Tag Archives: Joan Baez

Joan Baez: Play Me Backwards

Joan Baez Play Me Backwards

Joan Baez
Play Me Backwards

Proper Records UK
April 12, 2011

First released in 1992, Play Me Backwards holds a very special place in the rich 50-year recording history of Joan Baez.  The album’s sessions brought her back to Nashville for the first time since the series of four albums she had recorded in Music City between 1968 and 1971.  Returning to Nashville’s familiar environment two decades later and collaborating with producers Wally Wilson and Kenny Greenberg proved to be a perfect fit.  Joan reaffirmed her unique ability to identify and interpret successive generations of songwriters whose music had the ability to speak to her: Mary Chapin Carpenter (“Stones In the Road”), John Stewart (“Strange Rivers”), John Hiatt (“Through Your Hands”), the duo of Janis Ian and Buddy Mondlock (“Amsterdam”), and Ron Davies (“Steal Across the Border” and “The Dream Song,” co-written with Joan).  Play Me Backwards also contains four songs that Joan co-wrote with her two producers (“Play Me Backwards,” “Isaac and Abraham,” “I’m With You,” and “Edge Of Glory,” one of the last occasions on which she contributed to an album as a songwriter.

Adding historic provenance to this reissue is a second disc containing previously unreleased demos of 10 songs which were contemplated by Joan and her producers, heard here for the first time.  Some of the songwriters are not widely known, such as the late Mark Heard (“Rise From the Ruins,” “Lonely Moon”), or John Hadley (“The Last Day”) or Gary Nicholson (“Trouble With the Truth”); and one writer is not known at all (“Medicine Wheel”).  On the other hand, there are additional songs from Janis Ian (“We Endure”) and Ron Davies (“Dark Eyed Man,” originally recorded by Kevin Welch as “Dark Eyed Gal”); and one that Joan wrote with Greenberg’s wife, the respected Christian artist Ashley Cleveland (“In My Day”). Fans will be immediately drawn to Joan’s version of Bob Dylan’s “Seven Curses” (his adaptation of the traditional Child ballad “The Maid Freed From the Gallows” aka “Anathea”), the only one of these songs previously recorded by Joan (on the live album Bowery Songs in 2005).

By all accounts, Play Me Backwards is said to be the album that began the renaissance of Joan Baez’s career that has continued through 2008’s Grammy-nominated Day After Tomorrow. Play Me Backwards is an album whose impact will continue to reverberate for decades to come.

Joan Baez: How Sweet The Sound

Joan Baez How Sweet The Sound

Joan Baez
How Sweet The Sound

Proper Records
October 13, 2009

In the first comprehensive documentary to chronicle the private life and public career of Joan Baez, the documentary examines her history as a recording artist and performer as well as her remarkable journey as the conscience of a generation.

This DVD/CD will feature the film with bonus content and an audio CD of music from the film. The audio CD contains rare live performances and studio recordings that span her career.

2008 was a landmark year for Joan Baez, marking 50 years since she began her legendary residency at Boston’s famed Club 47. She remains a musical force of nature whose influence is incalculable – marching on the front line of the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King, inspiring Vaclav Havel in his fight for a Czech Republic, singing on the first Amnesty International tour and just this year, standing alongside Nelson Mandela when the world celebrated his 90th birthday in London’s Hyde Park. She brought the Free Speech Movement into the spotlight, took to the fields with Cesar Chavez, organized resistance to the war in Southeast Asia, then forty years later saluted the Dixie Chicks for their courage to protest war. Her earliest recordings fed a host of traditional ballads into the rock vernacular, before she unselfconsciously introduced Bob Dylan to the world in 1963 and focused awareness on songwriters ranging from Woody Guthrie, Dylan, Phil Ochs, Richard Fariña, and Tim Hardin, to Kris Kristofferson and Mickey Newbury, to Dar Williams, Richard Shindell, Steve Earle and many more. If ever a new collection of songs reflects the momentous times in which Joan finds herself these days, and in her own words, “speaks to the essence of who I am in the same way as the songs that have been the enduring backbone of my repertoire for the past 50 years,”
Day After Tomorrow is that record, her first new studio album in five years (released September 9, 2008).

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