Joan Baez

Joan Baez

Baez in Seattle, Washington August 13, 2009
Background information
Birth name Joan Chandos Baez
Born January 9, 1941 (1941-01-09) (age 69)
Origin Staten Island, New York City, New York
United States
Genres folk, folk rock
Occupations singer, songwriter
Instruments vocals, guitar, piano, ukulele
Years active 1958–present
Labels Vanguard (1960–1971)
A&M (1972–1977)
Portrait/CBS (1977–1981)
Gold Castle (1987–1991)
Virgin (1991–1993)
Guardian (1995–2002)
Koch (2003–present)
Associated acts Jackson Browne, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Judy Collins, Donovan, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Mimi Faria, the Grateful Dead, Janis Ian, the Indigo Girls, Odetta, Pete Seeger, Paul Simon, Rocker T,Dar Williams

Joan Chandos Baez (born January 9, 1941) is an American folk singer, songwriter and activist. Baez has a distinctive vocal style, with a strong vibrato.[1] Her recordings include many topical songs and material dealing with social issues.

Baez began her career performing in coffeehouses in the Boston-Cambridge area, and rose to fame as an unbilled performer at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival. She began her recording career in 1960, and achieved immediate success. Her first three albums, Joan Baez, Joan Baez, Vol. 2, and Joan Baez in Concert all achieved gold record status, and stayed on the charts for two years.[2]

She is well known for her hit "Diamonds & Rust", her covers of Phil Ochs's "There but for Fortune" and The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down". Other songs associated with Baez include "Farewell, Angelina", "Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word", "Joe Hill", "Sweet Sir Galahad" and "We Shall Overcome" (three of the songs she performed at the 1969 Woodstock Festival). She helped to bring the songs of Bob Dylan to national prominence, and has displayed a lifelong commitment to political and social activism in the fields of nonviolence, civil rights, human rights and the environment.[3]

Baez has performed publicly for over 50 years, released over 30 albums and recorded songs in at least eight languages. She is regarded as a folk singer, although her music has diversified since the 1960s, encompassing everything from rock and pop to country and gospel. Although a songwriter herself, Baez is generally regarded as an interpreter of other people's work, having recorded songs by The Allman Brothers Band, The Beatles, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, The Rolling Stones, Pete Seeger, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and many others. In recent years, she has found success interpreting songs of modern songwriters such as Ryan Adams, Steve Earle and Natalie Merchant.


[edit] Early life

Baez was born in Staten Island, New York. Her father, Albert Baez, was born in 1912 in Puebla, Mexico, and died March 20, 2007.[4] His father, Joan's grandfather, the Reverend Alberto Baez, left Catholicism to become a Methodist minister and moved to the U.S. when Albert was two years old. Albert grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where his father preached to– and advocated for– a Spanish-speaking congregation.[5] Her father first considered becoming a minister but instead he turned to the study of mathematics and physics, where he later became the co-inventor of the x-ray microscope[6][7][8] and author of one of the most widely used physics textbooks[9] in the U.S. The Baez family converted to Quakerism during Joan's early childhood, and she has continued to identify with the tradition, particularly in her commitment to pacifism and social issues.

Her mother, Joan Bridge Baez, often referred to as Joan Senior or "Big Joan", was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the second daughter of an Episcopal priest. Joan Senior and Albert met at a high-school dance in Madison, New Jersey, and quickly fell in love. After their marriage, the newlyweds moved to California.

Baez had two sisters – the elder, Pauline, and the younger Mimi.

Because of her father's work in health care and with UNESCO, the family moved many times, living in towns across the U.S, as well as in England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Canada and the Middle East, including Iraq, where they stayed in 1951. Joan became involved with a variety of social causes early in her career, including civil rights and non-violence.[10] Social justice, she stated in the PBS series American Masters, is the true core of [her] life, looming larger than music.'[11]

[edit] Music career

[edit] Early years

A friend of Joan's father gave her a ukulele. She learned four chords, which enabled her to play rhythm and blues songs which was also the music she was listening to at the time. Her parents, however, were fearful that the music would lead her into a life of drug addiction.[12] When she was 8, at her aunt's behest, Baez attended a concert by folk musician Pete Seeger, and found herself strongly attracted to his music[12]. She soon began practicing the songs of his repertoire and performing them publicly. One of her very earliest public performances was at a retreat in Saratoga, California, for a youth group from Temple Beth Jacob, a Redwood City, California, congregation. In 1957, Baez bought her first Gibson guitar .

[edit] College music scene in Massachusetts

In 1958, her father accepted a faculty position at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and moved his family to Belmont, a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. The area was at the time the center of the up-and-coming folk-music scene, and Baez began busking locally in Boston and nearby Cambridge. She also performed in clubs, and attended Boston University for about six weeks[11]. In 1958, at the Club 47 in Cambridge, she gave her first concert. When designing the poster for the performance, Baez considered changing her performing name to either Rachel Sandperl, the surname of her long-time mentor, Ira Sandperl or Maria from the song "They Call the Wind Maria". She later opted against it, fearing that people would accuse her of changing her last name because it was Spanish. The audience consisted of her parents, her sister Mimi, and a small group of friends to a total of eight patrons. She was paid ten dollars. Baez was later asked back and began performing twice a week for $25 per show.[13]

