Joan Baez in Concert

Singer-songwriter-activist Joan Baez was born on January 9, 1941 in Staten Island, New York.  In many ways, Baez is the voice of the 1960s.  She started out as an important part of the folk movement in the early part of that decade, recording many popular songs throughout the decade.  And in 1969, she performed at Woodstock.

Baez also became one of the early and most vocal artists working for social justice issues. She continues to be a voice for important causes. For example, she marched next to Martin Luther King, Jr. and went to jail for supporting the draft resistance. And, she sang in the first Amnesty International tour.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Baez is still making music and doing other important work as she nears the end of her professional career.  On April 7, 2017, Jackson Browne inducted her into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During her induction speech, she noted the current political climate and made the following appeal to the people:

“Where empathy is failing and sharing has been usurped by greed and the lust for power, let us double, triple, and quadruple our own efforts to empathize and to give of our resources and our selves. Let us together repeal and replace brutality, and make compassion a priority. Together let us build a great bridge, a beautiful bridge to once again welcome the tired and the poor, and we will pay for that bridge with our commitment.

“We the people must speak truth to power, and be ready to make sacrifices. We the people are the only one who can create change. I am ready. I hope you are, too. I want my granddaughter to know that I fought against an evil tide, and had the masses by my side.”

“When all of these things are accompanied by music, music of every genre, the fight for a better world, one brave step at a time, becomes not just bearable, but possible, and beautiful.”

For 2018, Baez has planned the “Fare Thee Well Tour 2018.”  And in 2018, she also plans to release her first album since 2008 when she released Day After Tomorrow.  Joe Henry is producing the new album, Whistle Down The Wind.

1965 Live Performance

Celebrate Baez’s birthday by going back to 1965 as you watch her perform a televised concert that year.  June 5, 1965, she performed at the BBC Television Theatre in Shepherd’s Bush, London.  Watching her perform does make the world a little more bearable and beautiful.

What is your favorite Joan Baez song? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Know the Song But Not the Writer: Peaceful Easy Feeling Edition

    Around the early 1970s, Jack Tempchin was playing guitar and singing in coffee houses in San Diego when he got a gig in El Centro, California. It was his first time in the desert, and the sky inspired him to come up with the line “Peaceful Easy Feeling” for a song. He continued working on the song back in San Diego.

    While attending a street fair, Tempchin saw a beautiful woman with tan skin and turquoise earrings. While he did not speak to her, he put her in the opening stanza of the song he was writing on his $13 Stella guitar:

    I like the way your sparkling earrings lay,
    Against your skin, it’s so brown.
    And I wanna sleep with you in the desert tonight
    With a billion stars all around.

    The Eagles

    After finishing the last verse at a Der Weinerschnitzel fast food restaurant in San Diego, Tempchin was hanging around with a number of up-and-coming singer-songwriters. He was staying with Jackson Browne when Glenn Frey overheard Tempchin playing the song.

    Frey liked the tune and told Tempchin that he had a band called “the Eagles” that had only been together eight days. Tempchin gave Frey permission for his band to work up the song and the rest is history.

    A few months later, Frey played for Tempchin the band’s version of the song with Frey singing lead vocal.  Tempchin loved it.

    The tune ended up on the Eagles’ first album, Eagles (1972), and it was released as a single in December 1972.  It went to #22 on the charts. Tempchin heard his song on the radio for the first time as it played on a small transistor radio on top of a refrigerator in the house of someone he met while taking a road trip.

    Anyone who was around in the 1970s can probably sing along to the song, which was everywhere on the radio. The film The Big Lebowski (1998) even played off the song’s ubiquitousness when the Dude heard the song playing in a cab and complained about the Eagles. The cab driver then threw him out of the cab.

    Tempchin After “Peaceful Easy Feeling”

    As for Tempchin, he continues to write and perform. He co-wrote other songs for the Eagles, including “Already Gone.” And his songs have been covered by others, including “Slow Dancin’ (Swayin’ to the Music),” a 1979 hit for Johnny Rivers.

    Tempchin tells more of the interesting story behind “Peaceful Easy Feeling” in a post on No Depression and on his website.  The site also features stories from fans about what the song means to them.

