Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
“The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A Memoir” written by Dave Van Ronk and Elijah Wald is a firsthand account of the sixties folk scene, A scene which included the likes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Woody Guthrie. However this book starts before that as its subject Dave Van Ronk was performing folk style music years prior and has been noted as an influence by those who would go on to define not only a genre but an era. Ronk’s life story is also the subject of the latest Cohen brothers film “Inside Llewyn Davis” which stars Oscar Isaac and Justin Timberlake.
Not being a huge folk music fan I was a bit out of the loop when I first started this book. Prior to my reading the only thing I could really attach to the term folk music was early pictures of Bob Dylan and his acoustic guitar. However after reading “The Mayor of MacDougal Street” I realized that there was a lot more to it and that it didn’t just happen all of a sudden. Van Ronk tells in detail stories of his first taste of recording to the struggles of finding places to perform and throughout the books pages when fitting recounts intimate memories and experiences with the likes of Joni Mitchell and Phil Ochs. For those like myself who didn’t have a lot of knowledge of what would later be called the “Great Folk Scare” which Van Ronk had a huge hand in creating look no further as Wald and Van Ronk himself put together a colorful yet fitting account of what life was like on New York City’s MacDougal Street in the early 1960’s