Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Riding with Min After Baez Sang Dylan

Joan Baez, Royce Hall, UCLA
November 2018

I know that's a bad photo of Joan, but I had to take it quickly, when she first came out or risk the wrath of my fellow concert goers. I like that her head is blurred out in light because that's what listening to her sing did to my soul. Blurred it out into light. I went into the concert so heavy-hearted, the fires, the air, the animals, the earth, the dead and charred land, the piles of dead children, again. It's not too much, it's just so, so awful. Joan sang and sang, though, in what was supposed to be her last Los Angeles appearance. She sang her own stuff and Bob Dylan and Tom Waits and John Prine and Woody Guthrie and Stephen Foster and Pete Seeger, and when she sang Zoe Mulford's The President Sang Amazing Grace, I cried. Because, really, it seems like another life these days, doesn't it? I'd never heard Baez in real life, had sort of fallen in love with my first real love to her music and was amazed that while her voice had deepened, it was still strong if not capable of hitting the super high notes of old. To tell you the truth, I don't know if I ever really appreciated those super high notes, anyway. When she sang Diamonds and Rust, I was twenty years old again and all moony over anyone who had a love affair with Bob Dylan and wove that love and anguish and romance into such words. Oh, boy.

I took a Lyft home, and when I got into the car, my driver, Min, acted super flustered as he'd had a time getting through the after-concert crowds in the street. I reassured him that it was no big deal and then he asked me how to get out of the campus and then he asked me what kind of concert I'd been to. It was Joan Baez, I said. And he asked, Who's she? And I said, She's been around for a long time, was famous in the sixties and seventies as a protest singer. Min asked me to find a song of hers to play for him in the car, and while I tried to pull one up, he asked, So what kind of things did she protest? And I said, She protested against the war and for immigrants and everything when she was young and now she's pretty much doing the same thing because of Trump. Min said, Why does she protest Trump? I know it's not good to talk about politics, but I love Trump! I think he's doing a good job! And I stopped looking for a YouTube video for Min to hear and said I can't stand Trump. Min asked why? and I said because he's a piece of shit. Bless Min's heart. We talked a bit more. Min is Korean and lives in Koreatown. I learned that he loves Trump because he's sticking it to the Chinese. Min conceded that the POSPOTUS does say controversial things but insisted his attitude toward China made him a great president. I said anyone who is so deeply racist and misogynistic, as well as ill-tempered could never get my respect. Min asked What sort of racist things has he said? I told him a few things and then said Honestly, Min, do you think he cares that you're Korean? He probably despises you for being Korean. Min clung to the anti-Chinese stuff and I sat pissed in the back seat because that light emanating from Joan Baez was leaking out of the car. I thought about jumping out at a light and then thought better of it. Min had on a large checked button-down shirt, just the kind I dislike, and I didn't know what to make of him, to tell you the truth. When I got home, I told Oliver and Carl about him. Carl rolled his eyes and Oliver said, Min sounds like a dumbass.

Oh, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what'll you do now, my darling young one?
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin'
I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner's face is always well-hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin'
But I'll know my song well before I start singin'
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall


  1. Good Lord. What a bummer experience after such an ethereal one. I would have wept my eyes out when she sang "The President Sang Amazing Grace." When I saw her in Tallahassee many years ago, we all sang "Amazing Grace" with her.
    And "Diamonds and Rust" is one of my favorite songs in the entire world.
    "Speaking strictly for me we both could have died then and there."
    Where is today's Dylan? Where is today's Baez? Maybe they're out there and I just don't know it. But until I do know it, those two will have to do and that is okay.

  2. How about Hozier? "nina cried power'

  3. Min is clueless but that doesn't mean harmless any longer because that trump geezer banks on people being clueless. Please continue to let the Mins know how you feel.
    We all have to rise. I am no longer silent when people spout rubbish. Not that it helps, I do get dirty looks, but maybe in the long run, or maybe they'll lock me up.

  4. Yes Oliver Min does sound like a dumbass. I'm glad he didn't force all of the light out.

  5. "Clueless" -- the perfect definition of a Trump supporter! When my dad and I discuss the situation of people we know who think DT is good for the US, Dad says he doesn't think these people are actually "stupid," as he's sure they're not, but we scratch our heads wondering how they can have this weird tunnel vision. "Clueless" makes sense. -Kate

  6. There is a vast number who Support 45 and I have listened, to attempt to figure out what the appeal actually is? How they can align and still make excuses for the Negatives that are so obvious and buy into the rhetoric? I would disagree that every person who doesn't agree with my stance is 'dumb', because clearly disagreeing doesn't mean a lack of intelligence or agreeing with me means superior intelligence. It is weird and surreal though, I can't figure it out and it's unsettling to say the least! I'm glad you maintained the Light and didn't allow it to leak out entirely, I disengage with discussion that clearly isn't going to have any meaningful resolution. Politics and Religion tend to be two topics that always end up with that kind of outcome.

    1. True enough. I have been known to speak with young Mormon missionaries though because they are just so darned nice. There are a lot of them up here in Vancouver, Canada. So nice and cherubic faced and for two years they can only talk to their mothers twice a year.

  7. I have had the privilege of seeing JB 3 times over the years. The first time in the late 1970s. The second and third in the last 7 years. I think she is better with age, but she doesn't like that her range is diminished. I, like you, never did like those very high notes. Her concerts are always inspirational. After the 2016, my husband and I wore our "Nasty Woman" and "Bad Hombre t-shirts to her Oakland concert.

    Bravo to you for letting Min know how you feel. He has his own (narrow) agenda, and we see the wider picture. I think a lot of his supporters are like that.

  8. I teach ESL to immigrants up here in Canada. Many are open minded, some more narrowly focussed.

  9. Joan Baez always gives me hope. Min I just don’t understand.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...