Those of you who read the blog regularly know I’m a big fan of Joan Baez. I loved her 75th birthday concert at New York’s Beacon Theater, which she performed in January 2016. You can find that one on YouTube. On Saturday, while noodling around the internet, I found a nearly hour long documentary, showing a lot of very early footage of an 18 year old Baez singing at the clubs in Cambridge, Mass. I’d seen some of what was included, but there was a lot of new stuff about her relationship with Bob Dylan, and a very touching scene of her with her one-time husband and the father of their son Gabriel, David Harris. There’s a lot of tenderness between the two aging ant–war activists, who fell in and out of love so long ago.
Joan Baez music is the ongoing story of my coming of age, and it will always evoke complex and powerful feelings. And her career, which has spanned more than 50 years, has to be admired. Not that many musical figures can do it: accommodate changing voice range, changing tastes in music, and the difficulty gaining visibility in an over-charged entertainment environment.
But what interested me most about this documentary came right at the beginning, when Baez dings people who think they know her. I’ve heard that she can be quite prickly with fans, especially those who say, “I’ve known you forever.”
No, she tells us clearly, you haven’t.
We assume knowledge of public figures, because we see and hear so much about them. But what we see and hear is the public persona, not the person. And there’s a difference. I find that an interesting thought.
In any case, here’s the link to the documentary. Lots of great music, and a window into the life of someone who’s been a social activist for more than 50 years. Kudos Joan, whoever you really are.