ELDER MUSIC: Joan Baez
Sunday, 03 October 2010
You never know who you're going to meet on the internet and I came to know Peter Tibbles (bio here) via email over the past couple of years. His extensive knowledge of most genres of music and his excellent taste became apparent only gradually (Peter's not one to toot his horn) but once I understood, I knew he needed his own column at Time Goes By - or, better, that TGB needed his column - which appears here each Sunday. You can find previous Elder Music columns here.
I’m playing favorites today (as if that’s not what I normally do). I’m going to feature tracks I particularly like from several of Joan’s albums.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I first heard Joan Baez when she had a hit in this country with Kumbaya. This was before that song was associated with hippy dippy, join hands, everything’s groovy - well, you know the rest of it.
I found that the song was on the “Joan Baez in Concert” album and I managed to wangle it for my birthday. The next birthday I managed “Joan Baez in Concert volume 2”. These two have been released as a single CD (with a track or two missing). I will start with a song from this, as that’s where I started, Queen of Hearts.
Several quite good albums followed these. The pick of them to mind was “Farewell Angelina”. The title was a song of Bob Dylan’s that hadn’t appeared on any of his albums, so I had to have Joan’s version as I was, and am, a bit of a Bob person. Well, we all were back then. This is the song I’m going with.
♫ Joan Baez - Farewell Angelina
Around 1968, Joan recorded a double album of Bob’s songs. Not really surprising. The unusual part of it was she did it as a country album. The concept was a good one but the execution was lacking somewhat, much too heavy on the pedal steels and take out meals.
The good part was that she performed a couple more songs Bob hadn’t released, although they later surfaced on his “Bootleg” series, as did Farewell Angelina. This is one of them, Love is a Four Letter Word. In this case the dobro, or whatever it was, is mixed far too high for my liking but it’s a good track in spite of that.
♫ Joan Baez - Love is a Four Letter Word
Although inextricably linked to the Sixties, Joan’s two best albums were from the seventies. Interestingly, on both of these she wrote most of the songs. Until then, she was noted more as an interpreter of other people’s material.
The first of these albums is “Come From the Shadows”. The song, Love Song to a Stranger, is her finest song, not just the best she wrote, but the best track she has recorded.
♫ Joan Baez - Love Song To A Stranger
And speaking of Bob, which we were just up there, Joan wrote a song to him on her most successful album, “Diamonds and Rust.” Indeed, that was the name of the song as well. This was the other of her best albums, and I’ll go with the title song from this one too.
♫ Joan Baez - Diamonds and Rust
When you think of the song, Cry Me a River, Joan’s name isn’t usually the one that pops into your brain. Not even after you’ve gone through Julie London, Ray Charles, Linda Ronstadt and all the others, but she did record it.
When you hear her version, her name might get bumped up a little in the thinking stakes when the song is mentioned.
Wonderful music delivered by a great voice. And the usual expert job of making selections. Thank you, Mr. T.
I was well acquainted with Joan Baez' uncle, Pete. After he died at age 88, I did a blog post in honor of Pete's outstanding record of public service. The story includes a bit on his somewhat strained family connectiion to his famous niece.
For those interested, go to my Gabbygeezer blog and in the archive find the Feb. 26, 2009 post, "Beyond the Call."
Posted by: Gabby Geezer | Sunday, 03 October 2010 at 06:47 AM
Joan Baez has always been a favorite of mine & I just did a post on my blog, Of Quilts, Cats, and Books
http://quiltbuttons.blogspot.com/, scroll down to the Friday Sept. 24 entry, about seeing her perform.
I'll be checking out your album recomendations. Thanks for rememberng Joan.
Posted by: Marion | Sunday, 03 October 2010 at 08:54 AM
Love it! Joan Baez is awesome! Sometime during 1967, there was a young man in my apartment, come to pick me up for a date. He was looking through my records (like you do) and picked up "Farewell Angelina," with that beautiful picture of a windblown Joan on the cover. He asked, "Who's the ugly broad?" That was the end of that relationship.
Posted by: Ronni Prior | Sunday, 03 October 2010 at 08:55 AM
I love *Any Day Now"! Her version of *North Country Blues* still gives me chills.
Thanks again for some wonderful must-buy CDs.
Posted by: mary jamison | Sunday, 03 October 2010 at 09:11 AM
I think everyone loves Joan Baez. Whether you are young, old or inbetween Joan is familiar to all. Even musicians who only like the classics or ones who are country/western fans love Joan. Somehow she had the ability to appeal to all segments of society.
Thank you for some great clips
Posted by: Darlene | Sunday, 03 October 2010 at 09:29 AM
You played most of my favorites by Joan...even "Cry Me a River" which I played endlessly in the late 70's because, in part, it was a low enough register that I could sing along! I wonder where that tape is...? Thanks again for unearthing these gems and reminding me what a rich heritage of music I have been exposed to.
Posted by: Cile | Sunday, 03 October 2010 at 09:32 AM
Day After Tomorrow (2008) is very good. I saw her a couple of years ago (as one of the youngest in the audience for a change!) and she sounded fine. "Joe Hill" was especially wonderful.
Posted by: Citizen K. | Sunday, 03 October 2010 at 09:35 AM
I enjoyed this post. When I think of Joan Baez I think San Francisco. I moved from Paris to SF in the 60s and met my husband-to-be. He already was a big Baez’ fan and had many of her records. We would listen to them a lot. When we decided to get married on Sat 17-June-1967 I found out that on Sunday 18 Joan would sing at a concert at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey. I bought tickets and we rented a VW bug to go down there - that was going to be our honeymoon. This was the first time I saw her sing, she was with Bob Dylan. There were many other stars like Jimi Hendricks (who burnt his guitar) Janis Joplin, Ravi Shankar, etc. It was a great show – I think they called it the Monterey International Pop Festival or something like that. We stayed in Monterey a couple more days. Time has gone by since then…We are still fans of Joan. One of my husband’s favorite songs was/is On the Banks of the Ohio and for me I liked My Home’s Across the Blue Ridge Mountains. Actually I included one of her songs, Where are all the Flowers Gone in my post http://avagabonde.blogspot.com/2010/05/visiting-our-friends-from-60s-at-farm.html. Thanks for the post.
Posted by: Vagabonde | Sunday, 03 October 2010 at 09:36 AM
Heard Judy Collins sing Diamonds and Rust live just a couple of days ago. She's a good performer but as always her interpretation lacked the originality and authenticity of Joan's performance of her own work. Thanks for posting these.
Posted by: Frank Paynter | Monday, 04 October 2010 at 07:07 PM
Ah -- "Love Song to a Stranger" is my favorite. Number two on my list is "Diamonds and Rust." Thanks for posting!
Posted by: Cynthia Friedlob | Monday, 04 October 2010 at 11:43 PM
Joan Baez is my favorite singer from the 60's. Heard her a few times in Frost Amphitheather on Stanford campus, and a friend lived with her up in the hills behind campus. Her husband David was student body president of Stanford, but was jailed by Sep't. '67 when I arrived. She's the greatest!
Posted by: Kathi Williams | Tuesday, 05 October 2010 at 08:13 PM
Well I love Joan, all my favs were almost on this set, but never expected to see CRY ME A RIVER..it is one of those songs that no one I've ever heard didn't grab you, but Joan takes the cake once again...It is great that she has stood the test of time..I am a l94l person, my kids are l964,l965 & l967 & when I have them all together and put music on, they all still love hearing Joan & laugh about their tiny years and getting lulled to naps by her...thanks...
Posted by: Mary Follett | Sunday, 27 March 2011 at 04:33 PM