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Mayor of MacDougal Street Paperback – 7 Nov 2013

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Mayor of MacDougal Street + Inside Dave Van Ronk + Inside Llewyn Davis: Original Soundtrack Recording
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Reissue edition (7 Nov. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306822164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306822162
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 180,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

NewYorker.com, 9/30/13 "[A] wonderful memoir.""Slate, " 12/2/13 "Your best guide when it comes to Inside Llewyn Davis--apart from what follows, of course--is Van Ronk's posthumous memoir, "The Mayor of MacDougal Street".""New York Times", 11/30/13 "[A] sharp cantankerous memoir.""New York Review of Books"blog, 12/16/2013"The movie extensively mines Van Ronk's remarkable posthumous memoir"The Mayor of MacDougal Street"(seamlessly compiled from interviews by Elijah Wald; Da Capo, 2005) for scenes, anecdotes, and details of background, and its protagonist, Llewyn Davis (played by Oscar Isaac) sings songs closely associated with Van Ronk.""Seattle Times, "12/15/2013"[A] delightful, keenly-observed, cantankerous autobiography...which, if you love 'Inside Llewyn Davis' you owe it to yourself to read.""Paste Magazine", 12/12/2013"[An] acclaimed and enjoyable memoir."NewYorker.com, 1/22/2014""The Mayor of MacDougal Street" is one of the dozen best books ever written about a New York life and time: dense with wisdom, humor, judgment, and an amazingly vivid recreation of the rites and rituals and characters of a whole lost world and scene."

About the Author

Dave Van Ronk (1936-2002) was one of the founding figures of the 1960s folk revival, but he was far more than that. A pioneer of modern acoustic blues, a fine songwriter and arranger, a powerful singer, and one of the most influential guitarists of the '60s, he was also a marvelous storyteller, a peerless musical historian, and one of the most quotable figures on the Village scene. Elijah Wald wrote the acclaimed study of blues legend Robert Johnson, Escaping the Delta. He also wrote the biography Josh White: Society Blues and Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Dolan-betney on 5 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am an old folkie, so I may be prejudiced. But this was a lovely, honest, and funny, insight on Dave Van Ronk's world, especially in the late 50's, early 60's, when he was making his way as a musician (folk, jazz, blues) in New York. A very moving introduction fills in some of the gaps, left by his dying before his story-telling was completed. Elijah Wald worked collaboratively with Van Ronk, and it feels as if Van Ronk's voice shines through. No pretension, lots of honesty, and an interesting overview into a fascinating time.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By gracenotes on 4 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Van Ronk's original idea was to write a wide-ranging history of the Greenwich Village scene, with his collaborator Elijah Wald. Sadly he died while the project was under way. What we have, then, is essentially a truncated memoir of his own time in the Village, which pretty much stutters to a halt some time in the mid-1960s (he lived another 40 years). It's true that this means that it covers the time most readers will probably be interested in, but there is a sense throughout of a project that is only partly realised. At times, the narrative lapses into lists of names - people whose role in the story are thereby acknowledeged, but never expanded upon. Also, the fact that he saw the project as being historical rather than autobiographical means that much of the information about himself and his background is vague and sketchy. Whether this is because he was deliberately resisting letting the potential reader into aspects of his life that he considered not relevant to the story he wanted to tell, or whether it's another mark of a project that remains unfinished is impossible to tell. So much for what we don't get - what we do get is enormously valuable as an account of that time and place, its joys and its frustrations, its heroes and villains, Much of it reads very well, too - on the face of it, you get the impression that Wald has succeeded much of the time in capturing the man's voice, of conveying his delight in talking, in words, in telling stories. This is a fascinating and important story and while this is very far from telling it all, it offers enough to make it required reading for anyone who is interested in that story - in what went into it, and what came out of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AlanK on 5 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
OK, I bought it after seeing the film, like lots of people will. It's interesting, but it says it is by Dave and in fact it is largely ghostwritten, or worse written after his death by someone who thinks he knows what Dave would have written, based on interviews etc. I didn't figure that out until half way through, and then it kind of damaged my experience. But Dave might well have written this - the ghostwriter is well known for doing books like this successfully - and it had Dave's blessing at least until he died, so it is a good read for the background to an under-reported but important time. Dave actually did put Dylan up on the couch when he arrived in New York, and they did actually play folk music in the square back then, before New York got the way it is now. A good read if you like the music and want to know more about where it came from.
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