How many songs did Joan Baez write
Can a song change the world? Joan Baez turns 75
For young people, the whole story should seem like a somewhat faded picture book. Protest marches, Vietnam, the hope for world peace. Bob Dylan's songs. Tens of thousands listening to the dream of the black Baptist preacher Martin Luther King. And in the middle of it all, Joan Baez, the black-haired queen of political folk, who celebrates her 75th birthday this Saturday (9th January).
They are golden memories. But how current are these songs? Is a new Joan Baez growing up? Or is activism finally shifting to the Internet, does the protest song die out?
The young woman from the New York borough of Staten Island had hardly suspected the emerging world fame when she stepped into the microphone at the Newport Folk Festival in 1959 at the age of 18. Her solo album, released a year later, should be a box-office hit, at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 she was already considered a star. Baez released around 50 albums during her career in the USA alone.
The stranger with the delicate face, the dark hair and the light soprano quickly became a Madonna-like figure, a musical peacemaker in a world tormented by the horror of war, racism and violence. In the documentary "Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound" by Mary Wharton, Baez recalls: "They were there to hear their flawless little Virgin Mary."
"First of all, I'm human" While Dylan's career shot through the roof and the relationship between the two fell apart, Baez retained her political activism, which she often missed with him. "I was scared of what would happen if I got caught in the wheels of commerce," Baez said at the time. When asked about her life as a star, she replied, "If you need labels, I would be human first, pacifist second and folk singer third."
Chile, Argentina, Cambodia - it was always the rights of the oppressed and threatened that drove Baez. In 1972 she sang from an air raid shelter in Hanoi at Christmas, later performed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and in 1989 she supported the "Velvet Revolution" in Prague. To this day, when her black, long hair has turned white and short, the message remains political.
But what if the old ballads have faded away? The protesters, who take to the streets for shooting white police officers dead at African Americans, do not sing "We Shall Overcome", "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" or "Oh Happy Day". The spirituals of slave liberation such as "Kumbaya" or "Swing Low", which gave Baez 'followers strength decades ago, are also missing in the repertoire.
There are definitely new protest songs. "We just want to take off the chains," sings rapper J. Cole in "Be Free" - he composed the title after a visit to Ferguson (Missouri). There, the death of the black teenager Michael Brown had rekindled the old debate about racism in the United States. An NPR presenter described the piece as "the first fully formed protest song I've heard since Mike Brown passed away." The title calls to the US singer Nina Simone, who died in 2003, she tweeted.
Lauryn Hill's "Black Rage", Alicia Keys' "We Gotta Pray" and D'Angelo's album "Black Messiah" can also be read in response to unrest in Ferguson and later in Baltimore, New York, Chicago and elsewhere in the United States. Questlove, the Roots' drummer, called on musicians and other artists in December 2014 to be a voice of their time. "We need new Dylans. We need new public enemies. New Simones." Your works should ask questions, offer solutions and tell the truth.
"Many thousands of songs for an anthem" Baez himself is skeptical. "Occupy people have long tried to write a battle song for their movement, but in vain," she told SZ Magazin last year about the Occupy Wall Street movement, which was supposed to abolish social inequalities and limit gambling by banks. "Many thousands of songs have to be composed to include a single hymn."
Dylan and Simone had it easier in that the struggle for peace and against violence merged into a single global movement. Today a number of movements are running in parallel. And although human rights activists, pacifists, animal rights activists, data protectionists, opponents of surveillance and others somehow all pull in the same direction, some of them are digging each other out of the water. And because you can "quickly ease your conscience" with a hashtag, as Baez told the "Welt" last May, it will be more difficult to get tens of thousands to protest.
"People want the sixties back, but that won't happen," Baez said in "SZ Magazin". "Who is writing the new" Imagine "? Nobody. And who will be the new Joan Baez? Nobody." You should be right. But the new generation of musicians will not be silenced as a result. "The only way I can speak my mind is through music," D'Angelo clarified when his new album was released. "I want to give my opinion."
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