Seminal singer-songwriter Joan Baez has her Live At Woodstock performance released today (2) on all digital and streaming platforms by Craft Recordings. Fifty years to the month since it took place, this marks the first time that her entire set at the historic festival has been available.
Live at Woodstock contains nearly an hour of music and interwoven stories, with Baez’s performance of such songs as ‘Sweet Sir Galahad’, ‘I Shall Be Released,’ ‘Hickory Wind,’ ‘Take Me Back To The Sweet Sunny South’ and her a cappella rendition of ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot.’
Baez took to the stage on that rainy night at almost 1am, with her acoustic guitar, and opened her set with a version of ‘Oh Happy Day,’ the traditional hymn that was popularised at the time by the Edwin Hawkins Singers. She then segued into the Tom Paxton song ‘The Last Thing on My Mind’ and wished the audience “good morning.”
In the lead-up to her Woodstock performance, Baez’s then-husband, the anti-war activist David Harris, had been arrested for draft resistance. The founder of The Resistance organisation, which encouraged young men to return their draft cards to protest about the ongoing war in Vietnam, had just started a 15-month prison sentence.
The artist referred to her husband throughout the show, and a few songs in, told the audience “He’s fine, and we’re fine too.” She performed the 1936 folk song ‘Joe Hill,’ about the trade union activist of that name, and was joined by two members of The Resistance, Jeffrey Shurtleff and Richard Festinger.
The three of them called themselves the Struggle Mountain Resistance Band, in reference to the draft resistance commune in California where Harris and Baez lived. In this three-piece, they performed such songs as the Byrds’ ‘Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man’ and Willie Nelson’s ‘One Day at a Time.’
At the end of the set, Baez asks the audience to join her in ‘We Shall Overcome,’ dedicated to Harris. The last track on Live At Woodstock replays the final announcements made that evening by master of ceremonies Chip Monck, placing listeners in the middle of “three extraordinary days of rain and music,” as Baez described Woodstock experience in her 1987 memoir, And a Voice to Sing With.
“I just stood up there in front of the residents of the golden city who were sleeping in the mud and each other’s arms,” she wrote, “and I gave them what I could at the time. And they accepted my songs. It was a humbling moment, in spite of everything. I’d never sung to a city before.”
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Baez released Whistle Down The Wind, her first studio album in nearly ten years, in March 2018. It was Grammy-nominated and gave her the best chart showings she had enjoyed since Diamonds & Rust in 1975. She is currently in Europe on the final leg of her extensive Fare Thee Well Tour.
Live At Woodstock is available on all digital and streaming platforms now. Scroll down to read the full tracklisting, and listen to it here.
Live At Woodstock
1. Oh Happy Day
2. The Last Thing On My Mind
3. I Shall Be Released
4. He’s Fine, And We’re Fine, Too
5. Joe Hill
6. We Three Together Constitute The Struggle Mountain Resistance Band
7. Sweet Sir Galahad
8. Hickory Wind
9. Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Band
10. One Day At A Time
11. Take Me Back To The Sweet Sunny South
12. Warm And Tender Love
13. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
14. I Think It’s Amazing The You People Are Still Awake
15. We Shall Overcome
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