The Bob Dylan/Joan Baez Pages

JOAN BAEZ & BOB DYLAN, 1965 (from "Don't Look Back")

Any copyrighted material on these pages is used in "fair use" for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

With Bobby and Joanie singin' so bright
Who needs a compass with all that light...

PETER LAFARGE, "Move Over, Grab a Holt" (sic) ("On the Warpath," FN 2535, 1965)

It is not absolutely essential to have hair hanging to the waist--but it helps. Other aids: no lipstick, flat shoes, a guitar.

So equipped, almost any enterprising girl can begin a career as a folk singer. Enough already have to make them a fixture of current U.S. college life--like the "A" student and the Goldwater button. What most of the singers have in common is their age (early 20s) and their scorn of the "commercial."

The most gifted of the newcomers is New York-born Joan Baez, 21, who has sold more records than any other girl folk singer in history, and who last week had two albums perched high on the pop charts.

Songstress Baez boasts a pure, purling soprano voice, an impeccable sense of dynamics and phrasing, and an uncanny ability to dream her way into the emotional heart of a song.

TIME Magazine, June 1, 1962.

QUESTION: Let's talk a little about Dylan in those days, as a songwriter. Pete [Seeger] had this political sense -- can you describe Bob's political position, if any, in the days of the folk movement?

BAEZ: Well, I, up until that point of the phenomenon of Dylan's writing, had depended pretty heavily on folk music as it came down traditionally, unwritten and so forth. That's what my niche was. But I also had a very, very strong social political pull, and I'd had that before I even started singing. I was that way by the time I was eight. So it was sort of a miracle of Seeger and seeing this person who lived his music. There was now somebody who wrote my feelings. And other people wrote them and I've sung the songs of many people, but nobody ever did it as deftly, in my career, as Dylan did. So that was the magic, for me, that those words not only got the job done, but they did it with such a flair and such aplomb. Nobody else -- people have been trying to imitate that since the day he stepped on deck. Nobody's been able to do it.

QUESTION: And the moment that he went from folk into rock, at Newport '65, can you describe that? Were you at that event? What ripple did that have through the next generation of musical culture?

BAEZ: Yeah. My approach to performing has always been almost the exact opposite of Bob's. I've always been too careful about my audience and making sure everybody's happy and did I sing -- [laughs] -- to make sure that guy asked for this song. Dylan's, in a sense, was the opposite. He had to do whatever he had to do. And so I admired -- I don't know if I did at that moment, but I eventually came to admire his ability to plunge forward no matter who said what. Because that was a very scary thing to do. I don't think I could have done something like that. He knew. He was in the folk context and everybody adored him and he was the kind of folk hero and he wanted to go electric. And many people just freaked out about it. Well, he was right to do that, because that's his art. Take it or leave it, that's his art. And probably because of that and because of the size of his gift, people have been taking it anyway, [laughs] on through the years.

L. A. Johnson Interview, Bloomington, IN, Aug 28, 1995

(excluding previously released tracks on compilation albums)

QUESTION: Can you talk about the days in New York City during the Gerde's Folk City days, and what the folk scene was like and how you came into that?

BAEZ: See, the music scene I was more involved in was in Cambridge, and I just sang Tuesdays and Fridays at a club in Harvard Square, and would go on little forays into New York City, because I was young and intimidated by all that. So I was at Gerde's maybe three or four times. I never did a gig there, officially. I sang with Bob a couple of times impromptu, and that's also where I met him and saw him for the first time. I went to the Café Wha? and a couple of other places....

But I didn't hang out a lot in New York City. I was very aware that that's where everything was happening.

L. A. Johnson Interview, Bloomington, IN, Aug 28, 1995


(including occasional "duels"...):

After we became friends we sang together a couple of times, in fact one night at Gerdes we were up on stage making up a song together, "Troubled and I Don't Know Why."

Robbie Woliver, Hoot! A 25-Year History of the Greenwich Village Music Scene, St. Martin's Press, 1986, p. 90


To Top of Page
To Next Page
To Table of Contents
Back to Starting Page