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Friday, September 18, 2009

/* Don't think twice */ - Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound

Piers Handling the head honcho of TIFF hailed Joan Baez as the voice of a generation before introducing her onstage for the free concert at Yonge Dundas Square. The concert and the Mary Wharton documentary mounted beforehand (to be shown later on PBS' American Experience series) were well attended, a packed crowd straining for a look at the star. Baez's career has spanned fifty years and shows her vulnerability, and plenty of footage of Bob Dylan who had appeared earlier in the Square that day baezin the Don't Look Back documentary.

Baez was caught in the conundrum of trying to be available to everyone, not holding anything back while at the same time trying to come to terms with herself in identity. An avowed pacifist, going back to the days of Dr Martin Luther King and the marches - a pacifist, she fought the war in her own way, trying to bring young men out of the lines before they went into the recruiting stations and getting arrested for her efforts, and after spending time in jail going right back to the front of the protest and doing it all over again, her times in jail only made her a "stronger pacifist"singing the folksongs and hits she created "The Night They Tore Old Dixie Down", bringing Bob Dylan and his songs into the movement in her own way, but holding onto Dylan too tight, unable to shape him, their breakup captures on film during Don't Look Back although it may not have been readily apparent at the time, continuing to fight the Victham War, and seeing her husband taken off to jail for resisting the draft and giving birth to her son during that time, coming back into Dylan's fold with the fun of The Rolling Thunder Revue, and finally coming to a place of peace at last.

Despite the chill of the night, the crowd hung on - getting to hear the voice on God Is God, and a few other tunes including "Don't Think Twice It's All Right" riffing on Bob Dylan's voice for a few lines. which perfectly captured the spirit of the night.

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