vendredi 14 août 2009

Baez en Ville

We drove to the Woodland Park Zoo under thunderclouds, pouring rain and even lightning. It didn't look promising for an outdoor concert. But as we rushed through Woodland Park with our Chinese footstools and borrowed umbrellas, the sky began to brighten and the rain turned to mist. We heard Joan Baez before we saw her; her voice has mellowed with age but is still power and purity. And she still does that vibrato thing.

She was relaxed and funny on-stage, telling anecdotes between songs and even one dirty joke about the benefits of charm school ("I learned to say 'that's nice instead of fuck you'" is the punchline). She did a solo, acoustic guitar version of Diamonds and Rust that was haunting and lovely. She doesn't get enough credit for her guitar-playing, in my opinion. Dylan is one of the few who has noted that she is the most gifted of her peers in this department. She did a couple Dylan songs (Forever Young and Don't Think Twice), and even delighted the crowd with her nasally Dylan imitation. Like Joan, the crowd was grey-haired for the most part. There were noticeably fewer small children in attendance than for the previous Zoo Tunes show I went to (Cowboy Junkies on July 22), probably because of the inclement weather.

The concert ended with Baez's cover of The Band's The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down.

Her most recent album was produced by Steve Earle, one of my favorite songwriters and also a great guitarist and singer. She did a couple of Earle's songs, including the one where he begs Woody Guthrie to come back (Christmas in Washington).

Among her musicians were a talented guy who played everything from the piano to the violin, and her son Gabriel, who is her percussionist.

May you stay Forever Young, Joan.

Note: The title of the blog entry refers to a headline in Libération that was published when Joan Baez came to Paris years ago to give a concert. The term "baise-en-ville" is slang for a small overnight bag that contains everything one might need to spend the night away from home. Here's an example of its use that is given in Cellard-Rey, 1980: "Avec salle de bains? me demande la dame de la réception. Il n'y a plus qu'en France qu'une telle alternative est offerte! (...) Elle me file le 12. Un groom me monte mon petit baise-en-ville avec une mine dégoûtée" (SAN ANTONIO, Passez-moi la Joconde, 1954).
Baiser means to kiss in French, but is also a vulgar term that means to fuck. There is a huge and critical difference between "donner un baiser" et "baiser".