Imagine…Joan Baez – How Sweet The Sound Review: Fight For Your Rights

December 8, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

4baez300IMAGINE…JOAN BAEZ – HOW SWEET THE SOUND: Tuesday 8th December, BBC1, 10.35pm ALERT ME

“Ally to Martin Luther King, lover to Bob Dylan, she was the most admired and desired singer of her era, recording six gold albums and sell-out tours.?

In the first minute of this documentary you learn more about Joan Baez than the people you’ve known all your life (probably).

“No-one was a more passionate spokesperson for that generation (the sixties) than singer/songwriter Joan Baez?, the narrator announces to an amateur cameraman along a dodgy park. Even Joan isn’t sure of this, musing at the start over, ‘who people think I am’ and who she really is. Though she’s acclaimed so many titles, it’s easy to forgive this confusion.

What follows is an earthy, touching documentary on the musician, beginning with opening shots of young family life (look out for synchronized shoulder dancing) and black and white footage of performances with her sister, Mimi and at regular haunt Club 47.

“She had a very unusual way of playing the guitar,? says ex-lover Bob Dylan in a dubious purple shirt to a background of what looks like a malnutritioned tree, although I can’t be sure. Baez and Dylan’s relationship is something of a chat show mystery. “Bob suffered from me wanting him to be something other than he was?. “I was just trying to deal with the madness that had become my career?, he defends, bewildered.

Also documented is her ex-husband, David Harris and their son, Gabriel. Although they would probably still be together, she hints, if not for the constant campaigning and getting sent to prison thing. Influenced by her Quaker father, Baez lived a life that backed up her songs. “Going to jail, as a pacifist you come out a stronger pacifist,? she explains with true sincerity.

When things got a bit rough, there was always her guitar (and Dylan) to soothe the pain. “Music is my therapy,? she concludes. And you better believe it. Joan has a voice that can heal the world. You’ll have a peaceful night’s sleep, in any case.

Emma Rink