Saturday, February 28, 2009

Joan Baez Concert

It was such a pleasure to listen to a strong, clear voice singing new and older songs last night at the Joan Baez concert. As Robert Plant said about Alison Krauss when they accepted one of their Grammy Awards, it's refreshing to hear someone sing straight songs instead of all that twirly stuff. I agree! That's one of my problems with American Idol. They sing all twirly and alike.

Joan's new album was produced by Steve Earle who wrote some of the songs she recorded on it and that she sang last night - "God is God" (which she said Earle said was a recovery phrase) and "I Am A Wanderer." Steven Mirkin wrote in his review in Variety:
A celebration of a five decade career -- from "Silver Dagger," the opening track on her debut album, to nearly half of "Day After Tomorrow," last year's Steve Earle-produced collection of a socially conscious ballads -- the set list concentrated on songs of family and relationships.

There were songs of love that survives over time, even beyond the grave: the 19th century folk song "Lily of the West," (she joked that early in her career, every song she sang ended with a death), Elvis Costello and T-Bone Burnett's mournful "Scarlet Tide," Dylan's "Farewell, Angelina." In a personal touch, she performed "Diamonds and Rust," her unsparing look back at her affair with Dylan, filled with nostalgia bitterness ("you were so good with words," she sneers) and might cut too close to the bone. She pointedly followed it with "Long Black Veil," another song about love and murder, and Dylan's lacerating "Love is Just a Four Letter Word," in which she launched into a very funny imitation of Bob for one verse.

No matter what the provenance of the song, her voice has lost its strident purity and turned warm and maternal (she even dedicated "Honest Lullaby" to her son, Gabriel Harris, who plays percussion). It's still a stunning instrument, but without her astonishing, youthful high end. It's lower and more giving; it pulls in the listener and envelops with a hug. It takes the sharp edges off Earle's "Christmas In Washington," brings a modesty to his "God is God," and turns the "white gospel" of the Carter Family's "Gospel Ship," into a call for tolerance.
Gabriel Harris performs and teaches African drums and accompanied his mother last night. This is not from last night but similar to the way it looked.

Her son Gabriel is a couple of months younger than my son Brian. He's also married and has a daughter. Joan Baez was pregnant when she performed at Woodstock in 1969. When they hugged after she sang "Honest Lullaby," it made me think about how much Brian means to me and what warm, loving feelings I have seeing him be such a wonderful father and husband.

This is Joan and her son performing. This is his website.

It was sort of a low-key night with the audience giving recognition applause with a minimum of interruption of their rapt attention to every song. The talking between songs included reminiscences, jokes, personal family stories, and one brief political reference.She told us about her mother who is 95 and had a date that night. Good genes! I love this photo of them.

It was a wonderful night. We ate at PF Changs before the concert and had a delicious meal and then the pleasure of music we totally enjoyed! The two encore songs were "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Diamonds and Rust."

I wish this for all of us! :-)


Berry Blog said...

Provenance- what a lovely word...( I am counting letters now) maybe I can beat you in Scrabbble by using your
I would probably have blubbered through her whole concert and annoyed the dickens out of you. Thanks for sharing.


Bob said...

"Forveer Young" is one of my favorites! Thanks for including it.

And I agree about the "twirly" singers and "twirly" songs. I am a sucker for lyrics, good lyrics.

David Dust said...

"Twirly" is absolutely the best way to describe how kids sing on Idol and elsewhere. I think Mariah Carey started the whole "Twirly" phenomenon.

It sounds like you had a great time. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" is such a great song and Joan Baez is such a talent.

And I love that her MOTHER had a date! GET IT, Mama!!!!


Berry Blog said...

Ya ya ya ya...what david said. I forgot to say what David said. that word twirly...perfect for that style- and I just hate it. Actually I think it goes back way before Mariah Carey, and of course Mad Tv gal does that great take off on Whitney Houston.It started showing up just post-Ella Fitzgerald.
Twirly...let's see I can use my blank key..and...

Joy said...

I'm a word person and appreciate good writing; therefore, lyrics are of major importance to me. I think that's one of the main reasons I never got interested in opera. I can't understand what they are saying.

Charlie, "provenance" is not my word. When something is indented like that and attributed to another writer, I copied and pasted it from that article. You give me too much credit! (however, I'll use it in Scrabble if I can!)

Isn't that cool about her mother? From what Joan said about her, she enjoys life to the fullest!

mistress maddie said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time. The picture of Joan and her mother is amazing. I can't believe her mother is 95! She looks incredible!

Anonymous said...

"Exercise that mind!" Joan's mom must certainly do this, she looks brilliant. I have a lovely picture of Joan sitting on top of a double-decker bus, taken in 2007 at the Welsh Eistedffod Festival.

Regards, Celia

Sheria said...

I love Joen Baez. When I was in college, I had every album that she ever made. I've been slowly rebuilding my collection on CDs. Every time I listen to her sing Forever Young I get musty eyed.

Sheria said...

I meant misty eyed but "musty eyed" has a certain charm to it. LMAO!

Sheria said...

Okay, I also misspelled "Joan." Clearly, typing is not my forte.