Tag Archives: joan baez



Greenwich Village Sunday (1960 Documentary On The Counterculture / Beat

Culture In 1960’s New York)



Greenwich Village: what remains of New York’s beat generation haunts?

Inside Llewyn Davis


A new Coen brothers film celebrates Greenwich Village in its 60s heyday, but what’s left of Dylan and Kerouac’s New York? Karen McVeigh takes a cycle tour of the area
Inside Llewyn Davis still
A still from the Coen Brothers new film, Inside Llewyn Davis. Photograph: Alison Rosa/Studio Canal
Karen McVeigh
Sunday 22 December 2013 01.00 EST Last modified on Thursday 22 May 2014 06.51 EDT

Five decades have passed since America’s troubadours and beat poets flocked to Greenwich Village, filling its smoky late-night basement bars and coffee houses with folk songs and influencing some of the most recognisable musicians of the era.

A few landmarks of those bygone bohemian days – most recently portrayed in the Coen brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis, out on 24 January – still exist. The inspiration for the movie’s fictional anti-hero, Davis, was Brooklyn-born Dave Van Ronk, a real- life blues and folk singer with no small talent, who worked with performers such as Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan, but remained rooted in the village until he died in 2002, declining to leave it for any length of time and refusing to fly for many years. Van Ronk’s posthumously published memoir, the Mayor of MacDougal Street, takes its name from the street that was home to the Gaslight Cafe, and other early 60s folk clubs.

The Village stretches from the Hudson River Park east as far as Broadway, and from West Houston Street in the south up to West 14th Street. Its small scale makes it easy to explore on foot and perfect for a musical pilgrimage, but the arrival last summer of New York’s bike-sharing scheme, Citibike, makes for a more adventurous experience.

CitiBikers in Greenwich Village
CitiBikers in Greenwich Village. Photograph: Alamy
I picked up a bike outside Franklin Street subway station, south of the Village in Tribeca, and headed out to the river, at Pier 45. Looking south you can see One World Trade Center: at 541m, it’s now the tallest building in the western hemisphere. Cycle or walk to the end of the boardwalk that juts out into the Hudson, facing Hoboken, New Jersey, and look to your left and you can see the Statue of Liberty. From there, it’s a short cycle along Christopher Street, up Hudson and along West 10th, to Bleecker Street, where designer boutiques such as Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors and Lulu Guinness mark the area’s steep gentrification.

On MacDougal Street, a jumble of comedy cellars, theatres and cheap eateries have mostly replaced the old, liquorless cafes and basement bars of the folk scene. It is the hub of New York University’s campus and many of the bars, falafel joints and pizza houses are priced for students, with $2 beers thrown in.

But several older venues still exist, including the Bitter End, which staged folk “hootenannies” every Tuesday and now calls itself New York’s oldest rock club”. The White Horse Tavern, built in 1880, still stands on the corner of Hudson Street and 11th. It was used by New York’s literary community in the 1950s – most notably Welsh bard Dylan Thomas. It was here, myth has it, that the writer had been drinking in November 1953, before he was rushed to hospital from his room at the Chelsea Hotel, and died a few days later.

Dave Van Ronk
Folk singer Dave Van Ronk, the inspiration for the Llewyn Davis character. Photograph: Kai Shuman/Getty Images
The original Cafe Wha? remains at 115 MacDougal Street, on the corner of Minetta Lane. In the bitter winter of 1961, when the Coen brothers movie is set, cash-strapped artists similar to Davis would take their chances at the open mic. It was here that Bob Dylan made his New York debut, and Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac performed. Cafe Wha? continued to attract artists and musicians long after the Village folk scene gave way to rock’n’roll. A notice on the door catalogues a few of the famous names who played here: Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Havens, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and the Velvet Underground. It is still a popular music venue, with a house band playing five nights a week.

