Oh Freedom!

Thank you Joan Baez!


This diary is to express my admiration for Joan Baez, to thank her for all she has done, and to draw inspiration from her for the struggles that lie ahead.  Joan’s singing can fill me with the sublimest emotion and her voice and spirit have shepherded me through trial and tribulation over a lifetime punctuated by tragedy – as all of ours are.  Her voice washes through my troubled soul like a river of grace and mercy.  And one can’t help but admire and be moved by her personal courage and commitment to humanitarian and progressive causes.  She has not only fought, but has led us through many righteous battles.  She is a warrior for humanity, possessing the voice of an angel and the heart of a lion.

Her voice is like a person who has discovered all the secrets of nature and then utters them back reverently and elegantly while nature listens and nods in approval.

~ so eloquently put by my good friend Norwegian Chef


Joan Baez ~ Oh Freedom – Turn Me Around


At a time in our country’s history when it was neither safe nor fashionable, Joan put herself on the line countless times, and her life’s work was mirrored in her music. She sang about freedom and Civil Rights everywhere, from the backs of flatbed trucks to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington in 1963. In 1964, she withheld 60% of her income tax from the IRS to protest miltary spending, and participated in the birth of the Free Speech movement at UC Berkeley. A year later she co-founded the Institute For The Study of Nonviolence near her home in Carmel Valley. In 1966, Joan Baez stood in the fields alongside Cesar Chavez and migrant farm workers striking for fair wages, and opposed capital punishment at San Quentin during a Christmas vigil. The following year she turned her attention to the draft resistance movement. As the war in Vietnam escalated in the late ’60s and early ’70s, she traveled to Hanoi with the U.S.-based Liaison Committee and helped establish Amnesty International on the West Coast.

~ excerpted from Joan’s official biography


Throughout the turbulent 60s Joan helped millions of my generation both to resist the rightwing madness and to heal from the many terrible tragedies that befell those of us in the civil rights movement and the resistance to the Vietnam War.  She was our Florence Nightingale.  Her ability to soothe and heal were (and remain) phenomenal.

Joan gave me one of the highlights of my life

I was a young gay man in San Francisco in the late 1970’s, the Golden Age of gay liberation.  It all came crashing to a halt the day Dan White assassinated Harvey Milk and George Moscone in 1979.  It was like the day Kennedy was shot for San Franciscans.

A hundred thousand or more gathered in the Castro that evening with candles, and we marched down Market Street to City Hall.  Politicians and activists spoke, but the purpose of the meeting was the gathering and the crying together.  Strangers hugged and cried on each others’ shoulders.

Then Joan Baez took the mike on the City Hall balcony, and sang Amazing Grace in the purest soaring a capella I’ve ever heard in my life.  It was as if an angel had descended to give voice to all the sorrow and hope our hearts could hold.  She mesmerized the huge crowd, and afterward we all felt visited by grace.  It was one of the few truly spiritual experiences of my life.

OPOL, I hope you and Daniel bring home similar memories from DC.  I’ve had the good fortune of meeting your amazing son, and am glad you’re taking him.  We need his conscience in decades to come.  Wish I could come the 2000 miles, but it’s not in the cards.  Like others, I’ll be there with you in spirit.

~ a recent comment from my dear friend Dallasdoc

Joan Baez ~ Amazing Grace


Joan Baez ~ Where have all the flowers gone?


Bob Dylan & Joan Baez ~ Blowing in the wind


Joan Baez ~ Marching up to freedom land

From the depths of my soul and the bottom of my heart, thank you dear sweet angel Joan Baez.


P.S.  Join us this Saturday, September 15th in Washington D.C. as we honor Joan’s spirit by marching against our runaway outlaw government!  Kossacks are meeting up at the site of the National Christmas Tree on the ellipse (15th & E Street) beginning at 11:00 a.m.  We’ll join the march at high noon.

Additional info. on rideshares, room and board, the march, etc. is available at Road2DC.



Skip to comment form

    • OPOL on September 12, 2007 at 22:36
    • on September 12, 2007 at 22:40

    goose bumps

  1. lovely tribute to a deserving and inspiring individual.

  2. my mom is a huge Joan Baez fan and has met her a couple of times. That photo with Dylan in ’63 is just awesome. I was only 2 at the time! Wow!

    • mickey on September 12, 2007 at 22:51

    God she was so good, such a great musician/singer/poet, such a great com-passionate person. Just a teen growing up in the 60’s but she is one of the great memories of that period, there was so much energy so much passion to change the dominant paradigm/system. But over time the people grew fat( figuratively as well as literally)  and got lazy. Its well past time to reignite and recapture that divine progressive  spark, to build a new movement, to usher in a new progressive age. No more surrender, no more capitulating, our time is now.

    • LoE on September 12, 2007 at 22:57

    But it appears to be momentarily broken.  Wouldn’t take it.  Maybe it belonged here all along?

    I have an obscure bit of vinyl

    Philadelphia Folk Festival 1964, I think it is.

    Anyhow, has a wild, wonderful rendition of With God on Our Side – a Dylan & Baez duet.  Very raw, very rough, very energetic.  Very 60s; not the part that happened in the 1970s.

    If I ever get all the pieces working at once, I intend to preserve it in digital form.

    If ever…  Sigh.

