Friday, February 14, 2014

Tragic Valentine: Joan Baez sings the pain of love

Image from The Melbourne Review

In the sixties, Joan Baez became the Queen of Folk to Bob Dylan's King. Both cared deeply about social justice issues and became known for their protest songs.

Now in her seventies, Baez has continued to share her voice and lyrics, speaking out for those with no voice of their own.

Baez sang folk ballads, Dylan songs, and her own compositions. How do I approach the gargantuan task of naming the hit songs of Joan Baez? I cnnot possibly express the effect she has had on the world of music. Fortunately, her songs speak for themselves.

In no particular order, my list might begin with an early version of Guantanamera. Then, since it is Valentine's Day, we may go on to tragic romance.

That in turn reminds me of the tragic traditional ballad Plaisir d'Amour, sung here in 1966, and another traditional ballad, I Never Will Marry. And of course, there was the lonely Jesse, and the disillusioned Dylan song Love is a Four-letter Word.

Love Song to a Stranger raises the one-night stand to high art, speaking of "passionate strangers who rescue each other from a lifetime of care."

In real life, Joan Baez did marry. Although the couple had a son, the couple did not stay together. She sings to young Gabriel and his little friends in the song Children and all that Jazz.

Diamonds and Rust is an apostrophe to Dylan. She sang many of his songs, including Boots of Spanish Leather and Forever Young.

Before she sings Amazing Grace at a 1985 Live Aid famine relief concert, she is introduced by, of all people, Jack Nicholson. Using her voice alone, she leads the huge crowd to join her in song.

To close, here Baez sings Gracias a la vida, a paean to life.

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