Muddy Bottom Blues
Program #201 (January 24 at 8:00 p.m. and January 25 at 3:00 p.m.)
Joan Baez has influenced nearly every aspect of popular music in a career still going strong. Baez is possessed of a once-in-a-lifetime soprano, which, since the late '50s, she has put in the service of folk and pop music as well as a variety of political causes.
Starting out in Boston, Baez first gained recognition at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival, then cut her debut album, Joan Baez (October 1960), for Vanguard Records. It was made up of 13 traditional songs given near-definitive treatment. A moderate success on release, the album took off after the breakthrough of Joan Baez, Vol. 2 (September 1961), and both albums became huge hits, as did Baez's third album, Joan Baez in Concert, Pt. 1 (September 1962). Each album went gold and stayed in the best-seller charts more than two years.
From 1962 to 1964, Baez was the popular face of folk music, headlining festivals and concert tours and singing at political events, including the August 1963 March on Washington.
During this period, she began to champion the work of folk songwriter Bob Dylan, and gradually her repertoire moved from traditional material toward the socially conscious work of the emerging generation of '60s artists like him. Her albums of this period were Joan Baez in Concert, Pt. 2 (November 1963) and Joan Baez 5 (October 1964), which contained her cover of Phil Ochs' "There But for Fortune," a Top Ten hit in the U.K.
Like other popular folk performers, Baez was affected by the changes in popular music wrought by the appearance of the Beatles in the U.S. in 1964, and Dylan's introduction of folk-rock in 1965, and she began to augment her simple acoustic guitar backing with other instruments, initially on Farewell, Angelina (October 1965). It was followed by a Christmas album, Noël (October 1966), and Joan (August 1967), albums on which she was accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Peter Schickele. Baez continued to experiment in the late '60s, releasing Baptism (June 1968), in which she recited poetry, and Any Day Now (December 1968), a double album of Dylan songs done with country backing, which went gold.
In March 1968, Baez had married antiwar protest leader David Harris, who was imprisoned as a draft evader. Harris was a country music fan, and Baez's turn toward country, which continued on David's Album (June 1969).
In the late '60s and early '70s, Baez moved toward pop/rock music and also began to write her own songs.
(provided by Allmusic)