A few months later, Baez and two other folk enthusiasts made plans to record an album in the cellar of a friend's house. The three sang solos and duets, a family friend designed the album cover, and it was released on Veritas Records that same year as Folksingers 'Round Harvard Square. Baez later met Bob Gibson and the reigning queen of folk music, Odetta, whom Baez cites as a primary influence alongside Marian Anderson and Seeger. Gibson invited Baez to perform alongside him at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival, where the two sang two duets, "Virgin Mary Had One Son" and "We Are Crossing Jordan River". The performance generated substantial praise for the "barefoot Madonna" with the otherworldly voice, and it was this appearance that led to Baez signing with Vanguard Records the following year[14] although Columbia Records tried to sign her first.[15] Baez later claimed that she felt she would be given more artistic license at a more "low key" label.[16]

[edit] First albums and 1960s breakthrough

Her true professional career began at that 1959 Newport Folk Festival; following that appearance, she recorded her first album for Vanguard, Joan Baez (1960), produced by Fred Hellerman of The Weavers, who produced many albums by folk artists. The collection of traditional folk ballads, blues and laments sung to her own guitar accompaniment sold moderately well. It featured many popular Child Ballads of the day, such as "Mary Hamilton" and was recorded in only four days in the ballroom of New York City's Manhattan Towers Hotel. The album also included "El Preso Numero Nueve", a song sung entirely in Spanish. That same song later appeared on her Spanish-language album, Gracias a la Vida (1974).

Her second release, Joan Baez, Vol. 2 (1961) went "gold", as did Joan Baez in Concert, Part 1 (1962) and Joan Baez in Concert, Part 2 (1963). Like its immediate predecessor, Joan Baez, Vol. 2 contained strictly traditional material. Her two albums of live material, Joan Baez in Concert, Part 1 and its second counterpart, were unique in that, unlike most live albums, they contained only new songs, rather than established favorites. It was Joan Baez in Concert, Part 2 that features Baez's first-ever Dylan cover. From the early to mid-1960s, Baez emerged at the forefront of the American roots revival, where she introduced her audiences to the then-unknown Dylan (the two became romantically involved in late 1962, remaining together through early 1965), and was emulated by artists such as Judy Collins, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt.

Pack up Your Sorrows, French single, 1966

Though primarily an albums artist, several of Baez' singles have charted and the first being her 1965 cover of Phil Ochs' "There but for Fortune", which became a mid-level chart hit in the U.S. and a top-ten single in the United Kingdom. Baez added other instruments to her recordings on Farewell, Angelina (1965), which features several Dylan songs interspersed with more traditional fare. Deciding to experiment after having exhausted the folksinger-with-guitar format, Baez turned to Peter Schickele, a classical music composer, who provided classical orchestration for her next three albums: No«l (1966), Joan (1967) and Baptism: A Journey Through Our Time (1968). No«l was a Christmas album of traditional material, while Baptism was akin to a concept album, featuring Baez reading and singing poems written by celebrated poets such as James Joyce, Federico Garca Lorca and Walt Whitman.

In 1968, Baez traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, where a marathon recording session resulted in two albums. The first, Any Day Now (1968), consists exclusively of Dylan covers. The other, the country-music-infused David's Album (1969) was recorded for husband David Harris, a prominent anti-Vietnam War protester eventually imprisoned for draft resistance. Harris, a country-music fan, turned Baez toward more complex country-rock influences beginning with David's Album. Later in 1968, she published her first memoir, Daybreak (by Dial Press). In 1969, her appearance at Woodstock in upstate New York afforded her an international musical and political podium, particularly upon the successful release of the documentary film Woodstock (1970). Beginning in the late 1960s, Baez began writing many of her own songs, beginning with "Sweet Sir Galahad" and "A Song For David" which was written for her husband after he was imprisoned for draft evasion.

[edit] 1970s and the end of Vanguard years

After eleven years with Vanguard, Baez decided in 1971 to cut ties with the label that had released her albums since 1960. She delivered them one last success with the gold-selling album Blessed Are... (1971) which spawned a top-ten hit in Robbie Robertson's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", her cover of The Band's signature song. With Come from the Shadows (1972), Baez switched to A&M Records, where she remained for four years and six albums.

During this period, in late 1971, she reunited with Schickele to record two tracks, "Rejoice in the Sun" and "Silent Running" for the science-fiction film, Silent Running. The two songs were issued as a single on Decca (32890). In addition, an LP record was released on Decca (DL 7-9188), and was later reissued by Varese Sarabande on black (STV-81072) and green (VC-81072) vinyl. In 1998 a limited release on CD by the "Valley Forge Record Groupe" was released.

Where Are You Now, My Son? (1973) featured a 23-minute title song which took up all of the B-side of the album. Half spoken-word poem and half tape-recorded sounds, the song documented Baez's visit to Hanoi, North Vietnam, in December 1972, during which she and her traveling companions survived the 12-day long Christmas Bombings campaign over Hanoi and Haiphong.[17] (See Vietnam War in Civil rights section below.)

Gracias a la Vida (1974) (the title song written and first performed by Chilean folk singer Violeta Parra) followed and was a success in both the U.S. and Latin America. It included the song "Cucurrucucu paloma". Flirting with mainstream pop music as well as writing her own songs for Diamonds & Rust (1975), the album became the highest selling of Baez's career and spawned a second top-ten single in the form of the title track.

After Gulf Winds (1976), an album of entirely self-composed songs, and From Every Stage (1976), a live album that had Baez performing songs "from every stage" of her career, Baez again parted ways with a record label when she moved to CBS Records for Blowin' Away (1977) and Honest Lullaby (1979).

[edit] 1980s and 1990s

In 1980, Baez was given honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees by Antioch University and Rutgers University for her political activism and the "universality of her music".