The real centre of the folk scene back then, however, was Washington Square, where musicians would gather on Sundays to swap ideas, learn new material and play. According to folk singer and historian Elijah Wald, the ballad and blues singers who sat around the fountain in the park created sounds that would influence artists from Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez to folk-rock groups the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Byrds and the Mamas and the Papas. The hero of the Coens’ film is not Van Ronk, according to Wald, but he does sing some Van Ronk songs and shares his working-class background.

When I visited on a sunny but cold December day, there was only one musician, a saxophonist, playing under Washington Square’s stone arch, but at weekends the park fills with rap and jazz musicians playing to tourists and students. Bikes are not officially allowed inside the square, but there are Citibike stations around it, so it’s easy to park and walk around.

A block north of the park, on West 8th Street, is a historic 107-room property once known as Marlton House and home to many writers and poets, who were attracted by relatively cheap rates and the bohemian neighbourhood. Jack Kerouac wrote The Subterraneans and Tristessa while living here and, in a darker episode, Valerie Solanas was staying in room 214 in 1968, when she became infamous for stalking and then shooting Andy Warhol.

The Marlton Hotel
The new Marlton Hotel
Sean MacPherson, who owns the stylish Bowery and Jane hotels nearby, has just reopened the building as the Parisian-inspired Marlton Hotel (marltonhotel.com). I popped in to its very comfortable lobby for coffee and a flick through its copy of John Strausbaugh’s The Village: 400 years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues. And I caught up with Strausbaugh later, to ask him about the village in the early 1960s, when young idealists were living hand to mouth and sleeping on friends’ couches.


“In 1961, if you were in any way an artistic person in America, in that vast American landscape, you were a lonely figure,” said Strausbaugh. “You heard about San Francisco, you heard about Greenwich Village, and you went there. You didn’t play there to make money; you went there to be heard. Like Dylan, who played at the Cafe Wha?, then got another entry-level gig, then began playing at the biggest places.”

There were others, Strausbaugh said, like Van Ronk, who were talented, but whose ambitions were more modest than those of Dylan and Baez. The unique thing about the Village, he added, is that it survived so long as a bohemian enclave, from the early 1850s, when it attracted poets such as Walt Whitman, to the beatniks and folk revivalists of the 1950s and later.

“The left bank [in Paris] did not last 100 years, but the Village did,” he said.

Many of the buildings and sometimes entire streets in the Village have been preserved and are now home to some of the most expensive real estate in Manhattan and sought-after for their distinctive, old Greenwich Village look. A struggling folk artist might find a cheap meal in one of the student cafes around MacDougal Street, but they would never be able to afford to live in the area – or anywhere in Manhattan, realistically.

“It has not been completely finished off,” said Strausbaugh. “There are still a lot of theatres. But the people who make the music have not been able to live there for 20 or 30 years.”

Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation Q&A at DOC NYC 2012


Bleecker Street: Greenwich Village in the ’60s traces and tributes the bohemian Mecca’s part in the emergence of singer/songwriters and the folk revival during the ’60s. The initial passion and sense of discovery in this music remains undimmed, as politically and emotionally conscious songs by Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Tim Buckley, Judy Collins, and Paul Simon are reinterpreted by contemporary artists like Chrissie Hynde, Ron Sexsmith, Beth Nielsen Chapman, and many others.

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my favorite female folk singer Joan Baez and her relationship with Dylan





Quick Facts
NAME: Joan Baez
OCCUPATION: Children’s Activist, Civil Rights Activist, Environmental Activist, Women’s Rights Activist, Anti-War Activist, Guitarist, Singer
BIRTH DATE: January 09, 1941 (Age: 72)
EDUCATION: Boston University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Staten Island, New York City, New York
Full Name: Joan Chandos Baez
ZODIAC SIGN: Capricorn

thD05L3R6KJoan Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter and activist who is best known for her distinctive voice and for her role in popularizing the music of Bob Dylan.
Joan Baez was born in Staten Island, New York, on January 9, 1941. Baez first became known as a folk singer after performing at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival. She is known for topical songs promoting social justice, civil rights and pacifism. Baez also played a critical role in popularizing Bob Dylan, with whom she performed regularly in the mid-1960s.


