2019 CD release.
It was almost 1 a.m. when Joan Baez walked on stage to close out the rainy first night of Woodstock. With her acoustic guitar in hand, the visibly pregnant singer-songwriter kicked off her set with a joyful rendition of the beautifully simple Edwin Hawkins gospel tune, “Oh Happy Day.” As she segued into Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing on My Mind,” Baez wished the audience a tongue-in-cheek “good morning.”
The weeks leading up to the three-day festival had been tumultuous for Baez. Just one month before, the singer’s then-husband, David Harris, had been arrested for draft resistance. The anti-war activist and founder of The
Resistance—an organization that encouraged young men to return their draft cards in protest of Vietnam—had just begun serving a 15-month sentence in prison. He was, understandably, on his wife’s mind, and was a prevailing theme throughout the show. A few songs into her set, Baez spoke to the audience about Harris, assuring them that “He’s fine, and we’re fine too.” As a tribute to her husband, Baez performed “Joe Hill,” a 1936 folk song about the trade union activist.
Joan was joined by two members of Harris’ Resistance movement, Jeffrey Shurtleff and Richard Festinger who, along with Baez, called themselves the Struggle Mountain Resistance Band (named after the California-based draft-resistance commune in which Harris and Baez lived). Their songs together included a rousing rendition of The Byrds’ “Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man” and Willie Nelson’s “One Day at a Time.”
Baez closes out her set by asking the audience to join her in singing “We Shall Overcome,” dedicated to Harris. As a special bonus, the last track on the album replays the evening’s final announcements from the master of ceremonies, Chip Monck, which will make listeners feel like they are right there on that muddy farm in Bethel, NY. In her 1987 memoir, And a Voice to Sing With, Baez called Woodstock “Three extraordinary days of rain and music,” adding that, “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, 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.”
|Brand||Craft Recordings / Concord|
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