In 1983, she appeared on the Grammy Awards for the first time, performing Dylan's anthemic "Blowin' in the Wind", a song she first performed twenty years earlier.

Baez also played a significant role in the 1985 Live Aid concert for African famine relief, opening the U.S. segment of the show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has toured on behalf of many other causes, including Amnesty International's 1986 A Conspiracy of Hope tour and a guest spot on their subsequent Human Rights Now! tour.

Baez found herself without an American label for the release of Live Europe 83 (1984), which was released in Europe and Canada, but not released commercially in the U.S. She did not have an American release until the album Recently (1987) on Gold Castle Records.

In 1987, Baez's second autobiography called And a Voice to Sing With was published and became a New York Times bestseller. That same year, she traveled to the Middle East to visit with and sing songs of peace for the people of Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.

In May 1989, Baez performed at a music festival in communist Czechoslovakia, called Bratislavsk¡ lra. While there, she met future Czechoslovakian president V¡clav Havel, whom she let carry her guitar so as to prevent his arrest by government agents. During her performance, she greeted members of Charter 77, a dissident human-rights group, which resulted in her microphone being shut off abruptly. Baez then proceeded to sing a cappella for the nearly four thousand gathered. Havel cited her as a great inspiration and influence in that country's Velvet Revolution, the revolution in which the Soviet-dominated communist government there was overthrown.

Baez recorded two more albums with Gold Castle, Speaking of Dreams, (1989) and Brothers in Arms (1991). She then landed a contract with a major label, Virgin Records, recording Play Me Backwards (1992) for Virgin shortly before the company was purchased by EMI. She then switched to Guardian, with whom she produced a live album, Ring Them Bells (1995), and a studio album, Gone from Danger (1997).

In 1993, at the invitation of Refugees International and sponsored by the Soros Foundation, she traveled to the war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina region of then-Yugoslavia in an effort to help bring more attention to the suffering there. She was the first major artist to perform in Sarajevo since the outbreak of the Yugoslav civil war.

In October of that year, Baez became the first major artist to perform in a professional concert presentation on Alcatraz Island (a former U.S. federal prison) in San Francisco, California, in a benefit for her sister Mimi's Bread and Roses organization. She later returned for another concert in 1996.

[edit] 2000 to present

Joan Baez, Bowery Songs, Koch Entertainment, 2005

Beginning in 2001, Baez has had several successful long-term engagements as a lead character at San Francisco's Teatro ZinZanni.[18] In August 2001, Vanguard began re-releasing Baez's first 13 albums, which she recorded for the label between 1960 and 1971. The reissues, being released through Vanguard's Original Master Series, feature digitally restored sound, unreleased bonus songs, new and original artwork, and new liner-note essays written by Arthur Levy. Likewise, her six A&M albums were reissued in 2003.

In 2003, Baez was also a judge for the third annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.[19] Her album, Dark Chords on a Big Guitar (2003), features songs by composers half her age, while a November 2004 performance at New York City's Bowery Ballroom was recorded for a live release, Bowery Songs (2005).

On October 1, 2005, she performed at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Then, on January 13, 2006, Baez performed at the funeral of Lou Rawls, where she led Jesse Jackson, Sr., Wonder, and others in the singing of "Amazing Grace". On June 6, 2006, Baez joined Bruce Springsteen on stage at his San Francisco concert, where the two performed the rolling anthem "Pay Me My Money Down". In September 2006, Baez contributed a live, retooled version of her classic song "Sweet Sir Galahad" to a Starbucks's exclusive XM Artist Confidential album. In the new version, she changed the lyric "here's to the dawn of their days" to "here's to the dawn of her days", as a tribute to her late sister Mimi, about whom Baez wrote the song in 1969. Later on, October 8, 2006, she appeared as a special surprise guest at the opening ceremony of the Forum 2000 international conference in Prague, Czech Republic. Her performance was kept secret from former Czech Republic President Havel until the moment she appeared on stage. Havel remains a great admirer of both Baez and her work. During Baez's next visit to Prague, in April 2007, the two met again when she performed in front of a sold-out house at Prague's Lucerna Hall, a building erected by Havel's grandfather. On December 2, 2006, she made a guest appearance at the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir's Christmas Concert at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California. Her participation included versions of "Let Us Break Bread Together" and "Amazing Grace". She also joined the choir in the finale of "O Holy Night".

In February 2007, Proper Records reissued her live album Ring Them Bells (1995), which featured duets with songstresses ranging from Dar Williams and Mimi Faria to the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter. The reissue features a 16-page booklet and six unreleased live tracks from the original recording sessions, including "Love Song to a Stranger", "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", "Geordie", "Gracias a la Vida", "The Water Is Wide" and "Stones in the Road", bringing the total tracklisting to 21 songs (on two discs). In addition, Baez recorded a duet of "Jim Crow" with John Mellencamp which appears on his album Freedom's Road (2007). He has called the album a "Woody Guthrie rock album". The recording was heavily influenced by albums from the 1960s, which is why he invited an icon from that era to appear with him.[citation needed] Also in February 2007, she received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The day after receiving the honor, she appeared at the Grammy Awards ceremony and introduced a performance by the Dixie Chicks.

