It’s hard to grasp nowadays how radical was the choice of songs and session players for JOAN BAEZ two early 1970s albums ONE DAY AT A TIME and BLESSED ARE. The recent TV programmes No Direction Home capture perfectly the claustrophobic ‘authenticity’ issues that surrounded all the major players at the centre of the 60s folk scene as that decade moved towards its close. If Dylan busted out of folk to embrace rock and country, to synthesise both with his acoustic roots to create a unique hybrid, Joan Baez shed her Queen Of Folk title to become, of all things, a mainstream country diva and best selling international artist.
ONE DAY AT A TIME (1970) features covers of the Rolling Stones’ No Expectations, Lefty Frizzell’s Long Black Veil, Steve Young’s Seven Bridges Road, Earl Robinson/Alfred Hayes’ Joe Hill (a memorable performance of which would feature in the movie Woodstock) and Willie Nelson’s One Day At A Time. It also contains two of her first original compositions - Sweet Sir Galahad (one of her very best and written for her sister’s new husband Milan Melvin, whom Mimi had married following the death of Richard Fariña) and David’s Song (penned for Joan’s own husband, incarcerated resisting military service in Vietnam). With fiddle players on hand of the calibre of Tommy Jackson and Buddy Spicher, the version of the cajun classic Jolie Blonde is also given a spirited reading.
By John Crosby