Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Mayor Of Macdougal Street: A Memoir Paperback – Mar 6 2006

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
"Please retry"
CDN$ 47.89 CDN$ 17.97

There is a newer edition of this item:

Amulet Box Set Amulet Box Set

click to open popover

No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 6 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030681479X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306814792
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 440 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #332,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

Product Description


"Gravel-voiced, folk singing giant Dave Van Ronk was an early Dylan mentor, and his (sadly posthumous) memoir lives and breathes the Village underground..." Mojo "A genial and picaresque ramble." New York Times"

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. The Mayor of MacDougal Street is a first-hand account by a major player in the social and musical history of the '50s and '60s. It features encounters with young stars-to-be like Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, and Joni Mitchell, as well as older luminaries like Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, and Odetta. 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.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on Amazon.ca
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 57 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rompin' Through the Swamp Feb. 21 2006
By F. R. W. Miles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For the sake of good order let me explain that Van Ronk has always been one of my favorites. His deep rusty voice and superior song arrangements kept me listening for years. Now on to the book.

It is a wonderful insight to the NYC folk scene before, during, and after their golden ago. It tells stories from distant point-of-view that was there when it all occurred but has the separation in time and place to take the sharp emotions away. Sure Bobby Dylan took his arrangement of "House of the Rising Sum" (that was then copied by the Animals), sure with other management he might have been more famous, sure with a little more luck (and a better record company) he might have had a top ten song. But the book is from a later page in his life.

Once I started the book I could not put it down - each page was a new adventure. To read the words on the pages is the same as to have heard him talk between songs at one of his shows - minus the inflections.

Why four stars rather than five? For so much that was not there. Van Ronk died near the start of the project and his co-author did a wonderful job of keeping Van Ronk's voice and putting the pieces together. The fifth star is reserved for what might have been.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Put It Down July 18 2005
By Walter H. Crockett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have just finished "The Mayor of MacDougal Street" and I couldn't put it down (just like Pete Seeger said in the cover blurb). Elijah Wald did a marvelous job of pulling this book together. It all reads exactly as if Van Ronk had written or dictated the whole thing. It has Van Ronk's flair and wit, his musical acumen, and his glee in sticking in the needle now and again.

One thing you might expect from Van Ronk, whose crucial musical development predated the '60s folk boom, is a sort of world-weariness. But he has none of that. Beneath his crusty exterior lies an open mind and an almost childlike awe of good music and good art. What a refreshing book, and what a unique artist he was. His takes on Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Tom Paxton are right on.

I knew that Van Ronk died before the book was finished, and I kept waiting for the tone and quality to flag, or the voice to change, but it never did. A great job by Elijah Wald. I've got to buy his other books now.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just van Ronk Jan. 9 2007
By B. V. Cleavin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I attended a van Ronk performance ten years ago in Christchurch , New Zealand. It was in a bikers Blues Bar. He was right at home there.

He is at home to us in the pages of this memoir.

The tellings are ' of their time'. At once rough and poignant. My 4 **** rating is petulant. Simply that he (whose voice is indominitable - I said that- and that of a 'Soldier of Fortune' - Dylan said that) had the temerity to die before he could personally add more to his wonderfully honest appreciation of the times in which he lived, based on the origins of a music form that has been purloined by minor talents that have received massive public attention and notoriety. Nothing glib here. It's straight van Ronk.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mayor Presides July 30 2006
By Dan Rohde - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Mayor of McDougal Street ties together many of Dave Van Ronk's personal recollections of Greenwich Village in the late Fifties and early Sixties. Through his colorful and candid anecdotes, he explains how he and many other great musicians got started, including Mississippi John Hurt, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Joni Mitchell, to name but a few. From his first days playing in Washington Square through what he calls the "Great Folk Scare," we see through his eyes what was happening in New York almost fifty years ago. I first found Dave Van Ronk through a guitar tab book in the Seventies and later through his video lessons and performances. Once I was fortunate enough to see him play in a tent at a summer Blues Festival in Davenport, Iowa. However, through this autobiography I have learned much, much more about the person behind the music. I thought it was a great book.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly entertaining June 22 2005
By some guy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thoroughly entertaining and funny book. Will not only appeal to those interested in the music or the time period, but also to those who just like a great story.