September 9, 2008 saw the release of the studio album, Day After Tomorrow, produced by Steve Earle and featuring three of his songs.[20][21] On June 29, 2008, Baez performed on the Acoustic Stage at the Glastonbury Festival in Glastonbury, U.K.,,[22] playing out the final set to a packed audience.[citation needed] On July 6, 2008, she played at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland. During the concert's finale, she spontaneously danced on stage with a band of African percussionists.[23]

On August 2, 2009, Baez played at the 50th Newport Folk Festival, which also marked the 50th anniversary of her breakthrough performance at the first festival.[24] On October 14, 2009, PBS aired an episode of its documentary series, American Masters, entitled, Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound. It was produced and directed by Mary Wharton. A DVD and CD of the sound track were released at the same time.[11]

[edit] Social and political involvement

[edit] 1950s

In 1956, Baez first heard Martin Luther King, Jr. speak about nonviolence, civil rights and social change which brought tears to her eyes.[citation needed] Several years later, the two became friends[citation needed], later marching and demonstrating together on numerous occasions.

In 1957, at age 16, Joan committed her first act of civil disobedience by refusing to leave her Palo Alto High School classroom in Palo Alto, California for an air-raid drill. After the bells rang, students were to leave the school, make their way to their home air-raid shelters, and pretend they were surviving an atomic blast. Protesting what she believed to be misleading government propaganda, Baez refused to leave her seat when instructed and continued reading a book. For this act she was punished by school officials, and was ostracized by the local population for being a supposed "Communist infiltrator."

[edit] Civil Rights

The early years of Joan Baez's career saw the civil-rights movement in the U.S. become a prominent issue. Her performance of "We Shall Overcome", the civil-rights anthem , at King's 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom permanently linked her to the song. Baez again sang "We Shall Overcome" in Sproul Plaza during the mid-1960s Free Speech Movement demonstrations at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California, and at many other rallies and protests.

Her recording of the song "Birmingham Sunday" (1964) ,written by her brother-in-law, Richard Faria, was used in the opening of 4 Little Girls (1997), Spike Lee's documentary film about the four young victims killed in the 1963 bombing.

Baez joined King on his 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, singing for the marchers in the town of St. Jude, Alabama, as they camped the night before arriving in Montgomery. She linked arms with King to protect African-American schoolchildren in Grenada, Mississippi who were trying to attend "white" schools.[clarification needed]

In 1966, she stood in the fields alongside Csar Ch¡vez and California's migrant farm workers as they fought for fair wages and safe working conditions and performed at a benefit on behalf of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union in December of that year. In 1972, she was at Ch¡vez's side during his 24-day fast to draw attention to the farmworkers' struggle and can be seen singing "We Shall Overcome" during that fast in the film about the UFW, "Si Se Puede" ("It can be done").[clarification needed]

[edit] Vietnam War

Highly visible in civil-rights marches, Joan became more vocal about her disagreement with the Vietnam War. In 1964, she publicly endorsed resisting taxes by withholding sixty percent of her 1963 income taxes. In 1964, she founded the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence (along with her mentor Sandperl) and encouraged draft resistance at her concerts.

Joan was arrested twice in 1967[25] for blocking the entrance of the Armed Forces Induction Center in Oakland, California and spent over a month in jail. (See also David Harris section below.)

She was a frequent participant in anti-war marches and rallies, including:

There were many others, culminating in Ochs's The War is Over celebration in New York City in May 1975.[28]

During the Christmas season 1972, Joan joined a peace delegation traveling to North Vietnam, both to address human rights in the region, and to deliver Christmas mail to American prisoners of war. During her time there, she was caught in the U.S. military's "Christmas bombing" of Hanoi, North Vietnam, during which the city was bombed for eleven straight days.

She also devoted a substantial amount of her time in the early 1970s to helping establish a U.S. branch of Amnesty International.

Her disquiet at the human-rights violations of communist Vietnam made her increasingly critical of its government and she organized the May 30, 1979, publication, of a full-page advertisement (published in four major U.S. newspapers)[29] in which the communists were described as having created a nightmare, which put her at odds with a large segment of the U.S. left wing, who were uncomfortable criticizing a leftist rgime. In a letter of response, Jane Fonda said she was unable to substantiate the "claims" Baez made regarding the atrocities being committed by the Cambodian Khmer Rouge.

[edit] Human rights

Joan's experiences regarding Vietnam's human-rights violations ultimately led Baez to found her own human-rights group, Humanitas International, whose focus was to target oppression wherever it occurred, criticizing right and left-wing rgimes equally.

She toured Chile, Brazil and Argentina in 1981, but was prevented from performing in any of the three countries, for fear her criticism of their human-rights practices would reach mass audiences if she were given a podium. While there, she was surveiled and subjected to death threats. A film of the ill-fated tour, There but for Fortune, was shown on PBS in 1982.

In 1989, after Tiananmen Massacre Baez wrote and released the song China to condemn the Chinese Communist Party for its bloody slaughter of thousands of student protesters who called for establishment of democratic republicanism.

In a second trip to Southeast Asia, Baez assisted in an effort to take food and medicine into the western regions of Cambodia, and participated in a United Nations Humanitarian Conference on Kampuchea.

On July 17, 2006, Baez received the Distinguished Leadership Award from the Legal Community Against Violence. At the annual dinner event they honored her for her lifetime of work against violence of all kinds.

[edit] Gay and lesbian rights

Baez has also been prominent in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights. In 1978, she performed at several benefit concerts to defeat the Briggs Initiative, which proposed banning all gay people from teaching in the public schools of California. Later that same year, she participated in memorial marches for the assassinated San Francisco city supervisor, Harvey Milk who was openly gay.

In the 1990s, she appeared with her friend Janis Ian at a benefit for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a gay lobbying organization, and performed at the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride March.

