One Day At A Time

Joan Baez

Vanguard, 1970

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


When Joan Baez stepped out onto the stage at Woodstock before 400,000 people on August 15th, 1969, she was a star. She was at the height of her popularity and influence, and as a result, was given the festival’s first day headlining spot.

Possessing one of the best soprano voices in existence, Baez had been an important figure in the reemergence of American folk music during the early ‘60s. Her performances at the Newport Folk Festival had enabled her to rise above her contemporaries. She also formed a relationship with Bob Dylan during this period, which only served to increase her fame.

In addition, Baez was a tireless worker for social causes and an unyielding opponent of the Vietnam War, earning her the respect of the Woodstock generation. She is a rare ‘60s artist who has continued as a tireless advocate of peace and justice up to the present day.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Less than a month after her Woodstock performance, Baez returned to Nashville where in the fall of 1968, in an intensive two-week recording session, she produced two of the best albums of her career; even now, David’s Album and the two-disc set of Bob Dylan tunes, Any Day Now, remain important and respected releases in her vast catalogue.

(I Live) One Day At A Time is a versatile release and brought to a close the first decade of her recording career. It included her first two original compositions, two songs she performed at Woodstock, the usual country and folk covers, plus a Rolling Stones track.

The cream of country session musicians again provided support under the leadership of Grady Martin. Such artists as Pete Drake, Jerry Reed, Hargus Robbins, Ken Buttrey, and many others give the album a solid country foundation.

“Sweet Sir Galahad,” which she wrote for her sister, Mimi Farina, was in her set at Woodstock. This gentle ballad is still a part of her concert act. “A Song For David” was written for her husband who was serving three years in prison for evading the draft. It is also one of the most intimate performances of her career, since at twenty-eight she was pregnant and carrying on alone. Meanwhile, her classic live Woodstock performance of “Joe Hill” is returned now in its studio form.

The one thing Baez always has in her favor is the angelic purity of her voice, which allowed her to cover such diverse songs as “No Expectations” by Jagger and Richards, “Carry It On” by Pete Seeger, “I Live One Day At A Time” by Willie Nelson, and the traditional “Seven Bridges Road.”

(I Live) One Day At A Time remains a very representative album from Joan Baez. It was listenable yet remained true to her folk roots and political agenda.

Most of the acts at Woodstock quickly moved on with their careers. Joan Baez, however, remained a shining voice for the Woodstock philosophy that all too quickly disappeared. Forty years after Woodstock, she is still on the road preaching the gospel and keeping the faith.

Rating: A-

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© 2009 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Vanguard, and is used for informational purposes only.