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.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.
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.
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! :-)