Her song "Altar Boy and the Thief" from Blowin' Away (1977) was written as a dedication to her gay fanbase.

[edit] Environmental causes

On Earth Day 1999, Baez and Bonnie Raitt honored environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill with Raitt's Arthur M. Sohcot Award in person on her 180-foot-high redwood treetop platform, where Hill had camped to protect ancient redwoods in the Headwaters Forest from logging.[30]

[edit] War in Iraq

In early 2003, Baez performed at two rallies of hundreds of thousands of people in San Francisco protesting the U.S. invasion of Iraq (as she had earlier done before smaller crowds in 1991 to protest the Gulf War).

In August 2003, she was invited by Emmylou Harris and Earle to join them in London, U.K., at the Concert For a Landmine-Free World.

In the summer of 2004, Joan joined Michael Moore's "Slacker Uprising Tour" on American college campuses, encouraging young people to get out and vote for peace candidates in the upcoming national election.

In August 2005, Baez appeared at the Texas anti-war protest that had been started by Cindy Sheehan.

[edit] Opposing death penalty

In December 2005, Baez appeared and sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" at the California protest at the San Quentin State Prison against the execution of Tookie Williams.[31][32] She had previously performed the same song at San Quentin at the 1992 vigil protesting the execution of Robert Alton Harris, the first man to be executed in California after the death penalty was reinstated.

[edit] Poverty

On May 23, 2006, Baez once again joined Julia "Butterfly" Hill, this time in a "tree sit" in a giant tree on the site of the South Central Farm in a poor neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles, California. Baez and Hill were hoisted into the tree, where they remained overnight. The women, in addition to many other activists and celebrities, were protesting the imminent eviction of the community farmers and demolition of the site, which is the largest urban farm in the state. Because many of the South Central Farmers are immigrants from Central America, Baez sang several songs from her 1974 Spanish-language album, Gracias a la Vida, including the title track and "No Nos Mover¡n" ("We Shall Not Be Moved").

[edit] 2008 Presidential election

Throughout most of her career, Baez remained apprehensive about involving herself in party politics. However, on February 3, 2008, Baez wrote a letter to the editor at the San Francisco Chronicle endorsing Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. She noted: "Through all those years, I chose not to engage in party politics.... At this time, however, changing that posture feels like the responsible thing to do. If anyone can navigate the contaminated waters of Washington, lift up the poor, and appeal to the rich to share their wealth, it is Sen. Barack Obama."[33]

Playing at the Glastonbury Festival in June, Baez said during the introduction of a song that one reason she likes Obama is because he reminds her of another old friend of hers: Martin Luther King, Jr.[34]

Although a highly political figure throughout most of her career, Baez had never publicly endorsed a major political party candidate prior to Obama. She performed at The White House on February 10, 2010 as part of an evening celebrating the music associated with the civil rights movement, performing "We Shall Overcome".[citation needed]

[edit] Iran's people

On June 25, 2009, Baez created a special version of "We Shall Overcome" with a few lines of Persian lyrics in support of peaceful protests by Iranian people. She recorded it in her home and posted the video on YouTube[35] and on her personal website. She dedicated the song "Joe Hill", to the people of Iran during her concert at Merrill Auditorium, Portland, Maine on July 31, 2009. Joe Hill was a union martyr framed on a murder charge, whose spirit is said to be present today when workers fight for better conditions or pay.

[edit] Personal life

[edit] Early relationships

Baez's first real boyfriend was a young man called Michael New, whom she met at college. Years later in 1979, he inspired her song "Michael". New was a fellow student from Trinidad, West Indies, who, like Baez, attended classes only occasionally. The two spent a considerable amount of time together, but Baez was unable to balance her blossoming career and her relationship. The two bickered and made up repeatedly, but it was apparent to Baez that New was beginning to resent her success and newfound local celebrity. One night she saw him kissing another woman on a street corner. Despite this,the relationship remained intact for several years, long after the two moved to California together in 1960.

[edit] Bob Dylan

Joan Baez with Bob Dylan at the civil rights March on Washington, August 28, 1963.

Baez first met Dylan in 1961 at Gerde's Folk City in New York City's Greenwich Village. At the time, Baez had already released her debut album and her popularity as the emerging "Queen of Folk" was on the rise. Baez was initially unimpressed with the "urban hillbilly", but was impressed with one of Dylan's first compositions, "Song to Woody", and remarked that she would like to record it.

At the start, Dylan was more interested in Baez's younger sister, Mimi, but under the glare of media scrutiny that began to surround Baez and Dylan, their relationship began to develop into something more.

By 1963, Baez had already released three albums, two of which had been certified gold, and she invited Dylan on stage to perform alongside her at the Newport Folk Festival. The two performed the Dylan composition "With God on Our Side", a performance that set the stage for many more duets like it in the months and years to come. Typically while on tour, Baez would invite Dylan to sing on stage partly by himself and partly with her, much to the chagrin of her fans.

Before meeting Dylan, Baez's topical songs were very few: "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream", "We Shall Overcome", and an assortment of negro spirituals. Baez would later say that Dylan's songs seemed to update the topics of protest and justice.

By the time of Dylan's 1965 tour of the U.K., their relationship had slowly begun to fizzle out after they had been romantically involved off and on for nearly two years. The tour and simultaneous disintegration of their relationship was documented in D.A. Pennebaker's documentary film Dont Look Back (1967).

Joan Baez at the March on Washington in August 1963.