“I’ve never had a humble opinion in my life. If you’re going to have one, why bother to be humble about it?”

– Joan Baez


Early Life

Singer, songwriter and social activist Joan Baez was born on January 9, 1941, in Staten Island, New York. Baez, a singer in the folk tradition, was a crucial part of the genre’s rebirth in the 1960s. She got her first guitar in 1956. Two years after her family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, Baez delved into the city’s burgeoning folk scene. Soon she became a regular performer at a local club.

Commercial Success and Activism

The 1960s were a turbulent time in American history, and Baez often used her music to express her social and political views. Her self-titled first album was released in 1960 and not long after its release she met the then-unknown singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.

In the early to mid-1960s, Joan Baez became an established folk artist as well as a voice for social change. She sang “We Shall Overcome” at the March on Washington in 1963 organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to supporting civil rights, Baez also participated in the antiwar movement, calling for an end to the conflict in Vietnam.

Beginning in 1964, she would refuse to pay part of her taxes to protest U.S. military spending for a decade. Baez was also arrested twice in 1967 in Oakland, California, for blocking an armed forces induction center. Near the decade’s end, her autobiography, Daybreak (1968), was released.

Baez continued to be active politically and musically in the 1970s. She helped establish the west coast branch of Amnesty International, a human rights organization, and released numerous albums, including the critically acclaimed Diamonds and Rust (1975). In addition to touring, she also performed at many benefits and fundraisers for social and political causes around the world.

Later Work

Her most recent studio album was 2003’s Dark Chords on a Big Guitar. She followed up with a collection of live tracks in 2005 on Bowery Songs, which featured songs by Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie as well as some traditional folk songs.

Personal Life

Once married to David Harris, Joan Baez has a son named Gabriel from that union. She lives in California and continues to speak out for causes that are important to her.

Folk Music

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez: The King and Queen of Folk

A story of the relationship between Joan Baez and Bob Dylan

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Bob Dylan and Joan BaezBob Dylan and Joan Baez

© National Archives/Getty Images

For many, when you utter the words “folk music,” the first two people that come to mind are Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, the biggest stars of the 1960s folk craze. When 19-year-old Bob Dylan arrived in Greenwich Village in January 1961, Joan Baez had long been crowned the “Queen of Folk,” but within two short years, Dylan would ascend the throne as King of this musical monarchy, with the two wowing audiences from coast to coast with their live duets.

Two Talents Collide

In his 2004 autobiography Chronicles: Volume One (compare prices), Dylan wrote that, back in Minnesota, the first time he saw Baez on TV, “I couldn’t stop looking at her, didn’t want to blink. . . . The sight of her made me sigh. All that and then there was the voice. A voice that drove out bad spirits . . . she sang in a voice straight to God. . . . Nothing she did didn’t work.”

Baez, on the other hand, was unfazed by what she heard when she first saw Dylan perform at Gerde’s Folk City in 1961. However, by the time they finally met at Boston’s Club 47 in April 1963, Dylan had evolved into the scene’s most promising singer-songwriter, and Baez was blown away. Several weeks later at the Monterey Folk Festival, she would join Dylan onstage for a duet of “With God on Our Side” (purchase/download), marking the beginning of one of popular music’s most legendary stage partnerships.

Bob Who?

In July 1963, a still-unknown Dylan debuted the Newport Folk Festival, performing two  duets with Baez, one in her set and one in his own. By now smitten, Baez then invited Dylan along on her August tour, where she would bring him out for duets and give him short solo spots to hawk his wares. As she later recalled, “I was getting audiences up to 10,000 at that point, and dragging my little vagabond out onto the stage was a grand experiment… The people who had not heard of Bob were often infuriated, and sometimes even booed him.”

