September 24, 2020

Joan Baez: "I was not happy until I was 50" | Culture



That soprano tone that dazzled Bob Dylan, the great female figure of American folk in the sixties and seventies, the very same Joan Baez, it is running out of voice. We are not talking about an evil appreciation of the criticism that can seat you in a burnt horn. Or a sad suspicion on the part of his admirers. She confesses to her 78 years: "This muscle that makes a difference does not come, it needs a lot of work," he admits in a telephone conversation.

But before he leaves it lying in any concert, he prefers to do, with great care, a farewell world tour that will take him to Spain the next 24, 25, 27 and 28 July; to the San Sebastian Jazz Festival, first, and then to Sitges, to the Porta Ferrada Festival (Girona) and, finally, to the Universal Music Festival at the Teatro Real de Madrid. "It has been moving me little by little. At 60 I tried vocal exercises and trained to keep it well. It's the best I have, but it's hard to keep it in shape. " A daily discipline that does not always give you the results you are looking for: "Until I was 30 years old I did not do anything. Now, on tour, I work with her daily and when I'm at home, resting, I exercise her four days a week: tongue, breathing, diaphragm, if not … ".

Aware of what he has been thanks in large part to his natural, nostalgic instrument without ceasing to illuminate the rationale, even as committed as in the times of the protests against the Vietnam War or at the time of his concerts in favor of the rights civilians next to Martin Luther King, grandmother and former muse of beings as apparently as disparate as Bob Dylan or Steve Jobs, Joan Baez departs. Take a step back to leave a good memory after six decades of career.

And what will he do? "Very simple: finish a documentary (about herself), paint, continue with my autobiography, continue the struggle for social achievements … In my country we no longer live in a democracy." He admits it with that regret of someone who has lost several struggles. "You can insist on continuing the battle to change the world. But what is happening to us I never imagined. Everything falls apart. We feel in shock. It simply surpasses us. "

In such a moral state of political depression under the influence of the US president Donald Trump, Joan Baez continues to resort to certain jolts of poetic adrenaline. Continue faithful to Walt Whitman, of whom this year marks the second centenary of his birth. He was the one who best sang the vitalism of a country that was being built. And people like Baez need it now, in the era of collapse. Although it prescribes in small doses: "Hope can be dangerous if you do not distance yourself. It can hurt you and make us prisoners of false hopes. "

She has learned it to blows. "Until I was 50 I was not happy," he confesses. "I did not know how to enjoy what I had achieved, I let myself be entangled by too many obstacles; Now I feel much better". The anxiety of the public fronts did not have anything to do with that dissatisfaction, but a way of being that affected him: "I felt very miserable, it was an intimate question that prevented me in a very deep way, of essence, from feeling satisfied with myself, in peace. A pure neurosis that I had to deal with psychologically. "

Whatever the recipe was, it was right. "I decided I could not continue that way and I changed the course radically," he says. Amorous disillusionment aside, Baez learned from each relationship. With Dylan he understood how far he wanted to go by applying pure calculation. That kid from Minnesota whom the singer – who was famous before him – adopted with a certain air of protection knew how to use it to get to the top, according to Howard Sounes in the biography of the musician.

As for Steve Jobs, his biographers have never known if he was really in love with her or just wanted to emulate his idol with an identical relationship. The truth, among other things, was that issues of mentality opened a deep gap between them. "My mind did not respond to the same parameters as yours," says Baez. And it does not say it for that anecdote that William Isaacson tells in his book about the creator of Apple. That in which the singer, excited before a date in which the guru told him that he was going to take her to a store because he had seen a red dress that would be great, he thought he was going to give it away. When they entered the premises, Jobs showed it to him and said: "I would buy it from you." Baez refers to habits that surpass her: "I do not like, for example, writing notes on my phone. When I see my granddaughter do it with that skill that young people have today, I get a panic attack, "he says.

The artist does not believe that the illusion with a loop of technology is going to procure a better world, as Jobs preached, halfway between messianism and the wild instinct of tycoon: "I am terrified that people do not look at each other's faces, I value the emotions that have nothing to do with that collective self-absorption. We live a real mental disorder. Today children are not in healthy contact with nature and people no longer appreciate the importance of a tree. "

The New York singer who did not renounce being Hispanic

When in the Seventies Joan Baez began to be heard in Spain, Franco had not died. The singer already had a considerable career in her country, where she began her career in the late fifties in various festivals and slums of folk music. The wave of the protest song and the rise of the singer-songwriters was lived then. Baez gave an air to popular figures such as Cecilia or the ladies of Mocedades (although in the background it was obviously the other way around) and in an angelic way he sang versions that had risen, while leaving hell, to figures such as Chavela Vargas.

It was when Baez published in 1974 Thanks to life, a compendium of Hispanic-American themes that opened the borders of Spanish. Inmiscuía in a global mood of rebellion that moved between several cardinal points: from Washington and California to Chile, Argentina, Mexico, his country of descent, or Spain, crying winds of change.

Baez sang songs by Víctor Jara or Violeta Parra y Serrat, with his I arrive with three wounds, from the album dedicated to Miguel Hernández. Thanks to life It was a special milestone. To the point that many were convinced that she was a Latin artist. It was, but half. Baez, who was born in Staten Island (New York) in 1941 and is the daughter of a Mexican from Puebla, today laments her poor Spanish: "I hardly speak it," he confesses. As long as I sing it, many people are worth it.

In addition to the aforementioned, the album toured the popular songbook with the air of a barricade between They will not move us Y Guantanamera Undoubtedly, the artist wanted to move through the zones of conflict and picked up a deep feeling of longing for change that catapulted her to other audiences. Their versions have always achieved as much success as the original themes. From Dylan to The Beatles, Baez was the echo in female with a voice that, guitar in hand, still resonates as the distinctive sign of an entire era.

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