Baez toured with Dylan as a performer on his Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975–76. She sang four songs with Dylan on the live album of the tour, The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue, released in 2002. Baez appeared with Dylan in the one hour TV special, Hard Rain, filmed at Fort Collins, Colorado, in May 1976. Baez also starred as 'The Woman In White' in the film Renaldo and Clara (1978), directed by Bob Dylan and filmed during the Rolling Thunder Revue. Dylan and Baez toured together again in 1984 along with Carlos Santana.

Baez discussed her relationship with Dylan in Martin Scorsese's documentary film No Direction Home (2005), and in the PBS American Masters biography of Baez, How Sweet the Sound (2009).

Baez penned at least two songs about Dylan. In "To Bobby", written in 1972, she urged Dylan to return to political activism, while in "Diamonds & Rust", the title track from her 1975 album, she revisited her feelings for him in warm, yet direct terms.[36]

References to Baez in Dylan's songs are far less clear. Baez herself has suggested that she was the subject of both "Visions of Johanna" and "Mama, You Been on My Mind", although the latter was more likely about his relationship with Suze Rotolo.[37][38] As for "Visions of Johanna", "She Belongs to Me" and other songs alleged to have been written about Baez, neither Dylan nor biographers such as Clinton Heylin and Michael Gray have had anything definitive to say one way or the other regarding the subject of these songs.

[edit] David Harris

Joan Baez's 1975 bestseller Diamonds & Rust.

In October 1967, Baez, her mother, and nearly seventy other women were arrested at the Oakland, California, Armed Forces Induction Center for blocking the doorways of the building to prevent entrance by young inductees, and in support of young men who refused military induction. They were incarcerated in the Santa Rita Jail, and it was here that Baez met David Harris, who was kept on the men's side but who still managed to visit with Baez regularly.

The two formed a close bond upon their release and Baez moved into his draft-resistance commune in the hills above Stanford, California. The pair had known each other for three months when they decided to wed. After confirming the news to The Associated Press, media outlets began dedicating ample press to the impending nuptials (at one point, Time magazine referred to it as the "Wedding of the Century".)

After finding a pacifist preacher, a church outfitted with peace signs and writing a blend of Episcopalian and Quaker wedding vows, Baez and Harris married each other in New York City on March 26, 1968. Her friend Judy Collins sang at the ceremony. After the wedding, Baez and Harris moved into a home in the Los Altos Hills on 10 acres of land called Struggle Mountain, part of a commune, where they tended gardens and were strict vegetarians.

A short time later, Harris refused induction to the armed forces and was indicted. On July 16, 1969, Harris was taken by federal marshals to prison.[39] Baez was visibly pregnant in public in the months that followed, most notably at Woodstock Festival, where she performed a handful of songs in the early morning. The documentary film Carry it On was produced during this period, and was released in 1970.[40] The film's behind-the-scenes looks at Harris's views and arrest and Baez on her subsequent performance tour was positively reviewed in Time and the NY Times.[41][42]

Among the songs Baez wrote about this period of her life are "A Song For David", "Myths", "Prison Trilogy (Billy Rose)" and "Fifteen Months" (the amount of time Harris was imprisoned.)

Their son, Gabriel, was born in December 1969. Harris was released from Texas prison after 15 months, but the relationship began to dissolve and the couple divorced amicably in 1973. They shared custody of Gabriel, who primarily lived with Baez.[43] Explaining the split, Baez wrote in her autobiography, "I am made to live alone."[44] As of 2010, she has not remarried.

[edit] Later-life relationships

She dated Apple Computer cofounder Steve Jobs during the late 1970s and early 1980s.[45] A number of sources have stated that Jobs had considered asking Baez to marry him, except that her age at the time (early 40s) made the possibility of their having children unlikely.[46] Baez mentioned Jobs in the acknowledgments in her 1987 memoir And a Voice to Sing With.

Baez was also romantically linked with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead for a time during the 1980s.[citation needed]

[edit] Recent years

Baez is a resident of Woodside, California, and lives with her mother in a house that has a backyard tree house in which she spends a good deal of time meditating, writing, and "being close to nature."[47]

Baez's son, percussionist Gabriel Harris, has been a member of her touring band in recent years. Harris and his wife Pamela live with their daughter Jasmine, in close proximity to Baez' home in Woodside. Baez' cousin, Peter Baez, was a medical marijuana activist.[48] Another cousin, John C. Baez, is a mathematical physicist.[49]

