www.joanbaez.com www.razorandtie.com Joan Baez and the word folk music could just as easily be found under the same listing, whether it were in the Oxford dictionary or annals of folk music. Since she is and always will be the queen of folk. An American icon, Baez unlike some was able to mix folk music and politics without doing unlimited damage to her career. Once you have heard what Joan has got to say during the course of the long and informative documentary where she remarks, ‘if they have to put labels on me first I would prefer them first that of a human being, secondly, a pacifist and if there had to be a third, folk singer’ you will understand just how committed she was to causes she supported.
From the small Boston coffee house circuit to the biggest stages across the world Baez has done it all, and now, after highlighting the efforts of emerging newer singer-songwriters on her albums Gone From Danger and Dark Clouds On A Big Guitar to have Steve Earle produce her current record, Day After Tomorrow —she continues to prise open the envelop. Even though, understandably, her once unmatched pristine voice singing though still good it no longer has the stunning quality it once had. A woman who, at one-time I felt messed too much with political issues earlier in her career has now, years later been proved correct in her convictions. Her unbending support of objectors to the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Freedom Marches, Bosnia and beyond have seen her become a wonderful role model for others. Then there was the music with voice of an angel; pure and amazingly powerful the listener is blessed as they get to enjoy some early performances at the Newport Folk Festival,
1959 and Boston’s historic Club 47 and appearances with her one-time boyfriend, Bob Dylan who speaks of his admiration and love of Joan. A riveting documentary, Baez is found in relaxed mood, and as always she is unassuming and honest to the core plus, with other contributions from Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, her former husband David Harris, Reverend Jess Jackson and Steve Earle she sees her songs as her best friends, her therapy, and does not know what she would do without them. As for the 15-track cd, the music spans 51 years! Opening in 1958 with Harry Belafonte’s ‘Man Smart, Woman Smarter’ up through some treasures from the BBC In Concert series and, beautiful versions of ‘With God On Our Side’ and ‘Oh Freedom’ in 1965 by way of ‘I Pity The Poor Immigrant’; that though a little ragged it makes up with spontaneity and joy as Baez enjoys the moment as she performs with Dylan at his Hard Rain 1976 NBC broadcast. Two of her own biggest compositions ‘Diamonds And Rust’ and ‘Love Song To A Stranger’ are also taken from live concerts, 2008 and 2009 respectively. Her music is still wonderful and, to close are live versions of two tracks from her current album Day After Tomorrow; the title track (‘Day After Tomorrow’) done solo and with John Doyle, Dirk Powell, Todd Phillips and her son, Gabriel Harris, Steve Earle’s ‘Jerusalem’ is featured. From her Vanguard catalogue of 1970-1971 are three classic recordings. Starting with a song she wrote for her former husband Harris ‘A Song For David’ followed by her biggest hit, The Band, Robbie Robertson’s ‘They Drove Old Dixie Down’ and freedom march anthem-like Gil Turner’s ‘Carry It On’. Recorded in Nashville Baez and supported by Music City’s finest she had rarely sounded better and who is to say she might return one day!
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