    • DWG on September 12, 2007 at 23:03

    I remember Joan Baez and so many other performers with heart and conscience.  They were true leaders and galvanized a generation to support peace, civil rights, and the environment.  I look around at the current crop of popular musicians, artists, and writers, and do not see the same level of heart and leadership.  When the Dixie Chicks expressed an opinion, they were attacked in the media.  For every Pink or DC out there willing to speak up, there are hundreds too afraid of losing contracts and sales to voice discontent.  Sad. 

  3. For my 50th birthday, a couple of years ago, my husband took me to see Joan in concert at a small local theatre. We had great seats and she still made us want to go march on Washington DC or wherever she was leading.

    Her music still resonates…and some songs are just beyond belief. So whether we heard her the first time in the ’60s or in 2007 Joan Baez kicks the status quo in the butt!

    • on September 12, 2007 at 23:09

    Man these video links bring back memories OPOL!

    What a wonderful introduction to what I’m certain will be one hell of an on-line community!

  4. as always, OPOL.  Your diaries are always so passionate and moving.  This one brought tears.  Thank you, as always.  I can’t be at the march,  but I’ll be there in spirit.  I think you know that.

  5. This is the music I use to make, Digital Hardcore!

    Revolution Action! Destroy Two Thousand Years of Culture!

  6. A beautiful Pied Piper for Peace.
    I`ve been following your diaries since you started them. Only now, I can praise you for your voice of reason.
    Having Joan Baez as the headliner for Peace & Truth is perfect especially for the fact that she never wavered in her commitment to it, no matter what. She is an angel for the ages.

    • claude on September 12, 2007 at 23:48

    since high school, and I graduated in 1963.

    And she looks just as good now as she did then.

    So, OPOL, what’s the scoop here?  Is there some kind of waiting period before we can post our own essay?

    I was going to post what I put up last night at DKos, that “911? Get over it.” diary, which sruck a nerve for some folks and got some good commentary.

  7. Baez is a treasure and still going strong. Never gave up – understands a protracted struggle.

    This is a beautiful site…I understand you designed the header? It is just perfect…

    As I said in Budhy’s diary at dKos….

    A BEEYOOTEEFULL site (to behold).

    • vigkat on September 13, 2007 at 00:57

    Joan Baez and Bob Dylan got me through the long, long 60s and into the 70s.  One of my favorite early Baez songs had the opening lines:  “On a wagon, bound for slaughter, stands a calf with a mournful eye.”  I don’t recall the name of that song, but it touched me deeply and always made me cry.  In fact, it still does.  You and the rest of the docudharma gang have much to be proud of here.  It is great and I know it’s going to be the next big thing.  So glad to be a part of it.

    • TexMex on September 13, 2007 at 01:03

    Joanie is ……………..Hispanic!

  8. my hero!  Thank you!!!  I’m lovin’ this new blog!!

      • LoE on September 13, 2007 at 05:04

      …links, too.

      But mostly a bit cryptic.  I found my way because an earlier OPOL diary had a link.  Turned out, not authorized, and quickly removed.  So it was an Alice in Wonderland thing for me – and the wormhole closed behind me.

      The other day, buhdy posted a Kos comment with only a period in the body.  Someone followed that link over here.  Before the announcement, it was mostly breadcrumbs though.  I wasn’t really part of the “invite” list – just one of the earlier party crashers.

    • Temmoku on September 13, 2007 at 02:00

    A joy to read…and it brought back memories! What a great diary! Thanks so much.

  9. I love this beautiful woman. She has been a shining example to our whole generation, her whole life. She has never wavered. She has never sold out. She is humble and real and pure and true. Thanks so much for this tribute, OPOL!

  10. And thank you, OPOL, for this tribute compilation.

  11. Congratulations on the new blog!

    Joan Baez’ voice formed my young woman’s heart.

    Peace, brother.

  12. Gillian Welch’s Elvis Presley Blues:

    I was thinking that night about Elvis
    Day that he died, day that he died
    I was thinking that night about Elvis
    Day that he died, day that he died
    Just a country boy that combed his hair
    And put on a shirt his mother made and went on the air
    And he shook it like a chorus girl
    And he shook it like a Harlem queen
    He shook it like a midnight rambler,
    Like you never seen.

    I was thinking that night about Elvis
    Day that he died, day that he died
    I was thinking that night about Elvis
    Day that he died, day that he died
    How he took it all out of black and white
    Grabbed his wand in the other hand and he held on tight
    And he shook it like a hurricane
    He shook it like to make it break
    And he shook it like a holy roller, baby
    With his soul at stake.

    I was thinking that night about Elvis
    Day that he died, day that he died
    I was thinking that night about Elvis
    Day that he died, day that he died
    He was all alone in a long decline
    Thinking how happy John Henry was that he fell down and died
    When he shook it and he rang like silver
    He shook it and he shine like gold
    He shook it and he beat that steam drill, baby
    Well bless my soul

    He shook it and he beat that steam drill, baby
    Well bless my soul, what’s wrong with me?

    I was thinking that night about Elvis
    Day that he died, day that he died
    I was thinking that night about Elvis
    Day that he died, day that he died
    Just a country boy that combed his hair
    Put on a shirt his mother made and he went on the air
    And he shook it like a chorus girl
    He shook it like a Harlem queen
    He shook it like a midnight rambler, baby
    Like he never seen.

    One of the best things I ever heard her do.

  13. inside & out.  I’m a longtime admirer of Joan Baez.

    Thank you for this diary.

  14. Is one of the most beautiful songs ever.
    This You Tube tribute video is great


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