Joan Baez — Folk Singer; Par excellence!

Joan Baez
Joan Baez

Joan Baez has always been my favourite female artist as far as I can remember  i.e. right from my teenage years. In fact, the first song I ever learnt to play on the guitar was a song sung by her called Joe Hill

I did not understand the meaning of the song when I first heard it as there was no online provision to google at that time. However, these days it has become very easy to find out the history about the great songs. Joan Baez sang this beautiful song Joe Hill at the Woodstock Music & Festival in 1969 as a tribute to her husband David who was in the prison around that time. It was only after internet that I learned the reason this song was written and what it was all about!

Joe Hill (My Favourite Lines)

Joan Baez
Joan Baez

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you and me.
Says I ” But Joe, you’re ten years dead”
” I never died ” said he,
” I never died” said he.

“The Copper Bosses killed you Joe,
They shot you Joe” says I,
“Takes more than guns to kill a man”
Says Joe “I didn’t die”
Says Joe ” I didn’t die”

A bit of insight

What beautiful lyrics to this amazing song which only Joan Baez could do justice to with her mesmerizing voice! The song was written as a poem in 1930 by the British writer Alfred Hayes and the lyrics or poetry were made into a song in 1936 by Earl Robinson who wrote the tune in 40 minutes straight down! Several artists since then have attempted to perform this song as an inspiration for workers rights etc.

The person or character in the song was simply known as Joe Hill who was also called Joseph Hillstrom  (his birth name was ‘Joel Emmanuel Hagglund). Hill was a Swedish-American who was an organizer of sorts and also wrote several labour songs. His life and death have inspired several books and poetry as well!

Joan Baez often sings songs of protest or social justice as we call it and is not only a musician/song writer but also an activist. I would love to share this song here. I love Joan’s calm, soothing, peaceful yet powerful voice which has helped me over the years to overcome the sadness and loneliness, pain and hurt that I have felt at various stages in my life and which has helped me tremendously to face the world again!

Edited by: Himesh Saraf