Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound (2009)
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At the beginning of the biographical documentary "How Sweet the Sound," Joan Baez remarks how many people think they know her but don't really know her. That could not be any more true.
The documentary does an excellent job of correcting that while shining a spotlight on her life and times. For example, an archival clip has her saying she wants to be thought of as a human being first, pacifist second and folk singer third.
As a folk singer, Baez had a variety of musical influences that also extended to include Harry Belafonte and Odetta.(Baez also does a spot-on impression of Bob Dylan.) They also influenced her political activism. That extended beyond simply writing protest songs and raising money. She was on the front lines of the peace and civil rights movements where she leveraged her front page Time Magazine celebrity to bring cameras where they would not ordinarily go. Along with the obligatory North Vietnam tour, that would also include escorting students to newly integrated schools in Mississippi and seeking to persuade draftees to desert before they got shipped off to Vietnam.(While the last risked jail time and physical violence, it is also where Baez met her husband.) That would not stop with the end of the sixties as she also traveled to Sarajevo while it was under siege to sing Amazing Grace in an open street.
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