[edit] Popular culture

  • In the film Forrest Gump (1994), Jenny reveals that she wants "to be a famous folksinger. Like Joan Baez." A Baez tour poster can be seen above her dorm-room bed in the same scene. A live Baez version of "Blowin' in the Wind" is featured on the film's soundtrack.
  • In the Vietnam War-era drama film Dogfight (1991), a copy of Baez's debut album can be seen on the protagonist's nightstand beside her bed. Baez's recording "Silver Dagger", appearing on the film's soundtrack, plays during a pivotal scene in the film.
  • In the film Eulogy (2004), Hank Azaria's character gets high while Baez's song "Diamonds & Rust" plays. The song also appears on the film's soundtrack.
  • "Here's To You" (music by Ennio Morricone, lyrics by Baez), a song Baez originally performed for the Italian film Sacco e Vanzetti (1971), became a hymn for the 1960s and 1970s civil-rights movement. It also appears on the movie soundtrack for the film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). The song is also played over the credits of the quasi-documentary film Deutschland im Herbst (1977) and was just recently used in the video game: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
  • Cartoonist Al Capp, creator of the comic strip Li'l Abner, expressed his right-wing views during the 1960s by satirizing Baez as a folk singer he called "Joanie Phoanie". Joanie was an unabashed communist radical who sang songs of class warfare while hypocritically traveling in a limousine and charging outrageous performance fees to impoverished orphans.[50] Capp had this character singing bizarre songs such as "A Tale of Bagels and Bacon" and "Molotov Cocktails for Two". Although Baez was upset by the parody in 1966, she admits to being more amused in recent years. "I wish I could have laughed at this at the time", she wrote in a caption under one of the strips, reprinted in her autobiography. "Mr. Capp confused me considerably. I'm sorry he's not alive to read this, it would make him chuckle".[51]
  • The comedy album National Lampoon's Radio Dinner (1972) includes a Baez parody, "Pull the Triggers, Niggers" (deliberately misspelled as "Pull the Tregroes" on the album's outside liner notes), performed by Baez sound-alike Diana Reed. The satiric song made specific reference to Baez's ex-boyfriend Dylan's defense of Black Panther and convicted murderer, George Jackson.
  • In a 2003 episode of the HBO series Six Feet Under, a character, after watching the film Silent Running, comments "I've always loved Joan Baez." Baez's song "Rejoice In The Sun" can be heard in the background.
  • In an episode of the 1970s television series The Partridge Family, David Cassidy's character says "One lousy sit-in and suddenly she's Joan Baez."
  • Baez has been lampooned multiple times on Saturday Night Live by comedienne Nora Dunn. One skit features a game show entitled Make Joan Baez Laugh! where a dour Baez is ushered onstage while celebrity guests try their hand at getting her to a crack a smile.
  • Her name appears under the "Special thanks" section of Michael Moore's documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004). Baez dedicated her album Dark Chords on a Big Guitar (2003) to Moore.
  • A humorous song by the punk band The Dead Milkmen, "In Praise of Sha Na Na", features the sardonic line, "I don't care about Joan Baez, 'cause Sha Na Na can wear my fez."
  • Baez was featured in the Joan Didion essay "Where the Kissing Never Stops" (1966) in Dideon's compilation Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968).
  • In the television series Arrested Development, George Bluth Sr. claims that his twin brother Oscar's song "All You Need Are Smiles" made Baez call him the shallowest man in the world.
  • In the television series Scrubs, J.D. describes one of his patients as being able to sing "like a young Joan Baez".
  • Baez is mentioned in Weezer's song "Heart Songs" from their 2008 self-titled album.
  • For their summer 2004 touring cycle, Linkin Park sampled parts of "Gacela of the Dark Death" over their live intro for "Don't Stay"[citation needed]

