Joan Baez

May 5, 2011 • 7:13 am

For a few days we’ll have my favorite female singer/songwriters.  Here’s Joan Baez, awesome singer and okay songwriter, owner of one of the best voices of our era, performing the Bob Dylan song “I Shall Be Released” in Sing Sing Prison. This live video was made in 1972, when Baez was 31.

Dylan and Baez were, of course, lovers. Here they are in a famous picture by Daniel Kramer, taken in 1964.  Dylan was 23.  I have this on my wall to remind me of all that was lovely in the Sixties.

47 thoughts on “Joan Baez

  1. I still protest against the rising tide of conformity.

    I forget sometimes how earnest everyone was about changing the paradigm. What happened?

    1. Doesn’t every era have groups protesting conformity? Bohemians, beatniks, hippies…

          1. Them, and punks.

            The hippies seem to have been the high point over the past generation, which probably has something to do with why those who came later seem in so many ways to be a let-down.


            1. Well, having only lived two years in the 60’ies, I can’t really comment on the loveliness of it all. I must say, that as a child of the 70’ies and a youth of the 80’ies … punk was a LOT of fun, and if you didn’t notice: all about changing the world, making it a … simpler, less controlled place, with a greater acceptance of weird and different people. (Sound familiar? 😉 )
              Oh and singers of the era – Patty Smith, Björk, Sinead o’Connor … and many more

  2. Major nostalgia attack! The 60’s were wonderful, especially the music. I was in college (UMM, PZ’s place) ’66 to ’70. We had the dream of changing the world and made a good start at it. Unfortunately, the next generation didn’t pick up the torch.

      1. I think one could make a case for the fact that hippies suddenly had a new generation to take care of playing a non-trivial part in the extinguishing of the torch.

        Not that I in any way approve or that I think it’s a valid excuse…just an observation that becoming a parent tends to turn a lot of people into conservative ideologues.

        Personally, I’d expect the opposite to be true: what you wished for for yourself, wouldn’t you want that even more for your children?


        1. Funny you should mention.

          My daughter became the conservative ideologue (and Christian, too boot.)

          It goes without saying that I am neither.

          1. this is classical case of ‘default human condition’ which is ‘institutionalized ignorance’ and ‘pecking order’ to have much more effect on anybody

            parents and children aare no different – both of them where born and raised “in ignorance’

            If ‘integrity of substance and learning’ is not addressed during formative years, it tends to become reinforced and resident as ‘mere opinion’ without such integrity as one grows up. It is a matter, simply, of the material of routine education centering on the tools of society and civilization and not on that ‘material and its integrity’. Because of this, people enter society with religious, ethnic and ‘political’ opinions modified largely by personal circumstance -opinions of tenuous and essentially unimportant substance in quotidian life. Should one go on to higher education in the soft sciences of such material however -law, politics, economics et cetera, that tenuous integrity becomes part of the institutionalized opinion that has so far served to determine the nature and course of society and civilization -ergo ‘the human condition’.

            very few people ever acquire ‘love of learning’ during formative years to the degree that they will be able to see through ‘institutionalized ignorance’ and understand how they themselves are a product of it

            this is why the rebelious spirit of youth is a natural reaction of entering the pecking order structure of society but once an individual learns how to navigate this pecking order pyramid and occupies a certain station his viability depends on preservation of status quo – hence all youth movements are destined to evaporate with time

            and so we multiply and diasporate and extract existentialism from the planet until the system collapses and a great die-off occurs

            science, however, will continue and after the collapse (or maseveral collapses) mankind will eventually implement science as a shepeherd of human condition – an inevitability over geological timeframe

    1. I just realized I share my birth year with Jerry.

      The 60s were a mad wonderful time especially in music. At the same time much of the idealism was largely skin deep. There was a strong anti-rational, anti-intellectual and anti-science bent, the substitution of drugs for reality, and the failure to realize that reality on the ground was far more complex than dreams and platitudes. People did not drop the ball, the ball itself was largely imaginary.

      But still a lot of good came out if it.

      1. “At the same time much of the idealism was largely skin deep.”

        Not Joan, though. She was intense.

  3. My wife and I have seen her last three tours (in very small venues) over the last couple of years, and her voice is still beautiful. One of our favorite artists.

    1. Where’s the odometer?

      Ohhh, I think I just found it. In the permalink–cool. Is that the number of comments for the whole website (of course, I’d never say WEIT is anything other than a site)?

  4. My parents were in the audience for the ’63 Newport Folk Festival. And years later they remarked how they were annoyed by Baez cutting into her performance for Dylan. A year later my father was learning how to play a number Dylan songs from SingOut! magazine.

  5. She does have a lovely voice (I can’t say the same for Dylan). And, if my quick reading of the Great Wikipedia is correct, she’s still going strong – still performing, in fact.

    1. Yup, she’s still performing. I had the pleasure of seeing her in a (relatively) small venue last fall, the Midland Theater in Newark, Ohio. As she herself noted, her high range is lower now and some things get sung an octave lower than they used to be sung, but she’s still a powerful and entertaining presence on stage.

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