Thursday, November 6, 2008

Joan Baez on CNN

Legendary singer Joan Baez says she's finally happy
By Shanon Cook, CNN

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Joan Baez is in a celebratory mood. And rightly so: She's survived 50 years in show business.

The legendary singer, who rose to fame during the folk movement of the 1950s and 1960s, is marking the occasion with a new album called "Day After Tomorrow." Produced by Steve Earle (whom Baez likes to call "Mister Gruff"), it's a collection of bluegrass-tinged songs reminiscent of her early repertoire.

"We were looking for songs that feel like now but sound like back then," she said.

Earle penned one of the album's standout tracks, "God Is God," which he describes as "recovery speak." Baez also covers "Scarlet Tide," a song written by Elvis Costello and T Bone Burnett for the 2003 film "Cold Mountain."

At 67, Baez finds her voice may not have the sheer power it did in her 20s, but her political spirit is intact. She passionately expressed her support for Barack Obama during the presidential campaign, the first time the self-described pacifist has taken sides in party politics.

"I haven't heard an orator like that since King," she said. Baez knew the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and famously sang the protest song "We Shall Overcome" to a massive crowd at the Lincoln Memorial during King's 1963 March on Washington.

Baez spoke to CNN about sustaining her voice and finding happiness in her 60s. The following is an edited version of that interview, which was conducted before Tuesday's election.

CNN: What did Steve Earle bring to the table with your new album?

Joan Baez: Oh, everything but the voice. Spirit, some songs. His gruffness to my non-gruffness. He worked fast, really fast, and I like that. And he brought the musicians. I don't know who to choose for musicians. We were a good match.

CNN: Is there a song on the album that speaks to you more than others?

Baez: I guess the ones I go back listening to are "God Is God" and "Rose of Sharon." "Rose of Sharon" sounds exactly like an old folk song. I wouldn't have guessed in a million years that it's contemporary.

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