American singer Joan Baez has had a long and prolific career, spanning over 60 years of composing, performing and recording songs and poetry. She defined herself early on as a folk and protest singer, and was part of the turbulent 1960’s counter-culture. Some love her, some hate her, but no-one can deny she was, and remains, a powerful voice of that era and a major influence on the popular and folk music scenes.
I’ve chosen five songs from her vast output, most of them from the first decade of her recording career. Let’s start with one from her self-titled debut album.
Next, one of the most famous anti-nuclear-weapon-testing protest songs of that era, “What Have They Done To The Rain?“. This is from her extended double album “Rare, Live and Classic“.
Let’s hear a couple of folk songs from her second album. Here’s “The Trees They Do Grow High”.
And here’s “The Lily Of The West”.
Finally, here’s one of her most famous songs, describing her turbulent relationship with her contemporary, Bob Dylan. It’s “Diamonds and Rust“, from her 1975 album of the same name. It’s later than the period I set out to portray: but the relationship it describes is from the 1960’s, so I guess it counts. This particular version is from the album “Greatest Hits (Remastered)”.
I differ greatly from her perspectives and positions on many issues, but I’ll be the first to admit that she’s an iconic performer who helped to both define her era and describe it in song. She’s established a legacy to rival great classical composers of the past, and I think she’ll be remembered as such by future generations.
Believe it or not, Judas Priest did a cover of Diamonds and Rust. Give it a listen; I think they did it awesomely.
Disliked her politics but when I spent a month on Diego Garcia back in 1984 I found the base library had every one of her albums up to then on reel to reel tape and the means to record that to casette. I recorded all of it.
Jane Fonda and Joan Baez were both opposed to the Vietnam war but only Fonda gave aid and comfort to the enemy. She should have been tried for treason, given a fair trial, and received the maximum penalty.