    You have heard the original version by the Eagles, so now give a listen to the songwriter singing his song. You may hear Tempchin sing “Peaceful Easy Feeling” from his recent CD Live At Tales from the Tavern (2012) above or watch him sing the song in the video below.

    Inspirations for the Song

    It is interesting to think of the woman who inspired the opening of the song, never knowing it. Like everyone else, she must have heard the song many times, never knowing that it is her in those lines.

    Tempchin has explained, “I guess I was trying to distill the beauty of every girl I saw into words on paper and then into a song.” So, maybe it is appropriate that there is no one person out there claiming the song.

    Real people and relationships are messy, so it is only an idealized lover that eternally can inspire lines like: “‘Cause I get a peaceful easy feeling/ And I know you won’t let me down.”

    And that is the story behind the song.

    What is your favorite memory of hearing “Peaceful Easy Feeling”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Bruce Springsteen Takes It Easy With Jackson Browne

    This week on September 22, Bruce Springsteen joined Jackson Browne to sing “Take It Easy” with Browne. On stage at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey, the Boss looked both bemused and relaxed, perhaps because he was so close to his home. In other words, he was taking it easy too.

    Browne wrote “Take It Easy” with Glenn Frey, who sang lead vocals when The Eagles made it a hit in 1972 and put it on their debut Eagles album that year. Browne also released his version of the song on For Everyman in 1973. The song remains associated with both The Eagles and Browne, but this week, Springsteen enjoyed bringing some Winslow, Arizona to New Jersey.

    Springsteen may have looked extra happy onstage because the next day was his sixty-sixth birthday on September 23.

    Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Don McLean Live at Glastonbury

    I recently discovered that YouTube features a number of full high quality performances from past Glastonbury Festivals in England. Some of the clips are of individual songs instead of full performances. There are some good ones of Paul Simon, Johnny Cash, Buddy Guy, The Gaslight Anthem, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Regina Spektor and OK Go.

    For one that you might not expect, check out this 2011 performance by Don McLean, who of course performs “Vincent” and “American Pie.” Here is “Vincent.”

    And here is “American Pie.”

    To see Glastonbury performances from the other performers, head over to this YouTube link.

    What is or favorite YouTube concert? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Andrew Combs Need Not Be A “Worried Man” (CD Review)

    I do not quite get the album art on Worried Man (2012), the debut full-length CD by Andrew Combs. Is he cold? Is it supposed to be a picture of a “Worried Man”? I do not think the album cover adequately prepared me for what to expect when I heard the music. One thing I do know, though, is that it is the best album by a new artist I have heard in a long time.

    Because Worried Man came out in October 2012, I realize I am a little slow in discovering Andrew Combs. But seeing a video of Andrew Combs performing on the Twang Nation website recently led me to check out his album. Listening to Worried Man starting with the first track of “Devil’s Got My Woman” has been one of those periodic experiences that restores my faith in new music.

    Combs, who is originally from Texas and now resides in Nashville, wrote all of the songs on the album, and he sings with an ache in his voice in the best country and Americana tradition. The album includes heartbreak, whiskey, and pedal steel, and the title track reminds one of an old murder ballad (even if the violence stops short of killing). You can hear the influences of Combs’s heroes who include Harlan Howard, Willie Nelson, Mickey Newbury, Guy Clark, Jackson Browne, and Tom T. Hall. Combs pulls off connecting to these past influences while also sounding modern at the same time, as he does in this performance of “Please, Please, Please.”

    Every artist is different, of course, but for comparison purposes, a lot of the songs remind me of another artist I like a lot, Slaid Cleaves. “Please, Please, Please” sounds like it could be a great Heartbreaker-era Ryan Adams track. The song “Worried Man” sounds like it is off of the album of another Texan, Ray Wylie Hubbard . For now, Andrew Combs has made a stream of the album available so you can listen for yourself below Check it out.

    Combs, who released the album on his own Coin Records, also co-produced the album with Mike Odmark. Singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose adds her voice to several of the tracks. I look forward to more music from Andrew Combs, whatever the cover looks like.

    What is your favorite track off of Worried Man? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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