Our Top 10 Joan Baez songs list presents 10 Joan Baez songs that define the spirit and career of a caring folk artist who fought for peace and social justice. Her career has been defined as a brilliant interpreter of songs. Her versions of many of Bob Dylan songs stands out as some of the finest recordings of Bob Dylan’s music ever laid down on vinyl. Additionally, she has also celebrated a glorious career as a songwriter. A career that has spanned over six decades. Her debut album was released in 1960. Since then, Joan Baez has released thirty studio albums. Our top 10 Joan Baez songs picks our ten of our favorites while making sure to include some of her most important recordings.
# 10 – Where Are You Now, My Son?
We open up our Top 10 Joan Baez songs lots with a dramatic piece of music that is not really just a song itself but rather an epic musical, theatrical and news worthy primary source audio document of Joan Baez’ reaction to the Vietnam War. The piece “Where Are You Now, My Son?” closes out the Joan Baez album also entitled Where Are You Now, My Son? The piece documents Joan Baez’s trip to North Vietnam in 1972 with human rights attorney Telford Taylor. In between parts of dialogue, Joan Baez sings and plays guitar while all havoc breaks out around her. It was recorded during a U.S. bombing of Hanoi in North Vietnam. The recording also showcases the voices of Barry Romo and Michael Allen. This is an important piece in understanding Joan Baez’s role in folk music’s reaction to the Vietnam War and the anti war movement and sentiment in the United States among artists as well as many others in the 1960s.
# 9 – Stones In The Road
We jump many years ahead in time with this one. The 1990s were a very different time period form the 1960s. Once again, Joan Baez defines her brilliant skills as a song interpreter with her version of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s great song “Stones In The Road.” Joan Baez released her version as a single in 1992. It was released on the Joan Baez album Play Me Backwards.
# 8 – Blue Sky
Most artists don’t cover Allman Brothers Band songs because the Allman Brothers Band versions were so iconic and played so brilliantly by the Allman Brothers Band that it almost seems moot to to take a shot at it. Nonetheless, Joan Baez took on the classic Dickey Betts song “Blue Sky,” and hit a home run way over those peach trees. Joan Baez’s vocal on the track is simply outstanding while the band of studio musicians on the record including the great Larry Carlton blow the track away. This is a stunning version of a classic much loved song.
# 7 – Silver Dagger
Continuing with our top 10 Joan Baez songs list we go all the way back to the legendary artist’s debut album entitled simply Joan Baez. The album was released in 1960. The record was a wonderful collection of traditional folk songs recorded by Joan Baez utilizing just an acoustic guitar and vocals. The song “Silver Dagger,” was placed as the album’s opening track. For many music fans who brought the album in 1960 based on all the talk about her at the time, it would be the first Joan Baez song they ever heard.
# 6 – O Brother!
At number six on this top 10 Joan Baez songs list we present a great grooving Joan Baez song entitled “O Brother!”. The song “O Brother!” was released on Joan Baez’s 1976 album titled Gulf Wind. The album served as the follow up to her fabulous album Diamonds & Rust. Most of the songs on the Gulf Wind album were written by Joan Baez. The song “O Brother!” was sort of a reply to Bob Dylan’s famous songs “Oh Sister!”
# 5 – We Shall Overcome
At the halfway point on our top 10 Joan Baez songs list we present a song that defined the protest spirt of Joan Baez in so many ways. The traditional song “We Shall Overcome,” will forever be connected to Joan Baez due to her amazing performance of the song in the mid 196os in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement.
# 4 – Farewell, Angelina
One of Joan Baez’s most famously recorded songs was her single release of the song “Farewell Angelina.” The song would become a staple of Joan Baez concerts throughout her career. The song “Farewell Angelina.” was written by Bob Dylan.
# 3 – There But For Fortune
As we begin to wind down our top 10 Joan Baez Songs list, we turn to her luminous version of Phil Ochs song “There But For Fortune.” Joan Baez recorded the song for her album Joan Baez/5. She released the song as a single in 1965. The song became a top 10 hit in the United Kingdom. In the U.S. it peaked at number 50 on the Billboard top 100. Ten years later in 1975, Joan Baez and Phi Ochs performed the song together in Central Park in celebration of the end of the Vietnam War.
# 2 – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
There have been many people who have recorded The Band’s classic song “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” but no one ever captured the spirit of the song like Joan Baez. The great Joan Baez version of Robbie Robertson’s Civil War song “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” was released the album Blessed Are… Joan Baez’s decision to record the classic Band song was a smart one. Her version of the song turned to the most successful recording and single release of her career. The song hit number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 10. It hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary charts making it her only number hit. The song also became her only record to go Gold.
# 1 – Diamonds & Rust
We close out our top 10 Joan Baez songs list with her both beautiful and sad poetic piece entitled “Diamonds & Rust.” The song was written by Joan Baez about her relationship with Bob Dylan. While some were skeptical of that at first, in many interviews Joan Baez has confirmed that it was indeed about Bob Dylan. The song was released on the Diamonds & Rust album in 1975. The song was a top 40 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number thirty five. It performed even better on the U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary music charts reaching all the way up to the number five position.
Top 10 Joan Baez Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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