobiography, And a Voice to Sing With.

For more information on how Joan's essay on Richard originally appeared, see the page on Esquire 1966.

Avon paperback, 5th printing, January 1970. Panther paperback (UK), 1971

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