Visions of Johanna

Well I'll be damned
Here comes your ghost again
But that's not unusual
It's just that the moon is full
And you happened to call

(From "Diamonds and Rust" by Joan Baez)

We recently saw Joan Baez in concert at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston.

The concert was on the Sunday night before Election Day -- which made Election Day the day after tomorrow, which is the title of her new album and of the title track, a fine Tom Waits song that Joan performed midway through her concert.

Stephen Holden captures the essence of Joan's voice and style at this point on her journey in his review of her concert last month at Town Hall in New York:

"With many of her high notes gone, Ms. Baez’s bread and butter is now her middle range. This is the section of her voice that embodies motherhood more completely than any other folk singer does. You want to rest your head on her lap and be soothed by the sound of the cosmic lullaby emanating from within. Her comforting embrace promises shelter from the storm in a corner of the world where peace and common sense prevail."

Elsewhere on The Freeway, I've written about how much I had looked forward to this concert, and we were thrilled to see her again, especially in her Barack Obama tee shirt, from our seats in the front row. It was wonderful to re-establish the connection with her.

This cover of an overlooked Bob Dylan song (from Martin Scorcese's "No Direction Home") has become one of her signature songs, and is pretty representative of Joan today (and yes, she did goof on Dylan at the concert, too):

Diamonds and Rust

I remember listening to Dick Summer’s show on WBZ radio in Boston when I was at Penn State and wishing that I could be part of the folk music scene he described at places like Club 47 and The Unicorn

I related more to the folk and “protest” songs from the singer/songwriters he played than I did to the stale pop songs that still dominated the music business at the time, extending the Fifties all the way into 1964

So a highlight one summer back then was seeing Joan Baez in concert at Rutgers, and then seeing her a year later in concert in Asbury Park – this time with Bob Dylan

We saw her at the Newport Folk Festival in 1967, but by that time the transition from acoustic music to rock and roll was beginning to pass her by

However, her commitment to peace and justice has never wavered over the years, and in fact she is right now in the middle of a world tour (click on the title for more information)

We’re going to see her in concert at The Berklee Performance Center in November, just a block or two from where The Unicorn used to be on Boylston Street