[edit] Discography

[edit] References

  1. ^ Westmoreland-White, Michael L. (23 February 2003). Joan Baez: Nonviolence, Folk Music, and Spirituality.; Every Church A Peace Church. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
  2. ^ Ruhlemann, William (6 May 2009). "Joan Baez – Biography". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  3. ^ Brown, Mick (15 September 2009). "Joan Baez interview". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  4. ^ Liberatore, Paul (20 May 2007). "Noted scientist was father of Joan Baez and Mimi Farina". Marin Independent Journal. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  5. ^ Baez, Rev. Alberto (11 October 1935). Clergy letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, FDR Personal File; New Deal Network. Retrieved 2007-05-10.
  6. ^ Baez, Albert V. Anecdotes about the Early Days of X-Ray Optics Journal of X-Ray Science and Technology, ISSN: 0895-3996. Volume 8, Number 2, 1998. Pages: 90...
  7. ^ Recognition of: Albert V. Baez. National Society of Hispanic Physicists. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  8. ^ Albert V. Baez (7 June 1952). Resolving Power in Diffraction Microscopy with Special Reference to X-Rays Nature 169, 963–964; doi:10.1038/169963b0
  9. ^ Albert V. Baez (1967). The New College Physics: A Spiral Approach. W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd. ISBN 0-7167-0316-5; Library of Congress: LC Control No.: 67012180. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  10. ^ Jackson, Ernie (2007).The Everything Guitar Book: Joan Baez. Adams Media; 2nd ed. ISBN 159869250X. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  11. ^ a b c "Joan Baez: How Sweet The Sound". American Masters. PBS. 14 October 2009. Retrieved on 2009-12-17.
  12. ^ a b Democracy Now, 4 May 2009 (transcript). Interview with Joan Baez, by Amy Goodman at Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration.
  13. ^ Baez, Joan (1987). And A Voice To Sing With. Summit Books. p. 63. ISBN 5551888630. Retrieved August 1,2010. 
  14. ^ Baez, Joan (1987). And A Voice To Sing With. Summit Books. p. 62. ISBN 5551888630. Retrieved August 1,2010. 
  15. ^ Baez, Joan (1987). And A Voice to Sing With, pp 61–62. Baez describes the afternoon when she met with first Mitch Miller at Columbia, then Maynard Solomon at Vanguard.
  16. ^ Wald, Elijah (2009). How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 226. ISBN 0195341546. Retrieved August1, 2010. 
  17. ^ Democracy Now, 26 December 2002 (audio). Interview with Joan Baez by Amy Goodman. Democracy Now. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  18. ^ Steve Winn (October 12, 2001). "Now it's Countess Baez". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  19. ^ 3rd Annual Independent Music Awards – Judges Independent Music Awards; Music Resource Group, LLC, 2004. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  20. ^ Day After Tomorrow.; Joan Baez official website. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  21. ^ Bronson, Fred (19 September 2008). Joan Baez back on chart after 29 years. Reuters/Billboard. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
  22. ^ Acoustic Stage lineup, 2008. Glastonbury Music Festival. Archived from the original 2008-06-25.
  23. ^ Montreux Jazz festival
  24. ^ WFUV (August 2, 2009). Joan Baez: Newport Folk Festival 2009.(MP3); National Public Radio – Music. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  25. ^ "1967: Joan Baez arrested in Vietnam protest". BBC News. October 16, 1967. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  26. ^ Douglas Robinson (March 26, 1966). "Antiwar Protests Staged in U.S.; 15 Burn Discharge Papers Here; Hundreds Cheer at Union Square Rally Arrests Made Across the Country 5th Avenue Parade Set Today" ($). The New York Times. Retrieved February 3, 2008. 
  27. ^ B. Drummond Ayres Jr. (August 15, 1967). "30,000 in Capital at Free Concert by Joan Baez; Folk Singer Chides D.A.R., Which Protested U.S. Site" ($). The New York Times. Retrieved February 3, 2008. 
  28. ^ Paul L. Montgomery (May 12, 1975). "End-of-War Rally Brings Out 50,000; PEACE RALLY HERE BRINGS OUT 50,000". The New York Times. 
  29. ^ "Joan Baez starts protest on repression by Hanoi". The New York Times. May 30, 1979. p. A14. 
  30. ^ Rising Ground, Michael. (1999). Bonnie Raitt and Joan Baez Tree-sit in protest. EcoMall; Ecology America. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
  31. ^ Jenifer Warren, Jenifer and Dolan, Maura (December 13, 2005). Tookie Williams is executed. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  32. ^ Felix (December 13, 2005). Thousand Protest Execution of Stan Tookie Williams (photo). Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  33. ^ Baez, Joan (February 3, 2008). "Leader on a new journey (Letter to the editor)". (San Francisco Chronicle). Retrieved February 3, 2008. 
  34. ^ Mills, Paul (2008). "Joan Baez". Review. Glastonbury Festival. Retrieved July 27, 2008. 
  35. ^ Baez, Joan (June 25, 2009). Joan Baez "We Shall Overcome" (2009); Google Inc. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  36. ^ Gray, Michael (2006). The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. London: The Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. pp. 30–31. ISBN 0-8264-6933-7. 
  37. ^ Gray p 30
  38. ^ Heylin, Clinton (2003). Behind the Shades Revisited. London: HarperEntertainment. pp. 158–159. ISBN 0-06-052569-X. 
  39. ^ People: July 25, 1969, para. 2. Time Magazine, July 25, 1969. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
  40. ^ –Carry It On– Directed by Chris Knight. The New Film Co., 1970. Official website.
  41. ^ J. C. (August 24, 1970). Cinema: Something More Than Love (review). Time Magazine. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
  42. ^ Wilson, John S. (August 27, 1970). Joan Baez and Her Challenge:'Carry It On' Follows Singer and Husband. New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
  43. ^ James F. Clarity (March 27, 1973). "Joan Baez Sues for a Divorce". The New York Times. p. 43. Retrieved February 3, 2008. 
  44. ^ Baez, Joan, 1987. And a Voice to Sing With: A Memoir. New York: Summit Books, p.160. ISBN 0-671-40062-2.
  45. ^ Invasion of Texaco Towers, One afternoon, when the project was in its advanced stages, Steve burst through the door, unannounced, in an exuberant mood. He had two guests... Joan Baez and her sister, Mimi Farina, Author:Jerry Manock, Date: June 1982,
  46. ^ Young, Jeffrey S. and Simon, William L. (2005). iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business. Wiley. ISBN 0471720836. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  47. ^ Hayes, John (March 08, 2002). Music Preview: Joan Baez says hard times are over
  48. ^ Jarvis, Michaela (May 9, 1998). San Jose Pot Club Shuts Down Assets seized– director faces 6 felony charges.; San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  49. ^ Michon, Grard P. John C. Baez – Mathematical Physicist Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  50. ^ Comics: Which One Is the Phoanie?.; Time Magazine. January 20, 1967. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
  51. ^ UPI (January 11, 1967). Al Capp denies his character "Joanie Phoanie" looks like Joan Baez; United Press International. Retrieved 2010-06-17.

[edit] Further reading

  • Baez, Joan. 1968. Daybreak– An Intimate Journal. New York City, New York: Dial Press.
  • Baez, Joan, 1987. And a Voice to Sing With: A Memoir. New York City, New York: Summit Books. ISBN 0-671-40062-2
  • Baez, Joan. 1988. And a Voice to Sing With: A Memoir. Century Hutchinson, London, U.K. ISBN 0-7126-1827-9
  • Fuss, Charles J., 1996. Joan Baez: A Bio-Bibliography (Bio-Bibliographies in the Performing Arts Series). Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.
  • Garza, Hedda, 1999. Joan Baez (Hispanics of Achievement). Chelsea House Publications.
  • Hajdu, David. 2001. Positively 4th Street. The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Faria And Richard Faria. New York City, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0-86547-642-X
  • Heller, Jeffrey, 1991. Joan Baez: Singer With a Cause (People of Distinction Series), Children's Press.
  • Jaeger, Markus. 2006. Joan Baez and the Issue of Vietnam. ibidem-Verlag, Austria. (book is in English)
  • Romero, Maritza, 1998. Joan Baez: Folk Singer for Peace (Great Hispanics of Our Time Series). Powerkids Books.

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