Unlike most youngsters today I was brought up with an extremely eclectic taste in music. My Dad listened –and still does listen – to anything ranging from Elvis Presley to Bruce Springsteen and lots of artists in between. I didn’t really pay much attention to the Top 40 in my teens when most of my contemporaries were fixated on the latest so called here today who the hell was he next year heart-throb. If I heard a record I liked then I’d buy the single, but my tastes were far from similar to my peer group, but then I have always strived to be different
When I was in my teens I discovered Joan Baez’s song Diamonds & Rust which cast a spell over me. To this day it is my favourite song and it’s no accident that DI Frank Lyle is a huge fan of this amazing woman. I have seen her perform live twice; once in London & once in my local theatre. The concert in my local theatre was the best because my dad and I were seated two rows from the stage and I suspect that this is the closest to Joan I will ever get. I remember she engaged with the audience and asked us what we’d like her to sing. One lady called out Band of Gold and she did a couple of lines and then sang “And that’s all I can remember.” Back then I had not discovered her awesome recording of Bob Dylan’s North Country Blues else I would have called that out for sure.
I have read Joan’s autobiography “And a Voice to sing with” which was frank and beautifully written. She described her frustration at not fitting in. Her father was Mexican, but she did not speak Spanish so the Hispanic kids didn’t want to know her and the white kids didn’t because of her Hispanic colouring. I’m white so it was a frustration I could not relate to. However I am now an ethnic minority in certain places in my own country and so now in a way I feel I understand.
I’m impressed by her candour and her passion to campaign against injustice, which is reflected in many of her songs and the covers she has done (I refer most specifically to her album Any Day Now, which is covers of Bob Dylan songs.) Moreover she turned 74 this year and is still performing live. How many X Factor contestants will be remembered even a year from now? I don’t even remember who won it in 2014, which says a lot about the very temporary appeal of such acts and such talentless shows. I admire Joan’s longevity since she is by no means a one album wonder.
Joan’s music has helped comfort and calm DI Lyle at times when his temper may otherwise have spilled over or his mood overwhelmed him completely. I can totally relate to this as well.
Joan is currently on tour in Europe. I am hoping that I will get to see her perform again and with it being my 40th birthday year I like to think I have more chance than in previous years when the tickets have just been too expensive. For now I can hope.
I have the utmost admiration for Joan. She is beautiful and has the most incredible voice. She is also very human and she cares about the world in which she lives; unlike most people who disappear up their own arses once their names are publicly known. Maybe that’s why they don’t stay the distance?
I know that if I ever met Joan I would be totally star struck and might just be able to squeak out the words “I love you.”, but I hope that I might manage to utter some coherent words.