Joan Baez

Traveling by Airstream trailer I hoped never to fly commercial, but this weekend I found myself winging my way to Raleigh, NC on Southwest Airlines.  Back in March my eldest sister Becky and I bought tickets to take Mom to hear Joan Baez in concert.   It is a very late Mother’s Day present.  I had hoped to be in Scout, but repairs continue in New Jersey.

I am so grateful we did this.  Joan Baez is 77 years old and is on a farewell tour until next spring.   She performed in D.C. Friday night, the day after the continuation of the Judge Kavanaugh confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  While she certainly didn’t plan her concert to coincide  with a Supreme Court confirmation.  She looked to be enjoying the protest in the Hart Senate Office Building.

Baez told the audience she met the woman who had spoken to Senator Flake in the elevator that partially resulted in his proposed compromise resulting in the reopening of the FBI investigation.  I worked with Senator Flake on immigration reform and I am sadden he will leave the Senate at the end of the year.  His departure is understandable, he can’t get elected in Trump’s Arizona.  Senator Flake loves the institution of the U.S. Senate and worked with Democrats to get the deal.  Flake is a true conservative, but he is a very decent man.  I hope his deal results in the withdrawal of Kavanagh, but I doubt it.  On stage, Baez said she was inspired that the majority of protesters were millennials, but she laughed when she said they didn’t know who she was or her music.  A pity. 

I know one protester who is not a millennial, my dear friend and former colleague Madeleine.  Madeleine took the picture of Baez, and also got arrested with a big smile.  I should have been there with Madeleine.

Baez sang my favorite song, from her Big Guitar CD written by Steve Earle.  Christmas Time in Washington, the lyrics made me weep:

“It’s Christmastime in Washington
The Democrats rehearsed
Gettin’ into gear for four more years
Things now gettin’ worse
Republicans drink whiskey
And thanked their lucky stars
He cannot seek another term
They’ll be no more FDRs…

The unions have been busted
Their proud red banners torn…

So come back, Emma Goldman
Rise up, old Joe Hill
The barracades are goin’ up
They cannot break our will
Come back to us, Malcolm X
And Martin Luther King
We’re marching into Selma
As the bells of freedom ring

So come back Woody Guthrie
Come back to us now
Tear your eyes from paradise
And rise again somehow

I heard Baez in the 1970s.  Becky and I were strolling in downtown San Francisco and came upon a demonstration, Joan Baez was singing acapella and her voice reverberated over the civic center. 

Her voice was beautiful than and is amazingly strong at age 77.  Baez sang the anthems of the 1960s. Progressives, dare I say Liberals, still need anthems to inspire.

The trip was well worth it, even if I did have to fly.   Hearing Baez sing I Dreamed I saw Joe Hill, and Forever Young was wonderful.  What a voice.

Here is a link so you can listen too, and the full lyrics are below.

Christmas in Washington

It’s Christmastime in Washington
The Democrats rehearsed
Gettin’ into gear for four more years
Things not gettin’ worse
Republicans drink whiskey neat
And thanked their lucky stars
They said, “He cannot seek another term
They’ll be no more FDRs”
I sat home in Tennessee
Just staring at the screen
With an uneasy feeling in my chest
I’m wonderin’ what it means
Chorus: So come back Woody Guthrie
Come back to us now
Tear your eyes from paradise
And rise again somehow
If you run into Jesus
Maybe he can help you out
Come back Woody Guthrie to us now
I followed in your footsteps once
Back in my travelin’ days
Somewhere I failed to find your trail
Now I’m stumblin’ through the haze
But there’s killers on the highway now
And a man can’t get around
So I sold my soul for wheels that roll
Now I’m stuck here in this town
Chorus: Come back Woody Guthrie
Come back to us now
Tear your eyes from paradise
And rise again somehow
If you run into Jesus
Maybe he can help us out
Come back Woody Guthrie to us now
There’s foxes in the hen house
Cows out in the corn
The unions have been busted
Their proud red banners torn
To listen to the radio
You’d think that all was well
But you and me and Cisco know
It’s going straight to hell
Chorus: So come back, Emma Goldman
Rise up, old Joe Hill
The barracades are goin’ up
They cannot break our will
Come back to us, Malcolm X
And Martin Luther King
We’re marching into Selma
As the bells of freedom ring
So come back Woody Guthrie
Come back to us now
Tear your eyes from paradise
And rise again somehow
Songwriters: Steve Earle
Christmas in Washington lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management

3 thoughts on “Joan Baez

  1. Alison, I was there Friday night with some wonderful girlfriends. It was like homecoming week for everyone who attended. Joan’s voice has become lower, and she gracefully rearranged the songs to reflect that change, a beautiful example of successful aging and “a never give up never give in” attitude. Her voice will always be soulful and inspirational! Leah

  2. Wonderful post Alison. These are difficult days but it is so gratifying to see women remaining strong in the face of indifference, calculated government abuse, and just the every day struggles to be a woman in this country today.

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