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The Mayor of MacDougal Street [2013 edition]: A Memoir Paperback – October 15, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

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 Booksblog, 12/16/2013

“The movie extensively mines Van Ronk’s remarkable posthumous memoirThe 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

In the course of his forty-year career, Dave Van Ronk recorded more than two dozen albums, toured on four continents, was nominated for two Grammys, and received an ASCAP Lifetime Achievement Award.

Coauthor Elijah Wald wrote the acclaimed study of the myth, music, and life of blues legend Robert Johnson, Escaping the Delta. He also wrote the biography Josh White: Society Blues as well as Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas. A musician and journalist, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Second Edition, 2013 edition edition (October 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306822164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306822162
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By mike mayo on December 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Van Ronk's "autobiography" is everything that "Inside Llewyn Davis" isn't. It's an affectionate look back at the music scene, primarily folk, in Greenwich Village in the '50s and '60s. Not much score-settling here. Instead, his love for the music is what comes through most strongly, as it did not in the Coen brothers' film. Much as I enjoyed the film, I'm enjoying the book more for different reasons.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Jay on January 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I knew that I would be interested in Van Ronk's memoir just because of its subject matter: the folk music revival and the Greenwich Village scene that produced Bob Dylan and other famous musicians. What I didn't expect was that Dave Van Ronk and his co-author would write a book that is both witty and deep in its analysis of both musical and social trends of the 1950s and 1960s. Van Ronk's views on the folk music scene and American society deserve serious attention, and some of his escapades such as going to California in a drive-away car had me laughing out loud.

Van Ronk did not become a star like the people who he wrote about but, in the end, he was more than satisfied with having been able to live his life as a professional musician, and I was more than satisfied with reading his entertaining account.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Scott Ainslie on November 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
For my money, you can forget Dylan's 'Chronicles' and simply dive into this wonderful portrait of a musician and the scene that grew up in the Village in the late 50s and through the 60s. Van Ronk's laconic and intelligent voice ring through Elijah Wald's wonderful telling of the stories of that time.

Anyone who is the slightest bit interested in what they missed by not being in the Village in the midst of the Great Folk Scare of the 1960s will enjoy this work, as will those of us blessed enough to hear and remember Van Ronk's remarkable career singing and playing for us. It is a great book.

Scott in Vermont
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rick Ilowite on November 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
I was tangentially connected to that scene and knew Dave Van Ronk, as well as getting to pick with him a few times. I have to say that in my humble opinion, Elijah's book is an unqualified success - not only does he paint an accurate picture of the vibe and the various characters, but Dave's unique personality and spirit comes roaring through on every page. If you didn't experience that scene or weren't lucky enough to have the chance to trade a few words, a tune, a drink, or a smoke with Dave, this is absolutely the next best thing. A great read about one of the treasures of our times.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Blaise Phelan on December 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dave Van Ronk was one of the main musicians behind the emergence of the Folk explosion in Greenwich village in the early 1960's.
However, this book brings you back to his childhood and his first entrance into the music scene as a jazz player, His movement from blues and then onto folk music is an interesting and educational story, giving deep insight into the the movers and shakers who ran the various coffee shops and concert halls during that period.
There are some wonderful anecdotes on the young Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Tom Paxton and other musicians who went on to become household names.
Dave comes though as a like able character who is that little bit off the mark when it comes to hitting the big time.
Due to Dave's untimely death whilst researching and writing this book, the reader is left with a longing to find out more about the era from one who was at it's very centre.
A must read for anyone interested in the ending of the beat era and the emergence of the Folk movement in New York.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Eve Silber on November 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a must read for anybody who listens to and loves the American music scene of the 50s, 60s, and on! Here is a chance to hear from Dave Van Ronk. Do not miss this opportunity. If you knew him alive, then you already know how important this book is. If you never knew or saw him alive, then you do not know what you are missing. Fill in your gaps, and hear about it all from Dave himself. Enjoyable and transformative. Music lovers: do yourself a favor and read this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. MacKenzie on November 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
DAve Van Ronk was a seminal guitarist of the the NYC folk scene of the very early 1960s. But, that is such an insufficient statement. He was the MAyor of MacDougal Street! Dave was a storyteller of the highest (and lowest) order, a font of information on jazz, a raconteur, a hipster, one of the best fingerstyle guitarists of his or any other generation.

Elijah Wald brings us into the smoky, folky, dens of the Village, and brings us face to face with its most ubiquitous, gregarious, hilarious, serious, delirious, hippest hipster of them all, Dave Van Ronk. Mr. Wald successfully brings us into the cheap living of NYC village apartments of the '50 and '60s, bringing us right up close to Van Ronk and all the denizens of that little musical world that would, eventually, cause a sea change in the course of the nation.

If you want to be in the world of Van Ronk, along with all the characters that inhabited this incredibly important musical and social time period, you can do no better than to buy The Mayor of MacDougal Street. It brought me right back to those streets, those haunts, that music, and that incredible character, Dave Van Ronk. The man was a national treasure, and Elijah Wald has written his introduction to us all....
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