Saturday, October 16, 2010

傳奇民謠歌手瓊·貝茲 / Legendary Folk Singer Joan Baez

On Saturday, October 16, 2010, I went to see legendary folk singer Joan Baez performing at the Southam Hall, National Arts Centre, Ottawa. It was the first time I saw her concert live, even tho I started listening to her songs decades ago. The house was full and I was one of the 2000+ fans who fully enjoyed the evening !!!!!

Her songs not only brought back memories of the past but also tears to many ppl's eyes. For me it was John Lennon's song "Imagine". I recalled it was during the height of the Cold War when Joan Baez, along with Jane Fonda (aka Hanoi Jane), Peter Seeger and other anti-war performers, stood up and took a stance against the US military actions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

At the time they were black-listed and labelled by the establishment as pro-communist, un-American, and even traitors. As it turns out, even Robert McNamara agreed many years later that (quote from Wikipedia): "..... Although he was a prime architect of the Vietnam War and repeatedly overruled the JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff) on strategic matters, McNamara gradually became skeptical about whether the war could be won by deploying more troops to South Vietnam and intensifying the bombing of North Vietnam, a claim he would publish in a book years later...." (the book is "In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam" which I bought during a trip to Cambodia).

Whether you share the pacifist view of Joan Baez or not, the fact that she is still performing in her 70's and has the voice to do it is truly amazing and inspirational to many of us. And I am not saying that just because I sing in a choir !!

To use a hippie-trippie phrase: Let's keep on truckin' (with reduced pollution from the proverbial "truck" of course) and help make the world a better place to live !!!

References/Photo Credit:

* Wikipedia / Joan Baez

* Wikipedia / Robert McNamara


Below is an article from the Ottawa Citizen abt Joan Baez's concert:

OTTAWA (Oct 14, 2010) — The gentle urgency of Joan Baez’s stunning vibrato on We Shall Overcome turned the song into an anthem for the anti-war movement on the 1960s. Back then, it seemed possible for music to galvanize a generation into calling for peace.

That was a long time ago, observed the legendary folksinger during a recent phone interview, and things have changed. In addition to the war in Afghanistan, today’s youth have to deal with everything from environmental catastrophes to economic ones.

“It isn’t like a community of people working for the same thing,” Baez says. “The only thing that’s missing is the feeling of cohesion. By circumstances, that’s what you had in the ’60s and early ’70s. It was a perfect storm. It was by chance that I was there and involved in it, but now without the anti-war movement being the central issue, with 400 issues instead, it’s very difficult for people to feel that cohesiveness.”

Even the optimism she felt when U.S. President Barack Obama was elected is beginning to slide, largely because of the U.S troops in Afghanistan, “which makes absolutely no sense from any angle” Baez can see.

She feels Obama should hold monthly meetings with fellow winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, instead of consulting with military officers on defence strategy.

“Nobel winners, they didn’t get there by just ‘ohm’ing’ and they didn’t get there by sitting on their asses and meditating. They made real social change in situations where people did not think it could ever happen.”

I think Obama needs to check into that now to give him some encouragement, to follow a path that isn’t just dictated by the Tea Party.”

Politics aside, Baez is celebrating 50 years of touring with a stripped-down stage show that recalls her coffeehouse beginnings. Her first tour in decades without a full band was inspired after seeing a concert by her old friend, Kris Kristofferson. “It was himself and a guitar and I thought, ‘How crazy to be lugging everyone else around when one can do this.’ I felt it was a good thing to try,” Baez says.

Baez, who turns 70 in January, maintains a regular touring schedule, logging about 75 shows a year. Her voice has changed with age, and she follows a daily routine to keep it in shape. “Anybody’s voice goes down and I’m not kidding about gravity,” she says. “It’s like any muscle. You don’t ask a tennis player to go out and play a winning match if he’s been sitting around for two months. He has to keep it up and that’s exactly the same principle.

“People don’t think about it but the vocalizing and the vocal training takes a lot of work at this stage, so I either do that or I close up shop and do something else.”

Like maybe retire?

“I don’t really know what that will mean,” Baez says, hinting that she’s been thinking about another album. “You meet a lot of people in this business, they go ‘here’s my farewell tour’ and they go around the world and then they come back and they’re bored so they have another farewell tour. I think I will spare myself the indignity.”


(Note: This blog article was first drafted in mid-October 2010 and is actually published on Mar 15, 2012)

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