Did your mother listen to Joan Baez folk records when you were a kid? Did you take your Joan Baez songbook to camp with you and learn how to play “Lily of the West,” “Railroad Boy” and “Silver Dagger?” (Be warned, these are not happy camp songs, and Baez captures perfectly their darkness.)
Well, there’s still time for you to get to know Baez, “The Queen of Folk.”. She’s been in the news a lot lately, for FINALLY getting inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame after 60 years in the music business. You can read all about her life in the Hall of Fame’s homepage, or just Google her name and spend the rest of your life reading news clips and watching videos. She already won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2007.
In short, she was an early champion of American folk music and also a champion of Bob Dylan, who was afraid to marry her because she had interests other than him. Your loss, BD! Baez’ version of “We Shall Overcome” became prominent during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and she was a frequent performer at civil rights rallies. Later, her cover of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” shot to the top of the charts, and so did her original “Diamonds and Rust,” a song you should not listen to if you are thinking about dating Bob Dylan.
But that’s not all! Also of late, she wrote the catchy, funny and brutal “Nasty Man” ode to #45 and posted a recording of it on FaceBook.
Our favorite line: “You better talk to a shrink. You’ve got serious psychological disorders.” HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Baez always had a wicked sense of humor alongside hearty helpings of soul and passion. Don’t ever change, friend.
You know what else? Baez’ guitar fingerpicking style is immaculate and she doesn’t get enough recognition for it.
But, as Baez said in her powerful Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction speech, her voice is her greatest gift, along with the desire to use her voice as a tool for fighting for social change. As Rolling Stones notes in “The Life and Times of a Secret Badass,” Baez is a 1960s icon her helped invent the idea of a protest singer.
And she has never stopped. That was her at Standing Rock in North Dakota, protesting DAPL, and she marched in not one, but two, Women’s Marches earlier in 2017. Oh, and she still tours like crazy. Her badass side isn’t such a secret after all.