I’ve never seen so many walking frames at a rock concert, but it was Joan Baez’s seventy-fifth birthday tour. Kathleen was surprised to see that Baez had white hair; she also had a t-shirt saying “Nasty Woman.” It was not the only Trump allusion, in the week before the election, but Bob Dylan received more references, and got one of Baez’s trademark Dylan imitations when she sang “Don’t Think Twice.”
I don’t remember another concert where the artist got a standing ovation just for coming on stage, but I guess the audience were also applauding themselves and the fact they were still alive. She started with Dylan, with “Love is Just a Four-letter Word,” but the set list was by no means just a rehearsal of old hits. It was rather a neat and impressive mixture of the sixties and the more recent. I guess the oldest song (apart from the “traditional” ones such as “House of the Rising Sun”) was Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee” about the Mexican agricultural workers who were the victims of a plane crash in 1948. The NY Times didn’t give their names, only the names of the American crew. “They were just deportees.” Nothing much changes.
You have to have a list of the people you want to see before they die. I was in time for Ray Charles, B. B. King, Etta James, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and the Beatles, but in a classical music concert I once sat next to a woman who had seen Ella Fitzgerald in that very auditorium, 300 yards from our house. My jaw dropped in jealousy. But I got the same reaction when I told a student I had seen Ella’s ex, the great bass player Ray Brown.
John Lee Hooker and Milt Jackson both died just before I was about to see them, and I missed Chet Baker, and Lonnie Donegan, Dusty Springfield, and Johnny Cash.
I’ve covered Dylan (also now 75), Leonard Cohen (82), Chuck Berry (90), Chris Barber (86), Bonnie Raitt (67), Van Morrison (71), Simon and Garfunkel (75 each), Willie Nelson (83), Emmylou Harris (69), the Stones (about 350 altogether), U2 (about 200), and Brian Wilson (born the same day as me). I’m watching out for Jerry Lee Lewis (81) and Tina Turner (76), just in case.