Joan Baez, United States singer, interviewed

This music video from the USA about the Vietnam war is called Joan Baez – Where Are You Now, My Son?

On 5 February 2019, Dutch daily Trouw published an interview by Saskia Bosch with United States singer Joan Baez. The interview was by telephone from Ms Baez’ home.

Parts of it (translated):

Joan Baez says goodbye: ‘I was at my most powerful when I could combine singing with activism’

On Friday Joan Baez (78) will sing her very last concert in the Netherlands. The US American singer will stop touring. “My voice is deteriorating. I hear it and I feel it.”…

The American singer-songwriter will be in the business for exactly sixty years in 2019. She broke through in the nineteen sixties with engaged folk pop songs like ‘Farewell, Angelina’, ‘Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word’ and ‘We Shall Overcome‘ and together with Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan was one of the most important representatives of the protest generation. Her activism was always just as important as her music. Last year she released the new album ‘Whistle Down the Wind’, but also announced her last tour.

The reason: the decline of her vocals. … Baez … announced last year that her ‘Fare Thee Well Tour’ would be her farewell tour. …

How does that feel, such a farewell tour? Baez laughs: “Nice, because a lot of people come to the shows, because they know it’s the last time they can see me live. We play for sold-out halls and even did twenty shows in the Parisian Olympia. That would not have been possible if we would not have announced the farewell.”

This music video is called Joan Baez – Fare Thee Well Tour – Live @ Paris Olympia 13 June 2018 (COMPLETE HD CONCERT).

There has not been time for melancholy or sadness. “The reaction will only come later, I suspect. Maybe I will feel relieved, maybe in mourning, maybe both. To be honest, I do not know.”


The emotions which she has so far put into her live performances, Baez expects to put partly into her other passion: painting. Full of enthusiasm she talks about the portrait she made of Emma Gonzalez, the student who survived the shooting at her school in Florida and last year held such an impressive speech during the March for Our Lives. “Give me your e-mail address, then I will send you a photo of the painting.” A little later the painting of a serious-looking Gonzalez in red and green tones appears in the mailbox. …

The activist

The singer is just as well-known for her music as for her activism that runs like a thread through her life and music. In this way she opposed the war in Vietnam and supported the US American civil rights movement. “The highlights of my life coincided with the times when I had both hats on: activism and music. Then I was at my most powerful and most useful.”

As an example, she mentions how in 1966, when segregated schools had just been abolished, in Grenada, Mississippi, she was accompanying black pupils who were attending a white school for the first time. “Martin Luther King Jr. had asked me to walk with them until he could come. I walked there with little black children, who were pelted with rocks. My presence made it harder for white adults to throw the rocks at the children. I was proud and strong. I told a big policeman: “We are bringing these children to school.” He answered in that southern accent: ‘You cannot go any further’. Maybe I was stupid and my heart was pounding, but it was a challenge I liked.”

Now Baez is still committed to matters that concern her. … Baez refers to climate change.

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