As the Queen of Folk, Baez’s endorsement played a huge role in Dylan’s early rise to success. But once his second album The Freewheelin Bob Dylan caught on, Dylan’s career soared as he stole the fire from his stage mate and lover. Soon the tables would turn, with Baez needing Dylan’s endorsement, which he gave by way of his sleeve notes for her second live album, Joan Baez in Concert Part 2 (compare prices). In his typical verse/commentary, he wrote that the “iron bars an’ rattlin’ wheels’ are real, the nightingale sound of Joan Baez’s voice an alien, smooth opposite… The only beauty’s ugly, man / The crackin’ shakin’ breakin’ sounds’re / The only beauty I understand’’

Later, during his 1965 tour of Europe, with Baez’s career on the slide, Dylan invited her along, promising to reciprocate that early exposure with spots during his shows. After she flew over, though, Dylan never followed through, in the process breaking Baez’s heart and ending their two-year music-fueled romance.

The Rolling Thunder Reunion

Despite Dylan’s snub, in 1968 Baez went on to release the album, Any Day Now: Songs of Bob Dylan (compare prices). And in 1972 she would write a song for Dylan titled “To Bobby” (purchase/download), with lyrics beckoning her former stage mate to get back into the action and help solve the problems of humanity. Then in 1975, Baez called out to Dylan again with her romantic reminiscence, “Diamonds and Rust” (purchase/download), singing the lyrics:

Now you’re telling me You’re not nostalgic Well give me another word for it You who’re so good with words And at keeping things vague.

If it was nostalgia Baez was seeking, she would soon get it after joining his 1975-76 renaissance road show, the Rolling Thunder Revue. As part of the opening set, Baez would do a couple songs, and then Dylan would join her onstage for duets ranging from Merle Travis’s “Dark as a Dungeon” to the traditional song, “The Water is Wide.” On top of her role in the Revue, Baez was also cast as The Woman in White in what would become Dylan’s 1978 four-hour film, Renaldo and Clara, which was shot throughout the 30-show tour across New England and Canada.

The King and Queen’s Last Hurrah

On June 6, 1980, Dylan and Baez would reunite for the one-off “Peace Sunday” concert that took place in Pasadena, California, where they did duets of “With God on Our Side,” Jimmy Buffet’s “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.” For hungry fans, a Dylan/Baez reunion tour had always been a sensational idea, and for some time, Baez had been urging Dylan to do just that. But Dylan wasn’t interested. That is, until 1984 when—most likely to amp up poor ticket sales—he invited her to join an already booked European Dylan/Santana package tour.

To get her on board, tour promoter Bill Graham promised Baez the world, but in the end delivered on nothing. To unsuspecting consumers, throwing Baez into the mix was to insinuate the much dreamed-of Dylan/Baez duet, but those who bought tickets on that basis would be as sadly disillusioned as Baez, who was promised not only top billing with Dylan, but a duet for each show.

With her name tacked onto concert posters as a mere “special guest,” Baez simply became the opening act for the headliners, Dylan and Santana. Livid and feeling used, Baez jumped ship halfway through the tour with Graham begging her to stay. But she’d had enough. “In the end I paid… a monetary forfeit, which I had expected to do,” wrote Baez in her 1988 autobiography, And a Voice to Sing With (compare prices). “But paying money was nothing compared to the battering my ego and spirit had taken for over a month.”

Dylan and Baez Today

Despite their ups and downs over the years, and the vitriol permeating Baez’s autobiography, when reminiscing today, both Dylan and Baez speak fondly of one another. Although very few of their duets have been released, Baez’s three-CD box set Rare, Live & Classic (compare prices) features “Troubled and I Don’t Know Why” from their August 1963 performance at Forest Hills. Previously unreleased duets of “It Ain’t Me Babe” and “With God on Our Side” can be heard on Baez’s 1997 disc, Live at Newport. For the visual experience, duets from all their Newport appearances can be seen in Murray Lerner’s The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival.